These Sharpies Are Great for Adding Vibrant Accents
Here are our tips on using classic Sharpie markers for adult coloring.
By Jasmine Lim
When we think of classic permanent markers, there’s one iconic brand that comes to mind: Sharpie. From their vibrant, bright colors to their versatility, it’s no surprise that this super popular brand has been going strong since 1964. One thing we love about Sharpies is the many different tip styles they come in—from Fine Point to Ultra Fine Point to Chisel, there’s a style for nearly every writing, coloring, or crafting occasion. We tested Sharpie’s Fine Point markers to see how well they’d work for adult coloring. One important thing to know before purchasing Sharpies is that they’re alcohol-based markers, so the ink has higher color saturation, will not react to water, and won’t typically cause pilling or tearing like water-based markers can. Read on for our full rundown and tips on how to use these versatile alcohol-based coloring tools.
This 24-count set of Sharpie Color Burst Permanent Fine Point Markers comes with a variety of colors including five limited edition extra-bright “Color Burst” shades—Power Pink, Racey Red, Supersonic Yellow, Jetset Jade, and Brilliant Blue. For this test, we used the Fine Point tip style but Sharpie also offers this Color Burst set in an Ultra Fine Point tip for more precise work.
The Best Paper for Coloring With Sharpie Fine Point Markers
On standard 20-pound uncoated color copy paper, the first thing we noticed was how vibrant and even the colors looked on our “True Loves: Cats and Flowers” coloring page. The application of the markers was smoother than we thought it would be. Regular, uncoated copy paper has a toothy surface and can wear down fiber-tipped markers if you’re not careful. But, we didn’t experience any snagging or roughness and the fine point tips were excellent for coloring large areas on the design.
However, we did run into a couple of issues with these markers when using this lightweight paper. If we applied too much pressure, the ink seeped beyond both the thin and thick black outlines on our design. This made it difficult to stay within the lines when coloring intricate details. One creative way we solved this issue was by intentionally outlining some of the little designs to add some texture and highlights, as you can see on the hearts on this coloring page. (Bonus: We think this trick also adds a charming kind of folksy look to the design!) There was also heavy bleed-through on the back. Now, is this abnormal? No, bleeding is totally normal for alcohol-based markers, especially when using plain old copy paper. But, because of this issue, we probably won’t recommend using regular 20-pound copy paper for future coloring.
Next, we tested the Sharpies on our favorite digital copy paper. The colors were just as vibrant as on the 20lb copy paper and the markers glided over the smooth, coated surface very easily. We experienced the same coloring issues as regular copy paper like heavy bleed-through and ink spreading outside of the outlines. We found that coloring with short, downward strokes instead of using back-and-forth strokes or circles helped keep the ink from seeping too much outside of the outlines. We also noticed some marker streaks on this paper, but they weren’t too distracting. Other than those issues, we liked that there was no paper pilling at all thanks to the alcohol-based solution. If this type of paper is what you have lying around, it will work as long as you use scrap pieces of paper underneath. Otherwise, we suggest going with a sturdier paper, like the next paper we tested.
Compared to their performance on the two copy papers we tested, the Sharpies did really well on this 80lb cardstock. The smooth surface allowed the markers to appear even and bright and the sturdiness of the paper helped prevent most of the ink from bleeding through. We also found that the ink was much easier to control on thicker, coated paper—we didn’t encounter the issue of the ink seeping outside the black lines on our coloring page. For the best coloring results, we’d highly recommend using thick, sturdier paper like 80-100lb coated cover stock to avoid major bleeding.
On the pages of an uncoated double-sided design in our coloring book, we didn’t notice any major differences compared to the lightweight papers tested above, except that the colors appeared more muted here. We still had the same problems with the bleed-through on the back and the ink seeping outside of the lines. For these reasons, single-sided designs will work better with extra pieces of paper underneath to catch the excess ink.
Pros and Cons of Sharpie Color Burst Permanent Markers:
While Sharpies might not be ideal for everyday coloring (thanks to heavy bleed-through on most papers), there are so many versatile ways they can be used, making them a great addition to your coloring tool collection. You can use Sharpies on just about any surface (not just on paper!), which makes them handy for coloring crafts and DIYs. Though Sharpie’s Fine Point marker style was difficult for coloring intricate details, we used the thicker tip to our advantage by highlighting and outlining some of the design elements to add fun textures to our coloring page. With many creative ways to use them, we think Sharpies are definitely a coloring tool essential to have.
Interested in purchasing a set? You can find Sharpie Color Burst Permanent Markers—along with the Ultra Fine Point tips—on their website, or from retailers like Amazon or Target.
So, What’s the Verdict?
The strong odor and heavy bleed-through from Sharpies can make casual coloring difficult—especially if you’re using lightweight paper. The fine point tips are also not the best for coloring intricate areas. (Side note—we think a better alternative for coloring small details are the Sharpie Color Burst Permanent Ultra Fine Point Markers. The tips create fine, precise lines that are great for intricate coloring). Aside from these issues, there’s no denying that Sharpies can be super versatile. Whether you want to use them to add pops of vibrant color or fun textures to your next design, they’re a great purchase for any colorist.