Chameleons on Noah’s Ark: trialling the latest alcohol markers

ColouredThe image I’ve used is a digistamp from The Stamping Boutique sponsors for this month’s Crafting Cafe challenge – check their blog later in the month to see the card I make with it.

But the purpose of the colouring in was to trial and review the deluxe set of Chameleon Pens I recently purchased. There have been a fair number of reviews online, both good and bad, and a fair number of my Facebook friends had indicated they hadn’t got on with them at all and had returned them. I watched all the available videos I could find, as well as the shows on Create & Craft, found a good offer and went for the full set.

For the uninitiated, the pens are a basic dual tip alcohol ink pen – there is a bullet point and a brush-like nib. In addition is a reservoir of the solvent attached to each pen with its own  brush nib. In use, you put coloured tip to solvent tip, keep solvent on top and the pen upright for a defined period, and then start colouring – the solvent dilutes the colour, resulting in a tint which develops the fuller colour as the ink flows back into the nib. Thus from one pen, you can get all the shades. The ink on the page is also translucent, and along with other alcohol ink pens, blends whilst wet and overlays once dried. The deluxe pen set includes all 20 colours, a blending pen and a detail black pen, along with some spare nibs and an instruction sheet. They are in a handy holder which also presents the pens for use when open.

For my full review, read on… but in the meantime here’s the executive summary. I think in terms of colour intensity, blending, bleed and application, these pens are pretty much like-for-like alongside Letraset’s ProMarkers. Their USP is the many shades, one pen however:
PROS> no swapping pens constantly, no need for several pens or layers to shade light to dark, mix time allows for planning next area (i.e. time isn’t wasted). CONS>Getting large areas the same shade is very difficult unless keeping to undiluted pen colour; may need to use a different colouring method.

CONCLUSION: These are a great addition to my alcohol pens, and best suited to detailed images needing obvious shading. I’d not recommend them for large areas of same shade colouring – I’d stick with several ProMarkers. I certainly don’t regret buying them and definitely won’t be sending them back!

CCTPurpleDalia

Review in more detail:

In the coloured image, you can see the patchy sky colour – this is a one coat pen colour with no blending, and is no worse than I’d expect for a one coat ProMarker fill-in on an area this size. The rainbow shows how well the pens layer with each other, and I used the light-to-dark to help the blending of the colours across the spectrum. The wood of the ark is two tones layered, with a single tone background layer, and then in the darker tone doing light-to-dark vertically for the board shading. The shading on the elephant heads show the grey shades working well to describe spheres. The sky under the rainbow shows how much better the shading works on smaller areas, and how you can get consistent shading across several patches.

PROS:

  • No different in most physical attributes to other alcohol pens, so no different media needed.
  • No swapping pens/several pens: by using the solvent and following the instructions for seamless blends, you don’t need to use three or four pens to go from light to dark as you would with ProMarkers or similar. Getting the same shade does take a little practice, particularly keeping them light, but once you have the hang of it, it becomes second nature.
  • No need for several layers: light to dark in one swipe instead of light, then medium, then dark, then light to blend… Saves so much time.
  • Mix time allows planning: some reviews have seen the wait time for the solvent to mix with the pen ink as a negative… I don’t – again, takes a bit of time to get used to, but I found it became intuitive after a short while, and whilst getting the right tone, I am planning the path I’ll take with the pen to colour the area – reminding myself to go from light to dark.

CONS:

  • Colouring large areas: this is well nigh impossible to do with the same shade unless it’s the undiluted pen colour. Either that or you have to constantly keep adding the solvent which removes any time benefit over using other alcohol markers. I have tried using the blending pen over areas, but this results, as with ProMarkers, in a blotchy feathered finish to the colour which I don’t like.
  • Different colouring method: I’m used to laying down layers starting light and working in the dark over the top, others do the opposite. For Chameleon pens, you have to remember that you end your colouring patch in the darkest area, which does take some thought before starting – and makes good use of the dilution time.

I think these pens save time for detailed monochromatic images, where you want to have instant and predictable shading. The packaging assists this, and I can fully anticipate travelling with the set pack for my art journaling on the move.

[Declaration of interest: I have not been asked or sponsored to write this review, and it’s my honest opinion. The promotional banner links to Chameleon Pens and will provide me with commission if you go on to make a purchase. I wouldn’t ever try selling you something I wouldn’t use myself!]


2 thoughts on “Chameleons on Noah’s Ark: trialling the latest alcohol markers

  1. Thank you for this review, I found it really helpful. I’ve already ordered my pens and thought they’d be good for a beginner. (I don’t have any other brand of alcohol pens). Your tip about using for smaller areas or images is great, Cathy x

  2. Before I read the text, I was examining the image carefully to see if I could spot the chameleons, but couldn’t spot one, let alone two. But then I suppose they would blend into the background lol! I had images of Noah complaining to his wife that he’d lost the chameleons…

    Nice pens, though.

    Shoshi

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