Spectrum Noir Aqua Markers
Spectrum Noir Aqua Markers
Before we get right into this review of Spectrum Noir's Aqua Markers, I just would like to highlight that although I absolutely love watercolors, I am not exactly proficient with them, which is why I was so excited to test these fantastic Spectrum Noir Aqua Markers.
For me personally, I love combining alcohol markers and colored pencils in my art and over the past year or so I have become more and more happy with my results. I have dabbled with watercolors in the past, but with Spectrum Noir's Aqua Markers, I was given the chance to use watercolors but in a medium form I am comfortable with, markers.
I have created two speed drawings using the Aqua Markers which I will of course leave links to in this review. The first painting I completed and the one I am most happiest with, is a flower using both the Aqua Markers and Spectrum Noir's new ColourTint Pencils. A full review of these very special pencils will be in the Feb 2018 Issue of COLORED PENCIL Magazine. The second painting I completed was an image from a popular Anime called "Spirited Away". For this I used the Aqua Markers, the ColourTint Pencils, Spectrum Noir Colorista Aqua and Spectrum Noir AquaBlend pencils. Unfortunately it did not come out the way I had planned but that was purely down to my lack of skills and not the tools, however you can see some of the techniques I used.
Spectrum Noir Aqua Marker Sets
So in traditional Spectrum Noir and Crafters Companion style, the Aqua Markers are split into sets according to type and style of art, I personally think this is an excellent system especially for those new to the medium wanting to dip their toes, or more professional artist who know exactly what type of art they will use them for.
The full range of Aqua Markers equates to 72 glorious colors, however, it is worth remembering that these are water based markers and so with 72 colors, there really is no limit to the palette you can create via mixing and blending.
There is four sets of 12 markers and four sets of 6 markers. The four larger sets of 12 are, "Nature, Essentials, Primary and Floral". The four sets of 6 are "Earth, Brights, Landscape and Botanicals". As you purchase the sets you don't need to worry about duplicates being mistaking purchased, this is not the case.
Unfortunately the markers can not be purchased open stock or refilled, at least not as of yet. In the grand scheme of things, the Aqua Markers, Illustrator Markers and Graphic Markers are all relatively new products to Spectrum Noir and Crafters Companion, so later down the line their could be refills or individual replacements; however when you see the price of the sets, I don't think it will be an issue.
Spectrum Noir Aqua Marker Characteristics.
As previously mentioned, this is the third marker Spectrum Noir have released in a line of excellent alcohol and water based markers, the Illustrator and Graphic being the other two. Both the Illustrator and Graphic have a light and dark grey barrel respectively, the Aqua Markers have this beautiful aqua blue barrel making them instantly recognisable.
The barrels are hexagonal in shape and feel very comfortable in the hand, along one side of the barrel is printed the marker type which is "Aqua" followed by the company name "Spectrum Noir". At either end of the printed information is an icon indicating the nib style under the lid. It is very refreshing to see that both icons stand out well and are not difficult to see. As well as the icons on either side indicating the nib style, on the end of the fine nib, there is a clear white indentation between the lid and barrel, this is just another method of easily identifying what nib you are after.
At one end of the barrel is a brush nib which is exactly the same style of brush in the Illustrator markers. On the other end is a fine nib, however I personally love this nib and particularly for the style of art I love to try with watercolors which is botanical, I will explain more about this in the performance and not forgetting you can also see the markers in real time over on our YouTube channel.
On either end of the lids thee is a clear color indicator which allows you to replace your markers back into whatever stacking system you have, either way and still easily locate the color of your choice. As well as the actual color being on the ends of the lids, both lids also have the pigment name printed in the middle. Again, with both the color indicator and pigment name being present on both lids, this makes it easy when replacing and extracting the markers.
Spectrum Noir Aqua Markers Performance
it is worth reminding you that you can see the markers in a real time demonstration over on The Art Gear Guides YouTube Channel, just click the link. As I have previously mentioned, I personally feel that the Spectrum Noir Aqua Markers are perfect for marker artists who would love to try out watercolor as this allows them to experiment using a familiar tool. Of course these markers are outstanding for so many different styles and occasions.
The brush tip allows you to lay down a wonderful coverage, the flow of the Aqua markers is not quite the same as alcohol based markers, you can clearly see and feel that this is a water based pigment. Once the pigment is applied to the watercolor paper of your choice, you can leave the result as it is or activate the pigment with water via an ordinary paint brush. This immediately turns the pigment into watercolor and it behaves exactly as watercolors do. It is worth mentioning that when you apply the pigment to the paper via the brush nib, don't leave it too long before you add the water, the longer you leave it, the less pigment disperses and you will get faint brush marks under the paint where you originally applied the pigment with the brush nib.
For the style of art I love doing with watercolor, I absolutely love the fine nib as you can achieve some really beautiful effects. Obviously the fine nib will give you a fine line when applied to the paper and you can then move it about with the paint brush or you can use the fine nib for detail. I however love to use the fine nib for veins on leaves and veins on the petals of certain flowers. To get the most realistic effect simply wet the paper first with clean water, not too much or the water temporarily removes the pigment, apply with a light touch the nib to create a line and you get this beautiful feathered effect line. You can see this technique demonstrated on the video.
You can apply the same technique to the brush nib, wetting the paper first and then applying the pigment directly from the brush nib, however, as with the fine nib, not too much water as this will temporarily soak up the pigment from the brush nib. If this does happen, just wait a few seconds and the pigment re-enters the nib with no problems at all.
With regards to lightfast information, there is actually very little information on this matter, it is worth noting that with most watercolors, when activated with water the lightfastness is diluted and as we all know, alcohol markers do not have lightfast protection ratings.
Spectrum Noir Aqua Marker Pricing
As I mentioned previously regarding the open stock issue, when you see the price of these sets I don't think you will find it too much of a problem.
Here in the UK for either of the 12 sets, Florals, Primary, Essentials or Nature will cost approximately £15 - £18 per set, just over £1 per marker which I think is excellent value. For either of the six marker sets, Botanicals, Landscape, Brights or Earth they will cost approximately £11 - £12 per set. All in all, for the type of markers they are and the easy color combinations you can achieve via mixing etc, I think they are amazing value for money.
In the US for either of the 12 sets, Florals, Primary, Essentials or Nature will cost approximately $22 - $23 per set. For either of the six marker sets, Botanicals, Landscape, Brights or Earth they will cost approximately $16 - $19 per set.
And finally in Europe for either of the 12 sets, Florals, Primary, Essentials or Nature will cost approximately €20 - €22 per set. For either of the six marker sets, Botanicals, Landscape, Brights or Earth they will cost approximately €15 - €16 per set.
I really had a lot of fun with the Spectrum Noir Aqua Markers and like I mentioned I think the fact that I love to use alcohol based markers any way, gave me a familiarity with the Aqua markers. However, I gave them to my youngest daughter to play about with and she also loved them.
The color combinations that you can achieve with just a few aqua markers is fantastic given that they are just like mixing traditional watercolor, this in my opinion makes them incredible value for money.