More Markers, More Colored Pencils, and A Few Watercolors (Episode IV of The Coloring Nerd Supplies Guide)

by Michelle M. Johnson

Can you ever have too much of a good thing?

When it comes to coloring supplies, I think the answer to that question is decidedly no!

Which is why even though my blog series, The Coloring Nerd Supplies Guide, is labelled as a trilogy, I am now about to bring you Episode IV - More Awesomeness. 

Coloring for adults (and everyone, really) is going nowhere, and art supply companies are continuing to create new markers, pens, pencils and paint (yes, paint!) for coloring enthusiasts of all ages to enjoy and explore. 

My three previous episodes in my Coloring Nerd Supplies Guide were organized according to type of tool, but I have been exploring such a wide array of coloring supplies lately, I thought I would just review for you all the latest and greatest that I have discovered this year. So here are my favorite new pens, pencils, paints and markers. 

One disclaimer I always add to my Coloring Nerd Supplies Guide: the links that I attach to my blog posts are Amazon Affiliate links, which means that should you decide to purchase an item based on this post, I earn a small (really small, but every penny counts!) amount of money per purchase. I'm not suggesting that you do anything with this post besides read it and hopefully gain some useful information from it. But, should you decide to purchase something I shared about with you in this post, it would be lovely if you used the links found here in this post. Thank you:)




I know, I know, I have talked to y'all before about the wonders and fun of coloring with watercolor markers (especially the Tombow Dual Brush Pens, and yes, I still really like those babies, too - you can read my review of them here), but trust me when I say that the Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens are a whole other animal!



Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens are just what their name says: watercolor markers with an actual synthetic bristle paint brush tip! You can color with these pens, paint with these pens, sketch with these pens, letter with these pens, and blend these pens with or without water. The brush tip is delicate and fine (just check out the narrow flick lines I was able to create with them in the above video), and the super saturated color of these markers flows easily (you needn't press on them at all to lay down color - simply brush the pen lightly on your paper).



I have the 48 set, and I have used it in coloring and card making on a variety of paper styles, and as soon as I have time to noodle around with some blank water color paper, I plan to watercolor sketch with them and see what happens. For the seasoned coloring enthusiast, these pens are a fun adventure, and they are sure to make a great gift. However, for a someone new to coloring, these pens might be an overwhelming first marker (a better marker gift for a coloring newbie, in my opinion, are Bic Marking permanent markers). Additionally, these pens are an investment (and one that I hope will last, but I have only had them for 6 months, so I have no data on that, yet), to that end, they are not a toy for children. These pens ARE water based, but like I said before, they are highly pigmented, so they are not necessarily washable inks, and should be given to only those children who understand the privilege and responsibility of artist level markers.





I never thought I would type the phrase "niche markers," but Monami Plus Pen 3000 water-based (but not watercolor) markers definitely fit that bill. These extremely fine point markers have a quill-like nib, quite sharp and rigid, that releases an super fine line of ink. Why I consider them to be "niche" is that unless you really enjoy coloring very small spaces (like the brick red lines and aqua blue ovals in my Art Deco-Steam Punk bookmark above or the spiral rainbow wheels in my "Reject Perfection" doodle below), these marker simply can't lay down ink fast enough to cover a good sized space without seriously mangling the tooth of your paper due to their needle-like point.


That being said, I really like these markers, and just for that very reason, coloring in seriously tight spaces. I also think the color selection in this compact set (currently the largest collection of colors available in Plus Pens) is pretty spectacular; it is rare for a 36 set to have a complete breadth of colors that also includes grey. 

My color chart for Monami Plus Pen 3000. See how incredibly
fine pointed these markers are?! I tested them out to see how
their water-based ink would flow if I added additional water, and
to my surprise, some of the inks bleed nicely, an interesting
characteristic I hope to use the next time I color with these pens:)

Because these pens have such a stiff, pointed nib, I do believe they would make a great marker set for drawing free hand in color, an idea about these lovelies I had only recently, so I plan to take them on my next road trip. The fact that these pens come in a sturdy carrying case also makes me excited to pack them in my suitcase - no breakage or loss during travel is a fabulous thing! When I bought these markers last spring they were close to $25 and only available through from the maker, Monami, all the way from Korea, which meant a really long shipping wait. Now, Amazon is stocking these fun pens directly, so the cost is cut in half and you will receive them in a fraction of the time I had to wait. The breath of colors you get in the set for the current price makes these pens a perfect choice for the budding artist or the frugal coloring enthusiast.



I do not like shopping as a general rule, but I do enjoy exploring the cluttered and eclectic shelves of such stores as Tuesday Morning and TJ Maxx, and it was on one of these little treasure-seeking adventures that I stumbled upon these soft cored, vibrantly pigmented pencils from Holland. Before purchasing these colored pencils, though, I pulled out my phone and did a quick bit of research on them as I had never heard of Bruynzeel before (protip: when buying art supplies at aftermarket stores, don't be afraid to use your phone to check prices and quality - just because art supplies are at a discount store doesn't mean A. they are low quality or B. a good deal).

I used my Expression Colour pencils to color bits of the background,
the scales of the second to last circle, and the blue and magenta
zigzag lines of the bottom circle of my "It's All Connected" bookmark. Also,
this is one of my Kraft-colored cardstock bookmarks - I wanted to test out
how these pencils held up to rough-ish and darker paper. I was pleased
with the results!
Turns out, Expression Colour is the second tier level of pencils for Bruynzeel (meaning they are student grade) and at under $20 for their 36 set, they are a good deal. I really enjoyed the smooth creamy feel that came with coloring with these pencils, and if you are looking to upgrade colored pencils for yourself or someone you love, these are an inexpensive step up in comparison to a few of the other colored pencils I reviewed in Episode I of my Coloring Nerd Supplies Guide. Add that they are also now on Amazon (click here to check them out) and they are a cool little art supply discovery - thanks, Tuesday Morning!



Did I need any more gel pens? Technically no, considering I already own the complete set of Sakura Gelly Rolls and a fabulously sparkly set of Color Techniks (read my reviews on those two gel pens styles here). But, in leading our local libraries' coloring-for-adult programs I was consistently asked, "Is this only on Amazon? I don't shop online..." So, when I stumbled upon these brightly colored Paper Mate gel pens at Walmart last semester, I thought I would bring them home and test drive a coloring tool that can be found at a local brick and mortar retailer. These pens are easy to hold and lay down a vibrant ink very smoothly. Additionally, that ink dries extremely fast, a quality most gel pens on the market don't have. 

I have the .07 nib set of 14 pens, and while .07 is a rather "fat" nib, these pens are not well designed to color in large spaces (unless you have literally all day to color), which is why I decided to try them out on my November Free-Coloring-of-the-Month page (yes, I bought these pens in April and didn't try them out until November...it's been that sort of year), an illustration that has loads of small spaces. So far, I am really enjoying playing with these pens, but I have discovered that their ink dries with a bit of a sheen to it, not a problem *unless* you are like me and like to layer colors one on top of the other; these gel pens do not accept additional layers and instead sort of repel the 2nd color like oil to water. This isn't a problem necessarily, just an observation I made. 

Lastly, I was disappointed to discover that Paper Mate InkJoy are less expensive on Amazon than they are in Walmart or on Walmart.com. This isn't a surprise to me, however considering that the question which led me to buy these gel pens from a brick and mortar storefront originated from older, retired folks, I am frustrated and saddened that it is people on a fixed income who have the fewest options to explore and challenge their creativity in a cost-effective way.



Yes, I am reviewing artist quality pan watercolors for coloring in coloring books: painting in coloring books is awesome and so incredibly relaxing! And, I absolutely LOVE my Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors (even if I have to look up how to spell their name every, single, time I write it). These are a Japanese watercolor that has its origins in sumi-e painting. I discovered them when I toyed around with the idea of studying watercolor independently (all of my watercoloring enthusiast friends recommended this set), a goal I still plan to get to, but by accident I started using these gorgeously saturated colors in my coloring books first. 

One of the biggest frustrations folks bring to coloring is the anxiety of coloring outside of the lines, so my favorite catchphrase to use in my coloring workshops is "The lines aren't the boss of you!" But, just hearing me say it over and over isn't as effective a way to instill this message in folks as to actually color outside of the lines myself. Which is exactly what I did when I led an entire coloring workshop on going outside the lines on purpose (gasp!). I use this page I from my book, Doodled Blooms, and I colored it only with Kuretake Gansai Tambi as an example. To create these alternately deep and then gentle colors, I had to use very little water. What that all means is that while these little pans are not very deeply full of paint, they will last me for a good long while. They also have shimmery metallic colors that I am looking forward to experimenting with on my next painting-in-my-coloring-book creative adventure. 

These watercolors are not inexpensive in comparison to a palette of Crayola Watercolors, but these creamy, flexible colors are most definitely a few huge steps up from washable watercolor paint. If there is someone in your life who is looking to explore watercolor (or creatively adventurous like me and wants to watercolor anywhere!), bringing home this set of 36 pans of paint is definitely a fun idea. Tubes of watercolor paint are all the rage on Instagram and Youtube painting tutorials, but with a little experimentation, you can achieve the same or similar results with pan watercolors for a fraction of the price and receive a great selection of colors (yes, I am always looking out for making creative cash go further).


And, that is this episode of the Coloring Nerd Supplies Guide!

Stay tuned for the next episode where I'll be sharing with y'all my tips and strategies for storing all your markers, pens, pencils, paint, and coloring books:)

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