Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Paint Marker Review: POSCA Marker Review and Tutorial

This post includes several videos that I highly recommend you watch.  If you can't watch the video while reading this post, you can save the video to watch for later by clicking the little clock in the corner.  Two of the videos are mine- a tutorial on using POSCA markers, and a timelapse video demonstrating a few techniques, and three are supplementary videos by other creators to help cement those techniques.  You can check out more of my art supply review/art tutorial videos over on my YouTube channel, which I update at least once weekly with a variety of art related new content.

Awhile back, one of my Twitter friends asked if I had any experience with POSCA markers.  At the time, I'd only used a POSCA white brush marker for corrections, but I was neck deep in researching and reviewing waterbased markers, so I quickly ordered a set of 15 from Amazon so I could begin investigating POSCA markers first hand.

Above are the set I actually purchased- a 15 marker fine tipped set of bullet nibbed POSCA markers, but Amazon has a selection of POSCA pens to suit your needs.  You could even get this omega set if your heart really desired.

But I recommend you play it safe, order a smaller set, and see if POSCA markers light up your life before investing in the whole shebang.

The Brand

Mitsubishi Uni, better known as Uni-Ball in the US, is a Japanese stationary brand.  Their US offerings are lackluster compared to the wide array of pens, pencils, markers, and brushpens sold by Uni Mitsubishi in Japan, and American enthusiasts may have difficulty finding favorites stateside.  If you're interested in the gamut of Mitsubishi Uno's products, JetPens carries a few that are difficult to find here, but you may have better luck on Cultpens, EBay and Amazon.  I purchased my POSCA markers through Amazon, and received an all Japanese package.

The Stats
  • Nonrefillable
  • Variety of nib types and sizes
  • Up to 35 colors, check marker type for color availability
  • Permanent on porous surfaces
  • Can be varnished 
  • These markers have replacable nibs:  POSCA PC-1M, PC-3M, PC-5M, PC-8K and PC-17K.

Seven different types of POSCA markers available: 

  • PC1-M (1mm)- Extra Fine, 14 total Colors available
  • PC1-MR (.7mm)- Extra Fine, like a fineliner or lining pen, 17 colors available
  • PCF-350 (brush tip)- 11 colors available
  • PC3-M (1.5mm) 27 colors available
  • PC5-M (2.5mm) 33 colors available
  • PC8-K (8mm) Broad chisel tip, 35 colors available, widest color range
  • PC17-K (15mm) Extra broad, 8 colors available

Places to Purchase
Marker Supply
Durable Supply Company

Similar Markers (Acrylic): 


Similar Markers (Waterbased)

Zig Posterman
Krink Water-Based Paint Markers

Similar Markers (Oil-Based)

Sharpie Paint Pens
Zig Painty

The Packaging

I ordered my POSCA markers from Amazon and set them to ship to my mom's place in Louisiana, as I was going to be in town for Mechacon and wanted something to noodle around with in my downtime.  My markers arrived in a sturdy Amazon mailing box, and nestled inside the inflated plastic pillows were my POSCA markers in a cardboard box.

The box, while cardboard, isn't sturdy enough to have been shipped as was, but it's plenty sturdy enough to hold my POSCA markers. 

The box is designed to be reusable with a removable cap and a slanted front designed to show off the markers.

The Markers

The markers are a little chunkier than your average waterbased marker and they're a little wider around than Liquitex acrylic markers.

Although POSCA markers may LOOK like chalk markers, these markers are permanent once fully dry.  Until they dry, they can be blended with a little water and a nylon brush.

My POSCA markers are Japanese, so almost all the text is written in Japanese.  Unfortunately, I can't transcribe that for you guys.

The bodies are identical with POSCA written in primary colors across the front, with the caps indicating the paint color inside. 

Before the ink moves to the tips, the nibs are white.

It only takes a few pumps (and storing your POSCAS upside down for a little while) to get the paint going.

Since the paper started to pill and tear when I tried to layer or add water, I decided to find something a little sturdier to do my field tests on.  I found POSCA markers to be scratchy on Vellum Bristol.

You can check out Uni POSCA's official features, with neat animated graphics on their site.  POSCA markers have liquid paint inside barrel with a metal ball to help keep paint mixed.  You shake the pen to ensure an even mix.  A pump action inside the pen allows you to extract more ink.

Tips can be removed and cleaned out with water, in case of cross contamination, and some can be flipped or replaced, extending the life of the pen.  Some are reversable, and even replacable, prolonguing the lives of your markers.

If you're interested in using POSCA markers, I recommend you read their Instructions for Use first before committing.

The Swatch Test (On Strathmore Visual Journal Bristol Paper)

Although the site says these are waterbased markers, I'm still not entirely sure what the paint inside is.  These might be acrylic markers, but the website doesn't say clearly what the markers utilize as a paint.  These could also be similar to Sharpie's Paint pens, which are oil based.  The closest hint I've gotten as to what's used in these markers is that the site says it's 'similar to acrylic', which leads me to believe it's a proprietary formula.  The site also says these are pigment markers, but these are nothing like Winsor and Newton's Pigment Markers in performance or formula.  Those are ethanol alcohol based and many are translucent, whereas these are waterbased and entirely opaque.

The nibs on the POSCA markers are fairly scratchy and have no give, and tended to tear up the Vellum Bristol paper upon repeated application while still wet (blending, or instance), so I needed to find something sturdier.

The Field Test- On Stonehenge Paper

My first thought was Stonehenge paper- I'd used this and BFK Reeves back when I was a printmaker during undergrad.   Stongehenge paper is fairly thick, and able to handle water applications, so I figured it could not only handle the waterbased markers, but the water I planned on using to blend these markers.

Many artists use their finger to blend POSCA markers, and while that's a valid technique, I was worried that it might further abrade the paper surface, so I opted to use a cup of clean water and some inexpensive white nylon brushes.   I found that flats worked the best for this technique, so skip the rounds.

I inked this little tree frog with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida fude pen, as it's waterproof and alcohol proof.

Although Stongehenge is tough, and could handle the water, it did start to pill with repeated applications, which slowed my working time.  I had to stop and wait for the paper to dry before applying new layers of POSCA, lest the stiff nib scrub the paper into pills.

If you're interested in seeing how I I handle these markers, keep reading because I have a couple great videos towards the bottom of the post.  One is a timelapse, for those of you who can learn quickly, and another is a step by step tutorial where I explain everything!

 The Field Test- Strathmore Acrylic Paper

Since the Stonehenge paper pilled, I knew I'd need something even tougher- so I picked up some Strathmore Canvas paper while at David Art Supply in New Orleans.  This canvas paper does not have an actual canvas surface, but a synthetic, plasticized surface, which seemed ideal.

I inked this salamander with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida brushpen.  I thought it might run on the plastic-coated paper, but it seemed to do fine.

In retrospect, I should have left the yellow on the salamander's back open until I was ready to fill it in with yellow, but handling it this way also allowed me to build up color and gave the salamander a glossy appearance.

POSCA Tutorial Video- POSCA on Canvas, Amaterasu

Materials Used
  • Sailor Mitsuo Aida
  • Mono eraser
  • Daler Rowney Nylon Brushes
  • Blick mini canvas

POSCA Timelapse- POSCA on Black Canvas, Cat

The Verdict

These are a lot of fun to use, but don't make the mistake of thinking these are a replacement for waterbased or alcohol based markers, as they're very different.

POSCA markers are paint markers, and they work best on sturdy surfaces like gesso'd board, canvas, or canvas board.  The stiff nibs of the bullet and chisel nib are prone to tearing up papers, so if you want to use POSCA markers, I recommend you skip the paper and go for sturdier scaffolding

POSCA markers

  • Permanent when dry
  • Waterbased
  • Can be blended with water while wet
  • Opaque

Alcohol Based Markers

  • Transparent
  • Can be blended with alcohol solutions- isoproply alcohol, blender solutions
  • Can always be reworked with blender, alcohol, or other markers
Related Videos

Getting Started with Posca Paint Pens - Part 1 - Joseph Tubb

Getting Started With Posca Paint Pens - Part 3 - Blending- Joseph Tubb

Posca x Miss Wah - Kawaii Graffiti Canvas (Vol 1) - Miss Wah

Outside Resources


More Inspiration:

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Target Art Supply Series: Miscellaneous Supplies

This post was sponsored by me.  All materials featured in this post were purchased out of my own pocket.  If you enjoy content like this, please consider pledging to my Patreon to help fund the future of Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog.  Backers can unlock community goodies like more reviews and tutorials, as well as personal goodies, like Backer Exclusive Request Livestreams, comic downloads, and even physical rewards like stickers and charms.  Your financial support not only compensates me for the time spent working on this blog (which is significant), but also goes towards purchasing more products to review and test.  If a monthly contribution isn't really in your future, a one time donation via the Paypal link in my sidebar is also much appreciated.  While your contributions are never mandatory, I would sincerely appreciate if you checked out my art supply review/ art tutorial focused YouTube channel for even more great content, and sat through at least thirty seconds of the ads on the videos you watch.  Every ad adds up towards a sustainable lifestyle.

In the course of the Target Review Series, we've looked at Up and Up washable markers, Up and Up's Drawing Book, mechanical pencils from Target, ek tool's Journaling and Calligraphy pensUp and Up washable paintbrush markers,  and even Up and Up's washable watercolors.  The vast majority of these products are aimed at school children, but my pickings were pretty slim at the Kenner Target- I bought the best they had, unless I'd covered the same product in the Walmart Art Supply Review Series.  What remains are miscellanea- supplies that are important, but don't require a full post to review.

Of course, I cannot review all supplies sold at Target, so if there's a supply you're particularly curious about, or think my readers would be interested in, you can always either donate the product directly to me, donate a Target gift card, or you can make a donation via my Paypal link in the sidebar.  Make sure you earmark what the donation should be purchasing (I can't read your mind, no matter how hard we try), and I'll get to it as soon as I can.

These products are all by Yoobi, a children's school supply manufacturer whose motto is 'one for you.  one for me'.  Their supplies are color coordinated in bright colors- hot pink, lime green, neon blue, vibrant purple, and they make all sorts of stationary for school or for home.  Right now, their supplies seem to be the most prevalent (after Crayola), so it was difficult to NOT buy Yoobi supplies.  While they do offer markers, crayons, and color pencils, and I've been given a donation to purchase those for review, I'm saving those for another date, as the Target review is already fairly extensive.

How Yoobi Works

Yoobi, pronounced “you-be,” means “one for you, one for me.” For every Yoobi item you purchase, a Yoobi item will be donated to a classroom in need, right here in the U.S. It’s that simple!

Yoobi promises that when you purchase an item, Yoobi donates an item to their classroom packs, working with the Kids in Need Foundation

Kids in Need Foundation

Kids in Need provides free school supplies to children in need via Resource Centers within their national network.  These supplies are donated by companies like Yoobi and retailers, and Kids in Need Foundation does not have a warehouse where supplies are stored, so they cannot donate directly to schools, individuals, or families.  You can learn more about the Kids in Need Foundation's mission here

If you're interested in helping kids have fair access to school and art supplies, please consider donating to Kids in Need Foundation. Those of you who can afford to donate to Kids in Need Foundation should strongly consider doing so.  I've donated $25, and if you can afford to match my donation, think about all the kids we can help together.  $25 can provide a child with a backpack full of fresh supplies, levelling the playing field just a bit.  You can also donate products, but they need to be new and in good condition.  

Yoobi also donates supplies to the Starlight Childrens Foundation, which ensures that over 200 hospital schools have the supplies they need for their students to receive a good education.

Where to Buy Yoobi

The reason Yoobi is so prevelant at Target is not because it's a Target store brand (like the Up and Up products I've reviewed), but because it's a Target exclusive outside of the web.  You can also purchase Yoobi supplies off their website, and will have access to a wider variety of goods than may be offered at your local Target.  Yoobi's arts section has all sorts of goodies ranging from crayons to markers (to bundles!) in a tantalizing array of rainbow colors.

Yoobi doesn't just offer supplies for kids, they also offer colorful, fun office supplies to help you get organized.  For those of you who are familiar with Poppin, Yoobi offers many similar products at a lower price point, and also does one to one donation with the abovementioned programs, so if you have a love of office supplies and a need for organization, you may want to consider Yoobi the next time you're decking out your desk.  The Yoobi site has a free shipping option, so if you're looking to stock up on cute, well designed student grade art goodies or witty desktop organization, you should definitely check out the Yoobi site.

I have no affiliate program with Yoobi, but if you're interested in their products, you should definitely buy from their site or from your local Target, especially since they have a one for one donation program in place.  I receive no compensation from this post, but if you enjoy my content, and would like to help fund more free to the public content like this, please consider backing my Patreon.  Even a small pledge of $2 a month really helps provide the financial support necessary to keep this blog going.

Yoobi Mini Highlighters

I have artist friends who regularly use highlighters with their markers, so a young artist using highlighters to augment their marker collection isn't much of a stretch.  These Yoobi highlighters were just so cute, and came in a rainbow of colors, I knew any artist looking to augment their collection wouldn't be able to resist giving them a shot.  I sure couldn't, and into my cart they went.

The packaging is fairly sturdy plastic, and an interior sleeve securely held my highlighters in place.  These highlighters fit inside my Yoobi pencil case almost perfectly, but took up a lot of room in the spacious case.

Some of the colors aren't exactly 'highlighters' the raspberry pink and purple are both a little dark to grab attention, but the numerous colors are perfect if you're into color coordinating your planner.

Although the packaging lists the color names, the markers themselves do not.

These highlighters are really cute, but difficult to handle, even with the caps posted to the back.  They're more a novelty than a useful tool.

These mini highlighters have a tiny, stiff chisel nib.

I tested these markers for water solubility, and while they do dissolve in water, they quickly lose their brightness and fluorescent qualities.

Mini Field Test

This field test was sketched in my Blick sketchbook with a Prismacolor Fine Line Marker, which are alcohol marker proof and waterproof, and was allowed to cure for one hour before I attempted to apply color.

Despite allowing my Prismacolor Fine Line Marker to dry for an hour, the highlighters still smeared and reactivated the ink.  I'm not sure if it was the abbreviated dry time (I usually allow inks to dry 24 hours before testing) or the highlighters themselves- I may have to test a few inks with these highlighters to figure it out.  A highlighter that reactivates ink isn't good for artists or students- highlighters are intended to glide over ink without smearing what's underneath.

The inks don't really layer well, and repeated applications start to tear up the paper.  These are waterbased markers, so if you DO want to use them for coloring, you need to allow the paper to dry thoroughly before applying the next layer.

The Verdict

These highlighters are really cute, and are fine for quickly highlighting small areas of text, but are difficult to handle as fluorescent markers.  If you plan on using highlighters in your art, buy full size ones.

Yoobi Eraser

This being a big box store, of course everything comes blister packed, lest one item walk away from the whole.  The Yoobi erasers were no different.

The packaging says almost nothing about the erasers themselves- with student grade supplies, the materials used in production are rarely mentioned- and a lot about Yoobi.

The Fieldtest

For this test, I'm using my Write Dudes Gorilla Lead pencil as well as the Up and Up Mechanical pencil reviewed earlier in the Target Art Supply Review Series.   The Write Dudes pencil has a darker, larger lead (a B, but maybe even a 2B) and the Up and Up Mechanical Pencil has a lighter lead, either an HB or an F.

First I attempted to erase normal writing.

  The Yoobi eraser couldn't cleanly erase the darker lead from my Write Dudes Gorilla Lead pencil, and had difficulty even erasing the HB .5 lead in my Up and Up mechanical pencils.

Next I tried to erase dense graphite coverage from both pencils.

Gorilla Lead

HB lead

Neither leads erased cleanly with the Yoobi eraser.

I recognize that this is a student grade eraser, but I am concerned that if it can't even erase cleanly in these tests, it would not be able to erase cleanly enough for a student to rework a drawing, or for a Scantron machine to accurately register marks made on a test.  Even as a student grade supply, this particular eraser fails the test.

The Verdict

These Yoobi erasers are pretty awful compared to even the cheapest white vinyl eraser.  They are rubbery and prone to smearing graphite.   They leave a lot of eraser dust, and can't cleanly erase either the  HB or B leads tested.   I recommend skipping these particular erasers, and I generally recommend skipping out on colored or novelty erasers for art.  I will be revisiting Yoobi erasers in a future post, as I have some coming in the mail.

Yoobi Pencil Case

The elastic on this pencil bag is a little flimsy, but it is adjustable via a clip, so you can attach your pencil case to sketchbooks larger than my 8.5"x11" Up and Up Drawing Book, although I don't really recommend going much smaller, as the pencil case might overwhelm your book.

The interior is coated with white plastic, and the interior seams have seam binding, so this pencil case may be water resistant.  The zippers have large, textured rubberized grips to help little (or big) fingers pull.  The loop on the top of the pouch is made out of the same fabric as the seam binding, and feels a little cheap compared to the elastic.

The zippers are a little sticky and difficult to get going, and the cute little pouch on the front is a little too small to really be useful.  I found it difficult to pull out my erasers and extra leads from this pouch.

This case holds A LOT of stuff, so you may be tempted to overstuff it.  This is great if you're a highschooler with a lot of things to carry- pencils, a variety of pens, erasers, mini rulers, a compass, highlighters, ect, but not necessary if you're an artist with a curated collection of everyday carry.

The Verdict

This pencil case has loads of room, and if you're still toting around a 15 pack of Crayola colored pencils and a 24 pack of crayons, you can shove those in here too.  This is a fine pencil case, although you may find it more useful just to snip off the elastic as it tends to catch on things if not attached to a sketchbook.

Yoobi Pencil Sharpener

This particular Yoobi pencil sharpener is pretty awful- it snapped Prismacolor leads every time I used it.  To be fair, Prismacolors are notorious for snapping off in hand sharpeners, especially if the pencils have been dropped in the past, and I usually use a KUM magnesium hand sharpener with no issue.  It's a dual hole pencil sharpener, so if you have jumbo pencils in your collection, you should be able to sharpen them.  The lead in those pencils tends to be thicker than that used in regular pencils, so it should be less prone to snapping.

The Verdict 

Skip this sharpener.  My absolutely favorite sharpeners don't tend to come with a compartment for shavings, I usually just use a box slated for the garbage as a bin in the meantime.

Overall Verdict

So far, I would recommend being very picky about your Yoobi purchases, as some work well and some do not.  I'm revisiting Yoobi supplies in the future thanks to a donation from Heidi Black, so keep an eye out if you're interested in cheap art supply challenges or student grade supplies.