Back in 2010 when I got back into working with magic markers for the first time since the mid-1990s I started out by buying some cheap markers. I bought a variety of colors of Sharpie markers. I had fun with them but I was really interested in developing a finished art marker technique and the Sharpies weren’t versatile enough for that. I started looking at the various “Art markers” (lead by Copic markers) that had popped up since I stopped buying markers in the 1990s and I wanted to try some of them.

“Art markers” are fairly expensive. They run from about six to eight dollars a marker with the marker sets easily running into the hundreds of dollars. I was not anxious to drop a lot of money chasing a technique that I might never find. Then I was lucky enough to run across a clearance sale at Dick Blick’s website. They were selling ShinHan Touch markers (a competitor of Copic markers) for two dollars a piece. I decided to get some of those.

Working in color is a tricky thing. You either have to have a lot of colors to work with or know how to mix a lot of colors from the ones you do have. With makers you can’t mix colors very much. So I’d need a lot of colors. But since I still had not developed my marker technique yet I was reluctant to buy a lot of colors. Instead what I did was I bought a lot of one color. Blue. I think I bought them in at least two batches over the space of a couple of months but I ended up with 24 different blue markers.

I then spent some time working on what I consider a “Finished” marker technique. When I worked with markers in the 1990s it was all about sketching. I used markers as part of my process to eventually end up with a finished painting or drawing. But the marker part wasn’t a finished piece on its own. That’s what I was looking for. A marker piece that was finished on its own.

Eventually I found my technique. Having only blue markers helped me too. I didn’t have to worry about color and could concentrate on how I applied the marker to the paper. I figured out how to make a finished marker drawing and then went out and got even more markers. I eventually switched to Copic markers because they sell refills for them that makes them considerably cheaper.

The first thing I did and still do when I get a new marker or a new marker set is to swatch them. I get a piece of the same type of paper that I’ll be drawing on (Bristol board), draw small squares on the paper, draw in the square with a marker, and then write the marker name underneath the square. That way I don’t have to guess what a color will look like. If I grab a grass green marker then there is a swatch of the color right in front of me. I also write the date on the piece of paper with the swatches on it.

As I was contemplating coloring one of my faux comic book covers, “Beyond the Beyond,” I got the idea in my head to use my old ShinHan Touch blues for the large face in the front of the drawing. I hadn’t used them in years but I though they would work here. Plus it would give me something a little bit different to work with. I’m used to the Copic brush tips but the ShinHan markers had a bullet point. I felt like mixing it up.

The first thing I did was to dig out my old color swatches. They’re in a folder so they were easy to find. As I looked at the swatches I couldn’t help but notice that a few of them had faded to nothing. Almost all of the blues were as blue as ever but some of the colors had faded to nothing. Their swatch boxes were nearly empty. And they were all light blue/green colors. I even checked the markers themselves and thy no longer drew in any colors.

When you draw with marker and after a few years that drawing fades away that’s called a “Fugitive” color or pigment. It runs away. All markers used to be like that. Markers were all cheap and disposable writing tools that weren’t meant to had lang term art made out of them. In the 1990s they started to make archival black markers and eventually they started to make “Art markers” that weren’t supposed to fade after a few years. I guess ShinHan blue/green markers didn’t quite get that notice.

I was still in good shape with my ShinHan markers though. I had about 20 different blues to choose from. I don’t think I have that many of any one color in any of my other markers sets so It was fun to work with them all. I think I did a nice job with it. The variety of hues in the large face on the left is more that I usually have in my marker drawings so it stands out. As color theory goes usually blue/cool colors recede and red/hot colors move forward but I worked opposite of that here. I put the blue face ink front and then used hot reds and oranges on the figure behind him. Sometimes it’s good to do the opposite of what’s expected.

In the background I went with some neutral browns for the structures and kept the spiral sky lively with purples and violets. I even dropped some light green into the logo. Each layer has a distinct color pallete. It’s very well separated out which is rare for me. Usually I like to mix up the color of various layers to keep the eye moving. This drawing seems little more serene. Sometimes serene is what I need.