May 11, 2014

Letraset Aquamarkers Review

I've had these markers for a while, but it's been stored in the dark somewhere till I decided to pull it out last night to doodle in my A4 Moleskine Watercolour book. I didn't really have such good impressions of it the first time I tried it, and the same impressions again the second time, but I guess three time's a charm?

So while I was watching a movie last night, I decided to multitask, using the Letraset Aquamarkers to draw the famous Flinders St station in Melbourne, Australia. This doodle didn't take long - around 15mins or so - and this was the result:

Flinder St Station done with Letraset Aquamarker

Taking the time I took to draw this and the fact that I'm not the best at architectural stuff right now (which I hope to change), this was the best I could give. Though I didn't think it looked too bad for something done while watching a movie with dim lighting in the middle of the night...

And these are the markers I used:

Letraset Aquamarker Set 2
Opened up

It came in a plastic 'carry case' which is basically degrading and falling apart as I speak, so I decided to take the markers out and put it in a much sturdier pencil case.

These markers are water-based and are meant to act as an addition or a substitute to traditional watercolour paints. They're great for on-the-go stuff where paints would just be too much of a hassle to take out (especially if you're in a crowded area, like the train). Now that I've embraced their existence, these markers, for me, would be great for the initial outlines of the object of interest, and not for colouring the whole picture. The colours are not too 'spreadable' or blendable for that job. The markers are very inconsistent with their blending and spreading abilities too. The yellows in the set tend to spread and blend easier than lets say, the mahogany or sangria. Only testing them out individually will you be able to find out their abilities, which may be a little frustrating because you would expect that all the markers would act the same, but nope. But it seems like all the watercolour markers I've read (Bienfang and Akashiya Sai) have those markers in every set, so I guess this wouldn't be any different.

The markers come in two nibs, one on each side as shown:

Two nibs available

And although the fine nib looks 'fine' in the picture, it really isn't. It's around a mm wide, but seeing I've worked with finer nibs, that's just too wide for me. But that's just me being picky. In addition to using the markers directly on paper, they can also be applied on plastic sheets and used with a brush like traditional watercolour paints. They can be used for rubber stamping (though I haven't tried).

Their nibs are not all that great too, might I add. They tend to ... peel after a few strokes, leaving that blob of... nib hair on the edge of the nib, waiting to be cleaned away. They're also very picky with the type of paper used. It's a given that regular 80gsm paper would cripple and tear away when using these markers, but it seems like watercolour paper is the best for these.

I bought this set on Fishpond for around AUS$30 which is much cheaper than the $50 other websites / locations are offering. And despite all the cons these markers seem to have, it's funny how I still managed to buy Set 1 on eBay...

ps. After a little more editing, adding various media including watercolour, pencil, pen, and Faber Castell's Pitt markers, here was the result:

You could say that this was definitely not my best work...

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