Marker Art Techniques | David Miller | Skillshare
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11 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Intro to Marker Art Techniques

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Color Palette

    • 4. Soft Brush Markers 1

    • 5. Soft Brush Markers 2

    • 6. Soft Brush Markers 3 Midtones

    • 7. Soft Brush Markers 4 Mixing In Other Kinds of Marker Tips

    • 8. Watercolor Markers 1

    • 9. Watercolor Markers 2

    • 10. Fashion Illustration with Prismacolor Markers

    • 11. Wrap Up

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About This Class

Working with markers in our illustrations adds a strong punch of color to every page.  There are a lot of special methods and tools for getting unique flavors to our marker artworks beyond the normal "stroke"and "fill" methods of drawing.  We'll explore soft brush minimalism, blending, watercolor effects, color palettes, switching between opaque and transparent markers, and more!

Meet Your Teacher

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David Miller

Multimedia Artist For Primordial Creative studio


I'm David, a multimedia artist in Phoenix, and my studio is Primordial Creative.  


I have always been interested in the visual arts from an early age- drawing, painting, and clay- but around my high school years I became interested in photography for the social aspect of involving other people, the adventure inherent in seeking out pictures, and the presentation of reality that wasn't limited by my drawing skills.


One thing in my work that has stayed consistent over the decades since then is I have an equal interest in the reality of the lens next to the fictions we can create in drawing, painting, animation, graphic design, and sound design.  As cameras have incorporated video and audio features, and as Adobe's Creative Cloud all... See full profile

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1. Intro to Marker Art Techniques: Hello there. I'm David Miller, Phoenix, Arizona Multimedia artists want to welcome you to this course on beginning marker techniques and the reason why I am making a marker drawing classes because of all the materials available to us as illustrators and artists, markers are the ones that excite me the most. I grew up as a huge fan of pop art. Both the kind you find in museums and the kind you find on TV screens or in comic books and markers are the quickest, most direct way to getting that pop art vibe. Now people like Andy Warhol utilized printmaking, which requires a large studio and, you know, specialty materials to work with. And certainly a lot of pop art is produced by digital artists in the modern age. But markers are something that I can carry in my backpack and out in the field and make stuff that really leaps off the page in a way that would be colored pencil or straight pencil doesn't quite do, and there's no digital tools involved in it. I'm not staring at yet another screen. I feel like I've already staring at enough screens in my life, so markers are my jam as far as making pop art kind of illustrations. And I think everybody at some point has used markers as a kid and probably like the cheap Crayola brand varieties or whatever you pick up in the grocery store or Wal Mart. They usually use those to either create colored strokes, which is the outline of your illustration, or they use them to fill a space by moving the marker back and forth and having that motion fill up the space. There's a lot more you can do with markers. There are a lot of varieties of markers out there. There's ones that are intended to fill these large spaces there, ones that can be blended or utilized as a watercolor after the fact. And there are markers that have varying line with their so many cool things out there. So we're going to explore a few different brands. I have my personal favorites, but I'm gonna introduce you to other ones that are fairly common in the art community and let you know what these air each used for. I'm not advocating for one brand over the other. Always feel like individual artists have individual tools that worked best for them. But we're going to explore a variety and, you know, hopefully you at home explore a variety of materials, so you find the tools that are good for what you actually want to make. And like I said before, this class is largely about exploring an experimentation. It's okay if some things don't work out for you. The important thing is that we try it so we can get to the things that do you work for us as artists. 2. Materials: So now I'm gonna talk about the actual materials, and I'm gonna go through some of the market brands. The first time I encountered really good markers in my life was when I entered college at age 18 and I got a set of Prisma color markers. He's had a fat end, any skinny and the fat end was very large. And the first project we did in college utilizing these was fashion drawing. This is where you did really quick renderings of people wearing dresses, pants. What have you? The drawings that we were doing with these quick renderings were not terribly different from what you see on vintage dress patterns. There really bare bones illustrations of what people look like wearing an outfit, and I have loved this technique throughout my entire life. There is something that is so graphic and communicative of this particular fashion, rendering that I utilize Prisma colors almost exclusively for the next 10 years in prison. Color is still an amazing brand, a huge variety of colors, and they're pretty much available. Any are store you go to now that I'm older. My particular favorite brand of markers is the favorite. Cristo hit brand Siri's, and these come as brush markers and as soft brush markers. I absolutely will do demos of all of these markers in the upcoming lessons. But just to briefly describe what is so cool about brush and soft brush markers, essentially with the brush markers you get a varying line with, which means that if you want a in line, you got it. And if you put pressure on, you'll get a fatter line, and this varying line width is a little more interesting. I think, for viewers to look at it certainly feels more organic and natural than something that is the same exact line with whether it's supposed to be a heavy thing, like a rock or a thing that's near you like a fist or a thing that's far away from you like a mountain. If we are trying, Teoh illustrate weight and density in our work. Having a varying line with is something that I think we really need to look at. The soft brush markers are of particular interest to me because they remind me of a technique called Sumi A. This is something that you would see in vintage Chinese brush painting old Japanese painting. It's a very quick stroke, very deliberate stroke, and it seems to carry so much energy in that one line. Now the soft brush markers air not available in a wide variety of colors like the regular brush markers are you basically have gray tones and a kind of warmer, graze cooler grit. You basically have gray tones, so a light gray to a full on India angst out black, and then you have a light into go and a dark into go. Some of the graze a little warmer. They feel a little more reddish brown, and some of the greys are colder. They feel more blue, but essentially with the pit brand. Those are the soft brush marker types that are available to you. They also sell fatter hit markers. I tend not to use those for fills. My jam right now is this particular kind of marker that doubles as watercolor, and that is a brand called Tom Bow. Tom Bow is not the only brand that creates watercolor markers, but they're pretty high quality. The markers have a fat end and a skinny, and we will get into the water color effects in an upcoming lesson. But for now, I wanted to introduce you to the three brands, which are Prisma, Color, Faber, Castell Pitt and Tom Bo. The paper I'm using for this class is Bristol paper. It's £100. I buy it in sketchbook. I buy in large comic book size pages because this is what most comic artists drawn. You're welcome to use any paper you like. But for me, I find that Bristol paper, particularly the smooth heavyweight Bristol paper, is ideal for working with markers. It's so crisp and clean, and when you're working with heavy paper, it just feels more durable. Nothing shows through it, and I do feel like most people when working with heavyweight paper, that kind of respect and a little bit more, and they put a little more effort into their art. 3. Color Palette: I want to talk to you guys about color palettes. This is the sequence of colors that you choose for whatever peace you working on. A lot of times people look at photographic reference or life drawing reference, and they see dozens, if not hundreds, of colors in a scene, and they think that they need to have dozens or hundreds of colors in a scene. If that is the aesthetic you are, 100% are dead set on going for, then by all means go for it. But I would encourage you to create a cohesive piece that has a limited color palette. And the good limits for colors are somewhere between 3 to 5 colors. Now. They don't all have to be similar often times if you go to a store and you look at markers that are of a color palette. The pit brand that I buy has earth tones. They have all pastel colors. They have all sky colors, they have flesh tones, and they sell those as a pack. It's easy for them to sell Those things is a packed, but by no means should you think a color palette has to conform to those kinds of color palettes. That's just how they package markers. A color palette can be any three colors. Any five colors that you want to include as long as they are balanced throughout the piece , or they make some sort of logical sense within the structure that you draw. Then there's nobody who will come knock on your door. No critic who is going to be complaining that none of your colors fit together. Many of my favorite artists utilize jarring color schemes, but because they have limited themselves to the 345 colors within a piece, it makes sense within a piece. And if it makes sense within a piece, it's going to communicate. I look at Marker Art as a form of pop art. You are not going to find classicist kind of artists, romantic kind of artists doing a whole lot with markers. And, of course, during the Renaissance, when people were trying to be extraordinarily realistic, they did not have markers. But the people who exist today that following the footsteps of those kind of oil painter traditions devi away from markers, and that's okay. So let's look at examples of pop artists and how they utilize color. Andy Warhol. Extraordinarily punchy colors, oftentimes clashing colors generally known as a printmaker. Though he did a lot of other forms of art comic books for a long period of time, they were limited to four colors that they could print with. And so the early comics were very garish, the ones from the 19 thirties through Let's Say, the eighties before they start developing computer coloring. And even today, there are comics that restricted color palette. One of my favorite periods of comics was a set of Batman issues that utilized almost exclusively two or three colors for the entire issue. It really communicated the sense of Gotham City in Batman's world by restricting it that way. There's a lot of animate that utilizes really punchy and bright colors and marker. Art is ideal for this kind of look, things that are fun, youthful, that communicate energy. They might use realistic flesh tones on people, but often times they have incredibly strange and garish hair colors. And then we should look at animation. So, excluding like the big budget three D animated films like your Pixar and Disney kind of films, most animation is from the mind of a small set of individuals, and they're taking advantage of the fact that they're dealing with unreal types of characters. So if it's a superhero animation versus a superhero live action film, you can absolutely see that they punch up the costumes that they play with the entire world in a way that is very visually appealing versus when they do a live action version of a superhero film and some of the design aesthetics. And those are meant to reflect reality or dull it down. You have the Justice League film, where Superman's costume is very dark and dull, versus his animated counterpart were working with markers. There's no reason to dole it down, to be be held by. We're working with markers. There's no reason to dull it down To pretend that we are living in some sort of ah, gritty gray fantasy. I do a lot of marker art that is of great tones. But 4. Soft Brush Markers 1: so the first set of markers I'm going to discuss are these Faber Castell soft brush markers . There are a wide variety of Faber Castell Pitt markers that aren't soft brushes, and I'll get to those a little bit later. This piece that I have here is almost entirely soft brush markers, and it has a few ah, fine line details here. He's a really add at the end, and I do the majority of my marker work with soft brush. And the reason why I go for this particular look is because it's very reminiscent of an art style that I'm a big fan of called Sumi A. This is an Asian brush painting goes back hundreds of years. Andi. It's very minimalist, very clean. It's very expressive, and part of what makes Sumi a so expressive is that the artists don't labor over their line work. They do it in quick, broad strokes. There's a liveliness to Sumi a that you don't get when an artist just focuses on what line goes down. And I know that when I do this kind of works that I put incorrect lines. Sometimes I'm gonna let that go. I'm just gonna enjoy the process and try and focus on spontaneity and immediacy. One of the reasons why a soft brush marker leans itself to spontaneity and immediacy is that it has a variable line with as dual brushes when you change the pressure that you put on them. So this piece I'll have parts that are thin, tapered off and then I'll have parts that are fat. That all depends on how much pressure I put on the page. How much pressure I put on the page depends on emotion and feeling of the artist and the ability to translate that through your hand. Now, if you have a pen, a single line with markers such as this guy, I certainly can put some emotion Teoh what I do in shape. But it isn't going to change how the line appears. The line is it gonna get any thicker or thinner, depending on how quickly I move, how much energy I put into it. There are other ways to insert energy, certainly with the concept of what you're doing, but I want the art to inherit some of that energy. A variable line with marker will get me to that space 5. Soft Brush Markers 2: so I'm gonna do a quick outline with my black pit artist pen. You'll note these other ones. Up here are shades of gray. This is a cold, gray three cold gray, one cold grave for cold gray. Six. There are warm gray colors. I'm not a big fan of those. I just don't find them as appealing to look at. Everything you see on here is cold gray and then as faras colors and soft brush markers. Pit only offers light into go and a dark indigo, and I'm going to keep the light into go up here so you can see my general palette of gray tones and single color. When you do something that is pretty much like a duo tone, two color process or just black and a single color, it really has a look that's reminiscent of the 19 fifties advertising. I think that was just do the limitations of the printing techniques at the time, but I'm a big fan of it. And so a soon as I get my drawing down with the black, I'll put a few great stones in, and I hit it with the light blue, and I'm going to utilize this image. I photographed a friend of mine for reference. So start the eyes. Try and be as quick with my strokes as I can. Not be labor. What's there? Imply volume. Hold the marker sideways for fatter strokes, and you can use this for fills. If you wanted to say fill in the black on her. I, um, I tend to save my markers because these things you know they do cost money. I want to do fills. I utilize something that's going to do the right job. This is a big brush pin, so it's not a soft brush pin. But it's going to cover a lot more territory a lot quicker and saying, If I wanted to just fill in the hair details, Binary is gonna go all black hit with the biggest marker you got now. The Incan site here is India ink, so that's waterproof. Anything that's waterproof means that if you wanted to add some water color to this after it dried, you're welcome to do so and you know, not interfere with line work that's already here. Conversely, if you wanted to add line work to something that already was water colored you could for the kind of artwork that I like to make and that I like to look at. I find it's the variations in line with that really strike me. That really gives shape to the peace when all the lines are the same. When everything is done with a micro in pen or something, I just don't respond to it. It feels almost mechanical. I think a lot of digital art had that up until the iPad was introduced and you started to get more lines that had pressure, sensitivity, specialty wits between each stroke. 6. Soft Brush Markers 3 Midtones: Okay, so there's my black outline. I'm gonna hit it with the mid tone. And this is where you start to define what colors or what? This is a photograph that was shot with a jailed lighting scenario. It's not exactly like the greatest four lighting reference because it's such bizarre lighting. I'm just gonna say that all of her hair has this mid tone to it. He has Shana, wary is, has this mid tone. The highlights are essentially going to be the white that still shows through when I'm done with this process, and I'm utilizing Cold Grey three. If I hit it with little cold Grey four. They're close enough intern ality that it's gonna be kind of satisfying. And also it'll look good where it overlaps between cold grey three and cold rate for and will have a transition a little bit of ingredient from a light gray to a darker gray and back again. Every swoop I make with the marker leaves a little brush tail into it. It looks really nice by having a range of great zones here. It's a very rich presentation. It gives the piece of finish one. If you just did something say it was only one marker, One black marker. It can look nice, but it's also going to look like a sketch. It's gonna feel like there's something missing. Maybe that's the look you're going for? Not sure, but I got that to her. I'm gonna call this cold gray six. Also her makeup. So her upper lip. I did completely black this area in between your teeth and this is meant to be her bottom lip. Uh, gonna use it for eye shadow, too. And Paul away her eyelashes. I'm also gonna use it for her outfit because even though this is the bottom of the page, something should be there now for shadow details. You certainly can use any of the grace you have. One of the things that I really enjoy doing is hitting it with this light into go almost anywhere. There's an edge of a face where you would assume light would curl around instead of hitting it. Great. Give it this light blue accent. And this is the element that reminds me a lot of advertising artwork from the 19 fifties 7. Soft Brush Markers 4 Mixing In Other Kinds of Marker Tips: the last step I'm gonna take on this particular piece is I think I need to fill in the environment with something. What's in the photograph is just kind of like a randomized projection. It was actually a butterfly protection, and I think when I shot it, So I'm gonna ignore that. And one and out You dont know what goes in the background, fill it in with black. So using the large big brush given outline to her leaving a little hair space. And now that I have that fielding going to use the fine marker, this is a very thin line and just kind of ad tiny details. I'm gonna add, uh, the lines around her people. I'm going to give her a little bit of lines on her lib, maybe some employed teeth going to give her some fringe on her straps. Gonna make the strap complete to the shoulder. Some flaws I like to leave in like the whole little bits of white that weren't completely filling with the black. But if something is like, way off, like a piece of clothing doesn't actually attached to the person that bothers me just enough that I feel like I need to fix it, and I'm gonna put some small lines in her hair once again in service of varying the gray and varying the line width. Having different textures makes the piece feel more complete. It's interesting to sit across the table from a person and observe how many textures how maney tonalities are on their person, from their skin to their hair to there, close to the object they have in their hand, Uh, to their eyes, to their lips. There's such a variety, and we can't translate all of that into our drawings, but it certainly gives us a lot of information that is useful. 8. Watercolor Markers 1: So for this technique that looks an awful lot like watercolors were actually using watercolor markers. These are by Tom Bow, just like the other market brands, I show you. There's a variety. You don't have to buy the specific brand. If you wanted, say soft brush markers, you have more than one choice. But, um, utilizing Tom Bow. It's a good product. This paper is watercolor paper. The reason for that, of course, is that it's gonna take water better than Bristol. Bristol will tend to buckle unless you're using just the very least amount of water and for reference. Once again, I'm going to use a photograph of my friend. I'm going to use a light table so close close this off to do a quick transfer. Now I'm using a lot of photo reference for the purposes of this class, just to give you guys an idea of how you can do some drawing without having any particular drawing skills. I'm definitely a huge advocate for creating art that isn't photo referenced, Um, but for a lot of people, that's the hardest part coming up with your concepts. So there's my reference. There's my marker work, the reason why I left so many details out of this is that the water is going to move this pigment from the marker around, and that's gonna fill in that space. Now, one thing that I left out that would probably be difficult for somebody who's just starting out is I never included the edge of her arm or her cheek those air kind of highlight areas . And my plan is to just have the water go where I wanted to go. But if you're somebody who is doing this kind of transfer process and you need to see that edge for reference than I would encourage you to use a six h pencil on something that you can erase after you're done with the whole process of the peace and then this stage is really simple painting. You dip your brush and water, you go to the edge of your pigment and you drag it in the direction you want it to go. So in the case of her sleeve, I want a little bit of a curvature around the folds. I always start off really subtly because you know you can get more extreme. Uh, the more water you add if you find that you've put too much water on your paper, don't be scared to get a paper towel and suck some of that up. Blanc it. That's the closest to an eraser tool you're going to get with. Watercolor. If you were doing this kind of stuff without using watercolor markers, you probably would have to lay down some kind of blocking material. There's different brands one's called Frisk It, which is basically like a kind of rubber cement, that it stops your watercolor pigment from running in directions that you don't want to get . A watercolor is a very chaotic medium, and you can see in the areas that are inside of her these the's full divert close. I'm OK with completely blotting it out, but I do have the option of leaving a nice, crisp hard edge to these other pieces thes other areas that are essentially like holding lines, the kind of things you see in a comic book or cartoon, where there's an outline around the person, and then all the color is within them. I don't have to drag my water all the way up to the next pigment. I think it looks fine. If it's kind of minimalist and implied. Of course, that's my overall aesthetic. If you've seen the soft brush tutorials, you know that I like areas that are a little bit blank and undefined. I feel like when you leave some of these blanket, undefined areas, you give your viewer the opportunity to fill it in with their own mind, their own interpretation. 9. Watercolor Markers 2: when I get to her hair area because I have mixed colors, this is gonna have some parts that lean more, Read some parts that lean more purple and after the fact. If I want things that are more well defined lines, I just wait for this to dry, and then I hit it with the markers again. I can absolutely go back in after it's dry and give it some nice solid outlines. Some nice to find details a technique that I personally advocate for is actually using colored pencils along with watercolor. I feel like those blend really nicely and, of course, just like we have water color markers that were working with. There are watercolor colored pencils so you could do a blend of those two kinds of media and have it look really satisfying. When I was in college, one of the truisms that painting teacher told me was that painting is essentially drawing, and I absolutely found that to be true over the years. But it's very interesting how there is a mental divide between drawing and painting. A lot of people are very confident in their ability to draw and not confident in the ability of paint. And there just seems to be something simpler about the process. Holding a tool in your hand the same way that you hold a pen or pencil when you're writing thes watercolor markers really break down. That mental divide makes it so simple. If you believe that you can put lines on paper, then you can do a painting. The same is not true of people who get the water colors there acrylics, their oil paints and paintbrushes in their hands. They hold these tools, and unless they have the drive pain, they look at it like it's a completely foreign object that they're not really sure how to operate. Not much is different between painting and drawing diess. Absolutely true. But if you are confident in one is trouble with the other than I highly encourage you to make use of these kinds of watercolor markers. And if you're not familiar with watercolor techniques, there is one called Wash, where you play a large amount of water down, and then you put the pigment in it after you put the water down. So for her arm, I'm just gonna place water all over the place. I'm gonna open up my marker and very lightly dab it in. Yet this magical spread effect Almost like a marbling tight of thing. Very smoky. Once you do that, you better have something on hand that can absorb that water that can pick up some of that really quickly. Little paper. Tornado absorbs that before it gets out of control, for it gets out of the space that I don't want it to be. The last thing I'm gonna do here is kind of roughing up the edges that are nice and solid. I feel like they just need a little bit of a bleed, a little bit of chaos to them. And I'm doing that by gently tapping a wet brush on them. I'm not smearing the pigment around. I'm just tapping to soften anything that looks like a hard line 10. Fashion Illustration with Prismacolor Markers: So for our final tutorial, we're going to be working with Prisma color markers. These are very transparent, kind of colored markers that have a fat end and a skinny end. I was first introduced to using Prisma colors by doing fashion illustration, and I've always thought of them as kind of like ideal for that kind of material. When you're doing fashion illustration, you utilize what's called a crow. Key Rookie is just a French word for sketch has certain proportions when you're doing fashion illustration. The fashion industry works with very tall individuals because the designers want to create close to showcase on a runway, and they can't create clothes for all different sizes to wear on the runway. It just wouldn't be feasible. So the utilize women that are generally like 59 and heights somewhere around there and men that are over six feet tall. The actual illustration breaks down into nine sections. There's the head area. The middle of the next section is the clavicle that goes down to the armpits, then got waste, elbow, hip, mid thigh, knees, calf, ankle and then the bottom of the feet. The thing with Croke e sketching and creating fashion illustrations on models you don't have to have your own basic sketch toe work from. It's very easy to find patterns online. Just put him out and utilize a light table the way I am. I just created my own quick reference. So when I do my illustration, I don't need to measure all that stuff out. As long as I know where the body breaks down, I can sketch away to my own heart's content and I don't need to. And if you're going to do a lot of fashion illustration, I really recommend that you come up with some kind of system that cuts down the process of redrawing these bodies over and over and over. Maybe just create a few templates on your own and then keep them in a file. Access them when you need him. But the main thing about the fashion illustration is not the body. It's the clothes that are going to go on my individual. So just using the light table, I'll do a quick version of something that is borrowed from Harper's bizarre good source of inspiration. When I do my fashion illustration, I'm going to use the fat end of the Prisma color marker, and I'm going to go as quickly as possible. I mean, the whole point of these kind of things, besides showcasing the clothes, is to capture life and gesture. It is meant to be quick. It is not meant to be labored over. My approach is I will lay down these large flats of color that help me capture the overall figure of the pose as well as the form of the close Very quickly. It's one thing to ask someone. Hold a pose when they're just a photograph sitting on your table. And everything, of course, in that photograph is static. It's absolutely another thing if you're working from real life and expecting a person to hold a pose for as long as we may need to do a fashion illustration. So it's really important that you work as quickly as possible. Also, that you capture some form of storytelling in the post because that's gonna make your final drawing look a lot more interesting than someone just standing around looking straight at you. It helps to have all the weight of your figure placed on one leg as if they're leaning one way or another, it helps to add accessories as well. Know that each time you go over the same area with your thick, chiseled marker, you'll thicken up the color. The very first layer Prisma color marker is gonna be transparent, almost like water color. Then subsequent layers become more translucent and bold. Hold off on using the thin end until I'm ready to add details to the final piece, and I play special consideration for whatever the texture is of each material that we're working with. 11. Wrap Up: Hey, friends, I want to thank you so much for sticking with this course, and it was a lot of information to take in, but I hope you got something of value out of it. Feel free to check out the other courses on my tutorial channel. We have courses on a daily products photography, animation, video editing as well as courses on how you can achieve your own personal goals on becoming a more creative, more prolific, more successful artist. However, you want to interpret that, so feel free to check those out. I know there's a lot out there that might be a Value T. In the meantime, best of luck on your own visual art creations talk to you next time.