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Using Sharpies in my Drawings

There has been a large set of Sharpies sat on my art shelf gathering dust for years now, and while I have been lusting after the markers I see other artists and illustrators use, I decided to save my money and use my sharpies in a few drawings and see whether I liked the effect or not. So many artists and illustrators I love use markers in their art work and I have been tempted for a long time to try all of the beautiful pens on offer, but I was a little overwhelmed with all of the choice. Which brand is the best? Do I want a brush tip or a fine tip? Do I buy a whole set? What paper do they work best on? Are the inks archival? Do I actually NEED them?

I was in the middle of a series that I had started as an experiment with colour and different art supplies, so when I picked it back up again a few weeks ago, I decided to go for it, but not without a little bit of planning first.

The first piece I worked on with them was "Viola", a Marilyn Monroe portrait. I had completely ran out of black pencils and black fine liners so I didn't have much of a choice but to dip into my large stock of Sharpie black markers.

At first, I meant to only use the markers for the eyelashes and the pupils but after playing around a little with layering, I realised that they work wonderfully as a base to put pencil on top of, it made the colour deeper and sank into the paper really quickly meaning I could use a much lighter layer of pencil on top, saving time and precious supplies.

For the second piece, I decided to take it one step further and push the boundaries a little more. I did lots of testing before hand to work out exactly how to create the effect I wanted. I had worked out the colours I wanted to use digitally already and knew that I didn't want any black at all in this drawing, but I had no markers or pencils that would give me the deep, rich blue that I wanted for the in one layer.

I worked out that carefully layering pencil on top of marker on top of pencil on top of marker would give me many more layering capabilities than just using pencil by itself, as if the marker created extra tooth for the pencil to grip onto, and this allowed me to go so many shades darker than I could have if I used them separately. Since I had used the Sharpie on a larger area this time, I saved around 3 hours drawing time which is amazing ! Usually when I try something new it takes me much longer than usual, so, to save time was completely new to me !

The third piece was "Rossa", a portrait of Sophia Loren. This time I spent even longer planning the colours and how I wanted to use the Sharpies to my advantage, taking what I had learnt from the previous 2 portraits and letting myself be a little more free this time.

I used the brown Sharpie as a base for the background, black for the hair and the hot pink for adding a pop of contrasting colour. Being able to lay down so much colour in such a short amount of time saved me another few hours on this portrait which I found really shocking. I was so happy with how it came out couldn't believe how fast I was able to do it!

I'm so happy I decided to try these out and if you are thinking about trying them too, here are a list of positive experiences I had by introducing them into my artwork

  1. My drawing process was faster

  2. I could layer so much more

  3. They added more vibrant colours to my arsenal

  4. I used way less pencil when layering on top of Sharpies, saving precious money and supplies

  5. I got pushed out of my comfort zone

Of course Sharpies are not sold as artist grade materials but they are fun to use and have given my artwork interesting effects. When we live in an age of artists puking on a canvas and calling that art, using a few markers in addition to your professional supplies shouldn't be a problem.

If you would like to hang one of these ladies on your wall (thank you so much), you can purchase prints from my shop !

If you would like to watch the creation of these portraits, the videos are below :)


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