Tips for Extending the Lifespan of Alcohol-Based Markers

If you're an artist or a hobbyist who loves to create vibrant and long-lasting artwork, then you probably already know the value of a good alcohol-based marker. These markers are a popular choice for many artists due to their high-quality ink, blendability, and ability to create smooth and streak-free finishes. However, alcohol markers can be quite expensive, so it's important to know how to use them properly in order to maximize their lifespan.

DIY Valentine's Day card with flowers colored in with Artistry by Altenew Alcohol Markers

Firewood Garden Artist Alcohol Markers Set M

In this blog post, we'll discuss some tips for extending the lifespan of your alcohol markers, as well as how to revive them if they start to dry out.

How to Use Alcohol Markers

Using alcohol-based markers may seem straightforward, but there are some tips and tricks that can help you get the most out of your markers. Here are some key points to keep in mind when using alcohol markers:

Artistry by Altenew alcohol marker coloring book for adults

1. Use smooth, high-quality paper.

Alcohol markers work best on non-porous, smooth paper that allows the ink to blend seamlessly. Using a lower-quality paper may cause the ink to bleed and feather, resulting in a less polished finish.

Slimline floral card colored in with artists' alcohol markers

2. Layering and blending.

Alcohol markers are known for their ability to blend seamlessly. To achieve the best results, start by applying light layers of color and gradually build up the intensity by layering different shades on top of each other. Use a colorless blender marker to soften edges and create smooth transitions between colors.

A close-up of an uncapped Artistry by Altenew's Alcohol Marker

3. Cap your markers when not in use.

This may seem obvious, but it's crucial to cap your markers when you're not using them. Leaving them uncapped for extended periods of time can cause the ink to dry out, leading to wasted product and a shorter lifespan for your markers.

Artistry by Altenew's Alcohol Markers stored vertically, with special marker topper labels

4. Store your markers horizontally. 

Storing your alcohol markers horizontally can help ensure that the ink is evenly distributed throughout the marker, preventing one end from drying out faster than the other.

How to Find Good Alcohol-Based Markers for Your Art

When it comes to choosing alcohol markers, quality matters. Investing in a good set of alcohol markers can make a world of difference in the quality and longevity of your artwork. Here are some features to look for in good alcohol markers:

1. High-quality ink

Look for markers with high-quality, acid-free ink that is fade-resistant and long-lasting. This will ensure that your artwork remains vibrant and fresh for years to come.

A close-up of an uncapped alcohol marker from the Woodland Garden Alcohol Marker Set

2. Replaceable nibs

Some alcohol markers come with replaceable nibs, allowing you to extend the lifespan of your markers by simply replacing the nib when it becomes worn down.

3. Ergonomic design

Comfort is key when it comes to long drawing sessions. Look for markers with an ergonomic design that feels comfortable in your hand and reduces hand fatigue.

A pair of hands holding a bunch of Artistry by Altenew's Alcohol Markers

4. Wide color range

A good set of alcohol-based markers should offer a wide range of colors to choose from, allowing you to create vibrant and dynamic artwork.

Drawing with Alcohol Markers

Drawing with alcohol markers can be a rewarding experience, but it's important to approach it with the right techniques in order to achieve the best results. Here are some tips for drawing with alcohol markers:

Close-up of a bunch of pink flowers colored in with Artistry by Altenew's Alcohol Markers
  • Start with a sketch. Before you begin coloring with alcohol markers, it's helpful to start with a light sketch of your artwork. This will help you plan out your colors and ensure that you achieve the desired result.
  • Work in layers. As mentioned earlier, layering is key when it comes to using alcohol markers. Start with light layers of color and gradually build up the intensity as needed.
Ombre color swatches of Artistry by Altenew's Alcohol Markers
  • Experiment with blending. Alcohol-based markers are known for their blending capabilities, so don't be afraid to experiment with different color combinations and blending techniques to create unique effects in your artwork.
  • Use a colorless blender. A colorless blender marker can be a valuable tool for creating smooth transitions between colors and softening edges in your artwork.

Learn How to Master Sketching: Tips and Tricks for Artists.

How to Revive Alcohol Markers

Even with proper care, alcohol markers can dry out over time. However, there are some methods you can use to revive them and extend their lifespan:

4 card panels with alcohol ink backgrounds
  1. Rehydrate the ink.

If you notice that your alcohol marker is starting to dry out, you can try rehydrating the ink by adding a few drops of rubbing alcohol, a blending solution, or using alcohol marker refills. Let the marker sit for a few hours to allow the ink to absorb the added moisture.

  1. Store markers upside down.

Storing your markers upside down can help keep the ink flowing toward the nib, preventing it from drying out as quickly.

Artistry by Altenew's Alcohol Markers displayed horizontally on a table, with one uncapped marker
  1. Replace the nib. 

If the nib of your marker has become frayed or worn down, replacing it with a new nib can help restore the marker to its original condition.

Artistry by Altenew's Alcohol Markers are perfect for coloring the Exotic Blooms Alcohol Marker Coloring Book for adults

Alcohol Markers vs. Water-Based Markers: A Quick Comparison

When it comes to choosing between alcohol markers and water-based markers, there are some key differences to consider. Here's a comparison table outlining the differences between the two:

Features  Alcohol-Based Markers Water-Based Markers
Ink Type Alcohol-based ink Water-based dye ink
Blendability Excellent blending capabilities Dilute with water for smooth blending
Paper Compatibility Non-porous, smooth paper Watercolor paper or heavyweight cardstock
Drying Time Quick drying time Quick drying time
Color intensity Vibrant and intense colors

Depends on your preference. Colors are vibrant but can be softened to get a more translucent effect

Lightfastness High lightfastness

Lower lightfastness

Odor Strong odor Minimal odor


Beautiful alcohol marker art with a flower wreath, colored in with Artistry by Altenew's Alcohol Markers

Try These Tips for Extending Your Alcohol-Based Markers’ Lifespan

Alcohol markers are a valuable tool for artists who want to create vibrant and long-lasting artwork. By following these tips for maximizing marker use and understanding the differences between alcohol markers and water-based markers, you can make informed choices when it comes to selecting the right tools for your artistic endeavors. Whether you're a seasoned artist or just starting out, good alcohol-based markers can elevate your artwork and bring your creative visions to life. Drop by The Creative Corner for more alcohol marker tips, tricks, and ideas!

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