Best Markers for Coloring

Best Markers for Coloring – Our Ultimate Guide for Color Pens

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A trip to your local art store will reveal a bewildering variety of coloring markers that will make you freeze in your tracks like a deer in headlights. But never fear, that is why we are here – to help you to buy the best markers for coloring that are gracing the stores with their presence and soon they will be gracing your home, making your coloring infinitely more vibrant and interesting, making your artists heart fuller and anyone who sees your work bedazzled beyond measure. 



The Value of Coloring for Adults

When it comes to hobbies that make you feel like you have produced something beautiful, you would be hard-pressed to find anything more satisfying than showing off a page that is bursting with the vibrant colors that markers offer. Much of the attraction of markers comes from their ability to bring the rich colors of the rainbow into your life, without requiring much technical skill or years of experience.

As a way of producing art, markers are portable and therefore open up a plethora of possibilities when it comes to where you can choose to do your coloring: outdoors, indoors, tight spaces, or open spaces – the world is your oyster and, more importantly for the passionate artists among us, markers provide the platform for you to create your most generous colorings wherever you feel inspired to color.

Adults choose to color for a variety of reasons. Some do it as a stress-relieving activity, for example. Coloring poses an enjoyable challenge for even those with the best fine motor skills, and one that they can enjoy and from which they can derive an appealing sense of completion and accomplishment, which makes it especially useful for those who suffer from anxiety or depression. 

Maybe you would like to keep busy if you are traveling – the convenience that coloring markers offer for portability is priceless, even if you have a last-minute change of plans and need to scoop them up on your way out in a single sweeping gesture.Fineliner Coloring Markers

Markers are fairly easy to use, affordable, and pretty easy to keep clean and for these reasons, markers are definitely making their mark as one of the favorite hobbies of thousands of people across the world.



Does the Choice of Marker Matter?

You may be wondering whether the type of marker you use makes a difference. And we are here to tell you that if you want to produce quality images, you need to be discerning about the pen that you choose.

Although you may feel inclined to enlist the services of your child’s cheap set of ten felt-tip pens to bring your coloring to life, adult pens are made with better quality ink, and the pen is constructed better as well which means that it lasts much longer and are easier on the hand – an indispensable quality if you plan on spending long hours on coloring. 

Markers and pens for adult coloring books also have a wider range of colors, including metallic, sparkly, and neon colors. With adult sets of markers, there are also more options in terms of the types of tips that you can use to create a wider range of effects.


Things to Consider When Buying Markers

Buying markers is a more complicated process than you may think. In the last few decades, the demand for good quality markers has grown as the artform has become exponentially more popular.Best Colored Markers

If you take up this hobby seriously, you will be spending hours of your week with a marker in hand. The last thing you want to be doing is spending vast sums on markers that result in a blotchy or streaky finish and get stiff fingers from a poorly designed barrel. Here is a list of a few things you will want to consider before you can find the best markers for coloring.


Color Range

When you envision the best tools of this trade, you will be wanting to have the widest variety of colors available. A broad spectrum of pens is a wonderful thing to have for this art unless you are on an extremely tight budget and have no option but to choose a limited set of colors. That being said, it is not necessary to have hundreds of markers either, especially if you are just starting out.

Coloring Markers

So in a few words, get the largest set your budget will allow, and make sure the colors are to your liking. In many art stores (including online stores) you do have the option of buying single colors. The advantage of doing this is that you can choose your colors. The downside is that it can work out far more expensive than buying a set.

Sets come in anything from four colors to the whopping 358 markers included in one of the Copic marker sets. Some sets contain some of the same colors as other sets, so make sure you do not get duplicates if you are buying several sets. 

Whether you are buying sets or individual markers, take into account the types of designs you will be coloring as this will determine the types of colors you get. As a final point on colors, if you are going to a coloring class, ensure that you have the colors that are requested – more often than not, facilitators of such classes use a specific design for their classes.


Color on Paper vs. Color Label

Sometimes the color of the ink on paper does not turn out to be the same as promised on the packaging. Testing the ink before buying is an excellent way to ensure that the color is what you want it to be or at least what it is advertised to be. Some stores will not allow you to test it in the shop; if this is the case then do some solid research and hunt down reviews to make sure that the pigment is good and that the color will not fade.


Pen Tips

As you can see, coloring is no longer the one-dimensional hobby that it used to be. There are even different types of tips that you can choose from, depending on the effect that you want to create.

You can choose between brush tips that help to create a blended effect and different sized tips that are suitable for different surface areas, such as the chisel tip, brush tip, and bullet tip which all have different shapes and sizes. Options also include fine tips which help you to get into those awkwardly tiny spaces and sharp corners and enable you to do more detailed work.

Brush Tip Artist Markers

Some pens have dual tips, which are naturally pricier than their single-tipped cousins. Many people opt for these because if you consider the fact that they offer more possibilities than single-tipped markers and can be more convenient in some ways.

In addition to considering the type of tip, you also want to be considering the quality of the tip. Some brands are less durable, so will easily bend after a few uses. Investing a little more in better quality tips is an investment we recommend if you want to be pursuing coloring as a serious, long-term hobby. Some brands also produce pens that have replaceable tips.


Pen Design

It may seem trivial at first, but if you are spending hours upon hours coloring in, the way the pen is constructed starts to matter. Relevant features of a pen’s appearance and grip include slipperiness and contours. As a general rule, the less slippery the pen is and the more contours there are, the better. This will ensure a more comfortable coloring experience, regardless of how long your coloring marathon is. Thicker markers with a triangulated shape are recommended by some.

Best Pens for Coloring Books



The kinds of things you want to be factoring in when you consider the quality of the ink of the markers you are using is how watery and streaky it is, as well as how it bleeds on paper. If it is a relatively quick-drying ink, it will not spread as well as brands that take longer to dry. You should also know how well the ink blends – some brands are simply bad at blending, so you want to avoid these.



Naturally, pricing is also an unavoidable factor you need to consider when you want to buy the best markers for adult coloring books. A serious coloring enthusiast should invest a little more money than they would ordinarily muster to ensure that the quality of the markers that they buy is of the highest standard because, with markers, quality does matter.

Coloring Book Markers

Other factors are relevant in a conversation about marker quality, that will make a difference in the appearance of what you produce, in the long run. They relate to how user-friendly they are when you take into account their ability to roll on surfaces when you put them down on a surface, how easy it is to tell what color it is once especially when you have removed the lid as well as how well the marker caps fit.

If you plan on allowing children to use these pens, you will need to take the toxicity of some types of marker inks into account.


Water-based Markers vs. Alcohol-based Markers

You will see in the next section how vast the range of coloring books, markers, and pens is nowadays. Suffice it to say for now that there are a few general differences between water-based and alcohol-based pens that are worth exploring before we get into greater detail regarding particular brands. Indeed, one of the major choices you will have to make when buying your adult coloring markers is deciding between water-based or alcohol-based pens.


Alcohol-Based Markers

Alcohol markers are a little easier to use than water-based markers and are therefore the best option for people who are new to coloring. Depending on the brand you buy and the amount of money you are willing to spend, they can come in a broad spectrum of colors that include colors that are bright and vivid.

Another advantage of alcohol-based ink markers is that they dry quickly, so there is little risk of smudging (this can mean that they are more difficult to blend but again, this depends on the brand you are purchasing). 

One downside of alcohol-based markers is that most brands do have an odor that can be off-putting. When weighing the pros and cons of each type of marker, you also have to consider that these types of markers are very prone to bleeding through paper. Alcohol markers can be expensive, but there are some cheaper brands. You may be able to find refillable markers, which could make this hobby more affordable in the long term.

Alcohol Based Markers


Water-Based Markers

Water-based markers offer a different coloring experience to that of alcohol-based markers and have their own set of advantages and disadvantages which we will describe here. On the plus side, water-based markers do not have a nasty smell and are more affordable than their alcohol-based competitor. These markers are also a little more accessible than alcohol-based markers, as the latter are mainly sold in art stores while water-based markers are sometimes available in more general stores.

Another bonus about using watercolors instead of alcohol markers is that once they dry, you can revive them to full use by resuscitating them with water – there is no way back with alcohol-based markers once they have dried.

Watercolor markers are more appropriate for someone who has more experience using adult coloring markers, as it can take time to become accustomed to using this medium. Because these markers take longer to dry than alcohol-based markers, you do run the risk of color smudging on your paper. These markers are also notorious for causing paper to warp.

Water-based markers are usually disposable, which is not the most desirable characteristic to have in a marker in our opinion because it means that you have to keep buying brand new pens when yours dry up, which can prove to be more expensive. And, in contrast to alcohol-based markers, you may struggle to find a wide variety of colors. Colors are also not as long-lasting as alcohol-based markers and may be prone to fading.

Below is a summary of the major differences between water-based and alcohol-based markers in a comparative table:

Water-Based Markers
Alcohol-Based Markers
More affordableCan be expensive
Disposable pensSome brands sell refillable markers
Prone to fadingLess likely to fade
Slow dryingQuick drying
OdorlessHas an odor
Sold in a variety of storesUsually sold in art stores
May cause paper to warpBleeds through paper easily
Can be used after it has dried by adding waterInk cannot be restored once dry



Types of Markers

In this section, we will briefly discuss the different types of coloring books markers you can find online and perhaps in your local art store. We will also include our opinion on what the best adult coloring markers are in each category.


Brush Markers

If you can afford them, getting dual-tipped pens is a no-brainer. However, some people find that brush tips are the best tips to use – they can be the most versatile and generally easier to use for blending and grading color. For brush tips of an exceptional standard, we recommend the following brand.


ARTEZA Brush Pens

These brush markers are water-based that can be applied without water to create a bold finish, or diluted with water to create lighter color as well as to dilute them to make them last longer. Arteza Brush pens come in a total of 96 colors.

ARTEZA Real Watercolor Brush Pen, 24
  • Fine, flexible tip brush pens for watercolor painting
  • A 24 color set. Completely safe and non-toxic
  • The pens have precision, control, and do various painting techniques
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  • Non-toxic
  • Odor-free
  • 96 colors
  • Rigid nylon nib
  • Color can be blended


  • Mastering the technique may take practice
  • Bristles on nibs are sometimes inconsistent

There is a wide variety of brush-tip markers available online in addition to this brand, including ranges by another brand well-known for their high-quality stationery, Faber-Castell as well as Tombow which are dual-tipped markers with a brush-tip on one side.


Fine Tip Markers

Fine tip markers are always handy to have around for coloring tiny spaces and adding detail and lettering. You can find a smorgasbord of such pens online, but Staedtler is by far the best (we think) for beginners particularly, as they are one of the cheapest options. Although there are only 36 colors, they are all unique and sufficient for someone new to the art, especially if you are not sure if you do not want to make a long-term investment in the hobby.


STAEDTLER Triplus Fineliners

Despite their flaws, the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner markers have several features that make them great for very fine work:

STAEDTLER Triplus Fineliners
  • Ergonomic barrel shape
  • Will not dry out if left uncapped
  • Washable water-based ink
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  • 3mm tip that is great for detailed coloring and lettering
  • 36 vibrant colors
  • Minimal bleed through paper
  • Barrel design is comfortable for long term use
  • Will not dry out if left uncapped
  • Dried ink color is inconsistent with the color indicated on caps
  • Not good for coloring large areas

Any marker with a fine tip is inappropriate for coloring bigger sections of your design, but anyone who wants to bring depth and detail to their work should include fineliners or gel pens in their coloring arsenal. If you do not like the sound of the Staedtler markers, Sharpies have more than one set of fine-tipped markers.


Dual-Tip Markers

Dual-tip markers are markers that have usable nibs or brushes on both sides of the pen. The type of nibs vary – they can be fine-tipped, ultra-fine, chisel-tip, and can even have a brush on the end. Many dual-tip markers are available for both beginners and more experienced artists.

Although they might be pricier than a single tipped marker, dual tips offer much more flexibility because you have the option of using either of the tips. Many people find it more cost-effective to buy the dual tips and it is the preferred choice of marker among many people.


MONELEN Dual-tip Brush Pens

Whether you are dabbling in coloring for the first time or have been doing it for years, the Monelen Dual-tip set of 36 markers will provide a wide variety of vibrant, long-lasting colors with colors that are not too similar to one another. This marker includes a brush tip and a fine-point tip.

MONELEN Dual-tip Brush Pens
  • Water-based blendable ink with minimal bleed-through
  • Dual tips for coloring and detail work
  • Will not dry out and scratch on page
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  • Set contains 36 unique colors
  • Affordable
  • Good quality ink and tips
  • Slow-drying
  • No indication of color on the pen itself
  • Bleeds through thin paper

Other dual-tip markers that may be of interest include the Ohuhu Art Markers that consists of an extensive selection of 60 markers for heavy-duty use, as well as the Tanmit Dual-tip Brush Marker Pens and the Crayola Brush and Detail Dual-tip Markers.


Gel Pens

Gel pens for adult coloring books are a great way to add more intricate detail to your designs. They also come in a range of colors including metallic and glitter if you want to add some extra sparkle to your work. Available sets of these coloring pens vary in terms of the quality of ink, available colors, and ease of use but Shuttle is one of our favorites.


SHUTTLE Art Set of 120

While the price of these Shuttle art markers may be intimidating and off-putting, this range of 120 uniquely colored gel pens has all your bases covered in terms of your choice for color. Included in this generous pack are metallic and glitter pens as well as ordinary colors. The clear casing allows you to see what color you are using and can make determining how much ink is left in your pen as easy as 1-2-3.

With a bullet tip, these pens are good for lettering and coloring tiny sections of your design. This set comes with a convenient carrying case. A serious downside to this brand is that the tips are prone to drying out if not stored correctly.

SHUTTLE Art Set of 120
  • Very large range of 120 colors 
  • Ink types include glitter, neon, metallic, pastel, swirl, and standard
  • Durable tips and non-toxic, acid free ink
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  • Excellent range of colors for the price
  • Transparent casing
  • Includes glitter and metallic pens
  • Convenient casing included
  • Needs to be stored with the tip facing down
  • Some of the colors are not vivid


Watercolor Markers

We have covered the difference between water-based and alcohol-based markers in detail earlier in this article. In a nutshell, if you have some degree of experience using markers, want a more affordable medium that will not assault your respiratory system, water-color markers will suit you down to the ground (so long as you are ok with the fact that they tend to warp paper and are prone to fading). Our favorite is the SOUCOLOR set. Here is why.


SOUCOLOR Dual-tip Brush Marker Pens

Although the affordable price may make you question the quality of these markers, you can rest assured that if you are new to coloring, these markers will not leave you high and dry and looking for a replacement as soon as you put pen to paper. Because although they are some of the cheaper pens on the market, they do not bleed through paper very much which makes them perfect if you are still getting acquainted with water-color markers.

Another great thing about this particular set of 32 coloring pens manufactured by Soucolor is that the colors are all distinct from one another – as a beginner, this can have a big impact on your coloring experience. The tip is long-lasting and the marker itself is strong and well-designed. These are the reasons why we think these markers are some of the best adult coloring markers out there:

SOUCOLOR Dual-tip Brush Marker Pens
  • Vibrantly colored and odorless water-based ink
  • Combination of fine 0.4mm tip and 1-2mm brush tip
  • Wide range of applications
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  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use (good for novices)
  • Good quality
  • Limited bleeding, streaking, and running
  • Set contains 32 unique colors
  • May not last as long as other brands

If Soucolor is not striking your fancy, you can consider other well-known brands such as Ohuhu and Pentel. No matter what brand you choose, you will be able to find water-based markers in many different brands that have all the types of tips your heart desires.


Alcohol markers

As is the case with water-based markers, you will not have a problem finding alcohol-based markers that will suit your needs. Providing a list of all of the good-quality brands would be exhaustive, so we will provide a review of one of the most popular brands, if not the most popular.


COPIC Ciao Markers

No marker review would be complete without mentioning Copic markers, as this brand is one of the most sought-after. Copic is a brand of markers that is widely regarded as a premium choice for adult coloring markers, suitable for beginners and professionals alike, due to their exceptional quality. One of the main attractions is that they have replaceable nibs and refillable barrels, which are more environmentally friendly than single-use nibs and pens and can save money in the long run.

They are, however, more on the expensive side and there are plenty of alternatives available, especially if you are a beginner and not quite ready to make a long-term investment in your markers.

COPIC Ciao Markers
  • Ideal basic marker set
  • Refillable ink and nibs are replaceable
  • Permanent alcohol-based ink is non-toxic and acid free
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  • Excellent ink quality
  • Has a range of different sets, colors, and nibs to choose from
  • Replaceable nibs
  • Refillable
  • Expensive



Tips and Tricks

How simple or complicated you want your coloring experience to be depends entirely on your preference. You may expect marker use to be common sense, but you may have gathered by now that coloring is no longer as simple as it once was.


Things to Consider When Buying Your Materials

While you may prefer to stick to using solid color, today you have the option of using your markers to create a blended effect either by using a brush tip or even by using water-based markers that allow you to spread the color if you apply a spray of water to the surface once the ink has been applied. To make a success of this, you have to buy the right paper and use ink of a certain consistency.

Something else to take into account when buying your markers and your paper is whether the color will bleed through to the other side of the page. If buying a coloring book that has images on both sides of the page, ink leaking through will render the backside of the page unusable. You should therefore make sure the coloring book you buy has thick paper, or at least that the ink you are using will not seep through.

Coloring with Markers

Many of even the best-colored markers still bleed through, so pay careful attention to the paper in coloring books – thicker is better, and perhaps avoid getting books with double-sided pages. To ensure the ink does not soak through to other pages in the book, put a thick piece of paper behind the page you are coloring in.

Aside from these tips and tricks, using markers is reasonably straightforward. Simply take the cap off and apply the ink to your page! Blending colors may take a bit of practice, and different brands will require slightly different techniques as ink varies in quality and consistency.

Depending on the brand of pen or marker that you are using, you may have to shake it a little to move the ink to the tip, otherwise, you would be justified in thinking that your pen or marker had dried out. Markers drying out is a problem if you do not put the cap on properly, so make sure you tighten it securely.


The Best Way to Color

Now that you have your chosen materials, you can start coloring! Do not rush into coloring any which way – remember that you cannot erase the ink once it is on the paper! Here are a few tips and tricks to help you create the best finish:


Test Your Markers Before You Use Them

Test your markers on a separate sheet of the same paper you will be using. Ideally, test them in the shop before you buy them to see the different finishes that each brand makes on the paper. We have already stressed the importance of choosing the right tips. Try out each color to know exactly what colors you will be working with, as sometimes the colors indicated on the pens themselves are deceiving. Allow the ink to dry before judging the color of the ink because ink sometimes dries lighter than it first appears.


Do Not Rush

A fuller, smoother effect with no gaps can be achieved if you color slowly. Coloring fast can create streaks – while some artists like to achieve this look intentionally, your work can up looking a bit messy and inconsistent if you are new to coloring.

Markers for Coloring


Use Light Colors First When Shading

If you are wanting to shade, start with light colors and then use darker colors. This will allow you to color over the lighter colors if you make a mistake. If you apply dark colors first, you will not be able to make them lighter.


Outline Before Coloring

Outline the part of the design that you are working on before you start with the interior of that section – doing this can prevent you from coloring outside the line by accident. If attempting a more complex design in which shading can improve the look, start with one of the main focal points – if this seems too ambitious then start with a smaller part of the featured design.

Markers for Coloring Books


Think About Your Background Colors

When coloring, remember tconsider the background colors. Some people prefer to start with the background, while many find it useful to work on the background and focal point of the pattern simultaneously when they first start on their project.


Plan Before You Start

Plan where the highlights and white gaps are going to be before you start. Remember that there is no such thing as a white marker and there is also no possibility of erasing the ink once it is on the page. Including white can help add depth.


Close Your Cap

When storing your markers, make sure the cap is completely closed otherwise the ink will dry out. If this happens, you will not be able to use your marker and you will have to replace it.


Tutorial on Coloring with Markers

When buying markers, you will be faced with some dilemmas: alcohol-based or water-based, fine-liner or brush? If you have in mind the kind of art you want to be creating and are aware of your skill level, then making these choices will be much easier. If you have taken nothing else from this article, take this: when it comes to choosing good quality, affordable coloring markers, the world is your oyster. The most daunting challenge is to have to choose between different reliable brands.



Frequently Asked Questions


What Are The Best Things To Use For Adult Coloring?

Pencil crayons and markers are used for coloring. Pencil crayons have the advantage of not seeping through to the other side of the page, and colors tend to be less bright than markers. For these reasons, as well as the fact that using markers does not take much skill, markers are often the preferred choice for adult coloring. If you invest in the best-colored markers available, you will have a wide spectrum of colors at your disposal that will not fade too much over time.


Are Pens Or Pencils Better For Coloring Books?

This depends on the look you are trying to create, your preferred color palette as well as the paper you are using. Pencil crayon colors are not as striking as markers, although they may come in sets that have a wide variety of colors, as some brands of markers do. If you are using a coloring book that has patterns on both sides of the page, pencil crayons are best because the color will not show up on the other side of the page.


Can You Use Sharpies for Coloring Books?

Sharpies are a brand of permanent markers that work well for coloring books and are much cheaper than many other markers. Sharpies come in sets that include different colors so you can buy several sets that have different colors to expand your collection. They are also available in different nib sizes, but it can be argued that they are not as easy to blend as many other brands.


Are There Markers That Don’t Bleed Through Paper?

Most markers bleed through paper, even the more expensive ones that have a higher quality ink, but you may find one or two brands that do not. The type of paper you are using is very important if you want to avoid ink bleeding through – as a general rule, the thicker the paper is, the better. Choose a coloring book that does not have a pattern printed on both sides of the page and, if the color is bleeding through, put a piece of paper behind the page you are coloring to prevent the ink from sinking into other designs included in the book.


Are Gel Pens Good For Coloring?

Pens can be used for coloring. Because their nibs are small, they are best used in very small sections of designs and are great for adding detail. When coloring in larger patterns, it is great to use them in conjunction with other mediums such as colored pencils or markers for decorative purposes.


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