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.