Friday, January 20, 2012

Product Review: Letraset AquaMarkers

After hearing some buzz about these markers on the internet community, I decided to give them a try. Having worked in water based media and they sounded very appealing to me. After a little bit of research, I found that the company that manufactures them is based in the UK.  Knowing that international shipping can be brutal on a limited budget, I decided to purchase them from Dick Blick which is a local art supply company and my markers arrived in just shy of a week.

Both sets of markers arrived in a nice hard clear plastic case.  Actually I was quite impressed with the design of this case.  Why does it matter?  It matters because you can easily see each individual marker from the outside with no package lables getting in the way.  This makes for a quick choice in color selection.  Also, the package opens up flat dividing the set in two, which provides a stable flat platform to hold them while you work.  I would most definitely recommend that you keep the package/case for storage or for travel.

Ok, now on to the markers.    Each marker's label has a representation of the actual color and the name printed on to it.  The printed name I find is a bit on the small side and I do wish they would have used  a slightly larger font. These markers have a fat and a thin pointed tip on each end, the thin tip is the pointed cap, the thick/fat tip has a blunted cap.  When I tested the markers on regular drawing paper each fat tip generously laid down a thick juicy line of color, as well as the thin tip of each.  The claim to fame with these markers is their ability to be blended, either with water or with the blender pen that comes with each set.  Here comes the big "But".  Yes these blend easier than most other waterbased markers, However, you must use them on a waterbased ground.  They did not blend at all on regular drawing paper. In fact, due to their juicy nature, they actually made the paper "pill" and tear really easy.  I suggest that you wait for each application to dry fully before going over with another color.  On watercolor paper they worked beautifully.  Each color was easily manipulated either by the blender pen or by a wet water color brush.  I do not suggest using them as a "wet on wet" technique, this seems to mess up the tips a bit.  If you wanted to use a wet on wet technique, you could use a dry brush on the tip of the marker and load up the color to be applied.   You could also lay down a section of color on a scrap piece of watercolor paper and take a damp brush to it to pick up the color.   As for the blender pen, it is basically just a colorless version of the marker and I suggest a light hand when trying to blend colors or make corrections by lifting color from  your work so as to not overwork the paper and tear through it. If you do pickup a different color on your tips,  it is super easy to remove it by simply wiping the tip off on a scrap piece of paper.

Overall thoughts?  On the right material, these markers are wonderful.  They are more versatile than others, juicy, bright, but yet have some limitations.  The packaging was well designed and worth keeping for storage and transport. They do seem a bit on the expensive side, but there really is no marker that functions like them on the market.  Two thumbs up in my book!

Shopping Advice incoming!  Research your prices.  The pricing for these beauties doesn't vary much actually, but it's the shipping that will get you.  Assuming that international shipping is more expensive I decided to visit a local Dick Blick..they did not have them in the store (the girl looked at me like I had a second head when I mentioned "watercolor markers" so make sure you know the name), I ended up ordering from them and paid a $9 shipping fee. Upon researching for this article I found that Letraset in the UK is actually offering free shipping to the US !  Also, they have a promo going on where if you buy 6 you get em for the price of 5.    With that being said, Dick Blick also came through for me when 4 of the markers arrived "dry".  They immediately shipped out replacements at no cost.  Also, ordering through Dick Blick you can put your dollars towards your favorite online community if you order through their links on the actual community site, so that they can benefit from your purchase as well.

I do hope this review answers any questions you may have about the Letraset AquaMarkers and makes your purchasing decision easier.

Here is an example of a mixed media type application of the markers.  I used them in addition to the watercolor crayons and pencil on this tin.

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