Thursday, June 2, 2011

Product Testing: Letraset Aqua Markers

The Letraset Aqua Markers that I had been waiting for arrived two weekends ago in a box substantial enough to be exciting. Inside, I found the double-end markers all lined up in their clear plastic packaging which can actually function as a carrying case, although I doubt that the groovy customer service representative at Daniel Smith, Inc. carries them into a bar that way. A guy was drawing in a bar…

Test: Two Dolls on Wet Media paper
And found a few adjectives. Juicy. Damp. Those are the first two. I guess they go with drinks. I found that the bleed-through is high so I highly recommend watercolor paper or Strathmore Wet Media paper for these guys. They blend together on smooth paper without any added water, but use a brush with water to make gradations and small washes. Try a Niji waterbrush with them: I think it is a good pairing. (I bought one years ago and have always liked using it with watercolor pencils.) I suspect that the markers will also perform well on Aquaboard or Clayboard. When working on top of the watercolor ground, keep the waterbrush ready and alternate the marker and water; it is much harder to loosen up and blend the marker strokes once dry.

Test: Gertrude & Alice on watercolor ground, wood
The blender. Hmm. Wasn't convinced about the blender pen. The recommended use is to take the tip of the blender pen and touch it to a color, then draw for a more muted effect. Maybe. I found myself thinking about the eyedropper tool in Photoshop, probably because picking up color from one area and putting it down in another sounds familiar, or maybe because I am spending too much time at the computer. The blender can be used to fill in little specks here and there, but it doesn't work the way the waterbrush does, which was what I was hoping for. What it can do, however, is make it possible to put down a lighter version: hot pink becomes baby pink, for example, without leaving a trace of the darker color.

In comparison to other marking pens, I prefer the brush markers and fine points of the Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens. They are pigmented and lightfast, come in more colors, I can layer the colors, and I can draw with them on regular paper

I also tried the Aqua Markers with eraser carvings. Carve a white plastic eraser with a design. Work quickly and apply multiple colors of marker, a little here, a little there, until you've covered your image. Stamp onto smooth paper for a small, multicolor print. Adequate, but Tombow brush pens work a little better. As with all art supplies, it takes practice to get used to them as well as to achieve the effects you want. Ultimately, the acid-free and lightfast Aqua Markers are fun markers and are an interesting alternative to watercolor paints, a good choice for painters who like to travel.

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