Monday, January 7, 2013

Double-Ended Markers/Paint Pens: Reviews!

I took advantage of some sales over the weekend and thought I’d stock up on a few staples, including double-ended markers and paint pens.  As I was putting them away I realized that I have acquired quite an assortment over the last couple of years.  So I started to test them out on various types of paper.  While all are still working great, I have new favorites. 

DOUBLE-ENDED MARKERS: Copic vs. Prisma Color vs. Utrecht

I admit it freely.  I got caught up in the “Copic” madness and yearned for them for a while.  I eventually justified the expense (You can replace the tips!  They are refillable!) and bought a handful of double- ended and wide sized markers.  I loved them and used them often.  I thought my life was complete.  But then I got over them.  And who am I kidding?  I will never buy (and store) the tips and the refills.  It’s just not going to happen. 

If you simply MUST have Copic markers because they are pretty (They totally are!), because you like to include “Copic” in your mixed media descriptions, etc. then by all means keep buying them.  But if you are using them as only part of your art (like I tend to do for graffiti style backgrounds, quick face drawings, and eyelashes), then you might want to try other brands.  I’ve played with Prisma Color and Utrecht.  The tips on the Utrecht more closely resemble Copic.  They also smell less than Copic and Prisma Color, are cheaper, and are on sale frequently.  Verdict:  Utrecht wins!  Unless I become a major marker artist in the future.  Doubtful. I might still keep Copic markers on my wish list.  But my money will be spent on Utrecht as my Copics dry up.

PAINT PENS:  Molotow vs. Sharpie Water-Based vs. Craft Smart

I have fallen head-over-heals for paint pens and find I actually use these much more frequently than regular markers for most things. Everything just pops with a paint pen.  Like most people, I started with the cheapies and got some Craft Smart paint pens at the local craft store.  For a beginner, this may be all you need.  You can get about 10 colors in a couple of different sizes for what you would spend on 3-5 more expensive paint pens.  Sure they leak at the worst time, dry up, and the tips will annoy you.  But you’ll have fun with them initially.  Eventually you’ll know if you like working with paint pens.  If so, you’ll want to upgrade.  Sharpie water-based was the rage so that is what I upgraded to (though I waited until they were on sale).  I got every color.   Black and White get used most often, but oh how the neon pink and red make my heart sing--it’s like finding that perfect shade of lipstick!  But now I have found another love.  Molotow is where it’s at for me.  They come in a wide variety of colors and sizes.  They are refillable, you can change out the tips.  (Disclaimer: See lame attempt at justifying higher cost and later realization that it is unrealistic above.)  And the company makes a ton of graffiti and street art supplies.  So there’s also the coolness and “street cred” factor.  The finest tip doesn’t even feel like a paint pen.  Instead it’s more like writing with sumi ink (even has that cool little spit that you can only get writing with metal tip).  Verdict:  Molotow wins!


Regardless of the brand you go with, ask yourself how many do you really need?  Copics ARE expensive.  (And many say they are WORTH it.)  But do you really need 17 shades of yellow?  Seriously?  I bought 1-2 in each of the major color families and truth be told I don’t use all of them all of the time.  I use the black marker and maybe 1-2 per art piece.  That’s it.  So the 10-12 that I have may be all I will ever need.

With paint pens, I do find myself yearning for more colors.  But this may be that my graphic style lends itself to using paint pens on the top layers (whereas regular markers are usually in the background and get covered up with many other layers).  Even still, I doubt that I’ll ever need 40 shades of Molotow paint pens in every size available. 

As you are getting to know your art style, keep in mind that, just like a pair of shoes, a dress, etc.,  when in doubt, start with black.  You’ll know quickly if it’s something you want to keep playing with.  Then maybe pick up one in each color family or just a few of your favorite colors.

Utrecht (double-ended markers) and Molotow (paint pens) have my heart at the moment.  But I am open to falling in love all over again.  What are your favorite double-ended markers and paint pens?              



  1. Interesting Comments and I will admit that I am a Copic lover and had tried Prismacolor but have not tried the Ultrect. I may have to look into those although I have enough Copics that I probably won't invest in another marker. I have been reading about the Letraset Aqua Markers and am interested in those. Have you tried them? Just curious your take on them. BTW I tried your Washi Tape technique with my Gelli Plate and loved it.

    1. Haven't tried them but I am curious too! Glad the washi tape technique worked for you.

  2. I just read every word of your post! I believe you have encouraged (not enabled) me to invest in some paint pens! I am a new art journalist and so appreciate your advice. In the beginning, I bought way too much stuff that I am not using. Would love to see more "review" articles on your blog. I am definitely a fan!!

  3. Kay thanks for your kind words and the smile you gave me. I bought every type of glitter glue before I figured out that I hate glitter! Lol! Now I buy just a little bit of something new to see if I really like it.

  4. Good advice on starting with black. I have tons of Copic and I love love love them - for what I use them for - coloring stamped images. I don't really use them for other art or journaling. I tend to compartmentalize a lot of my supplies that way. But I would be interested in playing with some of the Molotow paint pens.

  5. An easy way to save some money might be getting paint pens that you can make at home. sells cheap plastic refillable felt tip markers, blank felt nibs, and replacement reservoirs. This gives you the ability to mix your own colors tints and shades. They are ideal for alcohol based paints. They are fairly easy to refill.

    They also sell refillable paint pens. These are aluminum barreled and are excellent for stains, solvents, paint cleaners, and acrylic and latex paint. The also do a great job as car touchup pens. These refillable marker pens hold around 15cc of liquid and have 1/8" chisel tips.

    Hope this helps someone......


  6. Well, Here are sharing such a valuable information regarding Paint Marker, Thanks for sharing good idea!