Faber Castell products including watercolour markers

December 29, 2021 | 14 Comments

Last week I received an incredible gift from Faber Castell Australia – a box full of wonderful goodies.

I’ve not had any contact with them previously so this was totally out of the blue… and the best kind of Xmas present! 🙂 I was completely blown away!

I’ve been using FC products for years (think Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils) but as I started going through all the stuff in this box I realised just how many items have been a big part of my artistic journey over the years.

I was particularly excited to have a set of watercolour markers as I’ve been wanting to try these.

I started doing a double-page spread in my sketchbook to document everything in the box including a colour chart for the 30 set of watercolour pencils (WCP) and 30 set of watercolour markers (WCM). Note: These sets contain the same colours so it’s interesting to compare the same colours in different media.

I didn’t finish the colour chart in one sitting… I added the colour to the page at night and the next morning added water. I was surprised to discover that when the WCMs are dry they generally are no longer water-soluble. So this was a very useful discovery to make straight away.

Before I share more about the WCMs here are a few other fun things in the box.

Ecco Pigment Fineliners – I draw and write exclusively with fountain pens so I have never drawn with these fineliners. They seem nice and I  really like the ergonomic shape of the pen…. but really don’t know enough about fineliners to say anything more. 🙂 So I would be really interested in hearing your thoughts (in the comment section below) if you have tried them.

There were two fountain pens in the box too!

I bought a grip pen a number of years ago and really enjoy using it as one of my everyday writing pens (it’s currently living next to my main computer at the moment). The Loom is a heavier pen so not something that I would choose to sketch with. I put a Stone Grey cartridge into this pen and used it on Sunday for my sermons notes – it wrote beautifully smooth and was a lovely pen to use.

I was really surprised as I was doing the colour chart for the 30 set of WCPs at how many of my own selection (see here) are included in the official Faber Castell kit. The only difference was the three earth colours!

Sanguine instead of Burnt Sienna and Dark Sepia instead of Walnut Brown work fine. The main issue is that the 30 set doesn’t have a raw sienna type colour (I use Brown Ochre) – instead, it has a greenish yellow – Green Gold.

One of the great things about the Faber Castell universe is that the same colours exist in other media. So that means that I was able to establish a usable set of WCMs that matches my WCP selection! And these (with the exception of the Green Gold as mentioned above) are all colours that I know really well. This has made my experiments with these markers easier!

I have been using alcohol markers a lot recently (Copic Markers in my Greenwood Journal) but it’s been years since I last did a sketch with watercolour markers. When using a watersoluble tool I normally try and use it in a way that combines the dry strokes with areas that have been activated with water and I try not to use it as a substitute for watercolour. See here for an index of my WCM sketches.

As mentioned last week, my first sketch was this quick one of Cockatoo Island standing up while waiting for a ferry. I was able to hold the caps of three markers in my hand (Green Gold, Sanguine and Indanthrene Blue) as well as the cap to a waterbrush (also Faber Castell brand) but it wasn’t all that comfortable.

Here is a closeup of the sketch. I enjoyed doing this sketch and the colours mixed well. You can see in this sketch that I retained some of the marker lines.

As much as I miss having a Brown Ochre, I will freely admit that the Green Gold creates lovely greens.

My next sketch was of a playground area at Anzac Park West Ryde. I was drinking a coffee at the time and thought it would be a good chance to try the markers again. This was a more controlled test of the same three colours and I found it easy to mix the colours on the page. Here I was using the WCMs as a substitute for watercolour.

Yesterday I attempted a more serious sketch with more mixing. At the time I thought this sketch was a bit of a mess (the yellow and green trees were super bright while wet) but it definitely looks better now that it’s dry. Back home I did some swatches (on the left) to test different ways of mixing the colours. As a general comment, these WCMs are more intense than the corresponding WCPs.

For this sketch and the playground one, I thought at the time that it would have been easier just to get my paints out. 🙂

(Note: the above three sketches were all done inside my Moleskine Watercolour book)

The last example was done this morning of a very boring local scene. Once again, mid-sketch I thought this was a total mess but improved on drying. In fact, there are some textures in this sketch that I really like. This sketch was done on a Handbook Sketchbook (the one with the cream paper, not the watercolour Travelogue Handbook.)

It’s still early days but I’m looking forward to exploring these markers more! As always let me know in the comment section below if you have any questions.

A huge thankyou to Faber Castell Australia for this incredibly generous gift.


  • Jane Varley says:

    Hi Liz, what a coincidence! Just this afternoon I was looking at extending my set of Albrecht Durer WC pencils, so I was delighted to read your blog and see your colour chart, which gives me a much better idea of what to buy. The earth colours are certainly very appealing and your green gold looks like a must to add to my set of twelve that I’ve had for years. Watercolour markers?!! So tempting, but where to stop with materials… ?! Thanks so much for this Liz.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Jane! Ah! great that our timing matches! The green gold is nice but I do prefer brown ochre as more useful for greys as well. The markers are fun but doubt they will become a permanent part of my kit 🙂

  • Dawn Holder says:

    Hey Liz, thanks for sharing! With watercolor markers (various brands), I have discovered that the paper makes a huge difference as to how water soluble they remain. Sometimes in sketchbooks they hardly move at all (no sizing to help the wash flow). On Arches watercolor paper they move great. This is a bummer as I mainly wanted to use them in various sketchbooks. How fast did you have to work to keep the markers water soluble in the Moleskine? Thanks!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Dawn – thanks for sharing your experience and yes, I can imagine that paper will make a big difference. I work so fast that probably wont be a problem for me (I did a test and marker still activated after 10 minutes which would be as long as I need)

    • Yvonne Frindle says:

      I’ve noticed that too. The Winsor & Newton watercolour markers, in particular, have been a big disappointment. They don’t work as expected on a great many watercolour papers (as you say, hardly moving or flowing at all), especially 100% cotton papers.

      But then I ordered some Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer watercolour markers from Jackson’s UK earlier this year and was pleasantly surprised at how responsive they were, and much more tolerant of different papers.

      Incidentally, Faber-Castell has this to say about the markers and paper:
      «Good drawing results depend on the paper being used. For an optimal result we recommend watercolour paper from Canson Montval (300gsm, fine grained) and Hahnemühle Fine Art Britannia (300gsm, hot press). These watercolour papers consist of cellulose paper and support good water solubility of the ink.»
      That said, they work pretty well on Fabriano 35% cotton paper. I did try them on Etchr 100% cotton paper and, as with the W&N markers, they didn’t do so well.

      W&N also specifies that their markers work best on “Winsor & Newton Watercolour Marker paper” (a unicorn product that’s not very easy to find, but apparently it’s 300gsm cellulose). But even when you stick to cellulose watercolour paper, the response can be disappointing.

      Overall, I’d say that the Faber-Castell markers are more tolerant of a percentage of cotton and of a wider range of papers generally, whereas the W&N markers don’t like any cotton content at all and are very “fussy”.

      • Dawn Holder says:

        I completely agree about the Winsor & Newton watercolor markers. Thanks for the extra info!

  • Debra Powell says:

    I use their pencils (they are great). Not tried their fountain pens.
    But the real issue with the rest, for me, is TONS of little plastic waste products clogging up the waterways and trash piles, so, it is a no go. MAKE THEM REFILLABLE, that is what I tell them! I’ve written them and maybe they will see it here. Otherwise, I have watercolor brush pens that are refillable and will use those instead.

  • Jamie C says:

    Your holiday is full of the most wonderful art experiments and materials testing! It so great to read and see them in action and how they work! Thus far ive managed to resist watercolor markers, but I’m increasingly tempted! How much do they bleed through the paper? I’m guessing you’d have mentioned it if they bled through!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Jamie, HOpe you had a great Xmas!!! THese markers don’t bleed through…and they are interesting but still prefer watercolour and WCPs 🙂

  • Margie says:

    When you use the markers for blending, do the markers get muddy with the other colors?

  • Terri Foster says:

    Hi Liz-
    I have the full 130 set of Albrect Durers and the set of watercolor markers. Sadly, I haven’t used either very much. Maybe I can find a use for them in your upcoming Foundations course (really looking forward to it)! The markers are nice but they are a bit too bulky to carry them around. I did find that the caps for the markers post onto the cap on the opposite side so if you take them out again, you won’t have to hold them in your hand.

  • Skint Student says:

    Late to the comment party as usual BUT I use fineliners a fair bit. I don’t really rate the Pitt Artists Pens fineliners because the black isn’t really black. (I’ve tried them all- the soft chisel was the greyest. Ugh. Such a wasted gift sadly.) I didn’t bother with the Ecoliner because it’s the India ink inside I don’t like.

    I love the UniPin fineliner- black as tar (think Platinum’s Carbon Black fountain pen ink), waterproof when dry and also Copic friendly. Also comes in neutral light grey, neutral charcoal and a sepia brown. Cheap as chips, buy single or multipack, but amazing quality and the nibs last much longer than my Copic fineliners. Should’ve started with these guys first. (Officeworks do cheapest I’ve found.)

    Sakura Pigma Micron and Copic fineliners are also ok but I find I reach for the UniPin far more. Copic refillables are great of course but expensive as I tend to go through nibs too much.

    Ohto Graphic Liner and Maxon Sketch Liner are metal ball fineliners I now use on watercolour paper. (Can’t find Maxon any more.)

    Recycling pens is done at my local Officeworks. They’ll take all markers, pens etc. (Look for the Terracycle box out front near their printer cartridge and battery recycling boxes.)

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