Thursday, March 22, 2012

Technique Thursday: Spectrum Noir Markers

Spectrum Noir Markers

I got a baker's dozen Spectrum Noir alcohol ink markers, by Crafter's Companion, for evaluation purposes.

The Spectrum Noir pens come in a total of 168 colors (including the colorless blender). The markers are square to prevent rolling on your work surface, and have two different tips; a bullet tip and a chisel tip. Each cap has the marker number imprinted on it. The bullet end of the marker is denoted by a gray ring where the cap meets the marker, making it easy to know which end of the marker is which.

I found the caps to be a little hard to remove from the markers; I couldn't get a really good grip on them, and I ended up with marker on my hands more than once. (to be fair, though, I have difficulty with my hands, but I do not have trouble with the Copic caps.) The marker lids can not be placed on the back end of the marker for safe-keeping while in use.

The markers have their own numbering system, which might be confusing for people who are used to the Copic markers. You can access a PDF of the marker palette on the Crafter's Companion web site, here.

Among the markers I received were three bright pink pens, BP3, BP5, and BP7. Though I was missing the lightest of the bright pink pens, I decided to try coloring my old friend, Frantic Stamper's Magnolia cling stamp. I started with the BP3, and colored all of the petals of the three flowers. I added shading with the BP5 and BP7, and blended with the BP3.

One problem I had is that I am REALLY used to having a brush tip for my coloring. The bullet tip is very different to color with. One of my favorite blending techniques, a flicking motion with the brush tip, was not available with the bullet tip, because, though I could flick with the bullet tip, the color did not get lighter toward the end of my stroke as it does with the brush tip. All shading, then, had to be done with blending in a darker color with a lighter color, in small circular motions. I found it much harder to get a smooth blend. I do wonder, though, if I would have been happier with my blending and transitions if I had had a BP1 pen.

All-in-all, I was fairly pleased with the results, given that I didn't have a complete range of colors, and that I am not a seasoned bullet tip colorer. I felt the yellows and greens I had on hand blended very well in the bud and the flower center. The bright pinks are exactly that; bright and vibrant. The markers performed quite well.

If I were in the market for some alcohol markers and I didn't have my strong preference for brush tips, I would definitely consider these markers. The have a lot of features in common with the more expensive Copic Sketch markers, at a lower price point. They performed very well. They have replacement nibs available, but those are only for the chisel and bullet nibs; there is no brush nib available. They also have a much smaller selection of colors than Copic (either Sketch or Ciao), which may figure into a decision on which markers to buy.


  1. so helpful to have a comparison, thanks!

  2. great review! I rely on the brush tip too with the Copics and was wondering how difficult the transition to these tips would be.

  3. Fran here.... keep in mind that the TYPE of ink in the Spectrum Noir is the same type as used in the Copic markers (Alcohol ink). This means they can be used interchangeably and together (as well as with other alcohol inks such as Adirondack Alcohol by Ranger, Pinata inks {remember those?}, Marvy LePlum Alcohol markers, etc).
    All together, this gives you a range of choices for using alcohol inks in different techniques, as well as a wide color selection. Perhaps 1 color from 1 range is just the "missing link" needed. Don't be afraid to mix-and-match them!

    I, myself, also love the brush nib on Copic Sketch markers. However, I think having a chisel tip available for doing larger areas of coloring might come in handy.

  4. Anonymous10:39 AM

    For those not already used to the brush tip will LOVE the price point and the blendability of the Spectrum Noir. It's a great option for those who cannot afford the other brands and really want to color with alcohol markers. Vibrancy of markers, blendability of watercolors.. too fun. add the first color, then add second color, go back to the first color and just dab or blot or color in circles to blend the two together.. be sure the first layer is still wet, for a smoother blend. I have gotten some amazing results after a bit of practice. As with anything you need to give them a chance and practice. You could not walk until you crawled type thing! LOL...

    1. I totally agree that these are great markers. It is just my personal preference for brush marker stat gave me reservation. I think I was able to get pretty good results in spite my preferences, because the markers were so good! I would recommend them to anyone for whom price point is a main concern.

  5. Ok so I bought the whole starter set at a Convention in Louisville, and I had a question for those of you that have used them...did you use the paper that they suggested?? I did not, as I thought the paper that I have at work (Coconut Swirl, which works wonderfully with Copics and Momento Ink) would work just as well. WELL, it did work for SOME colors and not for others..some colors made my ink bleed! I even tried some Stamping Bella paper, also suggested for Copics and it is still bleeding!! Any suggestions???!!

    1. Joy,
      I used Bazzill UltraSmooth White cardstock for this post.

      By bleed, do you mean bleed through to the back, or did you mean feather along the fibers on the front of the paper (sometimes folks call that bleeding, though it is technically feathering)? Bleed through to the back is normal with good saturation of the alcohol ink, and tends to aid in blending of colors.

      Here is a post about selecting paper for copics that could also be used for selecting paper for these markers:

    2. Kathy,

      Yes, it's feathered along the fibers on the front. :/ I have good saturation, and it isn't happening with all of the colors..It's the yellows and the blues so far! I've just opened these and started using them. So it's been trial and error so far...but am so disappointed I didn't get the paper they suggested, and the two tried and trues that work for Copics aren't working for this! Thanks for the blogspot I will check it out! :)

      Thanks for the quick reply

    3. Ok so I decided to pick it up and look at the image I stamped and colored, and it's not only feathering, it's also blurring the image, so to me it's making the Momento ink run in with the colors (and this was on the Stamping Bella paper, but did the same thing on the Coconut swirl) Boooo so I'm gonna give it a rest for tonight, and head to bed. Thank you Kathy, I appreciate your help!! :)

  6. I recently got some Spectrum Noir markers, and found the same issues with the caps...kind of. I can grip and pull the caps off, but I have a terrible time getting the caps off without pulling the entire nib section off with it. It is extremely frustrating when i am trying to use a color, and it just keeps happening over and over and over. I have several markers that seem prone to this, while others I never have issues with.