How to Color with Markers Without Streaks

Markers are a great tool for artists and hobbyists alike. But if you don’t know how to use them properly, then marker streaks may show up. Not only do these streaks ruin the appearance of your artwork, but they also take away the beauty from all of your hard work.

Well, have you ever colored with markers and noticed how they leave streaks behind? If so, then you also know that it can be a huge bummer. Some artists take it as usual, but you are in luck today if you don’t like it.

In this article, I will share some tips and techniques that will help you avoid marker streaks when coloring. And lastly, you’ll find some pro tips on how to fix streaks if you have already got any.

How to Color with Markers Without Streaks

Why Do Marker Streaks Happen?

Having streaks while coloring with markers is a common problem. It happens due to ink settling on the marker and then flowing over. It means when you pull your marker tips up and down or right to left, colors overlapped and several layers are created.

Because of high viscosity, it causes marker ink to have more resistance than other types of inks, which are less viscous.

That’s why you get a non-consistent and lumpy appearance in your artwork. It also happens if you don’t know the marker blending techniques.

Applying pressure during the coloring process causes some marker liquids to flow out from pen nibs into areas where color has not been applied yet.

It creates a messy outlook as you notice that the same shade will produce lighter colors in some areas and darker colors in others.

Ways to Avoid Streaks While Coloring

The truth is that you won’t create an entire artwork with markers without streaks. But after going through this article, you can reduce it and make a smooth appearance.

Well, there may have so many ways, but from my experience, I’m sharing some tips and tricks here that I’ve found helpful. So, to avoid marker streaks, follow the tips below and become a pro in coloring.

1. Get a Thick Marker Paper

Getting the best paper for markers is the first step to avoid streaks. To do this, just find marker paper that is thicker than usual ones. It’ll lessen the appearance of deep lines.

If you use regular absorbent papers, it’ll soak the ink immediately, resulting in streaked lines. As soon as the ink dries and you start to color again, noticeable lines are created in between.

For coloring with markers, an ideal paper will be the one that doesn’t absorb ink quickly and takes time to soak the ink. That’s why artists use unique Copic marker papers while using Copics so that they can create smooth lines.

However, you can choose the bristol board papers for coloring purposes as these are non-absorbent and don’t let the ink dry too quickly. These are consist of multi-ply sheets, and that’s why you can create streak-free drawings.

You can also use any paper with a top layer of varnish as non-coated ones soak inks fast. In this regard, any thick glossy paper will also work that you mostly found in high-quality adult coloring books.

2. Avoid Fast Drying Markers

Just like the papers, choose a set of art markers that don’t dry too fast. You’ll find mainly four types of it – alcohol-based, water-based, solvent-based, and oil-based. Their drying time also varies from each other. But alcohol and watercolor ones are the most popular markers for coloring.

Though having fast-drying ink, most professional artists prefer using Copic markers for coloring since it’s alcohol-based. But it’s true that they use it on quality papers and needs more practice to work with.

However, if you compare water-based and alcohol-based markers, watercolor ones will be the best option in this regard. Watercolor markers take more time to dry than alcohol ones.

When you use alcohol markers on paper, the solvent immediately evaporates, and thus it dries.

But water-based markers dry slowly and give you enough space to work with them without creating visible lines in between. Watercolor ones are also budget-friendly than others.

So, whatever option you choose, first test them on the paper you’ve chosen. If you find out that the ink takes time to dry and blend well, you can go for it. Another thing to check is that how it overlaps the colors and creates layers.

3. Color in Circular Motion

Most often, we got streaked lines when we color large and open areas. And if you notice, you’ll see that coloring small areas are easier, and streaking doesn’t happen here. But the problem occurs when go for coloring large areas with markers.

We use mostly two ways for moving markers – one is side-to-side, and the other is up and down. However, another way that can save you from streaks is coloring in a circular motion. Now you may think about how to do it?

Well, color the area by creating small circles by giving circular strokes. Don’t try to make big circles, as it’ll end up in streaky lines.

In this way, you have to overlap the edges a few times for smooth blends. You also have to ensure that all the areas are getting an even layer of ink. It can be 2-3 coats of ink, and it’s not a problem. 

But remember that using this method will make the shade darker. So, if you want the original color, you can use 2-3 shades lighter color. When you use circular strokes and layer ink several times, it’ll get dark and help you get the desired color.

4. Fastness is a Must

The rule of thumb is that the faster you color, the lesser you get streaks. Keep on coloring until you get the expected shade you wanted. 

Remember to make continuous marker strokes while the ink is wet.

Once you lift the marker and take more time to create strokes, you won’t be able to avoid those unwanted streaky lines. Lifting up a marker without completing the color of an area is the main reason for streakiness.

The reason is that the ink starts to dry within this lifting time, and when you put fresh strokes on that area, it creates a visible dark line.

Also, try not to color slowly, as it’ll do the same as when you lift markers.

Though it needs lots of practice, you’ll definitely get a smooth artwork. So, keep practicing this method before doing any serious project.

5. Create Fluent Strokes

Creating fluent marker strokes is another way to solve your streaking problem. You shouldn’t let the marker ink dry to create a second stroke, as I’ve mentioned before.

While drawing lines or shapes on the paper surface, avoid abrupt changes in pressure between colors.

Streaking issues creates by marker strokes either produced at different time intervals or from other markers themselves.

So, when you color fluently, it will give a sense of continuity in design instead of uneven edges. Always try to create strokes when the ink is still wet. It’ll keep balance in color rather than making lines in between.

6. Color Continuously

Just like moving your hands fastly, you have to color continuously. Whether it’s a small area or large, first create a mind map on which area you will use which color.

It’ll help you keep on coloring so that you won’t have to give a marker stroke and think about what to do next. The reason is that the ink will dry up within this time, and you will get those streaks you hate. 

So, it’s better to plan the entire coloring pattern before you start. Thus you won’t have to lift your marker for so long and color smoothly.

7. Use Flicking Technique

The flicking technique is one of the easiest ways to get rid of the streaked lines. It’s also known as the brushing technique. But how would you do it?

Well, use a flick in the area where you want a darker color. For this, you have to start from outside of the main area and flick your markers towards the shape.

You’ll notice that colors overlap, making a lighter shade in one area and a darker shade in another area where you could get streaked lines. Since you are following flicking, you will get nothing but a smooth blend. 

However, it’s actually a blending technique that most professionals use in their artwork to create an additional dimension. The reason is, you must need to have proper control over the marker tip and the direction. It’s also used to create a soft look.

So, if you are using markers for a long time and have great knowledge and skill of blending and shading, it’ll help you remove those unwanted lines you are struggling for.

Here I’ve embedded a video so that you can practice this method correctly.

8. Work on Your Own Style

The methods I’ve mentioned so far will definitely help you in reducing streaked lines inside your projects. But while working with markers, you may discover some other ways that work for you.

It’s true that when we practice more and more, we can create our own techniques and style. And it’ll also be true for you if you practice more with markers to achieve the desired result.

While practicing, try to be consistent and lift your markers as little as you can. It’s the best suggestion I can give. And yes, there is no alternative to practice to get more control over your hand and marker.

How to Fix Marker Streaks

So far, the ways you’ve read will only work if you didn’t start your artwork yet. But what if you already got marker streaks on your favorite project and want to remove them? That’s why for keeping the things in mind, here I’m going to share some pro tips with you.

  • To reduce the already resulted streaks, the first thing you can do is to again color over it so that the dark colors become lighter shades (somewhat like blending).
  • You can use a different color shade over the streaks so that the overall color changes and make the lines unnoticeable. It’s a good option only when you don’t need the color you used at first (as the tone changes).
  • If you want, using a colorless blending marker can also be a good idea. But remember that it will create the lightest shade if you don’t use it carefully.
  • If you have a spare piece of a paintbrush, you can damp it with water and go over the streaks gently to reduce the lines. Don’t forget to shake the brush a few times to remove excess liquid.
  • You can also try blotting out the ink with a damp cloth. Though it’s not the best idea still there is no harm in trying.


Q: How do you color evenly with markers?

The first step to get even strokes is to choose the right tool. Artist-grade brush tip markers will help you in this regard. Whether for coloring or doing calligraphy, it’ll help you create even and smooth lines.

Next, you have to color using small light strokes so that the ink doesn’t spread out or bleed. And make sure that all of the strokes you are producing are going in the same direction. Rather than making back and forth strokes, it ensures you the even color. 

If you use brush markers, you’ll get another advantage. Since these pens are water-based, you can take soak a clean paintbrush into a bit of water and use the brushing technique over the marker art. It’ll give a soft and even look.

Q: What are the best markers that don’t leave streaks?

Keep in mind that there are no markers that don’t leave streaks. But it totally depends on how well you can use them. For example – Copic markers are one of the best artist-grade markers, whether for causal coloring or adult coloring trends. Professional artists use them on high-quality marker paper to get the most out of it. 

But if you use them on regular paper and don’t know how to use them properly, then you’ll definitely get streaked lines.

And not only for Copics, but it’s also true for other types of artist markers. Though there is a controversy that water-based markers don’t leave streaks.

But the truth is whichever you use, you’ll end up with streaks if you don’t know the techniques of using them.

Q: How do you make markers less streaky?

I’ve already mentioned so many techniques by which you can reduce the streakiness in markers. But among them, flicking is really a helpful method that can make any marker less streaky.

Even with this method, you can use a variety of colors and create a beautiful blend.

Q: How to use Copic markers without streaks?

Copic markers don’t produce streaked lines if you can use them like a pro. And you must need to use quality and thick types of papers or special Copic markers to color smoothly.

Even some people also can’t produce even strokes having both of these art supplies. 

The reason is, you should have the skill to control Copic markers properly. And it’s only possible when you are using them for years or practice a lot.

But you can try using the methods mentioned above to avoid streaks while using Copics.

Final Words

So, it’s a wrap-up of the article. The most important thing you should remember is that you won’t get a perfect streak-free artwork. But yes, you can reduce it by the methods mentioned above.

Hopefully, you have got enough knowledge on how you can avoid streaks while coloring. From now on, you can create any artwork using any type of quality markers without streaks.

So, pick up your markers and start coloring. 

Good Luck!

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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