Review: Spectrum Noir Illustrator Twin Tip Markers Sketching Set Of 12 #SpectrumNoir #IllustratorMarkers #AlcoholMarkers

Recently I won  a 12 set of  Spectrum Noir Illustrator Twin Tip Markers.  There are four 12 marker sets - Figure, Sketching, Seascape and Landscape. I won the Sketching set.  So, of course, I had to review them - that's just what I do!

General information about all Illustrator markers:

  • 216 colors
  • artist-grade
  • dual-tipped alcohol ink markers
  • super-fine nib for precision on one end
  • brush nib for versatility on other end
  • blendable and streak free coverage  
  • Designed to help you understand the color wheel
  • Available in tonal sets for easy shading
  • Fast-drying ink
  • Non-toxic
  • Ergonomic barrel design for greater comfort
  • Refillable
  • Double-layered marker caps for extended time between refills
Besides the four 12-marker sets there are also eight sets of six markers - Basics, Hues, Tints, Tones, Neutrals, Portrait, Earth and Essentials. There are no color duplicates between sets.

How do they differ from the Original Spectrum Noir markers?
The Illustrator markers have a brush nib and a super-fine nib rather than the chisel and fine-tip that are on the original Spectrum Noir markers.  They are still a fiber-tip such as you would find with Copics or Sharpies.

The colors in the Illustrator sets are structured around the color wheel,and are named differently from the original Spectrum Noir markers. However,  these are not necessarily new colors - just renamed. In the chart on the packaging and the caps the colors look pastel.  They are actually rather intense but are transparent (see my chart below).

The caps on both ends are marked with the original numbering system, which indicates the relative darkness or lightness of the color - for instance TB3 would be darker than TB1.  The sketching set gives you a light and a mid-tone color of each of the primary (red, yellow, blue), and each of the secondary (green, orange, purple) colors. I suspect that holds true of all the 12 Marker sets.

The marker itself is six-sided, which means it won't roll off of a table, but it can sometimes be frustrating trying to get the cap back on.  You have to line it up just so before it will snap into place.

The marker is a grayish-white in color with color-coded caps. On one of the side, the brand name and identification of the tip ends are shown in a darker gray.

The Illustrator 12 Marker Sketching set colors are daffodil, sunshine, yellow green, salad, pearl blue, denim, lilac, hydrangea, baby pink, fruit pink, pale tan and apricot.

The colors are beautiful (at least, I find them so).  The lilac and hydrangea are slightly two-toned with pinkish highlights creating an aura around the colored area.  The effect decreases somewhat as the ink dries, and is more apparent on some paper than others.

As with most paint and ink mediums there is a color shift.  That means that when the ink dries it changes - in this case the color become slightly less vibrant and lighter.

I made this chart, layering each color to show the value range of each color from light to dark.
These are alcohol markers which means the ink is wet and will soak through to the back of most papers unless they are very heavy or specially treated.  The color on the back is usually much less bright and often more pastel.  In some areas color may not soak through.  It depends on the paper and how many layers of ink you apply in different areas.

Most alcohol markers have a smell.  I didn't notice any with these markers, but a more sensitive nose than mine might.

One of the claims made about these markers is that they are good for streak-free coloring, and I'd like to put in my two cents about that.  The flow of ink on these is very strong which means the ink stays wet (but doesn't smear) for a while, but that varies with the paper you are using.  Streaking usually occurs when you layer wet ink over dry ink.  Every ink will streak under the right circumstances but some more than others.

So that means you will get streaks if you layer -- but creating streaks in a controlled manner is called shading! You let a layer dry, then add more color where you want shading and you get darker color.

Since the ink flow of these markers is strong, unwanted streaking shouldn't be a problem - unless you are using paper that causes the ink to dry too fast for the speed in which you are coloring.

I wasn't impressed with the packaging.  The set comes in a box with a thin plastic shell that won't hold up for long, and because of the six sided markers you have to get to line them up just so or they won't all fit.  I like to keep my sets in the original box because it is easier to find the right colors later, but that won't be possible in this case.  That's a minor flaw though, and won't be an issue for many.

For my first example, I used the markers on hot press watercolor paper, which is fairly smooth but has a little tooth.  I was interested in seeing how dark I could get my values, and was pleased with the range I got by layering different colors over one another.

The ink dried fairly quickly, but I had no trouble with streaks except where I wanted them for shading and detail.

I used a permanent ink pen to add the lines after coloring.

For the second and third example, I did what I call a Bleedthrumanade.  I used to do these a lot and it was fun to revisit the technique.  As I mentioned above, alcohol ink bleeds (soaks) through the page.
Making fun of the old saw 'If life hands you lemons, make lemonade', I say 'If coloring hands you bleed-thru make bleedthrumanade.'  I know, it's a poor joke, but it's fun to do.  If you're interested in more detail, you can find a tutorial here.

I did these two drawings on an ivory-colored fountain-pen friendly paper.  It's very smooth and thin, but meant to work with wet ink.  On this paper, the Illustrator colors are not quite as bright and the two-tone effect with the lilac marker wasn't as noticeable.  (Note: the paper is a dot-grid, so if you notice little dots here and there - that's the paper, not the markers)

Since this was an unplanned abstract, I didn't layer for shading, using my permanent ink pen for that later. I had no problem with unwanted streaking and got a nice even layer of color.  I used a white acrylic pen to add the highlights.

Once I was happy with the front of the page, I turned it over and did a second drawing on the back.  If you want more pastel colors with this set, this is the way to get them!

The 12 colors in the Spectrum Noir Illustrator Twin Tip Markers Sketching Set are vibrant and very transparent.  It is easy to build up a range of values by layering different colors.  Though they are alcohol ink markers there is little to no scent.  The ink does bleed through to the back of untreated paper, as all alcohol ink tends to do.  The markers have six sides so they won't roll off the table, but you do have to line up the caps to snap them back on.

The markers have a brush nib and a super-fine nib and are refillable.  Combined with the bright and transparent colors these are definitely artist quality.

I'm personally very happy with the markers, though I was disappointed with the packaging.  I won this set, but I will be buying more.

I won this Sketching set of 12 Illustrator Twin Tip Markers from Spectrum Noir in a giveaway.  I was not asked to review the set, and did so because I felt my readers would be interested.  I'm excited by the fact I won them, but have tried not to let it influence me.  Everything here is my honest opinion.