Tombow Markers as Watercolors

One of my favorite art tools to work with is Tombow markers.  It wasn’t until a year ago that I knew what all these colorful pens could do.  First, let’s start with the basics.  The markers themselves have two points:  a brush end for bold strokes and quick color distribution and a fine tip for drawing lines and detailed areas.  They come in 95 different shades of some of the most vibrant colors around.  If you like to color in your Zentangle designs, the Tombow markers real pop against the black and white lines.

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While reading Joanne Sharpe’s book, “The Art of Whimsical Lettering”, I learned the watercolor effects that these markers provide.  The reason I was so excited about this discovery, was the ability to draw out an entire design first with water-soluble markers and simply brush water over each section, to reveal a finished watercolor painting.  An added bonus is the spontaneous blending of colors, when water is added afterward.  This “loose effect” is the very essence of what every watercolor should look like.  The colors also stay true to the marker shade, remaining vibrant even when dry.  Specific surfaces will yield the best results.  I experimented with several and found resounding success with the cold-pressed ones.  The photo below demonstrates Crescent illustration board.  A medium weight  No. 300 board was used.  Notice how smooth and clear the colors dried.  Hot press surfaces will cause the colors to be scrubbed and leave marker lines behind.

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With watercolor paper, you can achieve the same results.  I used Canson 140 lb. paper from a tablet for the example below.  You can easily see those beautiful puddles of random color blending, with absolutely no fading.  To make this a finished piece, I’d go back in with a black micron pen and tighten it up with detail…and much like a colored marker drawing, it makes the watercolors pop!  Please note: although I worked quickly with both examples,  there is no time factor involved here.  I drew another simple flower shape with the Tombow markers and let it dry for a few hours.  When water was applied to the surface, it activated in the same way, as though I had just laid in the marker color minutes before.  Try this easy technique with Tombows today!

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