In this article, I’m going to discuss the advantages of using Prismacolor markers over using standard washable or sharpie markers. Prismacolor markers are favorites of many layout artists and storyboard artist due to the versatility and range. They come in multi-color packs or grey-scale packs. When choosing a pack of 12 greys, you may choose from either French grey or cool grey. French grey offers warmer toned greys that give off a sienna vibe. The cooler greys are of course bluer greys, and will fall into the background if you plan on using them along colored markers. The greys come packaged as a range of values represented by percentages. 10% is the lightest and 100% is black.
Prismacolor markers offer one distinct advantage over other standard markers because they are created with an alcoholic base instead of a water-base. What this means is they react differently with the surface of your paper and with other markers. When you start to put the marker on paper, you’ll notice they do not dry immediately. The marks will appear dark when wet, and after a minute or so, will dry to the paper. Because they are alcohol based, they resist the paper before becoming absorbed. The most noticeable advantage to this is the ability to rework an area of your drawing to eliminate the typical harsh lines that markers make. If you work quickly, the marks that you make which overlap one another will leave no harsh edges. You can fill in an entire area without having contour marks. You must practice working with speed and precise marking to ensure no harsh edges remain, but it is by no means difficult. You can achieve smoother gradients than water-based markers. Say you make a mark on the paper with a 30% cool grey, but your intention is to have the 30% gradient smoothly into an area of 10% grey. Working fairly quickly along the edge of the 30%, you add one band of 20% followed by one or two bands of 10%. The marker will bleed, slowly transitioning from 30% to 10%. Even if you let the markers completely dry, it is still possible to blend one tone into another. If you have two areas, one 20%, and one 40% grey, separated by a harsher line, you can still smooth the edge. Taking a 10% over the harsh line to rework the tones present, lifting some of the previous marks and mixing them again. In this way, it almost feels like working with oil-based paint.
You can’t rework drawings forever. The markers can still only be added one top of one another, not subtracted. If you need to make an area lighter, the best strategy is to leave that area alone, and come back later with a white colored pencil to lighten the values. This is important to keep in mind. It is best to start with your lightest values and darken each time you make a pass.
The other advantage of these markers is the size. Because they come with two separate sized ends, you can make different sized marks with ease. The broad tip is like a calligraphy marker, so you can make thin to thick marks with controlled precision. Having two ends also adds to the longevity of the use. If you happen to run out on one end, the other end is often still usable. Switching between the two ends becomes second nature.
Lastly, Prismacolor markers are a high quality marker for a reasonable price. Prismacolor markers are of a high enough quality that you will use them seriously, as a treasure. They are also cheap enough that running through a whole box won’t break the bank. They are excellent for most uses, and you will enjoy working with them. I would highly advice these markers for anyone who is interested in rendering storyboards or creating layouts. The colored markers are great for illustration as well. Check them out online and pick up a pack today.