No matter how much we try to get away from it, every artist who is into mixed media or just simply marker art, is always on the look out for a good budget marker, an alternative to the Japanese leaders in this field. For me personally, with the markers I have demonstrated and tested, this is becoming more and more of a reality.
So, in an effort to help any of The Art Gear Guide subscribers and viewers who love to use markers in their work, I hope that this review will be of some use to you, I certainly know that if you read the review in it’s entirety, watch the video review or watch the speed drawing, you will discover an excellent budget priced marker.
Although I mention budget priced, the Art-n-Fly marker is by no means a budget marker. Unlike a lot of budget priced markers, Art-n-Fly have started to offer accessories for their products that very few like for like marker companies offer their customers.
Art-n-Fly Sets Available
I have only two criticism’s of the Art-n-Fly Markers and in a way, the criticism’s actually confirm how much I enjoyed using them. The first is the number of markers available. The largest set is a 48 set, after that is a 24 set, which incidentally is the set I am reviewing. However, 48 is not the total number of markers, they also offer a set of 6 Grey Tones and a set of 6 Skin Tones. None of the colours in these sets are duplicated in the 24 or 48 set, totalling 50 colors in all.
Although the Art-n-Fly markers are not sold in Open Stock, you can purchase refills, which as I mentioned, very few budget priced markers off this to their customers. The refill pouches are said to refill approximately one marker 12 to 13 times, the pouches in more technical terms are 25cc (0.85 fl oz). Another feature that is offered is replacement nibs, however I will explain this in more detail later.
Art-n-Fly Marker Characteristics.
The barrel of the markers are quite unique in that they are octagonal in shape, this makes holding the marker incredibly comfortable, offering a flat resting perch for your fingers no matter how many times you rotate the barrel.
The barrels themselves are white with black writing printed along one side of the barrel, the only color visible on the barrel is both lids, which indicate the color of the pigment in the barrel. The markers are of course dual tipped, sporting a brush tip on one end and a chisel tip on the opposite side.
It is worth mentioning that all the sets available sport this combination of brush and chisel tip, however, Art-n-Fly do have another set of Skin Tones with a Bullet Nib and Chisel tip. The colors in the set are exactly the same as the Brush tip Skin Tone six pack
On each end of the marker barrel, there is printed a chisel tip icon and brush tip icon, indicating to the artist the appropriate nib. In the middle of the barrel is the Art-n-Fly logo. As a matter of additional nib identification, on the brush nib side of the barrel, where the lid meets the barrel, there appears a noticeable gap as opposed to the chisel end of the barrel. One of the biggest issues marker artists encounter is locating the correct nib for the job in hand, often removing a lid to find the wrong nib. As a result, companies of dual tip markers have tried various methods of identification without detracting from the aesthetic of the overall marker.
As I mentioned in the video review of the Art-n-Fly markers, I try not to discuss the odour of markers, I often read in the comments section that a particular marker being reviewed either has no odour or a strong over powering odour. For me personally, this topic is too subjective to raise, we all have different levels of sensitivity when it comes to sight and smell, what I find over powering, many other people may not and visa versa. This is the only reason I never mention the odour or lack there of when reviewing markers.
Art-n-Fly Marker Performance
When possible, I try to provide art work done by the product I am reviewing, I am not always able to do so simply on the basis of time and prioritising the review over the art work. However on this occasion I have been able to provide some art work and I had so much fun in doing so. For the art work I finished, I used both the Art-n-Fly Markers and their Colored Pencils, which I will also have a review of very soon.
Given that I only had a the 24 set of markers, I was a bit limited to what I was able to draw, however, due to the bright vibrant pigments in the Art-n-Fly markers, there really only was one choice, something equally bright and fun, so I drew Buzz lightyear from the Toy Story movies. You can of course see the full demonstration of this in the form of a speed drawing at the following link.
I used proper marker paper and on this occasion I used Strathmore 400 Series Bristol Smooth, I find this a perfect surface for blending markers, not too absorbent, but not too slick either so that the ink doesn’t mix.
In the 24 set, I had a few color families that allowed me the ability to blend and achieve nice soft gradients. Ideally it is better to have three colors if you are going to blend, your light tone, mid tone and dark, but you can achieve a nice blend with two or four markers, which this particular set offered a selection of.
The ink used in the markers mixed together really well and there was very little to no streaking. The brush tip really is a good quality tip, allowing for a nice flow of ink and the correct level of flexibility in the brush tip. I personally don’t use the chisel tip often, however in my tests, the chisel tip provided a nice selection of line widths, which can come in very useful for certain projects.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the Art-n-Fly markers are primarily found in the US, incidentally this was one of my main issues with the markers and only because I love using them and would love to purchase the full collection to see what I can produce. Occasionally the Skin Tone and Grey Tone packs can be found on Amazon UK and the same for the pencils, however the lady I spoke to at Art-n-Fly has indicated that they are trying to have the markers more widely available and in particular the UK, obviously this is just their plan at the minute, there is nothing set in stone.
So for now, I am only able to provide US prices, but I can assure you, as soon as they appear in Amazon UK, I will add the price list to this review accompanied with links.
The largest set in the Art-n-Fly range of markers is the 48 set and they will cost $90, the 24 set will cost $40 leaving both the grey and skin tone six pack sets costing $14. The skin tone set with the bullet nib as opposed to the brush nib set will cost $13.99.
Over the past two years or so, I have seen many artists use the Art-n-Fly markers, of course at the time I have no idea the name of the markers, but they stuck in my mind due to the unique barrel shape, to me they not only looked interesting but the work being done with them was excellent quality.
I finally got my chance to test, demonstrate and review this brand of markers and I am so thankful that I have. The markers perform superbly, their brush tip remained in shape and did not fray or split, ensuring fantastic level of accuracy and detail. The flow of ink from the Art-n-Fly marker was perfect, leaving little to no streaking whilst allowing for a seamless blending gradient.
When you take into consideration that the Art-n-Fly markers approximately cost $1.80 where as some of the so called higher end markers can cost approximately $10-12 or £5-6 for one marker. Given this huge financial difference, one would expect to find a serious difference in performance and this is not at all what I found. The Art-n-Fly markers delivered incredibly well given their low cost.