Do you need all the colors in order to feel ready to make art? In a comparison of marker brands, I tried matching colors by layering, to see if I could make them look right without having the exact colors they called for – by layering.

A word from our “Sponsor”

This post is brought to you (ha) by one of my brand new pages on the art-classes site….the new Hex Charts and More page! If you haven’t visited in a while, scroll through this page, or any of the mediums… they’re no longer just long lists of thumbnails. There’s hidden jokes, helpful videos, quotes to inspire you, and context around groupings of classes.

My goal is to make the content more helpful, motivational, and just plain fun to check out! I’d love your feedback, especially if you find any oopses; I’ve been discovering some copy/paste errors and would love to know if you find others.

Tutorial: Alcohol Markers: Do you really need ALL the colors?

It’s a long one – skim through to the section you want, or just park with a donut and coffee and let’s chill together a while!

  • Three brands of alcohol marker – Copic, Sketchmarker, Olo 03:22
  • My alcohol marker reference book 05:16
  • Alcohol marker conversion charts 08:13
  • Red blending test 09:30
  • Green blending speed drawing 14:44

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Basic blending test

The markers all seemed to perform the same in blending with two exceptions:

  1. Copic retained some hard edges (see the light outline around the butterfly)
  2. Copic’s blender pen retained some of the “removal” of color, the others just got very very soft.

Copic’s c0lorless blender has never been something I’ve loved because of the almost pixelly-texture created, but I was really surprised the other brands just melted in instead. This might be the paper or the fact that it’s RED. Hateful red that loves to be a pain. LOL.

Drawing head-to-head test

The greens between the three mediums aren’t apples to apples by any means; but an overall assessment:

  1. Copic’s range contains more useable muted greens IMHO. The other brands are generally more saturated, with the exception of the G1s through G3s, which are a nice warm range that I’ve been hoping would show up. (No luck on getting dark desaturated ones, bummer!)
  2. Sketchmarker has a lot of greens, or shall we say “G” markers, that are actually blue or bluegreen. Hard to call them greens, but – they were very helpful in layering with their more yellowish greens to create the tones in the Copic version.
  3. Olo. Poor Olo with so few greens to play with! The ones they have are nice, and I like the way the color lays down, but I hope their next release whenever it happens will have more range. But even with that – I was surprised I could get the right greens!

Part 2 is coming up Saturday

Now that this one is finished, my attention turns to the neutrals – the browns. So far I haven’t found any gamechangers in that range, though the Red Greys for black-brown hair are pretty interesting from Sketchmarker. But stay tuned – that post will also talk about some colors in both Sketchmarker and Olo that seem to be unique to them, so if you had interest in adding a color or two, I hope to have some suggestions!


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  1. Joni Ryan

    I purchased the Copic hex chart (and several free charts)and it’s not in my email. Where will I find it and when can I expect to see it?

  2. Gab

    This is great – thanks Sandy!


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