Marker Madness: Sharpie Water-Based Markers

· by my blog · Read in about 6 min · (1080 words) ·

The very first Sharpie marker was a black, indelible ink pen introduced by the Sanford company in 1964. Since that time, the brand has grown to include almost 40 different colors and more than 100 products. While you‘re most familiar with the ubiquitous black marker, today we‘ll take a look at a different critter in the Sharpie lineup.

I‘ve been using the Sharpie Water-Based Paint markers for art journaling for some time now. I like the ones with the Extra Fine point because they make the thinnest lines.

The water-based markers are available in two types: Water Based and Poster Paint. As far as I can tell, there is no difference in the ink between the two. However, the nibs are different. They are available in Extra fine, Fine, Medium and Bold points.

I don‘t like to buy these on line, although, when I have, they have arrived in prime condition and worked perfectly. I can often find them in craft stores such as Michael‘s or Hobby Lobby. However, I‘ve gotten the best prices on them at the grocery store and Walgreens! Look in the “hardware” sections of stores because sometimes they are placed there instead of craft or office supply.

I don‘t actually remember where I got the test pens, but I suspect it was at Michael‘s, either on sale, or with a coupon. I‘ve had them for over a year.

The packaging of these is nothing impressive. They come blister-packed either in sets or individually.

The pens have a white, plastic barrel with an imprinted, sticker label. The sticker information includes the type of paint, color, nib size, and instructions for use, along with company and stocking information.

The length of my pens is just under 5″ with the caps on and slightly shorter with the caps off. There are some different styles that I‘ve seen on line that look like the pen might be longer, but it‘s hard to be sure without seeing them in person.

The plastic caps are color coordinated to the paint. They have a nice pen-type clip on them which allows you to clip them to a pocket or sketch book and also keeps the pen from rolling.

The cap will fit on the opposite end when the pen is being used.

The nib is different for each different size. The extra fine has a nice nylon nib set in a metal collar.

The extra fine Poster Paint pen has a different nib than the regular paint pen. It is a hard, felt tip.

The nib on the fine Paint pen is a bit rounded and draws a broader line.

So, when shopping for these pens, keep in mind what you want to use them for, and what line-width you want.

These are “valve action” markers where a valve in the barrel of the pen meters the flow of paint. The amount of pressure applied to the nib of the pen affects the flow. More pressure equals more paint.

When you open a new marker, hold it upright and depress the nib with your finger. This will break the initial seal so the valve can begin working. Next, recap the pen and shake to mix the paint. You will hear a rattling sound as you‘re shaking the pen. Then pump the nib on a test surface until the paint starts to flow.

Although I didn‘t know what would happen, I tried the same tests for this type of pen as I did for the regular markers.

As you can see, even holding the extra-fine pen at an angle, the relative line width didn‘t really change. You can get some variation in line width if you‘re using one of the pens with a felt nib.

Coloring overlap has no problems because each stroke of the paint spread right into the previous unless they were some distance apart.

I was surprised to see that the ink dried so fast I couldn‘t really spread it with water.

And drawing into a wet spot only created a little bleed.

Picking up the paint with a wet brush worked surprisingly well, though! And, when it dried, it wasn‘t affected by any added water.

Note: Substrate used for testing examples is Strathmore Vellum finish Bristol board.

The extra fine point is available in 7 regular colors, 5 pastel colors and 6 metallic colors. Other sizes of nib may be available in different sets of colors.

I couldn‘t find an official color chart for these, but here is what the ones I have look like on both black and white paper.

The ink is acid-free, quick-drying, fade-resistant and water-resistant. It will not bleed through heavy paper, and it‘s permanent (when used on paper.)

The main reason I love these markers is that they can write over a variety of medium, from acrylic paint to colored pencil. I use the white marker all the time for “high lights” on artwork. The colored markers are great for writing text in Art Journals. I used the peach and light blue on this page.

I used the white, Poster Paint marker to create the thin-line, white highlights on the zen gem in the Zentangle below.

If the tip seems dried up when you go to use your marker, wipe the nib off with a baby wipe. That usually solves the problem.

Don‘t over-pump these unless you want a puddle of paint. The more you pump, the more paint will be pushed out of the valve. I rarely have to pump mine. Usually if they aren‘t working it‘s because the nib is gunked up, not because they need to be pumped.

These do have a “sticker” label instead of an imprinted label. I‘ve mentioned before that I don‘t like them. But I have to say, on these pens, I‘ve never had one peel up or wear off, so I‘m OK with them.

I keep these markers tightly capped when I‘m not using them. But I have to say, when they are in use, they may be uncapped for a while, particularly when I‘m writing text. I‘ve had them for more than a year, and they are all still working. The longevity has surprised me!

  • Target - $10.29 for a set of 3 metallic, $12.49 for a set of 3 glitter
  • Walmart - Widest variety. Price varies from $4.97 and up
  • Amazon - Varies from $4.95 and up
  • Dick Blick - varies from $2.99 and up
  • Jerry‘s Artarama - does not carry the paint versions