Reported by Cassandra Darwin
I was excited to test out a set of the Letraset Aqua Markers, because using markers makes me just as happy as it did when I was in grade school!
I looked up this line of twin-tip markers online and noticed that the sets came with a “blender” pen. So I (incorrectly) assumed that they would function like my Copic markers – blending colors together but without the alcohol ink.
Turns out that these markers actually work just like a watercolor pencil, so you can blend them with a brush on watercolor paper. A set of 12 Aqua Markers retails for just under $37.
I received “Set 1” colors and am very happy with the variety and packaging. The plastic case opens flat so you can see every color while you’re working. And there was a small insert with a few tips, including this important one – you really should be using watercolor paper with these markers. I didn’t have any, so my first few tests are using cardstock (more pictures in a bit).
The back of the Hints & Tips insert has a color chart for each set, and I found the colors on this chart to be much more true than the colors on the barrels of the markers themselves. You can also see the illustration of the twin tips below: fine nib for detail and broader brushlike tip for big surfaces.
For my first test, I did three strokes of a variety of colors on three different types of cardstock. Top is an Avery manila shipping tag, then 80 lb. Neenah cardstock, and at the bottom 100 lb. Bristol paper.
I set the markers aside and used the “blender pen” to try to create a wash between the different colors. It didn’t work so well and I started to get some pilling on each of the tests. I also noticed that some colors were easier to blend than others, most notably the orange (Gold Ochre) seemed to have more pigment.
Then right below then Blender pen wash, I used a watercolor brush and water to try to create a wash between the different colors. Got even worse results – perhaps the ink had dried too long (about 3 or 4 minutes). You can click on the photo to zoom in.
Attempted a close up of the pilling on the paper after using the Aqua Markers and then the Blender Pen.
I did one more test on regular cardstock, to see which inks would work best when stamping with these markers. The top is a stamped image with black Versafine pigment ink and it stayed very true even after blending the markers with a brush and water. Keep in mind that pigment ink takes a while to dry – I left this overnight before going back to it with markers and water. The black Memento dye ink (bottom) got a bit washed out after blending with water. The end result is more grey than black.
At this point I dragged myself to the store to get some watercolor paper to test the makers in their best environment. I also looked up a few more tips on the Letraset website (see more links at the end of the review) and learned that you can use these markers directly on stamps.
I used the broad nib of the markers directly on the rubber stamp and ended up with this image on the watercolor paper.
To give it more of a watercolor “effect” I used my wet paintbrush to blend the leaves a bit. I was also able to go over the tree trunk and even out the color quite a bit. I can already tell that the watercolor paper makes all the difference for blending.
For my final test I wanted to make a few snail embellishments for future projects. I used the black Versafine pigment ink to stamp the image on watercolor paper. Let it dry for a few hours then came back and outlined with the markers and blended with a wet brush right away. By far my most successful use of the markers.
Even though this set of markers was not what I expected, they turned out to be really fun and different than what I was used to. It was nice to use a brush for the watercolor effect. I would absolutely recommend using the online resources that Letraset has on their website, and there are a couple videos on You Tube of crafters giving their own tips and tricks with these markers.
Resources on the Letraset website:
- Product information and basic “how to”
- Color chart and overview of Aqua Markers
- Color chart comparison for all Aqua Marker Sets
- All of the other tutorials and videos I saw on the site used the Pro Markers from Letraset, not the Aqua Markers
- A different type of marker, can be used alone or blended with a brush for a watercolor effect
- Well-packaged set includes storage, good variety of colors, and a blender pen
- Twin-tip is very nice for this type of marker
- Price is pretty reasonable when compared to fine watercolor sets or other crafting marker sets
- I never really figured out how to use the blender pen, and there was a learning curve for blending with a brush
- Had to buy watercolor paper to use these markers
- I could not find any other Letraset markers in my local art and craft stores
- Would be really helpful to have a video how-to on the Letraset website
What do you think? Have you tried the Letraset Aqua Markers? Any tips to share?
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