Monday, August 31, 2015

Watercolor Brushpen Review: Zig Art and Graphic Twin

Two years ago I reviewed over a dozen brands of alcohol based markers, this year I'm working my way through as many brands of watercolor and water based markers as I possibly can, to turn you guys on to this cheap, adaptable alternative to alcohol based markers If you enjoyed this post, please consider checking out my other art supply reviews in my Reviews tab above.  If you would like to purchase a set of Angora watercolors for yourself or a friend, please consider supporting this blog financially by using my Amazon affiliate search link for Zig Art and Grahic Twin watercolor markers.

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With all these twin tipped watercolor markers in basically the same body, it's understandable if you're confused about which brands are right for you, your art, and your studio.  There are so many brands to choose from, and no de facto leader, so it can be easy to buy the wrong brand and become burnt on the idea.

A couple years ago, I covered all the alcohol based markers I could get my hands on, and this year, my focus has been on brushpens and watercolor markers.  Sometimes the two overlap, and occasionally a brand may use the same body for two very different products (such as the Kuretake No. 6 double sided brushpen, already reviewed on this blog, and the watercolor markers I'll be reviewing today), and this only adds to the confusion.

There are some really good watercolor markers on the market right now, and some really awful ones that might throw you.  There are also some that need to be worked just so, which is fine if the price is right.  If you're interested in watercolor or in using markers for your art, but don't want to invest a lot of money, watercolor markers may be the perfect start.  My reviews are intended to help artists and art hopefuls find materials that work for their needs, these reviews may not provide crafters with the information they need, and for that, I highly recommend the blog Craft Test Dummies, which I often use as a resource myself.

I'll go ahead and state that, as is often the case here, I purchased these Zig Art and Graphic Twin watercolor markers out of my own pocket.  If you enjoy these reviews, and have benefitted from them, please keep in mind that in order to do the field tests properly, I need a variety of markers, and that gets expensive, especially considering that while some companies might offer sets with a variety of skintones, I often have to buy them piecemeal to make sure I get everything I need to effectively review the markers.

I've reviewed a lot of Kuretake products in the past year, and I've liked many of them.  My go to inking pen is a Kuretake Fudegokochi, and I've gone through dozens over the four years I've used them.  I wasn't so impressed by the Tombow ABT watercolor brushpens I tested not long ago, and given how similar the Zig Art and Graphic Twin watercolor markers are in outward appearance, I was nervous that this would be another disappointment.

There are 84 total colors available in the Zig Art and Graphic Twin Family, as this color chart from Kuretake shows

Image Source


You can get more information about Kuretake in general, and Zig Art and Graphic Twin specifically on the Kuretake website.

The Packaging

I am pretty sure I purchased this as a set, probably from the DickBlick in Savannah, GA, a couple years ago, but I'm having trouble finding the sets now.  The most comparable set available is on the European Amazon, the 8 piece muted set, and while the plastic case is the same, the cardboard insert is different.

It's hard to review packaging I tossed years ago, but in general, I prefer the plastic reusable sleeves to cardboard boxes.

I managed to find a set on the American Amazon that has packaging exactly like the set I bought- same insert, same hard plastic case- for $36.20, which seems a little high.  The case is reusable.


Image Source

You can also get them from several other places, both openstock and in sets

Openstock
Blick-  $2.86 each
Marker Supply- 1-35 $2.69, 36+ $2.51

Sets
Blick- Seasons, Color Harmonies, and Entire set
Amazon, entire set with a really neat organizer

The Pens

The Art and Graphic Twins are dual tipped watercolor markers with a large Japanese brush at the color capped end, and a small bullet nib at the black cap color banded end.  These watercolor markers aren't named, but numbered, for your swatching reference.



There's no clip on the cap, but the caps do have a notch to help prevent the markers from rolling.
Comparison of two Kuretake products that use the same pen mould- the Kuretake No. 6 is to the left, Zig's Art and Graphic Twin to the right.


From Left to Right:  Tombow ABT, Zig Art and Graphic Twin, Lyra Aqua Brush duo, Zig Clean Color

As you can see, many watercolor markers (save for the Clean Color) share the same basic body design.


From left to right:  Tombow ABT, Zig Art and Graphic Twin, Lyra Aqua Brush duo

Left to right:  Tombow ABT, Zig Art and Graphic Twin, Lyra Aqua Brush Duo


The Field Test

Swatches




Because they are so juicy, the Zig Art and Graphic Twin watercolor markers blend easily on paper without additional water.




Colors can be allowed to dry, and will still blend with water.

Minor color differences sometimes between brush and bullet nib, mostly noticeable with skintones.  The brush is soft and rubbery, the way I THOUGHT Tombow used to be, very similar to another Kuretake Dual Brush I've recently reviewed (link).  The markers do have a color code, but it's a little difficult to find- it's written without any fanfare beneath the large brush end.  I'm not sure if it corresponds with other Zig/Kuretake products like the Zig Clean Color watercolor brushpens, but I hope to find out soon.

Practical Test



















These brushes are really juicy with ink, despite being purchased around the same time I bought the Tombow ABTs.  They're so wet that sometimes the super brush squeaks against the paper.  Sometimes with watercolor brushpens, using the brush directly on wet paper will tear up the paper, but the brushes are soft enough that they don't damage the paper.  Colors are saturated and integrate with water well, both on the side palette and on the paper.  There's a little bit of pickup when additional layers are applied, but it's not too bad.

The set I have didn't come with a purple or a violet (it was a portrait set, I think), so I didn't apply proper shadows, but given finding the right purple openstock, I see no issue with this as a basic set, especially if you mostly do figurework.  The browns retain their color even when diluted, which is unusual, as many watercolor pens and markers have browns that break down into their separate pigments

The Verdict

These markers are a little more difficult to find than Tombow ABT watercolor markers, but I think they perform much better.  The Japanese brush on the Zig Art and Graphic Twin is much less likely to cause abrasion to the paper's surface, the pens seem to have more ink in them, and they require less scrubbing to dilute with water.  You can start off with a set (I recommend Subtle if you draw people often), and then buy openstock markers as you need them.  I really like these watercolor markers, and I can see myself returning to them later.

Zig Art and Graphic Twin Video Demonstration

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