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The Arts For Life Guide to Art Supplies: Markers + Pens

It’s not about having the fanciest or most expensive materials, it’s about having the right materials for the project you want to do. 


At Arts For LIfe, we probably use markers more than any other material, by far. Markers are so versatile– they come in every bold color you could ever imagine, they are relatively mess-free, and literally anyone can use them with success.

Broad and Chisel Tip  markers are good for coloring larger places. Brands: Crayola, Mr. Sketch

Fine Tip markers are good for outlining and more detailed work. Brands: Sharpie, Crayola Supertips

Brush tip markers lay on like paint and are good for filling in medium-sized areas with color. Brands: Tombow

Water based (or Washable ) markers are odorless and safe. They aren’t permanent and can be used for many different effects when adding water. They can tear paper easily if too many layers are applied.  Brands: Crayola, Tombow 

Alcohol based markers are mostly permanent and dry quickly. They won’t bleed so are good to mix with watercolors for outlining. Brands: Sharpies, Prismacolor, Copic

Solvent based markers are often used for poster making and craft projects. They usually have a really strong scent and aren’t the best for kids. Brands: Chartpak



Pens are usually good for drawing, coloring fine details, patterns, doodles and decorative work. They are not good for coloring in large or even medium-sized spaces.

Fineliners have extra-small points for very detailed line drawings or coloring in very small spaces. Ages 7+. Brands: Staetdler, Sakura, Sharpie Extra-fine

Felt tip pens are almost like markers. They come in a variety of widths and offer bold color. Brands: Papermate, Bic

Gel pens are paint-like; they have thick ink that lays down smoothly even on dark-colored paper. Brands: Sakura Gelly Roll

There are A LOT of pens out there and it takes a while to find your favorite! Find what works for you.


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