In order to really decide how I feel about using them, I decided to colour the same image in four different mediums; Copics, Derwent Inktense Pencils, DI Reinkers and the Artiste Markers.
I'm certainly not an expert in any of these products, nor am I connected to any of the companies in any way (a girl can dream though, right!). Although I am more confident with those that I use most often, I'll try not to let my comfort with my most frequently used mediums bias my comments.
The image I've used is called Dropping the Shopping by Lili of the Valley. I chose this mainly because it included skin, hair and clothing as well as something cute and furry! I thought all of these elements would give me a better range of colouring challenges upon which to make my comparison.
So here goes .....
Copic Alcohol Markers
I thought I'd set the benchmark with the medium I find quickest to colour with in order to determine where I wanted the shadow & light and also to choose my colours. So my first sample is using Copics. These are the only medium which are alcohol-based, rather than water-based, so I stamped with Momento ink onto smooth white card.
I've actually not used Copics for a few weeks, so it wasn't as easy as I'd thought! To intensify the comparison challenge I decided to include some 'white' areas, and also outline the whole image with blue to give it a bit of 'pop'.
As usual, the pens were easy to blend (although I do find red the hardest to blend well) and I tried a couple of different techniques, including 'dotting' the grey to shade the hat and cuffs.
So, the bar is set, and although I think I could have tried harder with the pleats in her coat, I was fairly pleased with the end result.
So here's the Copic entry:
Docrafts Artiste Watercolour Markers
While I was in 'marker mode' I thought I'd dive straight into the Artiste marker pens. These are watercolour pens, so I stamped with Stazon onto my preferred Langton watercolour 300gsm card.
The first noticeable difference to Copics was the range of colours. I have the 36 colour set so had to decide which colours were going to give me the best comparison to the Copics (erm, yes, I may possibly have slightly more than 36 Copics in my collection!). For example, when I use Copics to colour skin, I use up to 7 different pens, but with the Artistes, I only had 3; a skin colour, a tan brown for the shadow, and a pink blush for her cheeks. It probably helped that there was a relatively small surface area of skin on this image, but I think that the shading turned out ok, and she even has a little bridge on her nose where I popped in a bit of extra shadow, just as I'd done with the Copics.
The second main difference between the Artistes and the Copics was the brightness of the colours. I could possibly have used brighter colours in the Copics, but almost all 36 of the Artiste colours are bright, and there are no 'dusky' shades. This makes the image instantly appear brighter.
When using the pens, I found that I didn't need to add very much ink before 'dragging' it out with my waterbrush. It was easy to add layers (using the same colour on top of the last layer to add depth and shading). I only used the brush nibs, but they are exceptionally fine and therefore accurate, and can get into the smallest corner to add colour. It was also easy to add a bit of shading to the gathers at the base of her coat.
There were relatively few colours suitable for the furries, but I used two separate shades of brown on the pup and he turned out a mahogany colour. The 'white-grey' was fairly easy to shade, and the ink watered down really well to give just a hint of colour where I wanted only a subtle softness. Even the blue halo around the image was easy, although the blue was a fairly dark hue, so I ended up swiping the water brush down the pen's brush nib and adding the ink off the water brush instead of directly from the marker to make it lighter. I guess I could have scribbled some marker ink onto an acrylic block and picked that up with my brush, but I was being lazy!
Overall, the pens were as easy to apply as Copics, but blended via water. I feel that water-colouring looks softer and I found it easier to blend away harsh lines without washing out the colour which I sometimes suffer from with Copics when blending a lighter shade after a darker shade.
Derwent Inktense Pencils
The pencils are the medium that I'm least comfortable with. I love how other people use them with great effect and I love the softness of shades that I've seen achieved. I invested in a fabulous set of Inktense Pencils a while ago and they've seen very little use because I simply don't feel confident using them. However, I've bitten the bullet and included them in my colouring comparison.
The range of colours is huge (I have the beautiful wooden boxset of 72 pencils), and I love that they blend with water rather than the paper-stumps and Sansodor, but I do find that I can't always blend out the original area that the pencil makes on the paper and it leaves a feint line that is still visible after a lot of furious blending.
In order to do the 'halo effect' around the image I used my watercolour brush to take colour from the pencil and then transfer it from the brush onto the paper rather than applying the pencil directly to the image. This seemed to reduce the problem of the un-blended lines. The colours were a bit dusky and gave the image more of a vintage look.
One of the main problems I found was that even if the paper was only fractionally damp, the pencil lines were worse and if the pencil itself got wet, then I had to say goodbye to any hope of blending. However, I did find then that I could use the brush-to-pencil application method really easily to great effect.
As well as loving the effect that I'd seen others' produce with them, another reason that I actually bought the pencils originally was their portability. I couldn't take my reinker pallets with me when I left the house because the inks are far too runny, so I was limited to Copics if I wanted to colour anywhere than at home. Saying that, hubby wasn't too impressed when I sneaked the rather bulky wooden box into his suitcase (I was travelling light with all my clothes in just hand-luggage) when we went on holibobs earlier this year. Men just don't understand a crafter's obsessions! I could've taken them out of their box to make them less bulky, but the box actually doubled up as an image protector and kept my images flat and safe from dog-ears in transit too. :0)
Distress Ink Reinkers
So lastly I've used the medium that I'm most comfortable with, my Ranger Distress Ink Reinkers. I have 55 of the dinky bottles of inks, (eek, I've never counted them before) stored in 2 of the Tim Holtz palette trays. On the downside, they have practically zero portability (I just about manage to take them outside onto the garden table, but even then once fell foul of a gust of wind that took hold of the tray and gave me a multicoloured gravel path and an empty palette. If you prefer you can, I believe, use the ink pads instead and grab ink with your paintbrush by pressing ink from the pad onto an acrylic block (or the lid). However, the reinkers are more cost effective (and I don't want 55 ink pads) and their lack of portability is more than compensated by the range of depth and shadow that can be achieved. You can get an amazing array of style using these inks, from beautiful, soft, romantic, subtle hues (see the lovely Squirrel's amazingly delicate colouring) to the higher contrast effect that is all I seem to be able to achieve (despite my occasional attempts to take a leaf out of Squirrel's book and "keep it soft").
Another consideration is that these bottles of inks last ages because you need so little ink on the paintbrush. I've been using them for years, often on a daily basis, and I've not even used a quarter of a bottle of any of my colours yet, even those I use most like the browns. A single drop from the pipette lasts months and they don't evaporate on the palette either.
Like the pencils, you have to be uber careful if you find you're adding another layer on top if the previous layer isn't quite dry because it will bleed. Worse, and far far far worse than any of the other mediums I've mentioned above, if you don't allow one colour to dry before colouring a neighbouring area you are at a high risk of colours bleeding into each other. This can sometimes be saved with a clean damp brush and blotting with kitchen paper but is heartbreaking when it happens, especially if you've coloured most of the image. I did have a small mishap (*ahem* purely in the name of research for this review, of course) on the bottom left corner of the purple bag, but I blended it with water to wash it down, and then the blue halo faded it a bit more, but that happened because I added the blue halo before the purple was dry, which can take some time.
Overall, despite their challenging mishaps, and lack of portability, the inks are still my go-to colouring options, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be getting rid of my Copics, Inktense pencils or Artiste watercolour markers anytime soon!
Side by Side
As a final comparison here are all 4 finished images side by side. The Copics are on smooth white card, and the others, all being watercolour mediums, are on Langton which is a bit creamier in colour. My lamp was also in the top left corner of my desk!
- Top left : Copics
- Top right : Docraft Artiste Watercolour Markers
- Bottom left : Derwent Inktense Pencils
- Bottom right : Ranger Distress Ink Reinkers
Here's a finished card using one of the images. But can you see which one? No prizes for guessing, so it's just for fun, but let me know in the comments section which medium you think I've used on this card! :0)
More importantly, I'd love to hear what you think of the review, and if you have any other questions on any of the above mediums. If you've made it this far down the article, I hope this has been helpful, especially if you're new to any of these colouring tools.
- Image - Dropping the Shopping by Lili of the Valley (Rubber or Digi)
- Colouring - Alcohol Markers,
Distress Ink Reinkers,
Derwent Inktense Pencils,
Docrafts Artiste Watercolour Dual-tip pens
- Nitwit Collections Woodland Wishes Papers
- Momento Stamp Pad Ink / Stazon Ink Pad
- The Langton Watercolour paper
- Viva Pearl Pen - Ice White
- Crystal Glamour Dust
- MFT Inside Out Stitched Rounded Square Stax
- Memory Box Twighlight Snowflakes die
- 15mm Satin Ribbon
- Glossy Accents
- Let it Snow button
- Coloured Rhinestones