How To Color With Alcohol Markers

Coloring with alcohol markers is preferred by many artists because it can produce a smooth and professional-looking outcome.

However, alcohol markers can be a bit tricky to use if you are not using the proper materials or if you are not utilizing the proper techniques.

Below, I cover how to color with alcohol markers, from preparing beforehand and during coloring.

Preparing Before Coloring

Before you start your actual coloring, here are some steps or tips to follow to make sure that you have a seamless experience while coloring.

Make Sure You Are Using The Proper Kind Of Paper

Marker paper, cardstock, or bristol paper are the ideal paper to use when you are using alcohol markers. It should also be the variants with the smooth paper texture to make blending easier and to ensure that your colors come out smooth.

It is important to use these papers that can hold a lot of ink because using alcohol markers requires a lot of layering that other kinds of paper will not be able to handle.

If you are not using the proper kind of paper, the alcohol markers will not behave as they should and will not produce satisfying results.

Choose Colors And Swatch Beforehand

Separate your chosen colors for easy access and set aside the colors that you won’t be using.

To make sure that the colors you have chosen go well together or if they blend together smoothly, you can always swatch the colors on a separate paper and observe which colors work together best.

Creating swatches of your chosen colors to refer to while coloring is also very helpful to see how the colors appear on paper, as some caps can be quite deceiving.

For example, if you are coloring a character, you need to decide the skin tone and choose the colors you are going to use for the shadow, blush, etc.

The same goes for coloring clothes or other objects, you need to choose the colors you will be using and the corresponding colors for shading.

Set them beside your drawing or in a place where you can grab them easily, and you can also place your swatches beside your drawing so you know what to expect when the ink hits your paper.

This way, you can work faster and blend your colors immediately with your pre-chosen colors while your ink is still wet. Working fast and working while your ink is wet is especially important when blending colors to create a smooth outcome.

If you have not chosen the colors you will be using for blending beforehand, chances are that your ink will dry up while you are still searching for the next color – this will make blending more challenging.

It also lessens decision fatigue and makes you work faster overall. A lot of professional artists choose their color schemes and create swatches of these colors before they begin coloring. I also recommend you follow this step for maximum efficiency.

Prepare Workstation Beforehand

Make sure that you place another paper that can absorb excess ink under the paper you are working on.

Even while using the proper kind of paper, alcohol markers still tend to bleed so it is best to take precautions to avoid staining your workspace with ink.

Also, place your chosen markers in an accessible area where you can grab them easily while you are coloring.

During Coloring

Now that you are already well prepared, here are some steps or tips to follow during your actual coloring to achieve the best results possible.

Follow One Direction/Stroke

Just like how we have been taught to color using crayons as a child, make sure to follow one direction or stroke while coloring using your alcohol markers.

This way, your colors will look smooth and neat.

Work In Sections

Color one area at a time and avoid jumping from one area to another. If you are coloring on lineart, use it to your advantage and work through each section one by one.

This way, you can avoid making mistakes like coloring the wrong area or going over your intended area.

Work From Light To Dark

You already know that you should work in sections. Now, determine which sections use the lighter colors and work from coloring the areas that use lighter colors first, then the darker ones.

It’s much easier to cover up a light color with a dark one if ever you go over your intended area while coloring the lighter areas first.

Know When To Use Your Tips

A lot of alcohol markers have dual-ended tips where mostly, one is a brush tip, and the other a chisel tip. Avoid making common mistakes like going over your intended area, and work in the most efficient way.

For smaller areas that require accuracy, it’s best to use the pointed tip of your chisel tip. For larger areas, it’s best to use the brush tip so you can color the entire area efficiently.

Start From The Sides

Start coloring from the sides of your lineart to make sure that there is a smooth and even color distribution in all areas.

If you jump right away to coloring the middle of your area, chances are this part will dry out first and your color will end up looking blotchy when you are filling out the other parts of the area, especially if it is a large area.

During Coloring… How Do You Shade and Blend With Alcohol Markers?

Make A Rough Base

If you are coloring a large area, one technique you could follow is to color over the entire area with a rough layer of your intended color, focusing on making sure that there are no white spaces left.

It is okay for this part to be a bit streaky or blotchy because you will be smoothing this out later on.

Using the same color, color the entire area again, focusing on smoothing it out fairly. This time, you won’t have to worry about leaving white spaces because you have already created a base.

This way, your color is still smooth even when coloring a large area.

Keep Your Paper Wet

When you are smoothing out your color, work fast while your paper is still wet so you can achieve a fair shade, if that is what you’re trying to achieve.

If you are trying to achieve a look from one shade to another like for shadows, color transitions, etc. blending colors together is generally easier while your paper is still wet.

Though blending is still possible even after your ink has dried, it is just easier to achieve smooth results when working on your colors while wet.

This video below from youtuber iiKiui covers many of the concepts mentioned above.

Learn How To Use Your Colorless Blender Marker

Most alcohol marker packs will come with a colorless blender marker intended for “blending colors’’. You can use your colorless blender marker to create gradients from one color to another and fade out colors.

Aside from that, a colorless blender marker can create a lot of interesting effects on your artwork depending on how you use it. You can:

  1. Create textures
  2. Add highlights
  3. Clean up and fix mistakes
  4. Create gradients
  5. Fade colors

You can check out a number of different techniques on how to use a colorless blender marker by clicking the link.

About the author: My name is Marcus, I am a lawyer (LL.M.) and the founder of this website. Besides sometimes doing lawyer stuff, I like to draw and improve my skills as a “digital artist”, and I write about what I learn on this website. If you want to know more about me or reach out, then you can click here.

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