Saturday, January 5, 2019

Skin Tone Marker Comparison

I talked about doing this nearly a year ago and it totally slipped my mind. Oops?

Around a year ago, I kind of...went on a marker buying spree and eventually bought THREE different skin tone sets of alcohol markers. So which one was the best value? Last week, I drew some lineart so that I could color it once with each set to compare. I drew Vee and her girlfriend Liz, character from my novella No Elle. I picked them because Vee has light brown skin and Liz has freckles, so I wanted to see how each set could capture that.

I attempted to record a video of me coloring these, but my software kept crashing, and I don't have the patience to edit into something watchable. So you get a blog post instead.

First up we have the Bianyo skin tone set. This set had more markers than the other three, BUT one was a colorless blender, and one was black. Some of the markers are...not what I'd call skin tones (Y503 and Y703 are VERY much orange), but the others are great. You can get a wide range of skin tones, from dark browns, to light browns, to pale peach, using this set. Overall, I'd say this set is a great addition to the 72-marker set of Bianyo brush tips. There are some repeats between the sets, but I don't mind as they're all colors I find myself using pretty frequently. I love and use this set frequently. The colors are all pleasing and useful. I highly recommend them to someone who doesn't want to splurge on Copics.

Bianyo Pros:
  • Brush tip alcohol markers 
  • Good value
  • Nice, functional case
  • Widest range of colors in the set
  • Nice blush colors included
  • Colors lay down and layer very smoothly
Bianyo Cons:
  • No refillable
  • Some repeated colors from 72-set
Next up is the Art-n-Fly marker set. This is a 6-marker set and I think you'll see right away what my problem with it is: there are too many similar colors. It makes shading hard, unless you have other sets to supplement. The colors are also not as pleasing as the Bianyo set in my opinion, the darker colors all have yellow undertones that reminds me of fake tans. You can't get as much variation with this set as you can with the other sets. But unlike the Bianyo markers, these ones can be refilled. This adds to their value. My set did arrive kind of dry, and so they don't lay down quite as smoothly. As I'm not the biggest fan of the color selection, I probably won't bother to refill them when they run out.

Art-n-Fly Pros:
  • Brush tip alcohol markers
  • Refillable
  • Good value
  • Quality of ink comparable to Copics
Art-n-Fly Cons:
  • Many similar colors (109BR, 27YR, and 29YR are almost identical)
  • No blush color included in the set 
And finally, the Copic Ciao markers. As is expected of the Copic brand, the quality is excellent. Like Art-n-Fly, this is a 6-marker set. Unlike the Art-n-Fly, this set proves that six colors can still be very versatile. There's a good selection of light, medium, and dark tones. E93 can also be used as a blush color.

Copic Pros:
  • Brush tip alcohol markers
  • Refillable
  • Good color selection, can be used for varied skin tones
  • Good ink quality
  • Blush color included
Copic Cons:
  • Price

Final thoughts? The Bianyo set is my favorite. You get a lot of bang for your buck, considering you get twice the markers as the Copic Ciao set for roughly the same price. If only they were refillable! The Copic set is excellent, and I still use it often. It was a gateway drug that eventually led to the Great Copic Purchase of Summer '18. As an artist who prefers alcohol markers, the Copics are a solid investment for me. If you're just starting out or buying a gift for a young artist, I can't recommend Bianyo highly enough.
Above is the same lineart, colored using my full collection of Copic Ciao markers.

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