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How to Pick Permanent Markers for Fashion Drawings

You can use markers for a variety of purposes in fashion drawing. Some artists love to add marker lines over a pencil sketch to get that sharp, clean look (ultra-fine black Sharpies are great for this). You can also use markers to add color to your fashion drawings.

Begin your marker supplies with a few key colors in high-quality markers and the rest of the colors in cheaper versions (100-color sets). The high-quality markers include the following:

  • A few skins tones (light to dark)

  • Warm and cool grays

  • A light yellow

  • A bright red

Stay away from the rainbow sets — you’ll find that you rarely use most of those colors. As you develop your fashion illustration skills, you’ll determine the colors you use the most and invest in higher-quality markers as you see fit.

Quality markers are quite an expensive investment, but they’re well worth it! These markers dry fast, have more than one point (they’re double ended), allow you options in blending colors, and are true to the color on the outside of the marker. They also last a long time before they dry out or run out of ink.

Don’t buy water-soluble markers. They take longer to dry and have a tendency to smear — usually when you’re just about to complete your drawing. Permanent markers are a must!

Here’s a list of brand-name markers you may want to try:

  • Ultra-fine black Sharpies: This marker can produce an ultra-thin line every time. It’s terrific for finalizing pencil outlines and for adding details, linear shading, and textures. And when you feel really confident, you can use this marker to turn out some amazing runway-like sketches with just a few lines.

  • Prismacolor markers: This line of markers has a long life span, as long as you take care of them. Prismacolor offers a wide selection of color markers, though you should stick with the gray shades for now. Their double-ended markers have a broad, flat edge on one end and a fine point on the other. They also won’t give you the dreaded marker headache because they don’t smell.

  • Pantone Universe Twin markers: Pantone offers a decent line of markers with both a brush-shaped end and a fine-point end in one marker. Test out their cool and warm grays — they’re wonderful for a bold shading style. When you feel confident, a quick stroke of a marker is the way to go in fashion illustration.

  • Copic markers: These markers are pricey but well worth it. They’re one of the best quality markers on the market! They all come double-ended — each end has a different tip. Most Copic markers can be refilled (which saves money and waste), and the range of colors available is endless.

  • Tombow Dual Brush Pens: These brush tip markers (also known as stamping markers) are so much fun! They’re less expensive than the other markers, and they work like paint brushes, laying down bold colors with a softer tip. After being introduced to these markers, some students inevitably get hooked!

Here are a few tips on using your markers:

  1. Sketch in pencil and get your fashion illustration in good shape.

    Permanent markers are called “permanent” for a reason.

  2. Try to pick up some graphite from your pencil lines using your kneaded eraser.

  3. Run your marker over the pencil lines.

    Try not to rub the marker into a paper hard enough to pill the paper and ruin the tip of the marker.

  4. Put those caps on tightly after using your markers.

    Otherwise, you’ll dry them out faster than you can say “waste of money.”

    Dried-out markers can be annoying because markers are pricey, but don’t throw them out — they can be great for depicting sheer and textured fabrics because they leave less pigment on your paper, which creates white spots that are almost impossible to purposely create.

  5. Let your marker lines sit a bit and then erase your pencil lines.

    You’ll marvel at the crispness produced.

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