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How to Color with Alcohol Markers

how to color with alcohol markers

Alcohol markers, also known as art markers, are used by professional artists in various fields and industries. Amateur and casual artists prefer them also for a wide range of creative tasks and projects. Architects, illustrators, designers, and even school children choose these markers because they are capable of delivering numerous tasks and creative arts alike.

These markers became popular because of their versatility and portability. Using them will require no prep at all, and you can use them anywhere you are and on almost all surfaces. They have vibrant colors for you to create works of art from simple lettering to complicated abstracts and drawings.

These markers dry quickly. And styles like smudging, faded effects, and watery colors are quite challenging if you do not know the techniques. Moreover, since alcohol markers dry almost instantly and the ink is permanent, being familiar with various techniques and some minor tools will be very useful to skillfully learn how to color with alcohol markers.

Things You Will Need:

  • Drawing pencils
  • Smooth and uncoated Art Paper
  • Fine marker pen
  • Scratch papers
  • A set of alcohol color markers
  • Pencil erasers
  • Kneaded erasers
  • Some colored pencils
  • Colorless blender marker (optional)


Step 1: Select a smooth and uncoated art paper. Layout your sketch of the design or image to be colored using your drawing pencil. After you finish your complete outlines, re-draw the main outlines of the sketch using a fine marker pen to make the sketch and outlines more permanent.

Step 2: Before painting your image with alcohol markers, it is best to erase the pencil sketches already overwritten by the fine marker pen. Use the kneaded eraser for bigger parts, and a pencil eraser for finer parts.

Most thick pencil sketches will affect the quality and vibrancy of the alcohol markers if drawn over with alcohol markers.

Step 3: Place the scratch paper underneath your art paper to serve as an ink absorber as you use your alcohol markers. Start painting the most important part of the drawing with an alcohol marker.

As in the case of a person to be drawn, you may start with the face. Most artists prefer to start with the face to make a final decision if the colors are correct before pushing through. For other images, choose the most important portion to start with.

Step 4: Using the same color marker, darken the areas that need shading by pressing it a bit harder and with some repetition until you achieve the needed shade or highlight.

Then, select a lighter marker to blend the darker shades and the lighter ones. Once more, blend everything to make the colors smooth and seamless.

Step 5: Once you are satisfied with the alcohol marker base, you may use a color pencil with a medium shade to enhance the darkest areas, and enhance the overall shadings as well. Follow it with a similar color pencil to complete and adjust the shades.

Step 6: Color the rest of the portions of the image. Use your alcohol markers by working from light to dark shades if you wish to create realistic images. Blend any irregular lines using the lightest color first. On the other hand, you can work from dark colors to lighter ones to create an abstract effect

Step 7: To enhance your shades and outlines, use a gray color marker over the fine marker lines which you draw to replace the pencil sketches. Just make sure that those pencil lines are removed before painting with your color markers.

Use at least two different shades of gray alcohol markers to adjust the vibrancy of the drawing outlines.

Final Step: Use the same steps for every portion and color of your image. Replace the remaining pencil sketches with the use of a fine marker pen. Color each area with a specific color using an alcohol marker with the color of your choice.

Use the same color of alcohol marker first to create shades from the outline towards the inner parts to create a fading effect.

Use similar color pencils to enhance the shades and outlines. And that’s about it. Just carefully retouch the colors of your image, and enhance the blending transition of colors from one portion to another.

drawing with an alcohol

Tips While Following the Steps

Tip No.1: Make sure that the colors and areas you are trying to blend are damp with ink or damp with the use of a colorless blender marker (if available) to make it smooth and more realistic.

Tip No.2: Move slowly and carefully to make an even coverage and to avoid streaks. You can try using different types of marker strokes throughout your drawing to add texture to your image being colored.

Tip No.3: Use the stiffer bullet nibs for finer lines and detailed areas, while the brush nibs are from finer lines that need to become wider in one single stroke. It is also very effective in enhancing shades and outlines. The chisel nib is for coloring large areas.

Tip No.4: Be familiar with your color markers and prepare beforehand some swatches for easier reference and blending. Using scratch paper, try testing out your color markers to make sure you are choosing the correct vibrancy and color shade.

Tip No.5: Using most of your alcohol markers for an image will do just fine. But combining different media like fine marker pens, color pencils, and gel pens will be just great and stunning.


Coloring images using alcohol markers is quite challenging itself. Choosing your art paper or board, and other media combinations are even more so. But as the saying goes, “practice makes perfect”, and being familiar with the steps, tips, and uses of alcohol markers will help you achieve a level of satisfaction for your project.

It may be hard or different at first compared with watercolors and other painting mediums, but the results are always extraordinary, vivid, and a valuable work of art.

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