Can You Use Markers on Canvas? If Yes, What Markers Can You Use?

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

can you use markers on canvas

Canvas is a popular material for shoes, bags, and even shirts. They usually come in plain colors, so a lot of the time, people would spruce them up by customizing them. But there are no specific canvas markers available on the market.

Hence, the million dollar questions are: Can you use markers on canvas? What can you use?

The short answer is yes! You can use markers on canvas. In fact, there are many different types of pens that you can use. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into what they are and how you can use them for your canvas surfaces. Read on!

Can You Use Markers on Canvas?



You can use paint markers, alcohol-based markers, water-based markers, and oil-based markers on canvas. The material will take in the inks of all these tools, and they will give you brilliant results.

Using markers on canvas will not damage the fabric or the pens themselves. And you can write, draw, or color on the material as you would with ordinary paper.

Each type of marker, however, has its advantages. It is essential to choose them with this in mind. To help you, we have a list of the marker types below. Continue reading to explore each in more detail and make your call.

Markers to Use on Canvas

1. Paint markers


These top of the list when it comes to canvas writing, drawing, or coloring. They are quite easy to use and can lay down very rich pigments. Their opaque colors will also dry fast on canvas. Thus, you do not have to worry about smudging or smearing.

Plus, these markers are permanent. You can preserve your impressive canvas art without hassles.

Some paint marker on canvas that we recommend are:

  • POSCA acrylic paint markers for canvas
  • Tooli-Art 30 acrylic paint pens
  • Penguin Art Supplies dual tip acrylic paint pens

2. Alcohol-based markers


These are markers like Sharpie. They can resist water, making them particularly great for canvas. Permanent marker on canvas can last long if not scrubbed and scoured by solvents.

As with paint markers, alcohol-based ones are not difficult to use. They also come in many tips, shapes, and sizes, as well as colors. So, you can let your creativity run wild when using alcohol markers on canvas.

If you do not want to use Sharpie on canvas because you cannot be sure if Sharpie bleed on canvas, you can consider Copic markers and Prismacolor markers. These are two popular brands worth trying.

3. Water-based markers


Washable markers and pens like POSCA pens can be used on canvas too. They are typically chosen for kids to use, as they are not as expensive as other writing tools and can be cleaned more easily. You can use water-based markers and pen on canvas as you do on other surfaces.

A few reliable examples of these markers for canvas painting, drawing, coloring, and writing are:

  • Washable Crayola markers on canvas
  • POSCA water-based pen for writing on canvas
  • Tombow water-based brush pens

4. Oil-based markers


Oil-based markers are another great option for canvas. They will not wear off or fade easily, even if they are exposed to sun rays. These also dry quickly and can be used in conjunction with other tools, like oil-based paints.

However, oil-based markers can be tricky to clean up. You might not want your little ones using them. They also tend to contain toxic components. If you do decide to use them, make sure your working space is well-ventilated.

Some good oil-based markers options that artists can count on are:

  • Artistro oil-based permanent paint pens
  • AROIC oil-based paint pens
  • EKKONG oil-based permanent paint markers

How Do They Work on Canvas?


1. Paint Markers

The key to using these markers on canvas is proper priming. You must activate them before use, prime them along the way, and clean them when you are finished.

In general, you would have to cap the markers, give them a shake for several seconds, then press their tips against paper to get the ink flowing.

These markers should work fantastically on canvas. They should produce bold, brilliant lines and be easy to use.

2. Alcohol-Based Markers

Like paint markers, alcohol-based ones should work easily on canvas. They do not need to be primed, so you will not have to go through any hassles.

However, some permanent markers with alcohol-based ink can bleed when they are used on canvas. To avoid this, try to get markers that have thinner tips. On a different note, these markers might not appear too vibrant on canvas.

3. Water-Based Markers

Water-based markers appear opaque on canvas. They can be used along with other tools, like alcohol-based markers. These types work exceptionally well on gessoed canvases. Moreover, they are the go-to options for water-based canvases.

4. Oil-Based Markers

You can use these markers on canvas just as you would with other pens. However, they tend to encounter clogging issues, disrupting smooth ink flows. On canvas, this is more difficult to fix. So, it is recommended that you look for oil-based markers with big nibs.

Types of Canvases


Canvases come in different forms and fabrics.

  • For the former, there are stretched canvas, canvas rolls, roll panels, and canvas pads/sheets
  • For the latter, there are cotton, linen, and synthetic fabrics. There are also blends of these three.

Canvases can also be categorized as (1) oil canvas for oil tools, (2) absorbent canvas for tempera, and (3) universal canvas for most types of paints.

You must think about the type of canvas you are working on to pair well with your markers.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to seal Sharpie on canvas?

You can use mod podge to set Sharpie on canvas. The red, yellow, orange, and blue variations all work well as Sharpie sealing agents. Just make sure you stick to the instructions on the label. Do not stray from what the manufacturer recommends.

Can you use paint markers on painted canvas?

Absolutely. Paint markers have highly pigmented ink that can go over the top of painted surfaces like painted canvas. It is not uncommon for people to coat white gesso canvases with paint, then decorate them with colorful paint markers.

What are some trusted marker brands for canvas art?

The most well-known ones are:

  • Artistro
  • Crafts 4 All
  • Crazy Color
  • Liquitex
  • Tooli-Art
  • Uni POSCA

Should I use Copic markers on canvas?

You can use Copic markers on canvas, but we do not recommend doing so. Even though they are professional-grade writing tools, they are not the best options on canvas.

For starters, it is very tough to make straight lines with them because of the material’s textured nature. You cannot make the most out of these markers because blending is not possible. The color that you lay down with the Copics might also change over time.


As you have read, the answer to “Can you use markers on canvas?” is yes. You will not have to worry about damaging the markers or the canvas when you choose to use these writing tools.

You can opt for paint markers, alcohol-based markers, water-based markers, or oil-based ones, such as those from POSCA.

Leave any other thoughts you want to share or questions you have with us in the comments. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Feel free to talk about your experience using markers on canvas as well. We (and other readers) would love to hear from you.

Other guides on using other types of markers:

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