Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Alcohol Based Marker Review: Art Markers from Hobby Lobby

I usually attempt to write a cute or funny little intro for all of my review posts.  Sometimes that's the hardest part of the post- it has to tie in with the review, but I really want it to be at least moderately amusing for those of you who just aren't that into art supply reviews.

This time, I don't really have anything.  I went to Hobby Lobby to buy a watercolor sketchbook upon a Youtube recommendation.  I don't normally shop at Hobby Lobby, and one visit does not a hobby (lobby) make.  While I was there, I saw that my local Hobby Lobby had a storebrand of alcohol based markers, and I figured I'd review them for you guys, because at heart, I'm a completionist.  I want bragging rights for most alcohol based marker reviews, and like with Pokemon, I gotta catch them all.

I paid $29.99 at Hobby Lobby in early September- this is approximately $1.67 per marker, which is really cheap for alcohol based markers.  I didn't have high hopes for these, but

The Stats
  • Double ended
  • Fast Dry
  • Permanent
  • Non Toxic Ink
  • Fine Nib
  • Chisel Nib
  • 18 colors (advertises 12 primary colors+6 bonus colors)
  • Resists light and water
  • Smooth Flow and Coverage
  • Non Toxic

Only set my Hobby Lobby had, your selection may vary.  I tried to find these markers online, and can't but, I did find this other set, which is the same price.  They may have just changed the body design.

Packaging promises a 'professional graphic art marker', 'for all areas of design and illustration', 'versatile double nibs chisel & extra fine can produce a range of strokes from fine detail to wide color fill in'.

The Packaging:

Hobby Lobby's art markers are packaged in a reusable plastic case that snaps shut.  The markers are fairly snug in the plastic case the first few times you remove them, but eventually they feel loose and will fall out when you're trying to shut the case.  I'm a big fan of packaging that is reusable- it means I don't have to purchase a case to store a collection of markers in.

The Markers: 

From top to bottom:  Letraset Flex marker, Copic Sketch, Shin Han Twin Touch, Hobby Lobby Art Marker, ChartPak Ad Pro, Kuretake Touch Twin S, Prismacolor with the bullet nib, Prismacolor with the brush nib, Chromatix, Copic Ciao

From top to bottom: Letraset Flex Marker, Copic Sketch, Shin Han Twin Touch, Hobby Lobby Art Marker, Charpak Ad Pro, Kuretake Twin S, Prismacolor with the chisel nib, Prismacolor with the brush nib.  Right side:  Chromatix, Copic Ciao

This 18 color set does not come with a blender marker, or any markers that really function as skintones.  Honestly, the color selection is a little weird- all the colors included are very intense, only a few differ in value from the rest.

The Swatch Test:

The swatches were completed with the chisel nib of these Art Markers.

Field Test:

The field test was inked using a Sailor Mitsuo Aida fude pen, which is both Copic and waterproof.  The field test was rendered in a Strathmore 300 series Mixed Media pad, which I use for all of my marker tests.  The paper is similar to a very thick cardstock.

There are no usable skintones for Kara (or anyone, really) in this set, so I'm using Copic and Blick Studio Brush markers (link) to render Kara's skin.

Even the bullet nib is very prone to bleeding on the Strathmore Mixed Media Paper.  The red is so intense, you can't really layer with it, the best you could probably do is blend it out a little with Copic/Prismacolor colorless blender.  Using colorless blender to try and blend out the light blue makes it bleed even more.  You can do tip to tip blending by appling the Art Marker Baby Blue to the colorless blender of your choice for a slightly less saturated Baby Blue.  The only yellow in this set is a highlighter flourescent yellow, which is almost unusuable for any sort of realistic rendering.

It takes a lot of colorless blender to try and blend these colors into anything I'd find usuable for shading whites or lights, and the colors are so saturated that they're all about at the same value.  Attempts to dilute the Art Marker's lightest blue with my Copic colorless blender did not go so well.

These markers bleed A LOT, even from the bullet nib, so your ability to produce 'fine detail', as promised on the packaging, is going to be limited.  Both ends are pretty juicy- although these markers were hung up at Hobby Lobby, I stored them horizontaly in my 'to review' box.

I applied this horrible olive green to the "Hobby Lobby" and tried to blend it out a bit.  You can see how poorly Art Markers react to Copic colorless blender- it blobs out unpredictably, rather than fairly uniform bleaching.

The Verdict

These aren't the worst alcohol based markers I've ever tested- that honor is shared by Concept and Fab, but these are a far cry from Copic, Prismacolor, or Shin Han Twin Touch.  These markers have plenty of ink, but the nibs leave much to be desired, and they don't really play well with other markers.   Although the price point is tempting, these markers are not refillable, and do not have replaceable nibs, and you can't purchase these open stock.

Really, what it comes down to is, are you feeling desperate, punk?  Are you limited in your alcohol based marker vendors, and can't order online?  Does your town only have a Hobby Lobby?  If this sounds like you, then Hobby Lobby's Art Markers are fine, and while they don't perform as well as other alcohol based markers, they're an ok introduction to get you used to the inks.

However, if you have access to better, even if it costs more, I recommend going for Prismacolor Premiers, Blick Studio Brush markers, or Copic Ciaos.  Brush tipped markers are easier to use, and are able to create smoother blends and better transitions than chisel nibs or bullet tips.  Even if you only have a Hobby Lobby, many Hobby Lobbies do carry Copic markers.