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Can You Use Markers on Canvas? What to Expect?

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

can you use markers on canvas

When it comes to painting and self-expression, canvas and markers are two of the most used mediums. But, can you use markers on canvas?

It may not be common, but it is achievable. However, the ease of usage, durability, and output would be determined by the type of marker and canvas used.

In this article, we’ll look into canvas and marker’s overall compatibility. We will also give insights on some of the best markers to use on canvas.

Can I Use Markers on Canvas?

Yes, it is possible to use markers on canvas and create your desired effects for the artwork. For your information, the best markers for canvas painting should be acrylic paint markers.

Indeed, other markers also work wonders on canvas. Here’re some thing you should know about the results of teach type:

  • Acrylic paint markers – This painting medium creates a shiny finish once dried on the canvas. They also allow layering of various colors to add to the artwork’s depth, thanks to the quick-drying feature.
  • Water-based markers – They allow artists to make broad and vivid strokes when mixed with water.
  • Alcohol-based markers These markers allow easy clearing, suitable for beginer’s practice.

Types of Markers to Can Use on Canvas

There are different types of markers, and they are classified according to their ink. These are paint marker pens, permanent markers, alcohol markers, and water based markers.

1. Paint Marker Pens


When you search for canvas markers, paint pens would probably appear first. Why? The ink used for paint pens can either be acrylic, water based, or oil based which is similar to paints traditionally used on canvas, except that they are on barrels.

So, yes! Paint markers like POSCA pens are one of the best markers you can use on canvas.

All ink types can easily be used on canvas. Acrylic markers are the ideal pick as it can dry quickly.

2. Permanent Markers


Though they are not designed to be used on canvas, a permanent marker like Sharpie and Crayola permanent marker can be used on canvas.

However, it is important to note that permanent markers can bleed badly. This is a thing you need to deal with specifically when you use Crayola markers on canvas.

Permanent markers will likely stay on canvas for long but the possibility of fading over time is also high.

3. Water based Marker


Like watercolors, this type of marker can be used on canvas but mostly for kids and for school projects. They are significantly cheaper than the other options.

Since they are water based, they are considered washable markers. Water based markers can also be used in conjunction with other markers.

4. Alcohol based markers


Alcohol markers like Copic markers and Prismacolor markers may or may not work well on canvas.

Since they are not designed for that the results vary and would largely depend on the type of canvas also. These markers are normally not designed to last on any medium.

How Does It Work on Canvas?


Paint pens work pretty well with canvas as long as it is primed properly. However, you might need to reprime it as you go.

Regular permanent markers bleed on canvas but you can minimize this by using a permanent marker with finer tips more importantly when you are making intricate details.

On the other hand, alcohol markers do not bleed on canvas since alcohol evaporates quickly leaving the ink on the canvas in an instant, and alcohol markers normally appear lighter on canvas.

Lastly, water based markers work wonderfully with primed watercolor canvas but still, it’s not as simple as using water based markers on paper.

These markers have their own unique behavior when applied to the canvas but with a little creativity and practice you can mix and match markers on one setting to create a one of a kind canvas.

How to Use Markers on Canvas?

Markers like permanent markers, alcohol markers, and water based markers are usually ready to use except for paint pens.

Paint pens have to be primed first before you can apply them on any surface including canvas. Using markers on canvas is not only applicable for artwork but it is popularly used for customization and painting on canvas bag, T-shirts, and shoes.

If you are using an unprimed canvas, you will need to prime it up to 2 coats of gesso. Leave it for a day to let it dry completely.

After that, you can then start outlining your piece. You can use a regular pencil but make sure to erase the pencil marks to avoid getting the graphite into your ink when you apply it later.

After that, it’s time to put your markers to work. Plan out your colors or have a copy of the layout to avoid mistakes. It’s much easier to work on a certain piece if you have a clear guide.



Can you use Sharpie on painted canvas?

Yes, artists often use Sharpie permanent marker or paint marker to make outlines. Sharpie’s range of sharp black colored markers is a good tool to make colors or details more defined.

Just be careful when using Sharpie together with water based markers or water colors as they may get Sharpie ink washed out but you can always retouch and reapply them.

In case you went over more than what is required, you can use a nail polish remover to correct it or make another layer of paint on top of it.

How to seal Sharpie on canvas?

The best way to seal Sharpie on canvas is to use a water based sealer with PVA glue like Mod Podge. Applying sealer on canvas is simple but remember to let it dry first before sealing.

Use a soft brush and apply the sealer. Do not try to apply thicker than what is required, a thicker layer does not mean more protection.

Applying too much could significantly alter the color and would also affect the drying time.

Types of canvas

Canvas is made from three different types of materials. These fabrics are linen, cotton, and synthetic. Furthermore, some modern hybrid canvas can be created from a combination of any of these three textiles.

  • Cotton is the cheapest, but some hybrid canvases can cost a great deal too. With that, these types are mostly recommended for beginners rather than using expensive linens.
  • A canvas can also be primed or bare and textured or smooth. Since we are using markers, it is best to use a primed canvas with a smooth surface.
  • With primed canvas, you will no longer need to prep them, and a smooth surface will prevent potential damage that it may cause on the tips of your markers.

We highly recommend this type of canvas unless you want to experiment with the effects that you can do on a rough canvas.


It’s a wrap. So, can you use markers on canvas? Yes, most markers can deal with different surfaces including canvas. But, so far the best markers suited for canvas are paint marker pens and acrylic-based pigments.

However, as beginners, you can start practicing using markers on canvas along with other markers like permanent markers, alcohol based markers, and water based markers.

Just be aware of their strengths and limitations. Use the marker’s strengths to strategize how you want your artwork to turn out on canvas and avoid crossing the limits.

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