How to Color With Prismacolor Markers

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Coloring with Prismacolor markers is different than other types of coloring and works more like painting with watercolors than shading with markers, colors or pencils. . Prismacolors are used in many art fields, from animation to architecture, to achieve a quick sketch that has a finished, professional feel.

Things You'll Need

  • Prismacolor markers
  • Paper

Buy a set of gray shades before buying a full set of Prismacolor markers, which are expensive ($2 or more per marker). This allows you to create depth in drawings and understand the way Prismacolors work without breaking your budget. Purchase a clear blending marker with your first set of Prismacolors. Most paper works with Prismacolor markers, but your best bet is a paper that can handle lots of layers and wetness. Watercolor paper and most sketching and art paper work well.

Practice using the thick end for shading and the thin end for small details. When first beginning it can be tempting to only use the thin side, but this will cause streaking and uneven shading, not to mention drying out that side too quickly. The thick end should be used for all shading; the thin should be used only for small details.

Outline your drawing or printout with black ink before you begin with Prismacolor markers, using thick and thin lines to create depth. Always shade with Prismacolor from lightest to darkest. You can always add color through layering, but you cannot take away color. Remember that Prismacolors are not like most markers; each thin layer of color makes a noticeable difference.

Begin with the lightest shade of gray and use gentle strokes to apply a coat of color to the entire drawing, only skipping areas that are to be left white. Using the same light marker, create the next layer of color over any area that will be shaded darker than the first layer (even areas that will finish much darker).

Continue shading, each time moving to a slightly darker marker. If a harsh line or too dark of a layer is made, use the clear blending Prismacolor marker while the shading is still wet to help blend the lines. Save small details for last, dotting them in with the thin side of a marker.

Tips & Warnings

  • Move quickly when shading to avoid streaking and uneven layering.
  • Remember that precision isn't as important as the big picture: shading outside of the lines a bit is preferable over stiff, uneven shading which will look unnatural.
  • The colors will look slightly different dry than they do wet, so test the colors before beginning.
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