Every creative needs a set of the best markers. Whether or not marker pen is your chosen medium for creating artwork, playing around with marker pens can be a great way to experiment. Also, blocking out the basic shapes of your creation in marker pen and examining its silhouette can help you examine whether your idea is going to work in another medium.
To collate this list of the best markers right now, we've tested out various pens, asked our artist friends for their recommendations and also scoured the internet for markers with tip-top reviews. When choosing a marker, think about the size and shape of the tip, lightfastness – this is how the colour will fade when react to light – as well as the range of colours available.
If you need to stock up your pencil case, you may also want to check out our list of the best coloured pencils, the best pens and the best sketchpads.
The best markers available now
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Copic markers are popular with artists for a reason. These reliably good markers won't let you down, delivering consistent, attractive colour across a range of surfaces. They'll last a lifetime too, as you can replace the tips and refill the inks, and are versatile, with a super brush nib on one end and a medium broad nib on the other. This six-pack is a good starter set, which can be built on in future, once you get the Copic bug, and we've no doubt you will.
The Ohuhu Kaala series consists of four different sets. There's one for illustration, one for landscapes, one for skin tones and one 'basic tones' to get you started. We tried them all and found them to be a joy to work with. Coverage is clean, even and dries quickly, and they were easy to hold and work with for long periods. Which set you choose will depend what you're after, but we liked the illustration set, as we detail in our Ohuhu Kaala review.
Winsor & Newton is a well-respected maker of art materials, and its Promarker pens are fantastically vibrant and brilliant for colouring. These alcohol-based markers have a dual tip, so you can use one end for fine details and another for filling in between the lines. They also blend nicely together, and can be used on a variety of materials including plastic, glass and wood. Note that if you're using these on paper, they can bleed through unless you're using high-quality artists' paper. There are various sets available but we think this set of 24 should be perfect for getting you started.
For those who want a lot of markers for as little money as possible, Tongfushop has an interesting offering in the form of its 80 coloured marker set. They are marketed for drawing manga in particular, and like the markers above, have a dual tip – one for fine drawing and another for colouring and shading. The markers come in a handy bag for storage. Just be wary that these won't last as long as the more expensive markers above, and some may be prone to drying out.
Ohuhu is a Copic competitor and this set has dual-tipped markers with one end for brush work, and another for broader strokes. This set comes with a whopping 320 different colours, with a carrying case and colour chart included. We enjoyed using the set in our Ohuhu Honolulu review, our only gripe is that they're non-refillable, so they won't last forever. But with 320 pens, there's enough to keep you busy for a while, we're sure.
These classic markers are still beloved by artists. They are built to last – the tips are replaceable – and are a cheaper alternative to the likes of Copic. These markers take a different approach to different line weights, having just the one tip that you can manipulate to achieve three different weights, rather than the dual tip like some of the other markers on this list. This can take a bit of getting used to, but once you get it, it works well. Note that although these markers are blendable, the amount of bleeding can be an issue for fine detail work. Also some people find their odour overwhelming, so make sure you're working in a well ventilated room.
Sharpies are much-loved around the world, and have a great reputation for a reason, they're great for drawing as well as colouring in. We particularly like Sharpies for fine detail, and there are lots of different sets to choose from. We also like how the colour of these pens stays, without running or streaking. This set of 24 is particularly bright, as the name Color Burst, suggests, ideal for livening up your sketchbook.