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Old 01 November 2017, 10:53 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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Royalty Art materials and techniques

I was going to ask this as a stupid question, then I thought it wasn't really stupid so I put it in Unhijackable, then I realised that there is a broader topic here, so I thought I'd start a new thread. It's about art materials and techniques. There may be a similar thread around somewhere from the past, but I think it's defunct if so...

Anyway:

I bought a pack of alcohol-based marker pens recently, because they were on offer in Hobbycraft.

(I also discovered that there is a Hobbycraft in the retail park in Wycombe, which seems to be trying to be all things to all people and so doesn't have much depth in anything, and so I was disappointed at the range in some areas - specifically oil painting kit. But it is still better than any similar shop I know of round here).

But now I'm not sure the best way to use them. First, I found that they went straight through all the different kinds of paper I had, often bleeding to the sheet beneath if I was using it in a pad. (I annoyed myself by accidentally testing them on the back of another sketch, which was spoiled by it; it was only a test sketch in the first place but I was still annoyed). Also, the supposed "blending" effect doesn't really work on any paper I have because it's all too absorbent. It worked best on the paper that's meant for oils and acrylics, but that's expensive so I'm not using it for doodles.

If you use alcohol-based markers, what paper do you use for sketching? The pack mentioned some special paper that was designed for them, but I've enough types of paper already that I don't want to get any more just for this, especially as I can just take a sheet out of any old pad and use it on a cardboard backing to absorb anything that comes through.

I also wondered what people used them for. My initial ideas are not feasible, given how the pens work in practice. Lately I've been mostly sketching outdoors, using fine black pen outlines and watercolour pencils to fill in colour. I had imagined these pens as being something I could use to get even colour in that situation, but this clearly won't work in practice for various reasons. The pens are too thick (they're the sort with a round nib at one end and a wedge nib at the other for even colour, but both nibs are hard to use for detail), the ink doesn't blend in the way that was implied by the packet, and as I said above, they don't work well on paper in pads, which is how I usually sketch.

So based on the fact that I saw a pack that says it's specifically for Manga art (this was because of its range of colours, and it's not the one I have; I got a basic bright colours set) I have done a couple of doodles / sketches on some very cheap plain white A4 notepaper, which are cartoon fantasy pictures (a dragon and some elves - I've not coloured in the elves yet) without a lot of detail, and I quite enjoyed doing those, but they're nothing like the drawings I usually do, and not what I'd envisaged using them for.

If you have similar pens, how do you use them?

Also, why have these pens suddenly appeared? I've been going to art supply shops on and off for ages now, and I don't remember specifically seeing these before, but suddenly they seem to be everywhere in several different brands. (Mine are Windsor and Newton "Promarkers"). Basically they're just expensive, posh felt-tips, and I'm sure that some people (children's illustrators?) must have found them ideal for a while, but why are they suddenly so popular? Is it because of the adult colouring fad?

As I said, feel free to use this for other similar questions and topics as well.
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Old 01 November 2017, 11:15 PM
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Psihala Psihala is offline
 
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Quote:
If you use alcohol-based markers, what paper do you use for sketching? The pack mentioned some special paper that was designed for them, but I've enough types of paper already that I don't want to get any more just for this, especially as I can just take a sheet out of any old pad and use it on a cardboard backing to absorb anything that comes through.
A heavy weight paper should work. Even if a lighter weight paper doesn't bleed through right away, it probably will over time--as well as the colors spreading beyond where they were initially applied due to absorbtion. Papers suitable for water color should also work.

Quote:
Also, why have these pens suddenly appeared? I've been going to art supply shops on and off for ages now, and I don't remember specifically seeing these before, but suddenly they seem to be everywhere in several different brands. (Mine are Windsor and Newton "Promarkers"). Basically they're just expensive, posh felt-tips, and I'm sure that some people (children's illustrators?) must have found them ideal for a while, but why are they suddenly so popular? Is it because of the adult colouring fad?
If I had to hazard a guess, I'd wager it has to do with drying time.

~Psihala
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Old 02 November 2017, 12:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psihala View Post
A heavy weight paper should work.
Hmm, I'm tending to lean towards light but somewhat shiny (less absorbent) paper at the moment. In other words, paper that's actually pretty cheap, even more so than the basic sketch pads I have. (The sketch pads I have are mostly designed for pencil sketches on reasonably decent paper that looks good in itself. The paper I'm using for the doodles is just a hole-punched "A4 Plain Paper Refill Pad" from WH Smith, which is nothing I'd usually use for sketching - it's just general scribbling paper - but works at least as well as any of the better papers I've tried.).

The heavier papers I have are all too absorbent, so the alcohol base just soaks in. The ink is going to go straight through anyway, as I discovered (even on the thicker paper, you can see the mirror image on the other side, even if it doesn't bleed right through to the surface underneath) so I guess you're meant to use them against a backing that doesn't matter much.

(eta) I did actually try them on the watercolour paper I've been using with the watercolour pencils, but again, alcohol soaks in more readily than water, and I didn't think it worked very well. The watercolour paper is more absorbent than the general sketching paper (to soak up the water); if anything I want something less absorbent than that, because alcohol is a far more volatile solvent.

Last edited by Richard W; 02 November 2017 at 12:33 AM.
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Old 02 November 2017, 12:34 AM
St. Alia St. Alia is offline
 
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I don't use alcohol based markers all that often, but I am an Art teacher so I have some thoughts that might help (maybe ).

The only markers I've found that don't really bleed through are water based markers (like Crayola). Unless you have a heavyweight paper- like 90 lb or higher- it's likely to at least be visible from the back, if not completely bleed through to whatever is underneath. Even Crayola shows from the back on normal weight paper.

Sharpies are alcohol based and they are the brand I tend to use most as I teach several units that require permanent black lines.

The brand you bought might not be a great brand for what you want. Sharpies are alcohol based but they suck for blending. They are awesome for even application of color and bold, crisp lines. But Windsor and Newton usually have good materials, so you might want to try them with heavier paper, with a blending marker, and/or layering in different ways.

I personally prefer a brush tip when I do play around with alcohol based markers. Other brands you might want to try are Copic, Prismacolor, and Tombow.

As for why they are popular- they've been popular with young adults in my region for at least 8 years due to Manga. The students I work with often know far more about these types of markers than I do.

I would also say the adult coloring book idea is a good one- I would personally get annoyed at using a waterbased marker to color anything in because they streak so much.

*Also they sell sketchbooks with heavier weight paper. Heck, there are sketchbooks with pretty much any type of paper (or a mix of paper is available, too). But if you don't care about the bleeding and just will use cardboard, then it's not that big of deal.

**Have you tried playing with alcohol and the watercolor pencils? You can use regular colored pencils, too. The blending effects are cool.
Baby oil works as well, but I can't stand the smell.
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Old 16 November 2017, 03:56 PM
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Thanks - sorry I didn't reply earlier... After finishing the sketch I'd started above, I did another of a knight on horseback, on cartridge paper from a pad I'd not tried, but I ended up overthinking it after drawing the outline and it put me off for a while, so I only just picked up the pens again and finished it.

The cartridge paper was still too absorbent - it's the first one where I noticed one of the colours actually bleeding into another where I'd been trying to keep them separate (only in a small way, and these were supposed to be doodles until I started overthinking them, so it didn't really matter). I tried a different approach for the background of this one and made it streaky to try for a "motion blur" rather than trying for even colour, which sort of worked, and at least gave an idea of what else you can do with them.

I've also been using one of my finer black pens (with a fine nib) for outlines in the background detail, rather than trying to do it all with the thick black nib on the marker itself. (I called that a "round nib" but it's what you're calling a brush nib, I think). That works quite well. And I do have some actual Sharpies, which I don't use much, but which I could use with these if I wanted finer colouring as well.

So, getting there... I still don't have any paper that does quite what I want, though. I might go for a walk up to Hobbycraft in a bit...
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Old 16 November 2017, 04:02 PM
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On a different note, I tried a friend's drawing tablet, which he uses with Photoshop as a painting application, the other day. He uses it to draw rotationally-symmetric mandala style designs. I was interested in the fill tool, but only tried it with a quick freehand drawing. Making sure all the lines joined up so that I only filled in the bit I wanted was fiddlier than I'd expected - sometimes it found gaps where I couldn't see any. With the style I prefer, I'd have to draw invisible lines as well, or lines in the colour I wanted at least, as I don't always want continuous outlines.

It was quite different from how I expected, and I'd need a bit of practice to learn what works with a tablet rather than with actual pens, but it was interesting. I'm not going to get one any time soon though - I still prefer the physical stuff, and his setup looked pretty expensive too!
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Old 16 November 2017, 04:29 PM
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Psihala Psihala is offline
 
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If your drawings contain a lot of open-ended lines, you can use the lasso tool to fill in areas instead of relying on the lines to define the borders. Once layers are introduced into the mix, it might be the only option of filling in blocks of color. Photoshop has a dizzying array of tools, though, and the learning curve can be daunting.

Keep at it, and those things will come with time.

Tablets come in a wide variety of price ranges. I don't have anything as exotic as a the screen-type tablets, but I started with a small 'traditional' tablet, Photoshop Elements, and Painter. The point is, it needn't break the bank to get started. It takes a bit of time to get used to looking up at a screen while using on a non-screen type tablet, but its just another tool. I do still use good ol' pencil and paper.

~Psihala

Last edited by Psihala; 16 November 2017 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 16 November 2017, 04:55 PM
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My friend's was a screen, so you were drawing on the same surface as the image. Although I still hadn't got used to having to compensate for the thickness of the glass during my short trial - the line doesn't quite appear where you think you're putting the stylus.
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Old 16 November 2017, 11:13 PM
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So I went to HobbyCraft and got some of the paper that's designed for marker pens. (And the second pack of pens in the range with a selection of more subtle colours...)

Funnily enough, it's pretty similar to the cheap A4 plain paper that I'd found to work best before this - it's thin and somewhat shiny; not heavy paper at all. Except it costs about eight times as much... 6 for a pad of 50 pages, as opposed to 3 or so for 200 pages of the cheap stuff. It seems to work OK though.

But it does go to show that art suppliers will charge what they think people will pay. Years ago I used to do more charcoal or dark pencil sketches which I needed to fix so they didn't smudge, and a can of cheap hairspray worked just as well as the special fixing spray, and was larger and a lot cheaper.
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Old 17 November 2017, 12:08 AM
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I work with mostly Prismacolor and a few Copic brand markers. The Prismas are alcohol based, not sure about the copics... I didn't have luck with what was labelled "marker paper," as it seems like... I don't know, almost like waxy tissue paper that was definitely not going to suit the purpose I needed it for.

I forget if I used Bristol paper for a little bit a while back- I think I decided it was too thick- now I use vellum (Borden & Riley brand, if it matters). I use the size that is smoother. The vellum can take a pretty good beating considering all the sketching and erasing I wind up doing on it, and really plays well with markers and colored pencils. The markers will still bleed a little bit, so I'm careful about using them for anything intricately detailed, but I think the depth of the vellum's thickness helps displace the bleed downward rather than primarily outward. (I'd have to double check my old work but I think I used this type and brand when I was also using watercolor paint, and it was sturdy enough to support that as well)

It's also not terribly expensive. I can usually get a 9x12 pad of 40 pages for under $8 and that lasts me a pretty long while.
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