Recent Sketches: Another break from watercolour?

August 10, 2022 | 8 Comments

Guess what? I decided a few days ago to put my watercolour paints away for a few weeks.Does this come as a surprise?

As I’m currently spending time getting to know some of Faber Castell’s markers it makes sense to use them exclusively so that I can test them in a range of different situations. And as I started a new sketchbook last week it was a good opportunity for the change! If you somehow missed it, earlier in the year I spent a whole month using coloured pencils and didn’t touch my watercolour paints at all!

This article of last week’s sketches includes the last few spreads in a US letter hardbound Alpha in watercolour and then my marker/pencil-based sketches in a new A4 hardbound Alpha. I’m not sure that I’ll complete this A4 book completely paint-free but it’s fun to start without watercolour.

I’m really loving some of the textures that I’m getting with the Albrecht Durer Watercolour Markers and as mentioned in Monday’s article I’m finding them much more forgiving than watercolour.

This is a good thing as I really don’t know the marker colours very well – yet! I’m liking the combo of Ultramarine and Indian Red markers in this sketch.

The first step with the markers often doesn’t look very promising! But it’s just a matter of moving the pigment around and picking it up if everything is looking too bright or intense.

And of course I had to do a teacup sketch with them too, didn’t I?

Here are my pages from last week…

Last of the watercolour sketches (and the US letter book)… the rest of the sketches below use the watercolour markers (in an A4 book)

At the end of this week’s worth of sketches, I started to think that using watercolour pencils with these markers (instead of coloured pencils) might be a winning combo. So stay tuned for more about that soon!


  • Tina Koyama says:

    Looking forward to seeing your experiments of FC wc markers + wc pencils! I experimented briefly with that combo a while back but never did hit a groove of what made sense. It all seemed easier to use only pencils, as I saw no advantage to the markers (and they were bulkier).

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Tina, I thought the same as you when I’d tried them in the past but this time they are really hitting the spot. They cover more area, are beautifully transparent and create either smooth washes or interesting textures that I can’t get with the pencils.

  • Back in the day – and I mean WAY before Urban Sketchers was a blip on the horizon, and definitely before computers came along to revolutionize many sectors of the creative industry – anyway, way back then, there were those of us who specialized in marker illustration. Sometimes the public would be privy to these drawings in the form of published editorial illustration, but more likely they were created as “ad comps” – full color comprehensive layouts that allowed a client to visualize a concept before dropping big bucks on a final drawing or photo shoot. Or, similarly, story boards for commercials or film productions. Markers kind of ruled the realm of “concept,” which was my world early in my career. Product designers used markers to create marvelously loose, fresh, dynamic, and EXCITING illustrations, a mock-up before the product came to exist. To my mind it was almost an overnight thing when markers just disappeared and all those incredibly vibrant drawings were replaced by realistic (but very cold) digital versions. I am so happy to see markers making a come back these past few years, and it’s great seeing your own path of discovery shared on this page.

  • Jamie C says:

    I’m on my own marker exploration this past week, and I see so many of my own types of results in your work. Like how the ultramarine blooms with water, etc!

  • Terry B says:

    Love the sketches! When you said that you were “moving the pigment around and picking it up if everything is looking too bright or intense”, are you using a clean, wet brush to get that result or are you doing something with the markers to soften the strokes made with the marker?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Terry, I’m picking up the pigment from the page with a clean water brush and then blotting the brush on a napkin, then picking up more pigment.

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