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The best markers for adult coloring books

Best markers for adult coloring books

The best markers for adult coloring books are the ones that make you feel like a kid, but offer the subtlety and sophistication to color a work of art you can show off to grownups. Kids’ markers are cheaper, but they wear out quickly and don’t have as good quality pigments, so you won’t get the vibrance you will get from adult art markers.
Many people want to know what are good markers for coloring.

Copic markers in a rainbow of hues

We’ve picked our top 5 favorites, but  lots of brands work fine. These quality art supplies we’ve listed make your work shine. Regardless of what you use, your effort and imagination are the main ingredient.

Why markers? You can use lots of different media, such as colored pencils, aquarelles, crayons, paint, or liquid ink. But markers give an especially vibrant, bright look to intricate patterns.

You can use markers to draw, paint, and layer, getting delicate shades or bright, saturated color. Markers are affordable and you can buy a small pack, or go wild with dozens of colors.


Best Markers for Adult Coloring books: top 5 picks

Copic markers

Copic markers are alcohol-based, permanent dye and non-toxic. They come in 358 colors, ranging from soft and subtle to bold and vibrant. They have a dual tip-brush tip and chisel tip, which is a great combination for coloring. Copics are made in Japan and each marker is hand-tested three times before it ships out.

They come in four types: Original, Wide, Sketch, and the smaller Copic Ciao. The Sketch line is the most popular and the one we recommend. It has the highest amount of colors (334) of all the Copics. You can fit different nibs into the Sketch line, including the blender, bullet, and brush tips.

Best Copic marker: Copic Sketch
Best Copic marker tip: Brush tip

The Copic Ciao line is also great for coloring books, if you prefer ?? tips.

The Copic Marker full set of 72 Sketch markers is a splurge, but will keep you happily busy for a lifetime.

Copic also has a colorless blender marker, but it’s a bit different than Tombow’s. Rather than really blend, the Copic colorless pen removes some color as well as lets you push colors a bit on the paper. The blender pen is sold separately. If you don’t have one, you can substitute a small paintbrush with hand sanitizer such as Purel–anything that’s over 65% alcohol will work in a similar way.

You can get a variety of replaceable Copic nibs of different shapes. You can even buy markers that are empty and mix your own colors.

Best of all, Copics are refillable. There’s no need to buy new markers when one runs out of ink. You can buy a container of refill ink that will fill your Copic marker over and over.


Flow and output are smooth
Oval body keeps them from rolling away
Copic Sketch line has color name and number on top of cap for easy identification
Long-lasting, very durable–nibs don’t get ruined by pressing down
Refillable–more “green” since you only have to buy the markers once
Nibs are replaceable; different-shaped nibs available
Guaranteed 3-year shelf life (as long as you leave the cap on)
Very vibrant colors


Pricey–because they are artist-grade
Not completely bleed-proof
The longer tip is harder to control

Markers similar to Copic

Spectrum Noir B005ONTJ0U alcohol-based markers are also refillable and have replacement nibs available, as well as a blender pen that’s sold separately from the sets. If you’re just starting out they can be a good option.

Prismacolor (see below) are also somewhat similar to Copic.

Best paper for Copic markers

If you want to use your Copics to draw outside of coloring books, here are some recommendations. You can also take these into consideration when choosing which coloring books to purchase.

The best paper for Copic markers is thick to avoid bleeds, durable and high-quality to last and not tear or pill, and smooth, to allow for blending effects. The paper should show light-dark contrast well. Toothy paper will cause snags. You also don’t want a surface so slick that the ink pools. Good papers will also allow you to do stamping, a popular craft activity with Copic markers. Card stock and Bristol Board are both recommended.

Copic Marker 8-1/2-Inch by 11-Inch Express Blending Card, White, 125 Per Pack
This is a type of card stock. It’s silky and smooth, and you can use it in your inkjet or laser printer, so you could print out copies of your line art and color it. You can also do stamping.

Bee Paper Bleedproof Marker Pad, 8-1/2-Inch by 11-Inch

Strathmore Bristol Smooth
Bristol board is some of the best paper for Copic markers because of its smoothness.

Prismacolor Premier Double-Ended Markers

There are two kinds of Prismacolor Premier Double-ended Markers: fine and brush tip or fine and chisel tip. I prefer the brush tip here as well, since I’m used to painting. It’s up to you, but I think it’s easier to get better control with the brush tip than the chisel tip. The chisel tips take some practice getting used to the different angles.

Prismacolor Premier Double-ended Markers are less expensive than Copics and have beautiful colors. They are best used for detailed work. Like Copics, they use a dye-based alcohol ink that ensures a smooth and silky ink flow. Prismacolors should be stored horizontally, in order to prevent them from drying out.


Most suitable for creating both sweeping, gestural strokes and detailed line work
Wide variety of 156 colors
Can be purchased individually or in sets
Do not dry out quickly


Nibs not replaceable
Some may find them too wide to grip comfortably
A few complaints of getting dried-out ones (they seem to single out a particular color of brown, suggesting perhaps that a batch was not stored vertically?)

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens have a superfine, metal-clad tip. These fine-point adult coloring markers are perfect for putting down intricate details even in a limited area.


Colors are vibrant and distinct
Comfortable to grip
Ink does not dry out quickly
Ergonomic, comfortable triangular shape
Won’t dry out if cap left off for days
Not streaky
No bleedthrough with most types of paper

You can combine these with wider tip stabilo 68s, as they are the same formulation so work well together.



Thin pens take more work to cover large areas of paper.

Tombow Dual Brush Markers

A video posted by A (@plan2innovate) on

Tombow Dual Brush Markers are very versatile. They are water-based and come with a colorless blender pen that you use with the color pens to get a beautiful watercolor effect.  The tips can create fine, medium or bold strokes ideal for drawing and lettering. They have a flexible nylon fiber brush tip (a brush tip is not literally a brush, but rather a flexible tip) on one end that creates medium or bold strokes depending how hard you press, and a fine tip on the other end for smooth, straight lines.

Some blending techniques can include touching two pens tip to tip, then using them to get an interesting two-toned effect, or then blending that effect to get an ombre. Try it!

Best of all, both tips of the pens are easy to clean by scribbling on clean scrap paper. You first blend color pens on firm paper to achieve the desired color, then use the blender pen. They should be used on watercolor paper, because they are similar to watercolors. You can blend them with watercolor brushes if you wish. Using the blender pen, though, will require less water and thus cause less pilling of paper. It’s important to use the blender pen, as using the markers without it will not bring optimal results.

Tombow markers have a bit of a learning curve, but it’s worth the effort to get the gorgeous results you can get with them. They’re our pick for best adult coloring markers because they’re water-based, so you don’t need to worry about fumes. Though alcohol-based markers are nont0xic, they do have a little bit of odor.

Tombows really need to be used with the blender brush. You can also try a waterpen, a brush that hold water, a great tool with its own reservoir that gives you a steady flow of clean water.


Dual tips – a pointy brush tip and a fine-point tip
The hard tip allows for fine detail
Self-cleaning pen tips


Not great in filling large spaces because they overlap and leave streaks

Requires some learning and practice

rainbow B01JDYS9CE

The hues match the caps but after applying them in layers they look darker.

Best fine-tipped adult coloring markers for those on a budget

Stabilo 88 are fine-pointed markers for some reason are disguised to look like pencils, a fun idea.

Stabilo 88 B00ATBRJRC


Great for details
You can go over areas several times
6-sided geometric shape stops them from rolling
Comfortable to hold
No bleedthrough with most types of paper–though more than the Staedtler
Fun pencil design


Can be scratchy
Not many light colors in this set
Dark colors have some bleedthrough


Tips for coloring with markers: the basics

First lay down a light layer, then let it dry. Many marker artists prefer to use light colors first, then darks, then medium. You can leave some of your drawing white as a highlight if you choose. There’s no one right or wrong way to color, it’s what works best for you. Drawing in tiny circles instead of lines will reduce streaking, as will keeping your tip on paper rather than lifting it while applying color to an area.

You can get great texture and additional color variety by using colored pencils on top of the marker colors.

Getting impatient with drying time? Use a hair blowdryer to speed it up.

For white lines or small shapes as highlights, use the white Marvy gel highlighter. (??)

If your alcohol-based marker is dry, dip the tip in alcohol. Same for water-based–try dipping it in water.

Need to clean off alcohol-based marker? It won’t come off with water, but try an alcohol-based hand sanitizer such as Purell.

Pick a palette.

Study a color wheel.

You may want to try simpler coloring books to work on color for a while, or just jump into the intricately patterned ones. Fine-pointed tips are best for the tiny areas in those patterns.

Think about foreground and background. Warmer colors tend to seem closer to us than cooler colors, which recede (with exceptions, and this is actually not so much a natural phenomenon as an artistic convention).

Tips to guide you in choosing the best markers.

Good markers used for coloring should have ink that flows easily, that lasts a long time without drying, that blends easily, and have durable, flexible tips that bounce back, as you may often want to press them down to create different shapes.

A healthy variety of colors to a set, including primaries and a good balance of other colors, lights, and darks. We recommend getting at least 20 colors to start. It’s usually cheaper to buy a set than the same colors individually.

Bleedproof. This should be a major priority when looking out for markers because some markers bleed through your coloring page, making a professional piece look messy unless you’re using a single-sided pages. It depends on the thickness and type of paper.  You can test the markers one of the mostly blank cover pages to check if they bleed. If you get bleed-through, slip a piece of cardboard or scrap paper behind the page.

Markers come with their ink suspended in different fluids. The four types include alcohol, water, oil, and solvents.

Alcohol-based markers have tips suspended in an alcohol. Sharpie, Copic, and Prismacolor are popular alcohol-based markers. They dry pretty quickly but are not the fastest-drying. They are waterproof. Alcohol-based markers are non-toxic and do not have a strong odor.  Still, they should be used in a well-ventilated room.

Water-based markers are suspended in water and glycerin. They are odorless and nontoxic. Most kids’ markers are water-based, such as Marvy brush markers or Magic Markers. Some of the best coloring markers for adults, such as Tombow brand, are also water-based. They are the simplest and most affordable, and can be blended  to create watercolor effects.

Solvent-based markers are waterproof and long lasting. The solvents used can be methyl isobutyl, ketone, or xylene, which can all cause dizziness, headaches and nausea. They can used on porous and nonporous surfaces. Ensure you use a well-ventilated workspace when coloring. Chartpak Ad is one brand of solvent-based marker. We steer clear of solvent-based markers here, since most people are coloring at home and not thinking in “workplace safety” terms.

Oil-based markers We don’t recommend oil-based markers for our purposes here. Oil-based paint markers enamel-like. They are good if you want a marker that can write on glass, metal, stone, or other surfaces. (You can also write on those surfaces using alcohol-based markers.)

When blending markers, stick to the same brand of marker. Different ones don’t always work well together, but you can experiment on scrap paper. You can, of course, use different brands in different areas. Once dry, you can sometimes layer.

Adding alcohol or solvent-based markers on top of art that has been done with water-based marker works better than adding water-based marker to a layer of art that has been colored with alcohol or solvent-based marker.

Markers come in various tip sizes and types. These depends on the ink type and tip material. They include:

Fine tip – These are suitable for small, intricate details.

Medium Tip – a bit thicker than the fine, tip and grips the paper in a way that conceals the little imperfections when coloring.

Broad-based – these are best for poster boards, art projects, presentations, and filling in large areas.

Brush tip – I like these the most, since I’m used to painting. I think they are best for coloring books because of the flexibility of the nib. It has a greater range of size that changes depending on how much pressure is applied. You can get a thin line using the tip.

Bullet tip

Chisel tip

Markers are not generally archival, since they were originally made for art that would be photographed, not put on display. Modern ones are more stable than the earlier kinds. To preserve vibrancy, keep your work out of bright light (or closed in the coloring book).

Acid-free, archival markers

Some archival markers are Copic Multiliners, Sharpies, and the Faber-Castell PITT line. The PITT line includes brush pens.

Why use markers?

Markers are good if you have issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis in your hands. You can get rich, deep colors without having to use much pressure or build up a lot of layers as with pencils.

If you have hand problems, you may want to use a rubber pen grip which will protect you from injury as you may color for hours without realizing it! It’s called being in a state of flow.

Markers let you work quickly–drying time is seconds, or minutes at the most depending how much pigment you’ve laid down and which type of marker. It’s important to use good quality paper with markers.

Most coloring books for adults use high-quality paper. Markers are less forgiving than some media if you make a mistake, though there are things you can do, which we’ll discuss below.

You can also put markers away quickly, and take them out again. We busy grownups rarely have much time to color, so it’s great to not worry about a lot of prep time and cleanup.

Markers are also easy to carry around so you can grab those free moments to create on the go. And, you don’t need to sharpen markers.

With all these great choices, you should have no trouble finding your favorites among the best markers for adult coloring books.

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