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Old 06-24-2009, 07:34 PM
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 13,208
Finding good marker pens for coloring skin tones?

About a year ago when I was getting ready to start work at a new job, I happened to see this set of 50 Crayola markers at the grocery store. I looked at them and thought "I have never wanted anything in the world more than I want those markers." I drew a lot all through childhood up until I was in college, when I didn't have so much time for it anymore, but I fondly remembered coloring with markers as a kid. A couple of weeks later, when I got my first paycheck, I celebrated by buying myself the markers.

I've had a lot of fun drawing and coloring things with these markers. I know they aren't exactly professional quality, but they've been perfectly fine for my decidedly non-professional work. My only major complaint is that this set doesn't provide much in the way of realistic skin tones. The same is true of markers available locally in arts and crafts stores. Can any of you artistic Dopers recommend a brand of markers with a good selection of brown/pink shades that I can use for coloring drawings of people? I would want to be able to depict a variety of complexions and ethnicities.

I've seen that Crayola does offer a "Multicultural" set of markers, apparently designed for use in elementary schools. I'd be happy to keep on coloring with Crayola markers, but I am a bit disappointed that these seem to only be available as the larger size markers. I'm also wondering what the colors really look like. Has anyone used these?

When visiting a big city recently I stopped in at a large art supply shop and looked at their display of Copic markers. They have a very nice selection of skin tones (which makes sense as this brand is apparently geared at comic book artists), and I tried out a few on the scribble pad and was impressed with the results. Their E00 is certainly the closest thing I've ever seen to my own pasty complexion. But I didn't buy any Copic markers then as they are pretty expensive ($5 each!) and I wasn't sure if it was okay to use alcohol-based markers with water-based markers like Crayolas.

Although I'm sure Copic makes excellent markers I don't think my casual interest in marker art justifies purchasing a big set of them. But I would be willing to shell out for say 6-10 individual colors if there's really no cheaper way to get good skin tones. From what I've found online it should be fine to mix them with water-based markers, although it sounds like it's best to do the water-based marker coloring first and let it dry.

Does anyone have any advice for me on "fleshing out" my marker palate? Remember, I'm not doing serious ART here, but I don't want my drawings to look crummy either. There must be plenty of marker brands other than the ones I've already mentioned (I use Prismacolor colored pencils but have no experience with their markers), so if anyone has any other recommendations then they'd be very welcome.
Old 06-25-2009, 06:20 PM
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 13,208
I'm bumping my own thread here because I know we have a lot of Doper artists, and maybe my OP was too rambling to make it clear what question I was asking. With the fat cut, it's:

Can any of you artistic Dopers recommend a brand of markers with a good selection of brown/pink shades that I can use for coloring drawings of people? I would want to be able to depict a variety of complexions and ethnicities.

Oh, and I would prefer not to spend a lot of money either! I don't expect to get the world's finest markers for cheap, but something of about Crayola quality would be fine with me as long as the colors were good. I am willing to shell out if there really is no other way to get a good selection of brown/pink skin tone colors.
Old 06-25-2009, 09:00 PM
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Union City, CA
Posts: 1,118
Buy the square Copics, they hold tons of juice, so they last a long time and are good value.
Old 06-25-2009, 10:59 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: North Florida
Posts: 925
Back in college I used Tombo markers; one end was a fine line marker and the other was a flexible felt 'brush'. They had a great range of colors (plenty of skin tone variations). As I recall, they were a wee bit pricey, but not outrageously so.

I also used to have a set of Tria Pantone Spec'd markers; great color, not-so-great a marker.
Old 06-26-2009, 12:01 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Encinitas
Posts: 2,410
An aside; rather than concentrate on the proper skin tones you might want to get into the ballpark with general hues and then modify them with neutral markers. They will modify value, as opposed to hue, and bring out any depth you need in the illustration. Chartpak makes a good line of varying warm to cold grey markers, for what it's worth.

Last edited by MonkeyMensch; 06-26-2009 at 12:03 AM.
Old 06-26-2009, 10:55 PM
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 13,208
Originally Posted by MonkeyMensch View Post
An aside; rather than concentrate on the proper skin tones you might want to get into the ballpark with general hues and then modify them with neutral markers.
I have no idea what you mean by this. How do I modify one marker with another marker? Do you mean like coloring on the tip of one with the other, or layering the colors over each other on the paper? I wouldn't think either method would work well with the water-based markers that I have already.
Old 06-27-2009, 12:21 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Port Orchard, WA
Posts: 11,056
If you don't want to spring for Copic or Pantone Tria, go for the aforementioned Tombow Dual Brush Pens. They are not the greatest brush pens ever, but they offer a respectable range of colors, including flesh tones.

MonkeyMensch could be referring to colorless blenders, which all three offer. They are basically the base liquid the pens use, but without any pigment.

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