Pencils vs Markers: Why Graphite Is Best For Coloring Books


The most commonly used tools of choice for most colorists are the colored pencil and the marker, but which should you use? This is a question that many beginners ask themselves. To make this easier on you we have decided to put together a detailed pros and cons list to both. Below you can find the reasons why colored pencils are the best coloring tool to use. Stay tuned for our rebuttal piece on why markers should be your coloring tool of choice coming later this week.

Pencils Are Less Expensive

Colored pencils are a favorite for many colorists and their relatively lower price definitely has something to do with that. While high quality markers like the Copic can run you up to $5 per marker, you can get a relatively high quality set of colored pencils for around $10.

Pencils Provide More Control


A huge benefit of using colored pencils is that they provide you with a higher level of control. With colored pencils you can decide how light or dark you want to put a color down by either lightly dragging the pencil along the line or pressing hard for a much deeper color. A marker can’t do this. The same colored pencils can also be used to create either a very fine line or a much wider line for coloring in large spaces. This is done by sharpening the pencils very well and using the point, or laying the pencil at a low angle and using the entire side of the graphite. A marker on the other hand is either fine or wide tipped.

Colored Pencils Are Easier To Blend

A huge benefit of colored pencils is that they can be blended together. Since colored pencils do not put down as uniform a color as markers you can go over the same space with another color and to the naked eye it looks like those colors are blended. You can also use a solvent like water or a more professional one (consult your local art shop) to actually blend the graphite into a more layer of color. 

Graphite Won’t Bleed Through


Many coloring books on the market are either printed on thin paper or have designs that are printed on both sides of every page. While this reduces their cost and allows for more designs per book it means that if you use marker you could ruin some of the designs. Since markers put down a much stronger color it can sometimes “bleed through” more porous and cheap paper which will ruin any design printed on the other side of the page or even bleed through onto other pages. Because of this we recommend always placing a spare piece of paper behind the design you are coloring just in case you get bleed through. Colored pencils do not use ink and will not soak up paper in the same way so bleed through will not occur, however you can still get some pressure damage.

Pencils Can Cause Pressure Damage

Although colored pencils will not produce bleed through they do require you to apply more pressure in order to get deep colors. This added pressure can damage designs on the other side of the page or even other pages altogether. In order to remedy this some artists place thick pieces of card stock behind the designs as “cushion” but this is not foolproof.

Colored Pencils Are (Somewhat) Erasable 

While colored pencils will not erase as well as normal ones you can still lift some of the color unlike with markers which will not erase at all. If you are unsure about the color of a colored pencil we suggest testing on a separate piece of paper or first putting down just a light coat to see how it works. The good news is that if you for example make a small mistake or your hand slips you can to some extent erase the damage. With markers on the other hand there is nothing you can do.

Are you a colorist who loves using colored pencils for your designs? Let us know why in the comments below. We would love to get your opinion on this topic :) Stay tuned for our rebuttal article on why markers are better coming later this week.

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