Markers are still quite the rage in crafting, but it seems like the field is dominated by alcohol-based markers. However, let’s not underestimate the value of a good-old water based marker in you craft box. To whit, today I’m reviewing Aqua Markers from Letraset in UK. Like their ProMarkers (the alcohol-based version) they have two nibs on either end of the marker, so you get “two-fer.”
Here’s how the markers are described on the Letraset website:
AquaMarkers use water based pigmented inks. These have the advantage of being water soluble – they can be easily blended, even when dried, giving the effects of water-colour paint but with the convenience of a marker. Pigmented ink is acid free and light fast giving excellent colour longevity. Aqua ProMarkers feature a unique brush shaped nib at one end, enabling a soft-edged application of colour.
Let’s get started by taking a close look at those nibs I mentioned.
The fat brush nib is great for covering large areas or laying down color for use as a watercolor palette. The smaller nib is great for detail work and writing. And like the other Letraset markers, there are two separate cap shapes, giving you an immediate visual cue as to which end is which. (Call me lazy, but it’s SO much nicer than having to read the barrel!) The fine point nib also has a little tab so that you pen won’t roll off of the table. These are small details, but can be deciding factors when choosing the right marker for you!
Now let’s take a look at my swatch test.
Swatches made using a red and a yellow marker.
I obviously have been using really poor quality water-based markers, because my jaw just dropped when I colored onto the blue cardstock. I did not expect to see any real color- but because these are pigment-based, you actually DO get color. It’s really like using a high-quality watercolor paint, but in a marker form.Â I got really excited to play and create with them!
I decided to try another version of swatching…but this time, I used the Aqua Markers with the same stamp, but in different ways.
Stamp by "Stampin' Up" (R) & stamped with Memento Tuxedo Black stamp pad by Tsukineiko.
In the top sample, I just used the markers to color in the image, adding extra layers to create shading. Like most watercolor markers, if you “work” the same area of paper too long, you can get pilling- little paper fibers pulling up.
In the second sample, I applied color to the blender pen (one blender is included with each 12-pack set) and THEN colored it in.
With this technique, you get more of a “painterly” effect- the color goes on more strongly at first, then fades out. It’s a great technique, and looks nothing like a marker!
In the third sample, I colored choice parts with the marker, and then used a waterbrush to fill in.
The Aqua Markers performed beautifully in this technique- they deposit enough color to the “moved around” by the water brush, and they reconstitute well. Even when they are bone dry, just add a bit of water to get them to blend. Nice.
In that last sample, I colored everything in and let it sit for a while…then used plain water to create a “wash” effect. Again, very artistic, don’t you think?
I was having so much fun, I decided to press on an see how Aqua markers performed on a “direct to stamp” technique. In my first attempt (which I neglected to photograph) I found that the markers dried almost too quickly and I got spotty results. However, I found that if after coloring my image I gave it a light fine mist of water (or mistable color), I got lovely results.
Again, another great way to use your markers-as impromptu stamp pads! And do you need a quick background? Just color on some watercolor paper, and then spritz you paper with water. The colors will run and bleed and create interesting backgrounds for cards, AT’C's, tags, etc.
You can also use your Glimmer Mist products with this technique.
As you can see, I found the Aqua Markers by Letraset to be versatile- and frankly, they are the highest-quality water-based marker I’ve ever used.Â At about $3.71 a marker, they are not cheap- but they perform amazingly. You can also get packs of 6 ($21.71 USD) or 12 ($31.02 USD-by far the best value), and there are even some special bundles right now available on the Letraset site
. US shoppers, don’t worry- you can find them online at Amazon.com or art supply sites like Dick Blick. There are 40 colors in all, and with their superior blendability you can easily customize any color you need.
My finished projects using Letraset Aqua markers. I even colored the cording on the card with the markers to get the color I wanted.
If you don’t have a good, high-quality set of watercolor markers, then you should treat yourself to Aqua Markers!
Lastly, I have to chime in that I loved using my water brushes with them. You might be interested in my comparison of waterbrushes
and get one of those while you’re at it!
Disclosure: Samples provided for review