Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Caricature Markers

If you are not a caricature artist, nor have any interest in becoming one, you will probably find this entry incredibly dull.

I am attempting to re-enter the caricature-drawing world, but a few things have changed in my absence; most notably, the main marker I always used, the Dixon Markette, has been drastically altered.

In an attempt to find a replacement, I bought one of every kind of black marker I could find, and then threw in some I already owned and tested them all out. I thought I'd share the results for other caricature artists.

These are the markers I used for this demo.

They are, in order from left to right, Tria, Artwin, Chartpak Fine Tip, Chartpak, Copic, Sharpie, Prismacolor, the new Markette, and the old Markette.

First, we'll start with the old Markette, as it's what I'm comparing the rest to.

The older Markette isn't without its flaws, but it was a great marker for getting a variety of line widths, and its best feature was the ease with which one could create lines that taper into nothingness.

I drew an eye with one to use to compare.

Notice how fine the eyelashes are, and how smoothly lines fade, creating the illusion of highlight.

Now the new Markette.

The tip shape was changed, probably because one of the problems with the former design was that the tip might snap off unexpectedly.

Unfortunately, it was the tip shape of the original Markette that was so appealing. The new tip is much harder to get definition out of - it lends itself to blobbiness and uniformity of line width.

Next up is the Prismacolor marker. This is a double tipped marker, with a fine tip and a broad tip. I only used the fine tip for the purposes of this review, because while some caricature artists are able to use a heavy chisel tip to make good drawings, I am not one of them.

This is a marker I've used in the past with some success, though it isn't as flexible as I'd like it to be. It's good for fine lines, but difficult to get thicker ones.

Not a bad option though.

After that, we have the good old Sharpie.

If you're in a pinch, you can probably manage with one. It's not the greatest marker out there, but if it's a newer one you can get some fairly good lines. After several uses, though, they get pretty rough to work with.

Not the finest lines, but there are worse options.

Next is the Copic.

This one is all about your personal style. It's used by a lot of caricature artists, and you never need to buy a new one because the nibs are replaceable, and the ink is refillable. It has a very flexible brush tip, but in my experience it's almost too flexible. You can draw very quickly, but you lose a little bit of line control.

Lines can get very thick or very thin. Using it feels more like brush and ink than it does like a marker.

After that was the Chartpak marker.

I heard mention of this one on a caricature blog some time ago, so I bought it despite my hesitancy to use chisel tips. The tip is surprisingly flexible, giving it a slightly brushy feel that I almost liked, but the ink bled everywhere.

It was too thick anyways, but unless I can find some paper that this won't bleed on, it will probably never be used again.

Its companion, the Chartpak Fine Tip, had the same issue.

I really liked the tip on this one, but it still ended up looking like watercolors. Not as bad as the regular Chartpak, but not good enough for me to use it for something I would try to sell. I only tried it on one kind of paper, so if another kind stops the bleeding problem I'd give it another chance.

The next one is an Artwin marker.

It feels pretty similar to the Prismacolor, but was less expensive. Not bad. Not a Markette, but I would use it.

I only tried the medium tip side of it; the fine tip is more like a pen than a marker.

Last, and my favorite, was the Tria.

I had heard of the marker, but was told it was basically the same as the Prismacolor. They've recently updated the marker, and now it's very similar to the Copic, but the important difference is in flexibility. The brush tip is shorter than the Copic's which made it easier to manage. I liked the effects I got with it, though I haven't tested it out completely. It has the brush tip, a chisel tip, and a pen tip.

So, while none of the markers can replace exactly what the older Markette had, I don't think I'm completely lost. Now I'm going to go draw.