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Prismacolor 4-in-1 Premier Art Markers

Reported by Dana Vitek

Rubber stampers have been treading not-so-lightly into the world of alcohol-based markers, due to their versatility and extreme awesomeness. Traditional marker artists and designers are all, “yeah, well…DUH!” but we stampers are pretty new to the art marker scene.

Prismacolor art markers have been around for a long, long time. I used them (poorly) during my stint in interior design school, and my husband used them 1000 years ago in graphic design school. Their nibs and label design have changed over the years, but their ink formulation has endured. The newest version, the 4-in-1 Premier Art Marker, is double-ended, with a fine tip on one end and a beveled chisel on the other. The large end allows for quick coverage of large areas, as well as three different line-widths, depending on how you hold the marker, while the fine tip lets you get into tiny detailed areas.

As for the hallmark of alcohol markers, blendability, Prismacolors do that well too. As a beginner during design school, I was frustrated by the lines left by these markers when you don’t keep what’s known as a “wet edge” and it’s hard to keep a wet edge over a large space when rendering an interior drawing (by the way, don’t Google “wet edge” Oy.) It wasn’t until reading the one billion blog entries about that other alcohol-based marker (you know the one I’m talking about), that I figured out what I was doing wrong. Here is an example of the right way to blend:


Color with lightest color, shade with slightly darker color, accent with darkest color, color over the whole thing with the lightest color again… voila!

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Dana… should I buy the Prismacolors or the Copics?! Just TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” and my answer is… I just don’t know. It really depends on how much you color, what your budget is, blah, blah, blah. Here’s honest truth from my point-of-view:

  • I think the Copic ink blends easier than the Prismacolor ink.
  • I think the Prismacolor large end is better than the Copic Sketch chisel end.
  • I think the Copic Sketch brush end is really nice.
  • I think the refillabillity of the Copics is a big selling point, if you do a lot of coloring.
  • I think the Prismacolors do a decent job for half the price of Copics.

Personally, I have over 100 Prismacolor markers, and 17 Copics (only 5 of them are the Sketch variety, because my dear husband surprised me with the 12B set of Copic Originals. “Surprise!” “These aren’t the ones I wanted; I mean, THANKS!”). I think as my Prismacolors run dry, I’ll replace them with the Copics, but I don’t think I’ll dump a ton of money on the Copic sets right now. There’s just not that big a difference, IN MY OPINION, in their performance, to invest in the Copics immediately.

[is the one on the right worth $7.50 (for three markers) more? You tell me!]

Of course, that’s not going to stop me from drinking at the fount of Copic wisdom, and applying it to what I have available.

Here’s a card using said wisdom:

(Stamp: “Poo Happens” Inkadinkado; Ink: “Lamp Black” Nick Bantock Collection, Ranger; Markers: Prismacolor PM-133, PM-78, PM-10, PM-71, PM-108, PM-109, PM-48, PM-170, PM-16, PM-172, PM-121; Cardstock: PaperTrey Ink Stampers Select White, Making Memories”Max”)


For more info on why I picked the black ink I used, check out the MOTHER of all black ink tests on my blog…

Another fab aspect of Prismacolor markers (and other alcohol-based markers), is the ability to color on non-paper stuff. I’ve successfully used my Prismacolor markers on shrink plastic, metal, and cured polymer clay. Since the ink repels itself on non-porous materials, you can get this cool mottled effect (think polished stone technique without the cotton ball mess).

Here’s a pendant I made with polymer clay, colored with Prismacolor markers:

(Stamp: PaperTrey Ink; Markers: Prismacolors in many shades of blue & green; Ink: Pearl-Ex Copper)

Enough with the “TA-DAH!” already… cut to the chase:

Pros:

  • Price. Prismacolor markers retail for between $2.09-$3.25 USD (depending on where you find them), about half the price of other professional-quality alcohol-based art markers.
  • Availability. I’ve seen Prismacolor art markers in every big-box craft store I’ve been to, both as open-stock and sets. Their prevalence in places where you can use a 40% off coupon is a huge plus.
  • Label. Their labels are actually in color, so it’s pretty easy to find what you’re looking for if you’re digging through a box because you’re too lazy to put them back on the rack, for example. Ahem.
  • Consistency. Prismacolor makes a huge number of art media (e.g. colored pencils, pastels, watercolor pencils) and they name the same colors the same thing across the board, so the “Deco Pink” marker is the same color as the “Deco Pink” colored pencil. That’s nice when you’re mixing media for layering and shading.

Cons:

  • Naming/numbering system. Their numbers seem to be arbitrary, not grouped by hue or value. That’s one of the big advantages that Copic has: intuitive, or at least intelligent, numbering.
  • Not refillable. Score another point for the Copics here.
  • They’re round. Meaning cylindrical, and therefore have the tendency to roll off your work surface into the realm of two-year-old children and marker-eating dogs. Ask me how I know.

So do I recommend them? Sure. Will I buy more of them now that I’ve gotten my hands on the Copic Sketch markers? Maybe not. But they do a good job at a good price, and sometimes, that’s all you need. They’re available online at Dick Blick, Joann & Amazon, as well as your local craft or art supply store.

Anybody out there have Prismacolor markers? What do you think? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Dana Vitek

Dana Vitek is a craft-‐‑supply hoarder with an obscenely understanding husband. She works full-‐‑time as a geologist, and spends her free time sort of paying attention to her two kids, reading a lot, and crafting. She's a crocheter, but not a knitter because knitting seems way too complicated. She's a card maker, but usually only 10 minutes before a birthday party. She cusses at her sewing machine. She has at least 12 different types of glue, but can never find the scissors she wants when she wants them. Dana started writing and editing for Craft Critique in 2008. She is perhaps best known for her Mother of All Black Ink Tests, and her annual April Fool's posts. She blogs extremely irregularly at Stamping Science. http://stampingscience.blogspot.com

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13 Responses to Prismacolor 4-in-1 Premier Art Markers

  1. Michelle Adams August 14, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    Once I purchased my first Prismacolor marker, I knew I would (almost) never use anything else. I find them to be ideal for coloring images on paper as well as using them on non-porous surfaces like you mentioned. You can’t beat the price for a marker this good. I intend to collect them all. Good review – thanks for covering this!

  2. Linda B August 14, 2008 at 12:35 pm #

    Thanks for this help! I have been agonizing over the Prsimacolor vs Copic and eventhough Copic is refillable, etc, the price difference is just too much for me. Prismacolor it is….I use their pencile and love them.

  3. Bee August 14, 2008 at 4:32 pm #

    Thanks so much for this review!!! I have been drooling over the Copics but can’t swallow the huge price tag. When I saw the prismacolor markers I wondered if I could get a somewhat similar result with them for a more reasonable price.
    You just answered my question! I’m so happy and will definitely give them a try! THANKS! 🙂

  4. Cori S August 14, 2008 at 5:11 pm #

    I only have 1 prisma marker & its the blender. I actually use it w/ my prisma colored pencils to make it look softer & w/out the hard lines from the pencils. I absolutely LOVE this line!!!

  5. Carolyn Bounds August 14, 2008 at 10:20 pm #

    I have the Prismacolor markers, and I LOVE THEM!!! I purchased my first set from Hobby Lobby for next to nothing (less than $10) and have been hooked ever since. Since then, I have purchased the larger set from the Carpe Diem store for an extremely reasonable price. Thank you for doing a write-up on these wonderful markers!!! It’s nice to know that I am not alone:)

  6. Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor August 17, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    That is really cool… I did not know you could color with those on polymer clay? How did you do that? Did you color your stamp or behind the stamp? I can’t tell from the picture.

    Great review… really excited about these pens!

  7. Dana (*danavee*) August 18, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    Hi folks, thanks for your nice comments!

    Cindy, to answer your question, I put translucent Sculpey III in a silicone muffin tray and baked it, then I colored it with the markers, then I stamped over the top of it with a Pearl-ex ink pad, which is permanent on plastic.

  8. MaryNSC August 27, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    THANK U THANK U THANK U!!

  9. Anonymous July 22, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    I haven’t tried copic’s yet but I believe that the drawing you made showing the differences between the two can be remedied. I think with my prismacolours I could emulate exactly the shades the copics made by using darker colouring/brighter colours, or going over the red on the cheeks a bit more

  10. Kelly S. September 19, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    Thank you for doing such a complete job on this critique. I still am uncertain what to do, but as they say; knowledge is power!

  11. java diva November 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    Why did I not see this when it originally posted? I subscribe for pete’s sake.
    Confession time: I’ve had a 12 marker box sitting unopened for maybe 3-4 years. Because I wanted copics. So thank you for this post! I am going to be opening the box up and praying they’re not dried up!! And the guilt of receiving these from my poor art brother as a gift will be gone, (as long as they’re not dried up).

  12. heizluv February 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Thanks for all that information but I happened up on your blog by accident. I just purchased a set of these markers….have not received them yet. I am not an artist. I do rubber stamping (very new at it) and I was hoping I could use them for stamping – not so much coloring in. What do you think? Will they stain my stamps.?

    Thanks for your help.

  13. Nia M. Brown September 20, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    I have been in love with Prismacolor markers for the past 15 years. I vowed never to abandon the Prisma lol. Recently in my local craft store I came across the Copic markers and thought “Hmmmm… these look really interesting. Refillable, changeable nibs, a more hand holding shape… maybe I’ll give them a try!” So I bought 7 mostly skin colors and 1 blender. I tried them tonight next to my Prismacolor’s. I will admit that I loved the feel of them, I liked the way the blender blended almost becoming a sort of eraser if you will going over and over repeatedly. That was about it though. Now I don’t know if it’s just because I have been using the Prismacolor’s for so long that my mind can’t wrap itself around anything else but I totally feel that when you see them next to each other the Prismacolor is just flat out the better marker! I’m not too fond of the Copic paint bush sort of tip. I like to have a bit more control than it allows for. Don’t get me wrong the Copic isn’t a bad marker I just believe the Prisma to be the better of the two, but try for yourself… As for me, like I said earlier “I will not abandon the Prisma!” (Teeheehee) 🙂