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The Best Shading Markers for Both Beginners and Experienced Artists

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

best shading markers

Stunning and artistic visuals, illustrations, or drawings are oftentimes a result of beautiful blends of colors. Together with creativity and techniques, presenting seamless color combinations is achievable when you have the best shading markers in your coloring stash.

There are countless options for the best markers for shading. However, the shading pens or markers that stand out should have the following key features:

  • First of all, you have to consider the ink type. Between alcohol-based and water-based markers, alcohol markers work better as shading markers because they dry almost instantly. This allows you to layer and blend the colors with minimal to no smudges and bleeding.
  • Aside from that, the colors should be blendable and buildable. This is a no-brainer since your goal is to produce seamless blends of various color shades. Although alcohol markers are good at this, some are not highly blendable or bleedproof. Thus, it may require some trial-and-error to figure out which markers smoothly blend with one another.
  • Another significant feature is the selection of vibrant hues. When you have a vast array of vivid colors, you can explore different tones to achieve realistic shading and highlights. The rich and opaque colors can help you produce a wide variety of work. In this way, you can practice and develop shading techniques for colorful art pieces.

These are the crucial features to look out for. However, your ability and preference matter as well to determine which shading markers will best suit your skills. To help you out and narrow down your choices, this comprehensive guide and reviews include buying tips and top-notch picks.


<strong>Top-Rated Products</strong>

Top 1

Ohuhu Alcohol Brush Markers


Top 2

Bianyo Alcohol Markers


Top 3

Caliart Dual Tip Art Markers


5 Top-rated Shading Marker Reviews

1. Ohuhu Y30-80400-24-OH Alcohol Brush Markers

If you compare these Ohuhu markers with Bianyo alcohol markers, you can tell the similarities from the design: dual-tipped, color-coded caps, and vibrant selection of colors. However, unlike Bianyo markers, this shade marker set lets you explore textures and strokes because it has a brush tip and a chisel tip.

The flexible brush tips allow you to add highlights or artistic effects and strokes when shading, especially if you need markers for coloring anime or drawing comic characters.

Moreover, the chisel tip is a complementary design of the brush tip to produce varied line widths and shading techniques. I find this reliable in rendering precise and straight lines or covering large areas.

Besides their versatility, what makes these markers special is their reversible tips. Since you can have brand new tips every time you work, it significantly affects your blending skills and techniques. It is much easier to achieve smooth and even applications, clean edges, and artistic highlights.

In addition to that, their alcohol-based ink plays a crucial role in their performance. These blending markers deliver effortless and seamless applications because they dry quickly. Plus, it comes with a colorless blender marker that does the trick to polish any edges and create coloring effects.

Like many of the markers I love, this Ohuhu marker set offers a neat and organized color selection with their color-coded caps. You can easily identify and pick out the colors you need. Aside from that, all the colors are incredibly vibrant and seem true to their displayed shades.

So far, I haven’t seen any major issues with the markers except for the overall quality. These are decent quality markers but if you want something more professional, you can skip this for now.
  • Dual-tipped markers for various textures and line widths
  • Designed with reversible tips for effortless and messy-free shading
  • Features alcohol-based ink that delivers blendable colors
  • Comes with a colorless marker to create seamless color blends
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Not suitable for professional use
Needless to say, these markers are ideal for beginners to practice and develop their blending techniques. Although they come at a cheaper price point, these are decent-quality markers that provide vibrant color options and versatile applications.

2. Bianyo ‎1860-72 Classic Series Alcohol Markers

Among the budget-friendly alcohol markers for beginners and experienced artists, this Bianyo marker set has been the most impressive for me. Right off the bat, you can tell that the set is thoughtfully curated with essential colors; there are pastel tones, neutral grays, browns, and primary colors.

There is a wide selection of colors to work with. But I am actually surprised that this set is almost at a similar price range as the smallest set of COPIC Sketch markers. Therefore, this one’s quite a steal for its price.

Beyond that, it is good to know that these markers do not compromise their quality. First of all, they use alcohol-based ink that offers excellent smudge-proof and waterproof qualities. Not to mention it is low-odor and non-toxic. Hence, you can produce clean and effortless applications as you layer the colors.

Impressively, these alcohol markers blend beautifully and evenly. They dry fast, preventing any uneven streaks, especially when shading with pens that have darker tones. The included colorless blender helps clean up edges, erase mistakes, create highlights, and blend the colors smoothly.

Aside from that, these markers are double-sided: a fine tip and a chisel tip. Both tips are flexible and reliable for various line widths and shading techniques. Although I would prefer a brush tip on one end for varied textures, these tips still work great for shading and producing diverse blends of colors.

One more thing, this set comes with a blank booklet for you to swatch the colors and check their vividness. This lets you check the quality and compare them to the brand’s color chart.

Unfortunately, there is a slight discrepancy between the displayed colors on their caps and the actual colors. The manufacturer is very transparent on this, though. This is why it has a color card or booklet to help you better grasp the actual shades.
  • Offers a wide color selection for diverse color blends
  • Uses alcohol-based ink with smudge-proof and waterproof properties
  • Double-sided; It has a fine tip and a chisel tip
  • Can create smooth blends without uneven or noticeable streaks
  • Affordable
  • Slight discrepancy between the displayed colors on the caps and the actual colors
Other than that, these alcohol markers can be an affordable alternative to Copic markers. Whether you are a beginner or a professional artist, you can practice and play with a vast array of colors to enhance your shading techniques.

3. Caliart 4336948023 Dual Tip Art Markers

You can’t always get it right the first time when shading with markers. Fortunately, there are available marker sets to practice with, including these Caliart Art Markers. At first glance, they have a familiar design that reminds of Ohuhu and Bianyo alcohol markers.

Upon checking the tip design, the markers have a broad chisel tip and a fine tip, similar to Bianyo markers. With such versatility, it can render precise highlighting and crisp underlining. At the same time, the broad tip lets you cover large areas and produce thick consistency.

In terms of blending capabilities, these Caliart markers perform as any shading marker should. They dry quickly, preventing smudging and bleeding. Furthermore, you can easily layer the colors and achieve different depths.

Moreover, these markers use an alcohol-based Japanese ink formula that provides highly pigmented and vibrant colors. Although some subtle streaks might be visible due to the chisel tip design, you can still achieve nice blends. This allows you to present various coloring effects and artistic blends of colors.

Of course, the beautiful color range in this marker set makes it quite a treat for amateurs, especially when you need more colors for practicing. But just a heads up, the colors are impressively rich, but they are inclined to dark and primary tones.

If you prefer muted, lighter shades and colors in between, this color range is quite the opposite. I suggest trying out Copic markers if you do not mind the price or Bianyo alcohol markers for an affordable option.

Apart from that, the organized color-coded caps allow ease when looking for the shades you need. Sadly, there is a significant difference between the actual and cap colors, and some shades do not match well.
  • Blends nicely to create artistic color blends
  • Dual tip markers: chisel tip and a fine tip for versatile applications
  • Formulated with alcohol-based ink for smudge-free shading
  • Rich and dark tones for distinct color layering
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Some displayed colors do not match their actual colors
  • Some artists might find the colors too dark
These are affordable markers that beginner artists can use for practice, particularly when building and working with darker tones. These dual-tip markers come in a decent color selection that amateurs can use to elevate their skills.

4. COPIC SKSTM6-GRAY Markers Sketching Grays

COPIC has been considered an exceptional brand for markers. If you are a professional artist, chances are you have at least a set or two of markers from this brand. What I love about COPIC markers is that you can choose among a vast selection of color schemes, including monochromatic sets such as the Sketching Grays.

These neutral grays are far from bold and vibrant markers. Without proper application, they can actually be challenging to work with since grays tend to look dull. But what’s great about these Copic Sketch markers is their ability to deliver smooth and buildable colors.

Although these are considered art markers for professionals, novice artists can easily ramp up their shading game and create seamless blends of gray tones. Plus, the black multiliner pen is a bonus!

Like what I expect from alcohol-based ink, these markers utilize Copic ink that applies smoothly on paper without damaging paper fibers. Therefore, it does not bleed or smudge quickly.

Moreover, the colors blend so well. Whether you look from afar or closely at your art piece, the edges look neat, smooth, and seamless. They have fantastic brush nibs that are incredible for blending besides the exceptional ink. Thus, it is no wonder why many artists use these markers for drawing and coloring manga.

Since these feature dual nibs, you can maximize their versatility between beautiful brushstrokes and fine lines. But what is more fascinating is that you can keep these gray markers for life; they have refillable inks and replaceable nibs.

Perhaps, the hefty price tag is the only thing that holds some artists back from buying these markers. Nonetheless, it is worth every penny.
  • Highly blendable and buildable colors
  • Alcohol-based Copic ink for seamless blending
  • A set of neutral gray tones for monochromatic shading
  • Features flexible and unique dual brush nibs for versatile applications
  • Replaceable nibs and refillable inks
  • Expensive
Overall, shading with markers has never been easy with Copic even when working with these neutral gray tones. These highly blendable and versatile markers are suitable for monochromatic styles, sketching, shading, and producing highlights.

5. Hethrone Markers for Adult Coloring

These Hethrone Markers are a stunning collection of diverse colors, suitable for coloring, shading, and blending. With about 100 colors included in this set, there is a wide variety for blending and creating different depths of colors.

I am actually surprised that this is available for an affordable price range. Beginners can get lucky with this, especially for practicing and developing their shading techniques.

My initial thoughts were a little skeptical because the price point and massive selection seem too good to be true. However, these markers did not disappoint. These are decent-quality markers that can deliver a bright and beautiful spectrum of colors. Perhaps, you can use them for adult coloring books or practice sessions.

When it comes to shading, the dual-tip design allows versatile applications whether they are solid fills or precise outlines. The fine tip is reliable for filling delicate areas or producing intricate details.

For blending, I don’t think the fine tip would create seamless blends since they can leave noticeable streaks or edges. It is super-fine, making it more suitable for outlines and underlines only. However, I noticed that they still blend nicely as long as you go for symmetrical strokes.

On the other hand, shading and coloring with the flexible brush tip go on effortlessly. I like how it glides across the surface and delivers nice colors as well.

Inevitably, for large sets such as this, there are some caveats to watch out for. First of all, some markers have duplicates. Therefore, there is a discrepancy between the displayed cap colors and their actual shades.

One more thing, these markers are water-based, which is not actually the best ink type for blending colors. Nonetheless, they are very safe to use as they are non-toxic and odorless. You can still use them for blending but they do not dry as quickly as alcohol markers. Thus, you have to let them dry before adding layers.
  • Offers an extensive color selection for an excellent variety
  • Dual-ended; Designed with a flexible brush tip and a fine tip
  • Can produce solid fills and precise applications
  • Odorless and non-toxic
  • Ideal for beginners to practice shading
  • Not quick-drying
  • There is a discrepancy between the displayed colors and their actual colors
Although these are water-based markers, they ensure safety and good performance for shading and coloring. Since it offers a wide selection of colors, amateur artists can explore and experiment with different colors to practice their skills.

What to Look for When Buying Shading Markers


Alcohol Markers VS Water-based Markers

Between alcohol-based and water-based markers, alcohol-based markers are ideal for shading. Although both types have respective merits in terms of color quality, the significant difference is their blend-ability and drying time.

Alcohol markers dry quickly, allowing you to build and create seamless blends of colors. Since it dries almost instantly, you can easily layer the colors and blend them beautifully without smudges, visible streaks or edges, and ink pooling.

Contrary to alcohol markers, water-based markers require a longer drying time. If you add a layer without letting it completely dry, the colors tend to look streaky and not as smooth and clean as blended colors should be. This is why they work great for producing artistic watercolor effects and washes.

Blendable and Buildable Colors

When shading with markers, your goal is to create beautifully blended art pieces in an impressive color spectrum. This can be challenging to accomplish with markers. Therefore, it is imperative to check whether they are blendable and buildable.

Although alcohol markers are known for these characteristics, not all brands of alcohol markers can deliver smoothly blended colors. You can test the markers or check some reviews if they can create seamless blends and gradients with a few or no visible streaks.

Color Selection and Vividness

One way to create realistic shading, highlights, and gradients is to curate your palette according to your needs and preferences. Some marker sets have 5, 20, 50, or over a hundred colors to help you explore and experiment with impressive color combinations.

Besides the color count, the vividness and quality of colors render significant effects to your shading techniques. Vibrant colors exhibit magnificent impressions in coloring books, manga, and any artistic art. You can choose among selections of colors to produce gradients or go for specific color schemes like skin tones, neutral grays, pastel tones.

Coverage and Consistency

Shading markers with premium ink quality provide excellent coverage and consistency. Apart from that, the tip designs are pivotal features that can deliver various textures as well as line appearances and widths. For example, brush tips can cover large areas and artistic textures, while chisel tips can deliver precise highlights and solid fills.

What Pens Are Good for Shading

Marker pens with alcohol-based ink are good for shading because they dry almost instantly. In this way, you can easily build and blend colors without noticeable streaks. Aside from that, marker pens with flexible brush tips can render effortless applications, even coverage, and various textures.

How Do You Do Shading With Markers

There are different techniques to try. However, you can first try working with a single color. If you are shading a circle, you should identify where the light source or the brightest part is.

Once you do, leave the first layer without color then fill the next with the lightest shade. Afterward, use a slightly darker tone and continue layering until you get to the darkest shade. Remember that the further away from the highlight or light source, the darker the layers should be.

Shade the image with light applications. Let the markers glide smoothly across the surface. Do not oversaturate or go heavy with layers.

As you develop your skills and techniques, you can explore more colors and figure out which ones complement one another. Aside from pairing them with white, you can try making beautiful gradients with pink and yellow.

Are Water-based Markers Good for Shading

Yes, they are but not the best for shading. Water-based markers are more challenging to blend because they do not dry quickly. When you add layers, these markers tend to leave streaky patterns and noticeable edges.

You can still use them for shading, though and just make sure to let them dry completely before adding another layer. Moreover, keep in mind that the colors get darker as you layer them. Thus, water-based markers are reliable for darker tones and gradients.


The best shading markers should be highly blendable, buildable, and can provide bright, vivid colors that do not smudge and leave any streaks. Alcohol-based and water-based markers are popular markers but the former is the best option. Alcohol markers are fast-drying, making them reliable for versatile shading applications.

There are tons of choices out there and finding the best shading marker pens is no picnic. This is why I compiled the top-notch picks in this review and buying guide. Hope it can help optimize your options and find the shading markers for your skills and techniques!

5/5 - (3 votes)