Sunday, January 31, 2016

Artist Loft Fundamentals Waterbased Triangle Markers

I've been trying to integrate some video into my reviews, and it would be really helpful if you guys took a moment and let me know what you thought, either in the comments or via email.  

I've already written a post about an Artist Loft product- I reviewed their alcohol markers not so long ago.   For those not in the know, Artist Loft is Michael's storebrand for art supplies.  They make all sorts of things, from aforementioned alcohol markers to oil pastels, but dubious quality has earned Artist Loft a bad reputation amongst serious artists and students alike.

Today I'm reviewing some of their waterbased markers from the Fundamentals line, which is a bit lower than Student Grade in terms of quality.  This is part of a ongoing series on Waterbased markers.  If you're interested in learning more about waterbased markers, and their applications, you should check out these posts:

Alcohol Based, Waterbased, Watercolor- A Quick Overview
How to Know if A Marker is Waterbased/Waterproof

And I recommend you check out my Review tab for even more waterbased marker reviews.

I test most waterbased markers on a few standards:

Dry Swatch Test
Wet Swatch Test
Dry Field Test (Marker Paper)
Wet Swatch Test (watercolor paper)
Dry Field Test (Watercolor Paper)

Although, due to performance issues, I only completed dry swatching and the dry field test for the Artist Loft Fundamentals Waterbased Triangle Markers.

The Stats
  • 36 Markers
  • Waterbased
  • Fine tip
  • Felt tip
  • Non Refillable
  • Non Replaceable Nib
  • $4.99
  • Available at Michaels
  • Triangular Body to prevent rolling
  • Wide Spectrum of Colors
  • Precision Tip
  • Detail Marker (so not intended to cover large areas)

The Package

waterbased markers, Michaels markers, markers from Michaels

These markers come loose in a snap together plastic shell with a cardboard belly band and insert.   I recommend holding on to your plastic case, as it may be your only shot at keeping these markers contained.  The top cardboard insert mentions 'mixed media', for some reason.

The back of the cardboard belly band lists the colors inside.

Colors included:

  • Ancient Purple
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Dark Gray
  • Deep Blue
  • Flesh
  • Fluorescent Green
  • Fluorescent Orange
  • Fluorescent Pink
  • Fluorescent Yellow
  • Gray
  • Green
  • Light Green
  • Light Purple
  • Light Red
  • Light Yellow Brown

  • Mint Blue
  • Oleander Red
  • Olive Green
  • Orange Yellow
  • Orantge
  • Pale Glue
  • Pale Lime
  • Pink
  • Purple
  • Red
  • Sky Blue
  • Van Dyke Brown
  • Verdigris Green
  • Vermilion
  • Water Blue
  • Winter Red
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Yellow

The left side of the belly band reads:

  • Wide Spectrum of Brillant Colors
  • Precision Tip
  • Detail Marker

The right side states that these markers conform to ASTMD-4236, has a barcode, and says that these markers are distributed by  MSPCI.

The belly band just slips off the plastic package, revealing the bodies of these markers.

Once the belly band is off, the plastic case can be easily opened by prying it apart at the top.  Once the plastic case is open, the markers are loose.
The Markers

These markes are fine tipped, but not technical pen or fineliner fine.  They have a single, small bullet nib, and aren't strongly scented the way some brands of waterbased markers can be.  The barrels are vageuly triangular, like Staedtlr Triplus Fineliners, and feature minimal writing- no color name, just a generic 'Artist Loft Fundamentals|Fondamentaux|Fundamentales Fine' on every white barrel.

Creating Swatch Stickers for Markers That Have Accurate Color Chips

What's the point of giving marker colors names if the names aren't printed on the markers themselves, and there's no system in place to keep them organized when you travel?  Swatching these in a swatchbook almost seems like a Sisyphean task, so I may try a different approach- a tiny dot of the actual color on label paper, attached to the barrel, to help me identify the true color of the marker.  36 crappy markers is A LOT of crappy markers, somehow this feels so much more daunting than Crayola's 50 supertips.  And $4.99 is not a pricepoint that bodes well for marker quality, I don't care if Artist's Loft promises that these are 'fundamentals'.

So let's take a moment and go over how to swatch the unswatchable!  You'll need:

  • Paper labels or sticker paper
  • A pair of scissors
  • Your markers
  • A lot of patience

I'm using hole punch protectors because I'm out of matte sticker paper and labels right now.  I can fit five mini swatches on each tiny label, so after my label is full, I cut them apart and apply them carefully.  Swatching like this is really important when the pen cap color does not match the ink color.

First I scribble a little of the ink on the hole punch. Since these markers are triangular, and large stickers might start to peel off, I only need a little of the circle.

Once my circle is full, I trim it to size, an apply to my marker.

This color coding techinque is based off one from Jennifer McGuire Ink.

It takes awhile to do all 36 markers, and given the quality of these markers, probably isn't worth the effort, but here are all 36 swatched.

The Swatch Test- On Pacon Marker Paper

Of course, the sticker paper doesn't really count as a true swatch test, so I also swatched these markers on Pacon Marker paper.

Colors go down smoothly as a single layer, with no paper pilling, unlike my sticker swatches.  Some of those saw immediate pilling.  The point is very fine, which will probably make it difficult to cover large areas, and impossible to cover large areas without streaking.  Many markers have ink that differs greatly from the cap color, so swatching proves valuable.

The Swatch Test- Watercolor Paper

As is the norm for this blog, I also tested these markers on cold press watercolor paper, to determine how suitable they are as watercolor marker alternatives.

As you can see, many colors don't stay true with the addition of water.

Unlike Crayola and Up and Up waterbased markers, these markers don't work well as cheap watercolor markers.  The bullet nibs don't put down enough ink to make it easy to create a side palette, and many of the colors are way too transparent to really work for watercolor applications.  The nib is unpleasant to use, and many of the colors do seperate out into individual dies.  I think I'll skip the watercolor field test with these, rather than torture myself.

The Field Test (Video)

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The Field Test Photos

The Verdict

Save your money.  Buy the Up and Up waterbased markers or the Crayola Supertips- the Up and Up markers if you like to use your waterbased markers dry, and the Crayola Supertips if you want to do watercolor marker techniques.  These markers are scratchy and tear up the paper when dry, and separate into individual dyes when wet.

Other Waterbased Marker Reviews

Up and Up Supertip Markers
Crayola and CraZArt Markers
Crayola Multicultural Colors
Zig Art and Graphic Twin

Check out my Reviews Tab for even more waterbased and watercolor marker reviews!

Other Relevant Posts

Alcohol Based Markers Vs Waterbased Markers
How to Know if a Markers is Waterbased/Waterproof