Watercolor markers: drawing technique, possibilities, scope of use

Drawing & Illustration

Watercolor markers

Watercolor markers are a relatively new tool that is becoming more and more popular.

And that’s not surprising. Markers are a great substitute for ordinary watercolors, watercolor pencils, and brushes, in addition, they can easily draw clear lines and work out fine details.

They are perfect for traveling or doing plein air watercolor paintings.

They are absolutely safe, are great for children’s art, and as a nice bonus have clean hands, clothes and a table. These markers are unlikely to leave anyone indifferent and make a great gift for the artist!

What are watercolor markers?

These are a special type of marker, the inks of which are water-based – a special pigment is dissolved in water. Pigmented inks are easily washed out with water, usually do not contain xylene, and are almost odorless.


Watercolor markers can have one or two tips. They must have a brush with a flexible tip that easily adapts to its original shape. It is easy to draw both thin and thick lines, the width of which can be varied by different pressure on the sharp end of the brush and by changing the position of the marker. In addition, quite often markers have a second tip – a thin pen for tracing small details, creating contours and thin lines.

Color Palette

The color of the marker can be identified by the cap, in addition, on the body, there is a digital code of the color and its name. Manufacturers of watercolor markers offer a wide range of shades. The palette can consist of 80 colors, plus a blender, a marker with a colorless filler that allows you to blur colors and create color transitions. However, since the ink blends well to form new shades, you don’t have to have markers of all colors at all. You can start with small sets of 4, 6, or 12 markers, or buy them individually, based on your preference.


How to use watercolor markers?

What to draw on? The answer is quite obvious – on watercolor paper. It is best to use smooth, but not glossy paper, as friable paper quickly absorbs pigment and does not let it blur. One should also take into consideration that on a paper that absorbs water, more strokes will be noticeable and the filling (covering large surfaces with color) will be less uniform.

How to draw?

The easiest way is to draw as with ordinary markers or felt-tip pens. On smooth paper thanks to the soft brush, painted fragments are homogeneous, without sharp transitions. It is possible to superimpose layers of different colors, getting new shades.

Another method, for which, in general, watercolor markers are designed, is to paint using water to turn a marker picture into a delicate watercolor one.

You can use any watercolor technique: blur with water, changing color saturation to semi-transparency, mixing different colors, creating smooth color transitions, applying several layers, getting new shades.

It is possible to work on wet or dry paper. The colors are blurred with the help of the usual wet brush or special watercolor brush with a tank. The pigment is easily “revived” even if it is already dry. The colors are mixed directly on the paper or palette. Transitions from color to color can be created with a blender.

A few tips:

  • To prevent the marker from drying out, the cap should be snapped on securely when you are finished.
  • Double-sided markers should be stored horizontally, so the paint is distributed evenly
  • The choice of paper is very important. The crumbly, rough paper absorbs the pigment quickly, so it uses up the marker faster. In addition, it will accelerate the wear and tear of the brushes. It is preferable to use specialized watercolor paper.
  • Carefully combine markers from different manufacturers, it is better to check their interaction on a draft. Different ink chemistries can give unexpected results.
  • For creating transitions, blurring, and mixing paints, a blender and a water brush with a reservoir – it unwinds and fills with water – will come in handy.


What are watercolor markers good for?

Watercolor markers have a very wide range of applications, they will be appreciated by both amateurs and professional artists. They can be used to make great sketches, sketches, sketches, comics, illustrations, design projects in watercolor technique, they are excellent for scrapbooking, creating stamps, lettering, etc.

Watercolor drawings, illustrations

Watercolor markers are a good substitute for paints and brushes. The pigment they contain, as already written above, is water-soluble, mixes and applies well, while maintaining transparency and a sense of airiness. Markers can also be used over watercolor work to refine details.

Sketches, street sketches

Markers with watercolor ink are an excellent solution for plein air and street sketches. They are light, don’t take much space in a bag, don’t stain hands and clothes, are easy to use for making clear lines, and all watercolor effects are available.

Watercolor markers were made as a tool for sketching without using water. You can also finish drawing at home by using a wet brush to create smooth transitions and blending layers. Later came a water brush with a reservoir, and the problem was completely solved – you can do a ready-made watercolor sketch in the field, not thinking where to take water and how to protect the work from damage if the water can fall on it.


Watercolor markers make impressive stamps. The technique is very simple – the stamp is covered in pigment with a large brush and an impression is made. Contours and fine details are corrected with a thin tip. If desired, the print can be blurred with water or supplemented with markers of other colors.


The supple, soft, yet supple brush makes lettering with watercolor-based markers a real pleasure. Pressing the tip of the brush with varying force will produce a lively smooth line with varying thickness and saturation, somewhere quite thin and pale, somewhere with a swell and brightly colored.

Regardless of what the watercolor markers will be used for, they are worth trying out. They’re sure to pass the test and become regulars with sketching and street sketching enthusiasts. Children will love these markers as well, as the light pressure on the brush guarantees bright results. And of course, these pens are perfect and very convenient for those who like working with watercolors but can’t carry bulky and dirty brushes and paints with them all the time.

Additional Questions

What do watercolor markers serve for?

Watercolor brush markers commonly known as watercolor markers are used primarily for enhancing the fine lines and dimensionality in watercolor artwork. They can also function independently, giving out an effect identical to watercolor paint but without the need for brushes and the hassle of cleaning up.

Can you explain what watercolor markers are?

Ironically, watercolor markers are markers that have water-based ink. This water-based ink is highly dilutable to copy the appearance and texture common with watercolor paints. These markers are not only buildable, but can easily blend both with each other and water using a brush.

Are watercolor markers user-friendly?

One of the most notable features of watercolor markers and pens is their user-friendly nature. I personally enjoy using them on a wide range of paper surfaces, from the smooth surfaces of cardstock to watercolor paper. For me, they are an ideal choice for planners and art journaling, given that they offer rich and vibrant color in these applications.

What types of paper could be perfectly compatible with watercolor markers?

The best paper largely depends on the amount of water you intend to use. For mediums that don’t require much water, I would suggest using a smooth mixed media paper or bristol board. However, if you intend to use a lot of water, you should opt for a hot press watercolor paper. It not only offers a smoother surface but also helps maintain the longevity of the marker brush tip.

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