Spectrum Noir makes an alcohol marker that will give Copic a run for the money. Copics cost about three times the cost of Spectrum Noir. (At Dick Blick, a six-pack of Spectrum Noir is $8.95; a six-pack of Copic costs $33.61.) For my uses, the quality is similar enough. Spectrum Noir is a little wetter and the blend is a little more subtle, but that’s the only difference in application.
What I don’t like is that you can’t buy them individually, you buy them in sets or not at all. There are 12 sets of six color-coordinated ones, and larger sets of “brights” or “pastels” in packs of 24. If you buy all the six-packs you have the same markers as in the 72-pen set.
I’m fond of their instructional videos which teach you to put down the darkest color first, then blend with the lighter color, creating a smooth transition.
While packing materials for the Madeline Island class, I came across an interesting exercise that works for collage or just an interesting abstract.
Using Golden’s Glaze (in iridescent gold), open the squeeze bottle hold it over a sturdy sheet of paper (this was Stonehenge paper from the spiral block). Make a complicated squiggle, making sure to cross over the pattern several times. Allow to dry. Glaze takes longer to dry than acrylic paint. Expect days, not hours.
Once the glaze was dry, I used the Spectrum Noir markers to color in some of the spaces. Because there was just one package (Turquoise), I used Sparkling H2Os in other spaces, and two sparkle markers (in black and white) for the last two blocks.
You can see the blending on the bottom, right space. The top, left space shows two colors unblended. The oval to the upper right of the black sparkly piece shows blending–my first try.
You can also try the technique using black gesso in a squeeze bottle. Mustard bottles work well, and the Dollar Store sells sets of two (red and yellow plastic) for, yes, a dollar.
–-Quinn McDonald is thinking of cutting up the piece to use in a collage.