Friday, April 08, 2016

Alcohol Marker Review: Conda Markers

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The Brand

Conda is a Chinese art supply brand that produce everything from easels to paints to markers.  Conda's marker offerings are fairly varied- there are marker bodies that look like Jerry's Artarama's Concept markers, bodies that look like Finecolour Sketch markers, and markers I can't comment on as they're hidden by an opaque box.  I couldn't find markers similar to those I purchased at Hobby Lobby in Fall 2015, but it seems like others were able to find this body type at their stores in the fall as well.

I purchased the 12 piece set for $19.99- I was tempted to splurge and get the 24 piece set (which was $34.99, I believe), but I didn't want to invest a lot of money in markers I'm only purchasing for review purposes.

If you're interested in trying Conda markers, the Hobby Lobby website still has the 24 piece set available.  These markers seem to have replaced the Art Markers I reviewed last year.

If you can't find Conda Markers, they're very similar to Prismacolor's original alcohol markers, which you can purchase through Amazon.  Your purchase through affiliate links helps support this blog, so if you're interested in alcohol or art markers, please make sure you check this blog first!

The Stats

  • Not available openstock
  • $19.99 for 12 markers
  • Twin Tipped- bullet nib and chisel nib
  • Available in sets- 12, 24, 36
  • Available through Hobby Lobby
  • Blender marker available in larger sets

The Packaging

Conda markers have some of the most interesting marker packaging I've ever seen.  All sets available through Hobby Lobby come in a reusable, sturdy plastic case that clicks shut.  My 12 piece set came with a wrist loop.

The clips are very secure, and this set could very easily travel to conventions for at-show work.

The markers are securely held in place- so securely that if all markers are in their spots, it's difficult to remove markers.

The Markers

Conda markers are white with silver screening and gray grips. 

  The body reads The Art of Painting Pen, can anyone give me any clues as to where that comes from?  Perhaps a literal translation from the Chinese name?  On AliExpress, I've seen alcohol markers referred to as 'oil pens' and 'oil markers' before- any insight on that?

Conda markers are twin tipped- a bullet nib and a large chisel nib that closely resembles Prismacolor's Art Markers.

From top to bottom:  Copic Sketch, Conda marker, Prismacolor marker, MEXPY marker, Shin Han Twin Touch (all alcohol markers)
Conda markers are baton shaped, which makes removing the cap a bit easier as your hand is less prone to slipping.  They're some of the longest alcohol markers I own, tying with MEXPY and Shin Han Twin Touch.

When the caps are removed, it becomes readily apparent how similar Prismacolor markers and Conda markers are, both in body mould and in chisel nib design.

From left to right:  Copic Sketch, Conda marker, Prismacolor Art Marker, Prismacolor Brush Marker (Bullet nib)

Conda markers have pretty much the same chisel nib as Prismacolor Art markers, and it's one of my favorite chisel nibs available- juicy, well built with lots of angles for a variety of lines.

From left to right:  Prismacolor Brush Marker, Prismacolor Chisel Tip Marker, Blick Studio Marker (original) Chartpak marker, Conda Marker

The Conda marker body has a gray rubber grip like the Concept Markers I reviewed awhile back, but is otherwise the same body as the Prismacolor marker.

The Chartpak Adpro marker has a very similar chisel nib to the Prismacolor and Conda marker nibs.  The Blick Studio marker has a nib made cut fiber- my least favorite type of chisel nib and sadly the most common.

Alcohol Ink Compatibility Tests

A common concern for marker artists is 'will these markers work together'.  Some brands have more alcohol in their dye solution than others, and may react strongly to colorless blender or layer poorly.  Conda markers appear to include lots of dye in their alcohol solution, as the colors are saturated and don't come off as dull.

I found it difficult to draw a consistent wide line with these markers, despite their similarities to the Prismacolor chisel nib.

I alternated between using Prismacolor and Conda markers for this test, and found that the markers handled well together.  It would be difficult to tell at a glance which color belong to which brand.

The Swatch Test

My field test was inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida brushpen, and allowed to dry overnight before color was applied.

All of the markers in my 12 piece Conda marker set swatched well- vibrant, saturated colors.  My only complaint is the lack of skintones ALL marker brands seem to  have with small sets- there's never anything usable in a set smaller than 24, making these sets difficult for beginners to utilize.

The Field Test

For my field test, I had to pull out some backup for Kara's skin- a mix of Copic Sketch markers and Blick Studio Brush Markers, one of my favorite Copic competitors. 

I was finally able to use the Conda markers for a light blue- this light blue is actually B62, which is a darker blue green than I had wanted.

So I used a Copic colorless blender to knock the intensity back, as my 12 piece set did not include a blender marker, and they were not offered openstock.

It takes a lot of Copic colorless blender to knock Conda's B62 back into a useable light blue.

The included brown was too dark to really be the right color for Kara's hair and eyes, but I used it anyway. 

I wanted to do a white and red check dress for Kara, so I needed to establish my ground color.  It's harder to shade and knock back whites once other colors have been layered on top, so I applied B62 first, in hopes that I could knock it back with the Colorless Blender.

Unfortunately it was difficult to smoothly knock back Conda's B62, so I needed to try another blending method.

So I tried applying my alcohol ink to waxed paper, and using the colorless blender to pick it up and apply it.

This method might have worked better if I had utilized a scrap of plastic instead.

Although these colors are very saturated, many layered decently well, allowing me to build up color.

Once I'd finished applying color, it was time to add white details with a white Signo pen. 

The Verdict

In my years of reviewing alcohol markers, these aren't the worst I've reviewed by far, and perform quite well given the price.  If you use the original style of Prismacolor Markers, you'll find the Conda markers are almost identical once you get past the weird baton caps.  Like the chisel nib Prismacolor, these Conda alcohol markers have a fantastic chisel nib that is juicier and holds up better than the compressed fiber nibs commonly included on alcohol markers, including Copic Sketch markers.

I wish I had splurged for the larger set so I could have fieldtested some skintones- the downside of Conda alcohol markers is that they aren't sold open stock, and may be difficult to find, as Hobby Lobby seems to regularly rotate out their alcohol marker options (besides Copic and Prismacolor).  I you're looking to start an alcohol marker collection, or are curious as to whether alcohol markers are for you, the $19.99 Conda set isn't a bad way to start.