What are the best markers to use for sketching?

I’ve been sketching with pencils for many years. I’ve recently begun drawing more often with markers in addition to pencils. Sketching with a medium that you can’t erase takes some getting used to. I’d say the eraser has always been my second best friend! It’s certainly fun to sketch with markers and it definitely creates a different style. At art shows and comic cons, I’ve been asked the question many times, “Which markers should I buy?” That’s often a loaded question. I have my favorites for different situations, because each brand of markers has their advantages and disadvantages.

Below is my personal list of favorite markers in order of my preference:

  1. Copic (average : $4.10 / marker)
  2. Prismacolor (average : $2.14 / marker)
  3. Artist’s Loft (average : $3.63 / marker)
  4. Sharpie (average : $0.62 / marker)
  5. Crayola (average : $0.26 / marker)

My averages were obtained by randomly selecting 3 different sets and taking the averages. Typically, the larger the set of markers, the cheaper they are per marker. The numbers above were calculated in 2018.

Copic Markers

Of all the brands of markers, I like the Copic tips the best, and the brush tip is my personal favorite. The shape of the marker is ergonomic and comfortable. Another unique benefit is that the markers are refillable. Copic markers layer very nicely and get you can obtain many gradients with one marker that would be very difficult to achieve with water-based or permanent ink-based markers.

The Good, the Bad and the Basics

  • Alcohol-based ink, they blend with other alcohol-based markers
  • Refillable – you can buy refills separately
  • Replaceable nibs – you can replace any of the tips
  • The brush tips are my favorite of all the brands
  • Over 350 colors available
  • Minimal bleeding (largely depends on the type of paper)
  • Copic markers are typically more expensive than the other brands
  • I’ve had trouble finding Copic markers in local stores, but quite easy to find online

copic art markers

Prismacolor Markers

Prismacolor is a trusted name in the art supplies industry and their markers are no exception. They are the first high-end marker I ever used. If you haven’t used an alcohol based marker before, these are good ones to start with. They offer just as many colors as more expensive brands, and also layer and blend very nicely. I do like the chisel edge and the small fine tips they have on the dual ended markers.

The Good, the Bad and the Basics

  • Alcohol-based ink, they blend with other alcohol-based markers
  • Minimal bleeding (largely depends on the type of paper)
  • Durable – found markers from 20 years ago that still work great
  • They are not refillable
  • The tips are not replaceable
  • Easy to find in stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, and of course online


Artist’s Loft

These markers are new to me and so far I’ve really enjoyed using Artist’s Loft. They are on par with Prismacolor and Copic as far as blending and color brightness. I’ve read reviews on the Michael’s site about these markers drying very quickly. So far, I’ve not had this issue. The image I drew and colored of Yoda (featured below), was colored with Artist’s Loft Markers. I thought they blended together very smoothly and the tip stayed intact. I will post an update in a few months and see if my new markers dry out or not!

Yoda color sketch with Artists Loft Markers

  • Alcohol-based ink, they blend with other alcohol-based markers
  • Minimal bleeding
  • They are not refillable
  • The tips are not replaceable
  • Easy to find in Michael’s retail stores

Artist Loft Markers

Sharpie Markers

Arguably the most recognizable name in the marker world, the Sharpie markers are not alcohol based, so don’t expect them to work that way! They do have extremely bright colors and can do some very basic layering (do not expect them to blend). The price makes them a very reasonable tool and makes it so any artist can have reliable markers.  The black marker is a staple in the office environment but they also have different lines that feature oil-paints. They also have a great white, gold, silver and bronze marker. Perfect for signing your art masterpiece!

  • Permanent ink-based markers
  • Readily available in retail stores and online
  • Good color selection, but not as robust as the other brands
  • Specialties in black, white and metallic inks
  • Markers do not layer well or blend at all
  • Ink is permanent (actually, not really – there are tons of ways to remove them)
  • Fantastic price for such a reliable staple in your office or art supply collection

Sharpie Markers

Crayola Markers

Every kid knows the Crayola name. We’ve all used their crayons and colored pencils. They offer very affordable art media and are quite reliable. Most of us know the basic 8 Crayola colors, but they have so many other water-based colors, far beyond what you remember from grade school!

  • Extremely affordable
  • Readily available in all retail stores and online
  • Good, bright color selections
  • Non-Toxic, very safe for kids to use
  • Perfect markers for young artist
  • Markers do not blend or layer
  • Markers tend to bleed because they are water-based

Where can I buy these markers?

Most of the art markers are readily available on Amazon, Michael’s, Lobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics. Crayola and Sharpie are available in most retails stores like Walmart and Target. Some Amazon links are listed below to get you started!

Copic Marker – 12 Piece Basic Sketch Set

Prismacolor – 12 Pack Double-Ended Art Markers

Artist’s Loft – 24 Pack Dual Tip Markers

Sharpie – 24 Count Burst Assorted Permanent Markers, Fine Point

Crayola – 40 Count Broad Line Ultra-Clean Washable Markers