Water-Based Pen Experiment

As somebody who works with watercolours often, I am comfortable with how they work and how I can use them to create an effect I want. However, I wanted to see if I could create a new effect with a rather unorthodox idea: blending out water-based pens with some water and a brush.

The thought process I had behind this was that my Copic markers (an alcohol-based marker) are unaffected by water and blend easily with each other because of the alcohol base, while my Crayola washable markers (a water-based marker) do not blend well with each other. This got me thinking, as you can dilute the colour from Copics with alcohol (they have a “blender” pen which is just alcohol with no pigment and it practically erases the ink), shouldn’t you be able to dilute the colour from the Crayola markers with water?

To begin my experiment I selected my first set of colours. I chose purple, pink, red, and blue to create something I am very comfortable with painting – a galaxy. I then roughed out where I wanted the colours to be by laying down lines of colour in a way I thought would look nice when blended out. After that, I took a cup of water and a paint brush, dipped the brush into the water, and began blending. I waited for the first layer to dry, drew on some more lines of colour, and repeated this until I was happy with the outcome.


These were the outcomes I got after adding details with a gel pen and more markers, with my thoughts beneath each one.

I think the top two pieces look the best – the spaces left between the marker lines made for good gaps between colour, adding depth to the galaxies. However, I wasn’t happy with the amount of depth the markers produced. It was difficult to blend them without the water eating up my paper, but if I didn’t blend enough it left harsh lines from the pen. This can definitely be put down to me using paper that wasn’t intended for watercolour and for using pens which weren’t meant to be used as watercolour paints.

To conclude, these experimental pieces are not quite what I was looking for to use in my project. Using markers instead of paints was interesting to see, but was really more of a chore than anything. I had limited colour choice, a hard time blending out harsh lines, and less control over where colour went once it was dampened. In future, it would be easier to just stick to watercolour paints.


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