Thursday, February 15, 2018

Spectrum Aqua Watercolor Markers: Watercolor Basics


Spectrum Aqua watercolor markers are Crafter's Companion (the creators of Spectrum Noir alcohol markers) foray into waterbased markers.  They have since been rebranded and repackaged as Aqua by Spectrum Noir.  

The Stats: 

  • 48 Available Colors
  • Dual Tipped- fiber brush tip and finepoint tip for details
  • Dye based
  • Available in sets of 6 or 12, not available openstock
  • Not refillable
  • Essential, Primary, Nature, Floral (12 piece sets)
  • Landscape, Botanicals, Earth, Brights (6 piece sets)
  • $1.60-$2.50 per marker (approx)
  • Compressed fiber brush tip
  • Blendable

Digital Approximation of Colors and Color Names (sorted by set) Source

Scanned Swatches of Essentials (E) and Primary (P)




Available through:
DickBlick (better price)


The Packaging:
Old Packaging- Source
New Packaging- Source

When I purchased my Spectrum Aqua markers, they were only available as clamshell 12 packs.  Aqua, by Spectrum Noir (same thing, just rebranded) are now available in cardboard 6 and 12 packs, which makes it a little easier to cherry pick a collection of colors you'll use.  Either packaging can be reusable, but I tossed mine in favor of a marker case from Utrecht.

The Markers: 

Combination of two sets- Essentials and Primary



Spectrum Aqua markers are non refillable twin tipped markers which feature a fiber brush nib and a small, plastic fine point nib.  The fine point nib is very prone to failure- probably due to dried ink in the tip, but the brush nib is fairly juicy and releases a generous amount of ink.  It is somewhat given to fraying, so if you want to do fine details, these may not be the markers for you.  The brush end is denoted by a gray band, and the markers are sorted by color names, not names and families.  Given that these are part of the Spectrum Noir family, it would be handy if the family for the corresponding Noir marker were included- this might be a feature on the rebranded Aqua markers.



The body screening only covers branding, and does not include the color name.



Top: Spectrum Aqua
Bottom: Distress Marker

Spectrum Aqua Review


The Field Test

Materials Used:
Spectrum Aqua Markers
Fluid EZ Block Watercolor Paper
Sailor Mitsuo Aida brushpen (waterproof)



I applied a wash of very watered down turquoise using clean water and a brush to help give an underwater vibe.



While this was still wet, I dabbed in slightly more saturated turquoise with a brush.


I created a mask for Kara and the goldfish using masking frisket- a technique I've frequently used with alcohol markers.




This mask allowed me to flick watered down Turquose and darker blues onto the illustration using a wet synthetic brush.




I also splattered Copic Opaque white onto the image to help give it a bubbly look.


Once the paint had dried, I removed the frisket.  Although there was some seepage, it was fairly controlled, and I liked the effect it gave.


From then, I applied the dye based watercolor in light washes- applying it first to my craft mat, then picking it up with a clean, wet brush.  I used this to build up color, and only worked directly with the Spectrum Aqua markers when the paper was dry.

Unfortunately, I'm still waiting on the field test video to be edited, so I hope you guys will keep an eye on my Youtube channel for the field test- it's a really fun one and covers a lot of great techniques!


Spectrum Aqua, Aqua by Spectrum Noir, watercolor markers, waterbased markers

The Verdict:

Spectrum Aqua and Aqua by Spectrum Noir markers are fun, dye based watercolor markers that are fairly water reactive without separating into individual dyes when wet.  The fiber brush is easy to work with, and these markers are fairly versatile- they can be used directly or watered down to build up washes of color.  If you're interested in an easy to use, low mess option for watercolor effects, the Spectrum Aqua and Aqua by Spectrum Noir markers are a great choice that are commonly available online and at stores such as Michaels.

NOTE:

Even if stored properly (horizontally) at room tempeature, the smaller fine point nib will degrade and dry up over time (about six months of disuse), but the nibs will stay wet and pliant.

Outside Resources and Second Opinions:
Spectrum Noir- Spectrum Aqua Markers
Spectrum Noir- Aqua Watercolour
Aqua by Spectrum Noir Color Chart

The Art Gear Guide- Spectrum Noir Markers

Spectrum Aqua Markers- Review and Demo- Craft Test Dummies
Comparison Video Spectrum Aqua Vs Distress Markers
Zig, Distress, and Spectrum Aqua Markers and Cardstock Comparison
How to Use Spectrum Aqua as Watercolors
Spectrum Aqua: Techniques
Spectrum Noir Aqua Markers Review and Demo
Watercolor Marker Comparison- Wildly Passionate