How to Draw with Markers | A Complete Guideline for Beginners

Drawing with markers, what’s there to learn? From your kindergarten days, you’ve been doing that, don’t you think?

Dabbling around the paper with a marker as a kid is one thing. It’s a whole other story when you start trying to do real drawing using the thing.

And it seems it’s not only you. There are a lot of people who struggle with it. A lot of them scouring through the internet trying to figure out how to draw with markers?

You’re one of them as you’ve landed here looking for the answer. So, sit back and learn to draw using any kinds of markers you’ve got.

How to Draw with Marker

Beginners Guide to Draw with Markers

As a beginner, you need to have one thing in plenty, and that is patience. Trying to master the art of drawing with markers won’t come to you easily. But with time and practice, you will get a lot better.

And with the tips below, you can surely get better at drawing. Just need to practice and practice. That’s all you’ve got to do.

So, if you’re ready to commit yourself, then take a look at the cool tricks and techniques that might help you improve drawing with a marker.

Technique for Marker Drawing

There are a variety of ways you can improve your drawing using markers. Using different nibs and inks will help you in that. But you need to know how to use them first.

That’s why I’ve put together some techniques below that might come to your aid.

Based On Tips (Brush, Chisel or Fine)

Drawing with Different Marker Tips

By using different types of markers, you can achieve a variety of effects. The following tricks will help you get the most from your marker tip.

Using Brush Tips

Get a brush tip for greater versatility. With the pointy top, you can have strokes that are thin enough to do intricate work. And with a bit of pressure on the nib, the entire thing flattens to give you that brush spread to fill up large spaces.

So, if you need to have a variety of widths, brush tip will be perfect for drawing as well calligraphy.

Using Chisel Tips

The chisel tip is ideal for drawing broad areas quickly. Thinner lines to thicker ones can be made in a matter of seconds using the marker tip. That’s right.

The pointy part gives you thinner lines than those small nibs. And the other end creates the thick ones.

Using Fine Tips

Let’s say the marker you have got has a small tip. The fine tip is perfect for drawing thin lines. It will allow you to have a consistent width. For outlining work or doing drawings where there are small details, the small tip marker should be the best choice.

Also, with this kind of tip, you can create shading effects on parallel lines close together.

Based on ink (Alcohol or Watercolor)

Not all marker ink works the same way. The inks you use to draw can produce different results. Keep on reading to find more about it.

Alcohol vs Watercolor Markers


For replicating watercolor effects to have those smooth gradients, use alcohol-based markers. Yes, they are somewhat wet. And it is what enables the pens to create the effect. But you might imagine that comes with its problems. Watercolors often ruin the masterpiece with accidental splashes or worse, leaving smudges all over it as the paint remains wet.

But, not something to worry about while using the markers. They dry up fast to avoid such issues.

The best part of it, you can now apply the color layers again and again without worrying about tearing the paper or leaving a rough spot there. Still, you need to be on your toes to make sure to apply the color before it dries up entirely. Otherwise, you won’t have the multi-shade smooth gradient you’re looking to get.

Unlike other markers, you can have variations of the same color using the alcohol markers to get more variety in your work. Blending colors using such markers is as easy as pie.

Water-based colors

Alcohol markers are super versatile. But that versatility comes at a high price. That’s where water-based markers step in with its more affordable pens.

If you’ve got kids, you can hand them the colors gladly. That’s because the markers won’t have any toxic elements in them. This being so, they are safe to use by the little ones. Plus, the pens work on most papers. Though adding layers using them like the alcohol markers might not be possible.

But for coloring on adult coloring books or working on handwriting designs, they do work really great.

How to color with a Single Marker | The Technique

How to color with a Single Marker
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Smooth and Continuous: For an evenly filled area that looks smooth, draw with the marker at a continuous motion. The key is here not to lift the marker of the paper.

Striped Texture: When you need a striped texture, then you can lift the marker after finishing each line to get to the next one. The overlapping lines aligned closely to each other can create a hatching effect that would give that rough surface texture.

Contrast in shades: This is something you can create using the above two techniques. It’s like a yin and yang situation here where one-half will have a darker shade while the other will be slightly lighter.

And to achieve that, simply have a well-defined border that separates the two. Then fill up one side using the smooth color technique. Then lift the marker and fill the other side, repeating the same thing. Only this time, you will try to get a slightly lighter shade of the same color.

Random Texture: To create the chaos on the paper using the marker, all you need to do is move the marker around any direction you like to get the random texture you’re looking to achieve.

Blending Technique with Markers

Blending Technique with Markers

Not all the colors you want will be available in a marker. You’ve got to work for it. When you are looking to achieve multi-gradient color, you need to choose colors within the same range. Then combining those shades is the only way to get the color.

But it isn’t that easy as it sounds. You need to know how to blend the colors. And that’s exactly what we’re going to focus on here.

Using Two Different Colors

Applying two colors doesn’t mean having colors of two types. You will have the same color only with two different ranges.

One will have a lighter tone, while the other will have a darker tone to it. Now, to blend both these colors, first start drawing with the lighter shade. For the second layer, use the darker tint.

Then get the lighter shade again and apply it around the border of the two shades. Doing so will result in a smooth gradient transitioning from one shade to the other.

This opens up the door to create combinations that are more exciting than the typical primary marker colors. And that even using colors that are close to each other in the wheel.

But when you add more shades to the mix, having the smoother transition outcome can become a bit tougher.

That said, you don’t need many to express an object in its entirety. Only by using 3-markers, the result can be achieved to a great extent.

You would need a lighter color pen, alongside one with midtones and one with the shadows. Using them, you can have the outcome you desire—a smooth gradient.

But, that can be done in two different ways. Either you can go and use the most common light to dark drawing method. Or take the other route of going from dark to lighter shade.

Light to dark: To have the extended gradient with two colors, first, take the light marker and fill up the entire area using it.

For the next part, you will use the mid-tone shade to darken the area. Now, you’ve got to hurry and apply the light marker back again before the earlier mid-tone color dries up.

When the colors are a bit wet, blending the colors to blur the borders will be possible.

Once done with the process, take the darker marker and start creating the dark section on the coloring space. Same way, just like earlier, you will blend the colors before it gets dry.

However, this time, instead of the lighter color, you will take the mid-tone to do the job. Doing it right would result in a smooth transition of the colors.

Dark to light: What you’ve done with the earlier colors, you will be doing the same thing here too. But this time, instead of filling up space with the lighter color first, you will use the darker marker first.

Factors You Keep in Mind while Drawing with Marker

There are a couple of tips that you should try to follow to get better results using the marker.

Right Choice of Paper

While you may want to get your artwork going right away on the paper using the marker, you should hold your horses. Before starting drawing, you better check the marker color.

For that, all you need is to keep the same type of paper sheets side by side. Start drawing on one paper to see how it comes out on the paper before moving with the actual drawing. The other thing you need to work on is to be careful of choosing the paper.

Not all papers are the same. On some, the color will pop out just the way one would want. While on the others, it might come out real dull.

So, make sure to taste the marker drawing on the papers to see the outcome. And don’t be hasty with the process. It takes time for the marker color to dry. Be patient; let it dry completely to see how it comes out.

Right Choice of Marker

You can doodle, sketch, or even do some regular drawing using a color marker. But like anything, you’ve got to pick the right one. With so many kinds of markers, there is always the possibility of making the wrong pick.

There is no need to stress. Choose between water-based markers and alcohol-based ones as they’re the most popular ones today. However, they both have their pros and cons. Based on that, you should make your choice.

If you don’t want the colors to fade and wish they would dry fast, alcohol-based markers should be your pick. No surprise it is the preferred type by most artists. The color marker blends well with most which are what artists look to get the right shade while drawing.

Using it, you can expect to get shades, and overlaying that is just magical. That said, the color marker tends to bleed on paper.

Then there are the water-based markers. Unlike alcohol-based ones, it is much cheaper. That’s why this type of marker makes a better option to hand to the kids.

But adults drawing with markers can also find artist-quality ones if that’s what they are looking for. The only downside is that the color options with them are far less while they do have that fading issue.

Ways to Improve Your Drawing Skills

You can get better at drawing with a marker. For that, you just need to do more and more practice with them. That said, you can do a bunch of things regularly to get a better outcome on paper. Here they are:

  • Use the right marker tip: As you know, there are a variety of markers to be found. Depending on what you wish to achieve on the sheet, you’ve got to choose the right one. Using a broad tip marker for doing the fine detailed work is like suicide.
  • Take things slowly: The very first mistake that beginners make while using a marker is that they try to go fast. That way they get streaks which make the drawing look just god damn awful. Don’t make the mistake. Go slow to get even coverage.
  • Color Sense: When you’re trying to achieve gradients, you need to know which shade of color to apply first. Starting with a darker shade is the last thing you want. Take the lighter shade first and then go with darker shade markers. This way you can have smooth transitions.
  • Proper planning: Like any good artist, you need to plan out things while working with a marker. For instance, where the highlights will be is something you can pre-plan to ensure that you don’t apply the marker there. As you know, the mark left by the markers doesn’t get erased.
  • Keep a sketchbook: Having coloring sketchbooks is also something you should consider. With them, you’ve already got the outline of the figure drawn. All you need is to color them. This will surely help you to get better with your colors and different coloring techniques.
  • Practice more: Let me say this way. There is no better way to improve the skill than giving it a go again and again. The more you practice, the better you will get. It’s as easy as that. So, no matter how clumsy the marker drawing comes out at first. If you’re ready to give your time and don’t give up, then you’ll surely rip the benefits. Just keep on practicing.

What’s the Best Marker for Drawing?

For Coloring

Finding markers that are good for adult coloring books can be much more tricky than one can imagine. But it doesn’t need to. You can figure out the options following a couple of golden rules.

For starters, the variety of colors is something that should be on top of the list. There is nothing better to get creative with the artwork than to have more colors at your fingertips. But getting just the colors won’t be enough. The color marker needs to have a vibrancy to let the work come to life on the paper.

When drawing on those adult coloring books, the biggest issue you will face is not getting the same consistency of color. That’s why make sure the ink coming out of the marker tip can at least finish a line without fail. Otherwise, you’ve got to recolor, which will just mess up the consistency.

Besides that, the grip of the marker, the tip of it are some of the important factors that you would want to consider highly to get the best results. If you’re thinking about finding all that, then the Copic marker SB12 is something you would want to check out. The colors you will get using it will be much more vibrant and, at the same time smooth.

For Sketching

To do proper sketching using markers, you’ve got to ensure that you get a wide range of marker nibs at your disposal. That way, you can manage to do detailed work as well as fill up space with color with ease to get the right effect from the sketching.

Then there is the matter of choosing the right time of ink for the marker. Here, the options are between alcohol and water-based colors.

For sketching, alcohol markers should be the obvious choice as you can get smooth ink flow without leaving smudges on the paper. The fast-drying feature is what makes them so great for this type of drawing.

But some high-quality watercolors can give you the same effect or even better of their watercolor effect. A great example of that is the Tombow 56167. It is one of the top markers for sketching. Using this watercolor, you can get various depths and thicknesses in your sketching. Even better, the sheet doesn’t get stained with smudges when you use it, unlike some other markers.

For Calligraphy

In case you’re wishing to do calligraphy, the first thing you need to consider quite highly is the tips of the pen. A finer detail pen should be the perfect thing to have for this type of job.

Though, it might vary from artist to artist. A good way to deal with this problem is having a marker with a dual brush. That way, using the variety of tips, you can get more versatile work done.

One more thing, consider having a brush with a flexible elasticity tip. That way, you will have the original shape back, which will be better for your work as some tips get deformed due to pressure.

Other than this, the ink flow rate of the pen also demands to be examined. Calligraphy is all about the consistency of the pen strikes. Therefore, a nib with a wet ink flow would be your best bet as it will prevent any streaking or pooling issues.

Keeping all those things in mind, the option that seems to be the obvious pick is the Tomboy dual brush marker. It is the perfect calligraphy pen as it manages to give the right effect for your work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How to prevent marker bleeding through the paper?

To prevent marker bleeding, most important step is to select an appropriate marker paper that are specially designed for marker drawing. You can also place an extra sheet beneath the paper so that it absorbs that extra ink and prevents bleeding.

However, I would recommend you to use markers with less pressure and gentle touches so that it doesn’t provide too many ink in one spot.

Q: How to fix mistakes made with markers?

Fixing mistakes made with markers are easy if you use colorless blender marker. People usually think that there is no way to fix marker errors rather than a fresh start. But I would suggest you to try colorless blenders at least one and I can assure that you will become a fan of this!

Q: Is it possible to do calligraphy with Crayola markers?

Crayola markers are great to draw with. But often, people don’t feel the same when they try to do calligraphy using it.

So, is it impossible to do that using Crayola? Let’s find out with this complete guideline about calligraphy with Crayola.

To answer your question first. Yes, you can do calligraphy using Crayola. But first, make sure to get a marker on tracing paper as it will make the job easier for you.

And then, try to follow the below steps for drawing calligraphy using it.

Start slow. Take time and try to get the basic strokes right. All you need to achieve are those downstrokes and upstrokes. Once you’ve got down to the basics, you can easily see how the thicker and thinner lines of the calligraphy come naturally to you.

One of the reasons people find it hard to calligraphy using Crayola is for their broad tips. If you hold them like a brush pen, you won’t ever get the result. So, hold it upright. For thin upstrokes, that will help. For other strokes, you’ve got to figure out the right angle with the tip. Find out that, and you will already see improvement in your work using the Crayola.

The next best thing you can do is a practice as much as you can. Just like I’ve said earlier, start slow. Instead of doing a whole word, try first to get the letters right, and then take one step at a time. That way, you will get better calligraphy done.

Wrapping Up

Did you come here to learn how to draw with markers? I guess you have found your answer with a complete guideline.

From learning how to blend colors to using the different nibs to draw, there is a lot to soak in for beginners. Still, with time and practice, you can master the art of using the marker. So, go ahead, keep on going and try different things. Hopefully, the tips here will help you become better.

Maria Tanish

Hello World! Tanish here, a student of Fine Arts. Drawing was my passion from an early age but I also love to do some DIY projects to spend my leisure. Even I work as a writer, to share my knowledge about the ins and outs of drawing and the art industry itself. As an artist, I always wanna share my experiences with you all.

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