Sunday, January 20, 2013

Art Marker Showdown: Copic Sketch Vs. Prismacolor Premier

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Last week, we watched Copic Sketch annihilate Spectrum Noir art markers in an alcohol based marker showdown.  This week, it's Prismacolor Premier stepping up to the ring against Copic Sketch, in a showdown to determine which is the best double sided marker in town. This Prismacolor Premier isn't just any Prismacolor Premier, oh no, it's got a trick up its barrel.  This Prismacolor Premier came straight from Interventioncon to my testing table, a sample handed out by a Prismacolor representatitve.  This one has a little something that most Prismacolor markers lack- a 'super brush' instead of the chisel.  What color application wonders does this double sided contender have in store for us this week?

Prismacolor Premier:


Image Source

'Art' Brush Option
Comfortable in hand
156 number of colors
Color family on cap
Not refillable
Can't mix own colors
Price per marker: $6.40 (Amazon, price varies)
Availability: Most art supply stores, Michaels, Dick Blick, Jerry's Artarama, Amazon
Available in individual and color themed sets
Alcohol based
React to rubbing alcohol and 'blender' fluid
Can be blended


Copic Sketch:

Image Source


Refillable
Replacable Nibs
Comfortable in hand
358 available number of colors
Blendable
Color Name and Family on Cap
Color Coded cap
Super Brush
Can mix own colors, blank markers available
Price Per Marker: $7.29 (Amazon)
Availability: limited availability at Michaels, many art supply stores, Dick Blick, Jerry's Artarama, Jetpens, Amazon
Available in individual and color themed sets
Alcohol based
React to rubbing alcohol and 'blender' fluid
Can be blended

But how do these titans of the alcohol art marker world really compare?  Let's have some side by side shots to see.

Prismacolor Premier Vs. copic Sketch

Hey, there's more under the cut!



Size wise, the Prismacolor and the Copic Sketch are roughly the same length and size, although the Copic Sketch is more oblong.  They both fit nicely in the hand, and have a decent heft to them.  Neither of them have overpowering fumes, although I wouldn't recommend huffing them or working in an area with poor ventilation.

Prismacolor Premier Vs. Copic Sketch

Instead of the chisel nib (which is pretty useful and possibly nicer than Copic's chisel nib) this Prismacolor has two brushes, an 'art' brush and the awful bullet nib of death.  The 'art' brush is comparable in size to the Copic Sketch's super brush.  They both have a decent amount of 'juice' to them.


The markers with their respective results.  The color on the outside of the Prismacolor is a little lighter and more saturated than the actual ink.  As always, test your open stock art markers before you buy them!


A mark made with the 'art' brush.


And one made with Copic's good old chisel nib.

The Test Results

This test is  my standard for all alcohol based marker comparison tests, and you've already seen it with my Spectrum Noir test.  I test the marker's compatibility with a variety of technical pens (Sakura Micron, Copic Multiliner, Pitt Pen, the waterbased ink found in Akashiya brush pens, the gel ink in Hi Tec C rollerball pens), as well as it's ability to blend and layer (shown on the sphere) and it's ability to mix with the other marker (show in the boxed area).


 A not-bleached out photo of the results.  As you can see, with little effort, that the Copic and Prismacolor blend together decently.

 
The amount of bleed through- Copic at top, Prismacolor at bottom.  This was decently heavy paper, I usually get this amount of bleed through on much thinner sketchbook paper.  I wasn't trying to saturate the paper for these tests.

And a slightly blasted out scan of the results.  It's clear in this scan that the Prismacolor is putting down a lot more ink than the Copic sketch at this point.  Both markers blend and layer into their own brand just fine, and Copic Colorless blender works well with Prismacolor ink.  This is because both are alcohol based inks.  Both inks will cause bleeding when applied over Akashiya ink, and there's a little spread with the Micron ink.  I applied the alcohol ink only moments after putting down the technical pen ink, with the express desire to test if it would bleed.  For everything but the Akashiya ink, I would recommend waiting awhile for the ink to fully dry before applying alcohol based ink.

So what does this mean?

Prismacolor art markers aren't a bad investment, particularly for a beginner artist who may feel overwhelmed with the idea of maintaining markers rather than replacing.  Because you can't refill the ink or replace the nibs, they won't last forever, so you may find yourself repurchasing colors you use often.  The 'art' brush is an improvement over the bullet nib, though a bit gummy.  It doesn't lay color down quite as smoothly as Copic Sketch markers' super brush.  This isn't a bad first foray into the world of illustration markers, and the alcohol based ink is compatible with Copic markers, should you decide to start upgrading your collection.

Both markers were brand new, but I found my Copic to be a little dry.  Unfortunately, this is the side effect of purchasing an open stock marker in store- they tend to get tested.  Had this happened with my Prismacolor, I would have been out of luck, since I couldn't refill it and I might not be able to return it.  When purchasing Prismacolors, it's best to test them in store, to make sure you get one that is full of ink.

Prismacolor alcohol markers are comparable to Copic Sketch alcohol markers, and are capable of being intermixed and producing similiar effects and results.  They're slightly easier to find, but don't have the range of color that Copic offers.  Many fine alcohol based marker collections include both Copic markers and Prismacolor markers, as Prismacolor offers some colors that Copic does not carry, particularly the brighter hues.

I'm not sure how Prismacolor markers would react on an alcohol marker pad. In the past, I've experimented with alcohol marker pads like those produced by Copic, and found them not to my liking.  The papers are thin, and it's too easy to pick up previous layers of color.  Alcohol marker paper tends to be a coated paper, and you may have issues with the alcohol based ink reactivating the technical pen ink.

With the 'art brush' nib, Prismacolor finally offers something that I've found their markers lacking for years- the ability to render a paintbrush-like stroke using an alcohol based art marker.  This was the feature that has set Copic Sketch and Ciao far beyond most contenders.  Unfortunately, Prismacolor's art brush has a tendency to grab the paper, preventing me from making clean, clear strokes.  I may just be too used to Copic Sketch's slippery Super Brush to make the switch to Prismacolor Premier.  Perhaps if I used a coated alcohol marker pad, there would be less grab with the art brush.

Price wise, I didn't find the reduction in Prismacolor Premier's cost to be worth the fact that they are replaceble, not refillable.  I use alcohol based markers often in my illustration, and I want the ability to refill and replace nibs as necessary.  I keep a stock of nibs and often used colors, so it's easy for me to top up a dry marker.  If I relied more on Prismacolor markers, I'd either have to run to the store often for replacements, or stock up on markers I use often, generating a lot of waste.

I haven't seen too many markers with the art brush option available in person, so I'm not sure how hard they are to find in the wild.  If you're interested in purchasing them, they're available on sites like Blick.com and Jerry's Artarama.




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