I did a haul post recently of things I’d bought from The Works. In it I hinted that I had a project in mind for the off-brand Sharpies. And here it is!
Also in that haul I’d bought another one of the A4 blank covered sketchbooks I like, and a pack of foam board. My intention was to do art on one of these, with the off-brand Sharpies.
The markers are very much like Sharpies. The barrel is the same shape and size, but without any information other than the brand name.
I swatched them out…
…Did a quick video to show you how neon that orange is before it dries…
…Took an out-of-focus photo of the nib of one of the two black ones – is this deliberate, or a dud marker?
The description doesn’t say anything about it.
The light brown was a little dry, but I wasn’t too fussed. It wasn’t one of my favourite colours, and they cost 16p a marker.
Swatching is really important, especially with cheaper markers. And here’s why. Sometimes the colour will match the lid, and sometimes it really won’t.
Of course, it’s also important to swatch on the actual material you’re using. I wasn’t working on paper, so I had to swatch on the notebook (I actually did it on the back of the last one I got), and on the foam board.
On these you can see that I also testing smudging after different amounts of time, blending, layering, blurring, and erasing sketches.
I’d bought the notebook and the foam board intending to use one of them for the project, not both. I swatched just to see which would be better. Sketching on the foam board left a dent, but I think the colours were ultimately brighter and the ink laid more fully on the foam board. So I decided to go ahead with the board.
Next up was figuring out what to draw. I’d had this image on my phone from Pinterest for a while.
I’d planned to draw something similar but with monsters, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I sketched out an idea…
…And meticulously did math to work out dimensions and such.
Then, when I finally got around to doing it, it was going to be at my boyfriend’s house and I wasn’t sure the foam boards would transport safely. So I went with the notebook after all.
I worked out the slightly different measurements, and got to drawing out the boxes. It’s not exact, but it works.
I used the black marker to draw the box borders that wouldn’t be crossed by monster bits.
I did a quick swatch on scrap paper to remind me what the markers were like. In the six or so weeks since I’d swatched them last the dark red died. I haven’t used them. They’ve been sat on my desk waiting for me to get around to this project. I did find out later that it worked semi-okay on the slippery surface of the notebook.
And then I got drawing. I didn’t sketch them out, because it would have meant more to erase later. (Spoiler: I forgot to erase the pencil from the borders in the end, and you can’t really tell.) I had my plan in front of me, and knew what I was doing.
I tried to do it a little like watercolour – not doing sections that touched right away, giving the marker a little bit of time to set.
I found I was getting this weird texture.
I tried adding another layer a little later but it mostly just moved the bottom layer around and made the texture worse.
But I kept going, and eventually I had a completed piece.
It’s a little messy – colouring around the black eyes and things wasn’t easy. Perhaps I should have drawn those on afterwards.
I don’t have any actual Sharpies in colour, but I do have a black one. I did a little test on the back of the notebook and found that the actual Sharpie layered a lot better. Maybe one day I’ll buy some Sharpies and redo this.
When I got home a few days later I tried adding another layer to one of the monsters, just to see what happened. It didn’t really make much difference.
Also at home, I decided to do something with the foam board, since that was what I had initially planned. I didn’t want to redo the whole piece, so I did something different.
I tested sketching on the foam board again, and erasing left a real dent.
So I tried colouring a section, then outlining it and just covering up the pencil anyway.
I did yet another swatch.
Now, what to draw? Well, a recent shape challenge from Studio Tea Break had just spoken to me.
Turn it upside down, and what do you see?
Well I saw a rainbow-tailed random fluffy beast.
There is still a little bit of texture, but in the smaller sections it barely shows, and in the main body I took advantage of it to make hair/fluff.
The ink doesn’t layer over other colours too great. I wish I’d decided to do a fluffy overlap before I coloured in the legs. But it’s lovely and bright and vibrant.
Overall conclusion? You kinda get what you pay for. For a £4 pack of “Sharpies”, you can get a semi-decent result. And they work better on foam board than they do on the cover of those sketch books.