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How Do Paint Markers Work?

Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

Markers are becoming a more and more popular artist medium. With all the benefits of acrylic or oil-based paint without the associated preparation or mess, paint markers are a great way to get into painting if you’re an avid drawer or sketch artist. And with so many surfaces to choose from, from glass to ceramics, paint markers are a great addition to any avid crafter’s portfolio. 

After a little getting used to, paint markers are an easy to use and versatile medium on the rise, with a huge range of styles and colours on offer. Our blog is here to uncover all the mysteries around paint markers, including what they are, how they work, and how best to use them.

What Is a Paint Marker?

Paint markers may be a brand new concept to you, and you’re not alone. The term ‘paint marker’ is often applied to different things, so it’s important to be aware of what you’re purchasing. Paint markers can be pens filled with acrylic paint, oil-based paint, or simply ink. Permanent markers, such as Sharpies, are often referred to as ‘paint markers’, however, these contain no real paint.

Paint markers filled with paint are remarkably different to permanent markers, whether they contain oil or acrylic paint. Oil-based paint markers are based on solvents, meaning these pens are not ideal for use around children or in poorly-ventilated areas. These sit better on more porous surfaces but are almost as versatile as acrylic paint markers. 

Acrylic paint markers use water-based acrylic paint and are a newer addition to the art world. Easy to use on canvas, glass, paper, wood, rubber, and much more, these are gaining popularity by the minute. Unlike permanent markers, you can layer and blend your artwork with paint markers, creating effective projects effortlessly.

Depending on your preferred style, paint markers are also available in a range of different nib types, from wide to very thin. So whether you’re covering large surfaces or completing intricate detail, there’s a paint marker for you.

How Do Paint Markers Work?

Paint markers typically come filled with oil-based or acrylic paint. The only part which sometimes causes confusion is the nib of the marker. If you simply remove the lid and begin to draw, it’s normal that nothing will happen. Don’t worry, it’s not broken or dried up. Before being used, nibs contain no paint and require activating or opening before paint will flow from the barrel onto your art surface.

The paint within the marker needs encouraging into the nib of the pen. This can usually be done by shaking the pen – with the lid on! – and pressing the nib gently onto a hard surface or your art surface. When pressed, the nib should push inside the barrel of the pen. Both of these actions will help to encourage the paint towards the nib. It’s vital to be gentle at this stage to prevent an overflow of paint onto your art surface and to ensure your pen stays clean. Be patient and check after every shake and every pump of the nib if the paint has been loaded into the nib.

Make sure to store your paint markers with their lids replaced firmly to prevent any leakage or your nib from drying up. After being stored for a while, paint markers may need re-activating with shaking or by gently pressing the nib into the barrel again.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How To Use Paint Markers?

As already mentioned, paint markers, particularly acrylic paint markers, should be effective on just about any surface. With less porous materials, like card, oil-based markers may bleed a little into the surface, but will still produce effective colour. A great first step when beginning any art project is to test your paint markers on a small area of your material to check that it works and appears in the ideal shade.

Paint markers are fairly fast-drying on most mediums, meaning you can layer your colours to create extremely effective illustrations. Alternatively, you can mix paint colours while still wet to achieve more nuanced shades. With shiny, flat surfaces, like glass or ceramics, it’s best to leave your design for longer as paint could be wiped away before properly drying.

Get started with our wide range of paint markers, from POSCA to Liquitex, at excellent prices. Browse today and find a great deal for your new favourite art medium.

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