Alcohol Markers Vs Acrylic Markers: How To Choose?

It’s not easy to find the right art markers.

There are so many brands to choose from.

And every year new markers are released, which makes finding the right markers even more difficult.

When buying art markers, the first thing you need to decide is whether you want alcohol markers or acrylic markers.

In this post, I’ll go over the pros and cons of each to help you choose the right one.

Main differences

Working with alcohol markers feels very smooth, and they behave similar to watercolor paint. They are easy to blend and even after the ink has dried you can wet it a second time and blend some more.

Acrylic markers use an ink that’s more creamy like acrylic paint. Although you can blend acrylic markers, it’s not very easy. And once the ink has dried you won’t be able to change it anymore.

Moreover, you can find alcohol markers in pretty much any color you are looking for, both unsaturated and saturated. However, acrylic markers normally are very pigmented, which leads to bright colors.

In terms of colors, the alcohol markers are normally more translucent while the acrylic markers have very pigmented and bright colors.

Finally, alcohol markers are often buildable, which means that every new layer of ink will result in a slightly darker shade. This makes shading very easy with alcohol markers.

Acrylic markers can’t do this since you can’t wet ink that already dried. So old and new layers don’t influence each other.

Pros and cons of acrylic markers

Let’s take a look at some reasons to buy acrylic markers:

  • If you make any mistakes, you can simply color a new layer on top since the old and new ink won’t mix together.
  • Very vibrant colors that really pop
  • Easy to fill large areas with a uniform color
  • Can be used in addition to acrylic paint
  • Normally only needs a single layer
  • Can often be used on lots of surfaces such as paper, stones, glass, etc.

Of course, they aren’t perfect. So here are a few things I don’t like about acrylic markers:

  • Very flat tones
  • Difficult to shade or blend
  • Dries very fast

What are acrylic markers used for?

Acrylic markers are very versatile. But they are normally used for:

  • Cartoons
  • Calligraphy
  • Bullet journaling
  • Decorating surfaces that are not paper
  • Adding details to acrylic paintings

Pros and cons of alcohol markers

Let’s take a look at what makes alcohol-based markers so popular:

  • They are great at blending
  • Dried ink can be wet again
  • Multiple layers with the same ink can darken the color
  • Normally have 2 different nibs for extra versatility
  • Both unsaturated and saturated colors available
  • Doesn’t leave streaks

Some downsides that you may experience while using alcohol markers include:

  • Good alcohol-based markers can be expensive
  • Can only be used on paper
  • Nibs of cheap alcohol markers get damaged easily

What are alcohol markers used for?

Alcohol-based markers are normally used for:

  • Manga
  • Design & illustrations
  • Calligraphy
  • Achieving realistic results

My recommendations

For most artists I would recommend going with alcohol-based markers. Being able to blend really well is just too important for achieving good results.

Moreover, since you probably will start with only a small set of markers, being able to blend markers unlocks so many new colors.

However, the biggest drawback with alcohol-based markers is that they only work well on paper. And even then, you need special paper for alcohol markers to get the best results.

That’s why acrylic markers are better for DIY and craft projects.

If you want to decorate some stones, glass, or anything that’s not paper, you really need to get some acrylic markers.

Popular art markers

I haven’t tried all markers yet. But here is a list of some alcohol and acrylic markers from good brands that you can choose from.

If you click on one of these links, you can read my review of that particular marker.