Friday, April 29, 2016

Alcohol Marker Review: Peter Pauper Alcohol Markers from Barnes and Noble

I was tipped off about these markers through a Tumblr ask, so of course I had to investigate.  Barnes and Noble alcohol markers?  Way too intriguing for me to not check out.  I appreciate the tip, and if you guys have any more products I need to check out, feel free to drop me a line however you're most comfortable. 

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The Stats:

These markers are officially sold as Peter Pauper's Studio Series Professional Alcohol Markers- Dual Tip on the Peter Pauper website.

  • 23 colors and a colorless blender
  • Sold at Barnes and Noble, Amazon (cheaper price), on Peter Pauper site
  • Non refillable
  • Non replaceable nibs
  • Not available open stock
  • $39.99 at Barnes and Noble in Baton Rouge, La.

Colors Included:

Colorless Blender
Canaria Yellow
Aqua Mint
Grass Green
Pastel Blue
Cool Grey 4
Light Violet
Terra Cotta
Cool Grey .5
Cool Grey 3
Pale Cherry Pink
Cool Shadow
Prussian Blue
Emerald Green
Melon Yellow
Tender Pink
Deep Red
Pearl White
Sky Blue
Dim Green
Mauve Shadow

      The site promises:

•Case measures 4 inches wide by 6-1/2 inches high by 3-1/2 inches deep (10.2 cm wide by 16.5 cm high by 8.9 cm deep).
•Professional grade markers measure 6 inches (15 cm) long.
•Also great for Studio Series Artist's Coloring Books.
•Use with high-quality, heavyweight paper like Studio Series Premium Drawing Pads and Sketchbooks.
•Alcohol-based ink is archival, dye-based.•Works on paper, fabric, glass, wood, metal, and ceramic.
•Great for illustration, design, sketching, crafting, coloring, cartooning, and more.
•Optimal ink flow for even saturation.
•Super blendable, both before and after ink dries.
•Dual tips: fine and brush, for detail work and broad-area coverage.24 vivid colors in a versatile range.

The website also extols the virtues of alcohol markers over other types of markers, as shown below:

WHY ALCOHOL INK MARKERS? Alcohol-based inks lay down vibrant, smooth areas of color. Blend them to create beautiful shading and subtle watercolor effects. Unlike water-based markers, they won't damage the surface of your paper. They'll write on nearly anything and are made to last. They're ideal for artists and crafters of every stripe and any experience level.

The Brand

Peter Pauper specializes in affordable books for the whole family.  According to the blog:

In 1928, at the age of twenty-two, Peter Beilenson began printing books on a small press in the basement of his parents’ home in Larchmont, New York. Peter—and later, his wife, Edna—sought to create fine books that sold at “prices even a pauper could afford.”
Today, still family owned and operated, Peter Pauper Press continues to honor our founders’ legacy—and our customers’ expectations—of beauty, quality, and value.

 They have recently introduced a line of art supplies and coloring books to cash in on the coloring for therapy/meditation craze. 

The Packaging

Peter Pauper's Studio Alcohol Markers come in a reusable hard plastic case with a clear plastic cap.

Barnes and Nobel markers, alcohol markers, peter pauper

The case outlines the markers attributes and has an illustration of the two tips- a bullet nib and a brush nib.  The brush nib is really what intrigued me the most- I have never seen a cheap alcohol marker with a brush nib, let alone a decent brush nib. 

The package promises that these markers are:
  • Blendable
  • Vivid
  • Alcohol Ink
  • Dye Based
  • Archival

And explains why the consumer should try alcohol markers.  This text is the same as that from the website.

Once the tape disks were removed, it was difficult to keep the clear plastic top on the body- it never firmly snapped on, and it meant that the markers were liable to spill everywhere if slightly upset.  This case is meant for desktop use, and you'll need to tape the top on securely for travel.

These markers claim to be professional grade, with optimal ink flow for saturation.

The interior of the case has divisions to hold the markers securely in place, and markers can be displayed upright (not recommended by this blog) or horizontally (the proper orientation for marker storage).

The Markers

The bodies of the markers are very similar to the Shang Hai Touch markers I reviewed awhile back.

The body is screened with Non Toxic, Conforms to ASTM D-4236
Made in China

The caps include color names and families, although I'm not sure why the numbers are necessary, as I haven't seen larger sets available.

The brush nib is made of fiber rather than rubber foam.

Left to Right:  Peter Pauper marker, Prismacolor marker, Winsor and Newton Brushmarker

Top to bottom: Winsor and Newton Brushable Marker, Prismacolor Marker, Peter Pauper Marker

The Swatch Test

The set includes two good Caucasian skintones, several pastels useful for shading, a couple good darker skintones, and several vibrant colors.  All in all, not a bad selection for 23 colors and a colorless blender.

The Field Test

Sadly, the fiber brush tip does not take use, much less abuse, and begins to fray almost immediately.

That said, colors layer well, and react to the colorless blender almost too well, so be careful with your colorless blender application.

Unlike the Kuretake Kurecolor markers and the Winsor and Newton Promarkers and Brushmarkers, you can easily layer the same color for deeper saturation, which extends the value of each marker.

The only color I had difficultly layering was the aqua used for the dress- it was pretty much as saturated as it was going to get.  Although this isn't a neon, I've noticed the same issue with neons regardless of brands.

The bullet nib tends to bleed out pretty badly, which made my flowers look blobby, but this would be an issue with most markers as the ink is absorbed by the paper.

These markers bled through to the back of my thick Strathmore Mixed Media paper, but did not ruin the following page.

The Field Test (coloring books)

The following samples were provided by Denise Hillburn for use in this review. After my tests, I gifted her with my markers, as she enjoys meditating with coloring books.

These markers were sold next to the colored pencils and coloring books in Barnes and Noble, but they are not coloring book friendly, as they bleed through even thick pages, ruining double sided pages and sometimes even the following page.

The Verdict

Despite the brush tips mushiness and inability to handle fine details, these marker's aren't bad for their price.  The colors are fairly vibrant, you get a decent selection, and the skintones layer well.  The greens don't layer nearly as well, so it was difficult to build up contrast in the dress, and the fumes made these markers unpleasant to render with for long periods of time.

While I don't recommend these markers over other brands like Copic, Prismacolor, or Blick Studio Brush, if you are given these markers, or have already purchased these markers, there are ways you can make them work for you until you're able to replace them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Alcohol Marker Review: Shang Hai Touoh Markers

MagicalEmi, a fellow comic artist, manga enthusiast, and art supply reviewer, tipped me off that AliExpress has lots of alcohol marker lookalikes to choose from, and I figured I'd revisit the land of Chinese alcohol markers to see what's new, and to determine if any of these markers are worth your money.  This post was not sponsored, and was funded entirely out of my pocket.  If you enjoy posts like this, please consider joining the Nattosoup Studio community by becoming a Patron on Patreon, or helping defray costs by making a one time donation through the PayPal tip jar in my sidebar.  The future of art supply reviews on the Nattosoup Studio blog and YouTube really depend on your support.  If you found this post through Google, please consider subscribing for even more great art content.

There are a LOT of Copic/ShinHan Twin Touch lookalikes on AliExpress, and it's difficult for me to tell what's the truth and what are lies intended to move these markers on the site itself.  Many of the markers are intentionally designed to confuse the buyer, so I'm having trouble finding the exact listing for the Shang Hai Touoh Markers I purchased a few months ago. 

Here is a similar listing for 30 markers that look almost identical, but hey, who knows.  There are so many alcohol markers on AliExpress, you're really spoiled for choice when it comes to knock offs, so it's really about finding something you think will work for you.

I've reviewed a few other markers from AliExpress on the blog

Finecolour Original
Finecolour Sketch

I've also created a video overview of all three Ali Express alcohol markers, which includes Shang Hai Touoh

The Stats

  • 80 pieces
  • Paid less than $100, don't remember exactly how much, as the listing is gone
  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Took about a month to arrive (standard for AliExpress, it's coming from China)
  • Non-refillable
  • Non replaceable nibs
  • Difficult to find openstock
  • Twintipped- chisel nib and bullet nibb

The Package

My markers arrived very securely packaged in a cardboard box that had been bubble wrapped and then secured in a waterproof plastic bag with my mailing info.  If you're concerned about AliExpress from a shipping point of view, I've always been very satisfied with how my purchases were shipped.  I've had very few items arrived ruined, and the one that did was fragile acrylic to begin with, and I believe it was a 'bonus' extra piece anyway.

Inside my cardboard box, my Touoh markers were mostly secured in a nylon zippered case, with a few markers in a plastic bag.

This particular case isn't great for holding your markers in an order- if you want to organize your markers, I recommend doing so by color families, and securing them with a rubber band.

I tried to jam all of my markers into the zippered case, and not all of them fit.  I also discovered I had about three duplicate markers.

The Markers

I organized my markers by color families, and began swatching.  This set did not come with a family-card, or informational booklet, so I winged it based on the numbers on the caps.

The ShangHai Touoh's nibs aren't particularly remarkable- the chisel nib is a bit scratchy with no real give, and the chisel nib is fairly rough hewn.  If you're looking for a marker that will easily allow you to create delicate, watercolor like brush effects, these are not a good pick for you.

Comparison Photos

From top to bottom:  Copic Original, ShangHai Touoh, Finecolour Sketch, Finecolour Original, Copic Ciao, Copic Sketch

From top to bottom:  ShinHan Touch (official), FineColour Sketch, Finecolour Original, Copic Ciao, Original Copic, Copic Sketch, ShangHai Touoh

The Swatch Test

A couple of my nibs weren't securely in the barrel, which leads me to believe that you COULD replace the nibs if you found some to fit.

Although caps are moderately accurate to the ink inside, having a color chart will help you think about colors in a strategic, organized way, and will also allow you to double check colors for layering and form building.

The Field Test

I wanted my background text to have a neon-light effect, so I decided to apply a layer of neon color first, and blend out the edges, then layer that same color on top of the center.  I tried to blend out my ShangHai Touoh markers with a Copic Sketch colorless blender, but I could not push the color as far back as I would have liked. 

Skintones were moderately easy to build up and layer, without colors turning muddy from displacement.  This means there's a fairly good ink to solution ratio inside these markers.

I did find large areas annoying to build up- I used the chisel nib to color the gray on Kara's apron, but no matter how fast I tried to work, it was impossible to create even saturation with just one layer, and I didn't want to make the apron too dark.

The Verdict

ShangHai Touoh alcohol markers, like Finecolour Sketch markers, are a fine introduction to alcohol markers.  More affordable than Copic's markers, and even cheaper than Prismacolor, Winsor and Newton Pro and Brushmarkers, these markers perform decently well.  I recommend these markers to crafters looking for an affordable way to quickly build up a collection of alcohol markers and don't care about brush tips, artists on a budget who want to try alcohol markers out before investing in a large set, or younger artists who may have difficulty convincing their parents to part with $4 per marker.

If you're an artist who already has a collection of alcohol markers to choose from, these large sets are an affordable way to quickly grow a modest collection, but don't expect the ShangHai Touoh markers to perform like Prismacolors, Copics, Brushmarkers, or Twin Touch markers.  If you're looking for alcohol markers that can be refilled and have replacable nibs, if you're considering making an investment for your studio, I recommend skipping the Touoh markers for something a little more expensive, but easier to find.