I have been using Spectrum Noir markers for a few years now (since they first came out) and own more of this brand than any other. Thus they are the markers I use the most. Up until now I only had the original design of Spectrum Noirs – the square barrelled ones.
You can buy packs of 6 markers that are designed to provide a good range for blending when colouring. This is very handy when starting a collection of Spectrum Noir markers. Each pack has a colour theme, for example reds or blues. There are 12 of these packs and together they would give a very good foundation set of 72 markers. You can buy them individually or all 12 at once. These were my first alcohol marker pens.
You can then expand the range by buying the boxes of 24 additional pens in various “themes”. There are no duplicates in any of the boxes/packets. The box I am reviewing and picturing here is the Pastels set. The other 24 pens sets available are Lights, Brights, Darks, Nature and Vintage. Adding these pens gives you a wider range of colours which work perfectly with the foundation colours (218 in total).
The Pastel Set
The Pastels set contains a very versatile range of colours. There are some nice skintones (though only lighter ones, as the Pastels designation would suggest). There are a couple of greens and a good range of pinks, purples and yellows so this pack would be great for colouring flowers. Some of the colours do not really look like the end caps suggest. As you can see in the “colour swatch” that is printed on the front of the box, tThe three HB colours are actually purples. But their end caps look like blues. I made my own simple swatches to refer to, and after a while I got used to the colours and which ones I liked to use the most.
Looking at my pen collection, I tend to use more pastel colours than any others, especially useful ones like TN1 and IG3.
I coloured the stamped image below using only colours from the Spectrum Noir Pastels set. To find out which colours I used etc, see the Mixed Media Monthly Challenge – January – Tutorial. Many of the tutorials on this blog use pens from the Spectrum Noir range.
The Technical Stuff
Spectrum Noir markers are alcohol markers and designed for use by adult colorists. They are popularly used for coloring stamped images, in card making and scrapbooking and by mixed media artists. Many cartoonists and illustrators use them too. There are 216 colours in total.
The Spectrum Noir markers have a firm bullet tip on one end and a felty wedge-shaped chisel tip on the other. There is a grey ring around the barrel on the bullet tip end. The bullet tip is not perhaps as nice for colouring with as the brush tips found on more expensive brands. But it is soft enough to make blending and colouring a pleasure. You can purchase brush tips to replace the chisel tips, though personally I would suggest just buying the Illustrator pens which have them as standard anyway (see below).
The barrels are hexagonal and will not roll of the table when in use. You can not clip the caps on the end of the pen in use. The old version of the markers were rectangle and whilst that was not uncomfortable to hold, the new style hexagonal ones are much more hand-friendly. There is a (slightly sticky) area just in front of each cap that provides a grip to help you hold them.
The pens are refillable, like Copics. They blend perfectly with other brands of markers. I have found them to not be quite as long-lasting as Promarkers and Copics. To prevent them drying out or leaking, they do need to be stored horizontaly.
Above is a comparrison of the Spectrum Noir marker with other popular brands. The markers shown are, top to bottom, Copic Ciao, Copic Sketch, Spectrum Noir, Windsor and Newton Promarker (exactly the same as Letrasett Promarkers). The Spectrum Noirs are a little bit longer than the others.
Above is a comparrison of the new style Spectrum Noir markers (middle) with the original version (top) and the Illustrator range, also by Spectrum Noir. The Illustrator pens are very similar to the standard Spectrum Noirs, in the same colours. The difference is that the Illustrators have a bullet nib and a very nice brush nib instead of the wedge one. The Illustrators are more expensive and aimed at the more professional colorist.
Summary of Spectrum Noir Markers
Spectrum Noir markers are a good quality alcohol marker with a lower price point than many on the market. There is a large range of colours and they blend very well. They are refillable and work well with other popular brands.
The new style Spectrum Noirs fit in my ArtBin Super Satchel marker case (click for review) but are a teeny bit too tall, the lid will bow up slightly when closed.
They fit perfectly in my Meeden Marker Pen case (click for review).
Here are links to the Spectrum Noir pens on CraftStash.co.uk, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. If you click on these links and make a purchase, I will get a small commission from the sellers.