How to Use Alcohol Markers? – 6 Steps for Beginners

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to use alcohol markers

Learning how to draw is one thing, but knowing how to use the correct shades of hue is not simple! Some artists prefer to publish their artworks in black and white, like the drawings in most manga novels.

However, tints and tones are added to sketches to convey the mood of the setting and add emotional depth to it– much like when mangas are turned into anime!

The secret of professional artists? Alcohol markers! Believe it or not, these markers can make any 2D drawing look realistic. Learn how to use alcohol markers, let’s make a pro out of you!

Ways to Use Alcohol Markers


Professionals in any field started as beginners, too. So if you are one, consider yourself lucky because you are about to learn the basics of using alcohol markers!

Here’s a list of things you need to prepare:

  • Alcohol marker set
  • Art medium of your choice
  • Cardboard (or any absorbent surface)
  • 2-3 sheets of smooth and thick paper
  • Black ballpen
  • Sketching pencils

Step #1: Separate the markers by chroma and by color family.

Since alcohol markers come in multiple shades within a single family of color, you may get confused as to which marker provides which tint.

To take this load off of you while working on your alcohol markers art, it is ideal for preparing a color palette guide for your reference. But this will be further discussed in the next step.

First, you have to segregate the markers to their respective family of color to make the succeeding steps easier! Afterward, lay out the markers and arrange them based on their chroma– or the intensity or vibrance of the color.

Step #2: Make a color palette guide!


Depending on the number of markers inside the set you bought, you may need more than one sheet of paper. Ensure that the marker paper is thick and smooth enough that it prevents mess and damage.

Alcohol markers used for thin papers might leak behind, so placing them on top of an absorbent cardboard or scrap paper will avert more ink from oozing out.

Use the brush tips of the markers for easy shading. According to the previously segregated markers, color in on the paper with the darkest to lightest shade or vice versa.

Wait until the ink is completely dry, and label the shade with the corresponding color code with a black ballpen. For extra organization, some separate the colors with boxed lines– it’s all up to you!

Step #3: Select the art medium of your choice.


Alcohol markers offer many medium choices for artists to work on– whether on glass, wood, or other surfaces.

What’s fascinating is that this art marker is permanent and does not easily smudge!

That’s why some people use alcohol ink markers in tie-dyeing or the art of adding patterns on fabric while a good few portions are tied together to prevent over-saturation of colors.

So before selecting the medium you want, you have to know your intention. Why will you be using alcohol markers? Is it for practicing or for a specific purpose? Maybe you want to draw on tumblers for personalization or paint a postcard.

Once you have figured these out, you’ll find yourself narrowing down your options and eventually picking one out!

Step #4: Test the colors out.


Keep in mind that alcohol based markers produce permanent ink because of their components. Due to the diversity in texture or acidity, various art mediums may give differing results from one another.

You do not want to ruin a perfectly good item by failing to test out the colors and see how alcohol markers work on certain canvases!

Thus, it’s recommended that you first test the marker with the color of your choice on a separate area– preferably one with the same surface as your chosen medium.

The Internet is also filled with many DIY tutorials that can give you a sample of the outcome for different types of mediums, so that might help.

Step #5: Create a blueprint of your art.

When crafting alcohol markers art, you should have a blueprint for the color shade you will use. You may either use a separate sheet of paper or directly on the intended medium and start drawing.

To give a monochrome glimpse of the marker art, sketch out your drawing using a pencil and shade lightly on areas in which you want to have color.

By adding a little pressure on your pencil, darken some parts with a slightly medium shade– of course, this depends on your imagination and creativity! With the same method, add the darkest shades on preferred areas.

Lastly, using the pencil’s tip, outline the drawing to create silhouettes and add definition to some parts.

Step #6: Start shading and blending!

Since the marker tips are replaceable, you can use various kinds. A chisel tip or fine tip marker helps trace defined lines and hand lettering, while a brush nib is for shading.

  • An essential trick to creating alcohol marker drawings is, to begin with, the light colors on the large areas using the brush nibs. This will allow you to blend the darker shades and add layers on top of one another.
  • With the chisel or fine nibs, outline the small details and thin lines. This technique is deemed crucial since it can smoothly transition the lighter colors to the darker colors. Thus, making it easier to blend!
  • All that’s left to do is mix and match the colors with few alcohol markers to develop a particular mood for your marker art.

How do you think professionals were able to render such masterpieces? Practicing is the key to mastering alcohol markers art! With enough of that, you will soon be able to create realistic artwork with vivid colors like a pro!

Frequently Asked Questions


What are alcohol markers?

Alcohol markers also go by the name Copic markers. From the term itself, you have probably already gathered that an alcohol marker is made of alcohol!

Despite its components, alcohol based markers do not reek of volatile solvents that make anyone dizzy, as how most regular markers do. It also has a faint smell of rubbing alcohol.

  • Versatile in colors and and nib types

They have multiple available shades that belong in the same color family. And, while many markers only offer limited choices of nib types, most alcohol markers have one on both ends– a chisel tip for outlining and a brush tip for blending.

  • Work on various surface

Alcohol markers are suitable to use on paper, glass, metal, on canvas, wood, and other surfaces.

Because they are alcohol-based and not water-based, the ink dries quickly, smudges less, and produces permanent vibrant colors.

  • Replaceable nibs

Not to mention that the nibs are often replaceable, and the ink is refillable– this is definitely an added wow factor to the marker!

What are the benefits of using alcohol markers?

Alcohol based markers are all-around art markers. They offer more expansive choices of art medium than other markers and have two types of nibs most of the time.

Aside from that, numerous shades are also available in one color family. This allows the artist to work with a deeper and broader color depth for their artworks because they can blend alcohol markers as they see fit.

Acohol markers are sought after by many crafters, illustrators, manga artists, and graphic designers as they allow for a wider range of techniques in coloring, shading, blending, and layering.

Due to alcohol markers being all-around art markers, they give the artist an ability to create realistic artworks. That’s why they are used for architecture plates, dyeing fabric, making postcards, painting ceramics, and so on.

Which paper do you use with alcohol markers?

Like mentioned, alcohol based inks are suitable for most surfaces, which includes paper and other materials. But when drawing with alcohol markers, most artists should remember that these pens are made of rubbing alcohol.

Thus, its fluid consistency is quite different from solvent based pens and a thicker kind of paper is suggested to prevent the ink from oozing over the other side.

It would even be better if it is the smooth type of paper as it would protect the different nibs from wearing off easily or getting destroyed.

How do you use alcohol markers for beginners?

As alcohol markers offer a wide variety of colors, they may be intimidating for beginners. But that is also the very reason why this versatile tool is ideal for them since they can explore which color would fit with another.

Beginners should remember to create a color palette guide beforehand, labeling the colors with their corresponding codes. This is so they can look back at it and get an idea of the outcome.

How do you blend with alcohol markers?

The secret to blending alcohol markers that many artists should take note of is to use the marker with the lightest tint and work their way down the palette should they decide to add more shades and outlines to the artwork.

Blending markers are also available in the market to help gradually blend from one color to another. They also go by the term, colorless blender and can make a big difference in the color gradient of the artwork.


With all things said, it is no wonder that alcohol markers are what art professionals prefer! Since your curiosity on how to use alcohol markers is unleashed, all you have to do is try it out!

Thanks to innovation, we are now provided with multifaceted things that encourage growth for our skills, much like how alcohol markers are the go-to markers of many.

Suppose you are convinced that alcohol markers suit your art style, way to go! You are already one step ahead of becoming a veteran at color blending.

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