Monday, August 10, 2015

Spectrum Noir -- an honest review

If you have read this blog for very long you know that I love color.  I love it so much I can't seem to get enough of it.  I buy every collection of pencil, marker and paint!  So when I first started collecting the Spectrum Noir makers I was very excited.  They were a reasonably priced answer to the Copic system.  Or so I thought.

Here is the truth.  I really like the Spectrum Noir markers, they are an intermediate marker.  They are competition to the Copic in some aspect and in others not so much.  I will say for the price I am not sure they are my go to marker.  I still have some to collect but I have a pretty big collection

One part of the collection


  • The price point
  • I like (not love) that they come in the packs but don't like the grouping of them (lights, darks, brights etc) 
  • The accreditation is not WICKED expensive in fact... it's FREE!  (my favorite price) 
  • The artist can make textures easier with this marker than any other I think mostly because of one of the things I don't like the ink saturation

  • The size!  These markers are HUGE.  The design is thoughtful, but not practical for holding for a long time. 
    •   A reader pointed out the caps.. yeah they are HARD to get off.  I can get past the size of the markers but several times I have pull so hard that I have pulled the grey piece off and exposed the barrel.  
  • The amount of ink you need to achieve good blending  when I say you need to saturate, I MEAN SATURATE the paper. This can also lead to some unwanted bleeding. 
  • The numbering system.  I don't like it.  Citrus Yellow?  says who?  I get Yellow Green  JG Jade Green?  is that a Blue Green?  I don't like trying to figure out the tones in the ink.  Jade Green to me is a specific color as is Citrus Yellow NOT color groupings.  
  • The blending is not easy.  You must really really work with them for a long time to get the hang of the blending.  I think this would be frustrating to a new alcohol marker enthusiast.  
  • I don't find the colors to be as true as I would like them to be.
What I do find as the biggest plus, is if you master these pens, you will be able to conquer most any other styling.  Mastering them will take a LONG time, you will need to practice. The color choices will be the hardest thing to learn (which colors work well together to get a great blending). 

I love that the company has so many educational videos and help on the website.  It was what kept me buying.  What I have learned too is the price point is low enough that you really just want to dive in and buy sets.  One here and there may leave you frustrated.  

I hope this is not discouraging review, I believe they are good, solid purchase with good quality. I just want to be honest.  They take work to learn, but remember anything worth knowing takes a little work.  I love mine.  I think they are a great addition to my collection.    

As my dear friend pointed out it may be helpful to see them in action, so here is an image I colored with the SN pens.  It took me a lot longer than I would have liked but I really had to saturate the paper to get a good blend. I do like that like ALL alcohol markers I can return to the piece and add more ink and continue to blend.  I did that with this image.  I found it was bleeding a bit so I set it aside let it dry then came back and it seemed to rectify the problem. 

Colored on standard marker paper. 

I guess what I really want to say here... is if you have these markers, don't get discouraged if you are not coloring like a pro in just a few days.  You really do need practice!  STICK with it, and for the price you will be happy that you did!  I believe the Spectrum Noir brand has a lot of offer, not just the markers but their pencils are on my hit list!  I have used them and think they are the best!  Waiting to also get the aqua markers, and will do a review once I have them in my hot little hands!

Come on back for more fun tips and ideas!