10 Best Paint Markers In 2023: A Lowdown On Budget-Friendly Brands

A guitar designed using vibrant paint markers

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Paint markers are the perfect choice for any artist who wants to skip the hassle of handling a brush without sacrificing creativity. Depending on the paint pen you use for your project, you can achieve a watercolor or oil painting look.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best budget-friendly brands on the market. We will also provide a buyer's guide to choosing the right marker for your needs. Whether you are a professional artist or just looking to do some DIY projects around the house, these markers will get the job done.  

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Artistro Paint Pens


Runner-Up: Jr. White Acrylic Paint Pens

Best Budget: Reaeon Acrylic Paint Markers

Best Oil-Based: Sharpie Medium Point Paint Markers

Best Metallic: Misulove Marker Pens

Best Water-Based: Uni-Posca Paint Marker

Best for Detailing: Niutop Water-Based Acrylic Paint Markers

Best for Outdoor Use: Vickay Store Paint Pens

Most Versatile: Nawod Acrylic Paint Markers

Best Industrial-Type: Overseas Oil-Based Paint Markers

1. Best Overall: Artistro Paint Pens

Cellphone case and decorative skull painted with Artistro Paint Pens

Why We Think It's Great

  • QUALITY ACRYLIC INK: Quick-drying, odor-free water-based Italian ink with vibrant colors and consistent flow.
  • EXTRA FINE TIP: Sturdy 0.7mm tips for outlining and detailed work.
  • VERSATILE: Works on rocks, stone, metal, pottery, canvas, plastic, terra cotta, cardstock, polymer clay, treated wood, fabric, etc.
  • OPAQUE FINISH: Acrylic paint pens that you can use for doodle art, journaling, faux calligraphy, card making, designing Easter eggs, and more!
  • NON-TOXIC INK: Conforms to various safety for peace of mind.

What We Don't Like

  • The markers don’t work well on paper.
  • They can be difficult to prime when dry.

What Our Editors Say

“We love Artistro Paint Pens because they offer great value for money. The set of 12 markers comes with extra fine tips, which is always a bonus! They also have a good selection of colors to find the perfect shade for your project. The pens are made with non-toxic water-based ink and are safe for children and adults.”

Country of Origin: USA | Product Options: 12 Extra-fine tips; 16 Brush tips | Safety: ASTM D-4236 and EN-71 Standards | Other: Climate Pledge Friendly

2. Runner-Up: Jr. White Acrylic Paint Pens

Vibrant sneakers and kindness rocks using paint markers

Why We Think It's Great

  • EASY TO PRIME: Three-step priming - shake, pump, and draw.
  • BEST FOR FILLING IN: 2mm nib for filling in large areas. 
  • WORKS ON DIFFERENT SURFACES: Applies on shirts and fabric, wood, glass jars, plastic Easter eggs, Christmas balls, cards, painted rocks, stones, canvas shoes, wood slices, and clay pottery.
  • WASHES OFF FROM CLOTHES: You don't have to worry about stains because these markers wash off easily.
  • WATER-BASED: Safe for kids 3 years old and above when used with adult supervision. 

What We Don't Like

  • Needs a sealer to make it permanent.
  • They don’t work well on non-porous surfaces.

What Our Editors Say

“We highly recommend these paint pens for kids who want to make their Kindness Rocks because they are safe to use.

To prime these markers, shake them up and down for about 15 seconds while holding them slightly angled. Remove the cap, press it on the paper, and wait for the ink to descend to the tip for a few seconds. Test your markers to see a smooth flow when the ink starts to come out.”

Country of Origin: USA | Product Options: Pack of 12, 24, or 36 | Safety: Non-Toxic, No Odors

3. Best Budget: Reaeon Acrylic Paint Markers

Porcelain and slip-on shoe painted with acrylic paint markers

Why We Think It's Great

  • LARGER CAPACITY: Comes in 14 different colors with 20% more ink.
  • APPLIES ON VARIOUS SURFACES: Works on various crafts for all occasions, including card making, canvas, metal, wood, porcelain, terra, fabric, etc.
  • FADE AND WATER-RESISTANT: Stays on outdoor crafts like terra cotta pots or Kindness stones.
  • NO FOUL ODORS: Non-toxic formulation that is safe for kids.

What We Don't Like

  • They need constant shaking and pressing.

What Our Editors Say

“We love how these markers apply on almost any surface. The felt tips are fine, perfect for adding fine details to your drawings and hold up well for a long time.

The best thing about these paint markers is that they work even on canvas, with no messy runs on the surface. The price also offers a good value for your money.” 

Product Options: Set of 18 and 24 | Safety: Non-Toxic

4. Best Oil-Based: Sharpie Medium Point Paint Markers

Decorative pottery and portrait of a man using Sharpie oil-based markers

Why We Think It's Great

  • FAST-DRYING FORMULA: These paint markers dry quickly, so you can move on to your next project without waiting.
  • APPLIES TO MOST SURFACES: Compatible with metal, pottery, wood, rubber, glass, plastic, stone, and paper.
  • STAYS ON FOR A LONG TIME: Fade and water-resistant markers. 
  • INDUSTRIAL QUALITY INK: Applies well, even on greasy surfaces.
  • LESS LEAKAGE: Wrapped individually to prevent messing up the whole package during shipping.

What We Don't Like

  • Some paint markers are not true to color and are less opaque.
  • They are prone to leaking if stored upside down.

What Buyers Say

“The markers aren’t as opaque when layered on top of each other, so you can actually get a wide range of colors when blending. I know this can sound negative for some people, but personally, I love it.”

Country of Origin: USA | Product Options: Pack of 5 and 8 | Safety: AP-certified, ASTM D-4236 Standards | Other: Not Intended for Body Painting

5. Best Metallic: Misulove Marker Pens

Abstract art on black canvas and dot art on rock

Why We Think It's Great

  • DESIGNED FOR EFFICIENCY: Comfortable to hold even after extended use.
  • MULTI-SURFACE: Applies to cardstock, black paper, mugs, rocks, faux calligraphy, and various DIY projects.
  • ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: Quick-drying, water-based inks that are xylene-free and chemically stable.
  • RICH METALLIC COLORS: Vibrant colors for adding sheen to your arts and crafts.
  • SAFE TO USE: Non-toxic inks without irritating smells. 

What We Don't Like

  • They are not the best choice for fabric art.
  • The markers dry out easily.

What Our Editors Say

“We love the metallic colors of these paint pens because they stay vibrant outdoors, making them a great choice for graffiti artists who want bold detailing on their graffiti art.

You can also use these markers to fill large artworks with the 2mm nib. However, the nibs are also not overly large, so you can still use them for details. The fine tips also work well for dot arts.”

Country of Origin: China | Product Options: Set of 10 | Safety: Non-Toxic

6. Best Water-Based: Uni-Posca Paint Marker

Beautiful paint marker arts

Why We Think It's Great

  • DOES NOT BLEED: Keeps your work clean as the markers don't bleed through paper.
  • DRIES TO A MATTE FINISH: Gives your artwork a natural look and feel.
  • APPLIES ON DIFFERENT SURFACES: Use these markers on porous and non-porous media, like paper, terra cotta, ceramic, wood, and glass.
  • WATER-BASED INK: Resistant to fading, waterproof once dry, and has no foul odors. 
  • OPAQUE COLORS: Excellent coverage even with the first application. 

What We Don't Like

  • The ink is sometimes too watery.

What Buyers Say

“They do not smell; they dry very quickly, and as you can see, they are very opaque. It's good to know that I have not wasted my money, so now I'm going to use the paint markers for drawing.”

Country of Origin: Japan | Product Options: Set of 8, 16, and 29 | Safety: Non-Toxic

7. Best for Detailing: Niutop Water-Based Acrylic Paint Markers

Detailed artwork using paint markers

Why We Think It's Great

  • FADE-RESISTANT: The paint stays vibrant for a long time. 
  • EXTRA-FINE TIPS: The 0.7mm extra-fine tips are best for adding details to your art project.
  • SMOOTH INK: Unique valve action pushes the nibs down to keep the ink flowing.
  • NON-TOXIC: Best for artists of all ages.
  • PERMANENT: Once the artwork is cured, it is durable enough to wash.

What We Don't Like

  • The markers are prone to mess and splatters.

What Our Editors Say

“The Niutop Water-Based Acrylic Paint Markers have extra-fine tips that are best for crafters and DIYers, especially if you're working on hand lettering, drawing, designing your journal, or doing adult coloring.”

Product Options: Classic and Pastel Sets | Safety: ASTM D-4236 Certified

8. Best for Outdoor Use: Vickay Store Paint Pens

Paint marker painting on a glass window and unfinished wood

Why We Think It's Great

  • LONG-LASTING: Acid-free, fade-resistant, and permanent German ink.
  • DURABLE NIBS: Japanese-technology nibs that can withstand heavy use.
  • GREAT ON ANY SURFACE: Works on rocks, canvas, wood, paper, metal, glass, ceramic, plastic, rubber tires, and other surfaces.
  • SMOOTH FLOWING INK: A valve action system that prevents clogging and skipping.

What We Don't Like

  • The ink fades when applied to fabric.
  • Its dampness may affect your project’s overall quality.

What Our Editors Say

“We love Vickay Store Paint Pens for their touch-up capabilities, perfect for making posters and wooden signs. When coloring with markers, we suggest you use the right type of paper to prevent bleeding and smearing.”

Product Options: Set of 6 | Safety: Non-Toxic

9. Most Versatile: Nawod Acrylic Paint Markers

A notebook and a psychedelic painting made with paint markers

Why We Think It's Great

  • MULTI-SIZE SET: Includes 20 fine tips (0.7mm) for adding intricate details and 15 medium tips (3mm) for filling large areas.
  • WIDE VARIETY OF COLORS: There are 20 colors to choose from, so you can find the perfect marker for your project.
  • LARGER INK CAPACITY: The medium tip barrels hold 7ml of paint.
  • MULTIPLE USES: Ideal for glass painting projects, wood signs and decors, rock painting, ceramic mugs and plates, phone cases, etc.
  • CHEMICALLY STABLE FORMULA: Environment-friendly and safe for kids to use.

What We Don't Like

  • They are not a good choice for fabric art.

What Our Editors Say

“A good choice for crafters and DIY artists, these markers are perfect for wood art because the nibs are resistant to fraying, especially when working on unfinished wood. 

Though you can use them to paint canvas shoes and totes, they don't work as well on untreated fabric. We recommend applying gesso to lessen the absorbency of the canvas so the paint won't run.”

Country of Origin: China | Product Options: Set of 35 | Safety: ASTM D-4236 and EN-71 Standards

10. Best Industrial-Type: Overseas Oil-Based Paint Markers

Weights and a water bottle labeled using paint markers

Why We Think It's Great

  • ODORLESS: No offensive smell characteristic of traditional oil paints. 
  • WORKS ON MULTIPLE SURFACES: Applies well to plastic, glass, ceramic, metal, stone, wood, rubber, and fabric. 
  • DURABLE NIBS: Long-lasting 2.0 to 2.8mm nibs.
  • HIGH-QUALITY PAINT: Oil-based ink from Mitsubishi, Japan, known for its smooth flow and application.

What We Don't Like

  • They don’t work well on fabric and porous surfaces.

What Our Editors Say

“Everything about this product, from the barrel design to the ink and nibs, screams quality. While it is not perfect, the company compensates for its shortcomings by offering excellent after-sales customer service.”

Country of Origin: China | Product Options: Set of 5, 8, and 12 | Safety: EN-71, ASTM D-4236, and EU RoHS Directive

Final Verdict

Our best overall choice for this review is Artistro Paint Pens because of their high quality and opaque finish that you can apply on various surfaces. These paints are also fast-drying and non-toxic, making them the perfect choice for artists.

Best Paint Markers Buying Guide

When it comes to paint markers, there are a few things you need to consider before making your purchase.

  • Ink Quality

To gauge the quality of the paint markers, factor in the opacity, vividness, consistency, and drying time. When you have checked these characteristics, you're sure to find the best paint marker for your needs.

Choose from oil-based and water-based paint pens. Water-based are odorless and safer than oil-based paint pens. However, oil-based markers are permanent even when washed with soap and water.

  • Nib Sizes and Durability

Fine-tip markers are best suited for smaller surfaces and adding details in calligraphy or lettering. On the other hand, thicker nibs are best for making bolder strokes or shadings.

Consider the nibs' durability, especially if you'll be using them on rough surfaces like wood or rocks. Some nibs may easily fray, so using them only on smooth surfaces is ideal. 

High-quality microfiber tips or Japanese-quality nibs are the best choices for durability.

  • Ease of Use

Paint markers are a great way to add a splash of color to any project. But before you can start drawing, you need to prime the marker. 

Priming is the process of activating the ink. Some markers need a little shake to prime the nibs, while others require pressing the nib down on paper to activate the valve system, allowing the ink to flow.

Ease of cleaning is another factor you should consider when buying paint markers. Water-based paint markers are washable off the skin or fabric, but oil-based paint markers require twice the time.

  • Colors

A basic set of paint markers is enough for crafters and DIYers to mark or color-code their projects. However, professional markers have a more extensive color collection, giving you better shades and hues.

For example, an excellent color range will allow you to use the correct values for drawing a rose or coloring skin tones. Some brands include metallic makers, while others are good enough to use as an alternative to Copic markers.

Paint Pens FAQ

1. How do you get a paint marker to work? 

If it's your first time opening and using a paint marker, shake the marker up and down vigorously. Uncap the marker, then press the tip lightly to the paper until the paint starts flowing.

Repeat the process after storing the paint markers for a time to reprime the marker nibs. Don't forget to recap your paint markers after using them, and don't store them with the tips down to prevent drowning the nibs with ink.

2. What is the difference between markers and paint markers?

Both pens leave a permanent mark on porous surfaces, but when applied on non-porous surfaces, you can remove the mark using a solvent such as acetone.

The ink in paint markers may be oil or water-based, while permanent markers use solvent-based ink. Permanent markers also have a cylindrical tube filled with fiber and saturated with ink. In contrast, paint markers have a valve action system that keeps the ink from the nib clean and charges it through capillary action.

Though you can use permanent markers for coloring, they have a limited palette, unlike paint markers. Another major difference between the two is the price. Permanent markers are cheaper than paint markers.

3. Why are my paint markers so watery?

Water-based paint markers can get watery if you store them incorrectly. Because of the capillary action in paint markers activated by the valve action system, the ink doesn't constantly flow to the nibs, leaving them dry after some time. The water separates from the pigment, thus causing the watery ink to flow faster to the nib, leaving the dense pigment behind and clogging the nibs later.

4. Will paint markers stay on fabric?

Paint markers stay on fabric and other porous surfaces, so they're best for adding artwork to your shirts, sneakers, canvas tote bags, and other textile accessories. However, they don't have the same fade-resistant quality.

Some markers stay on even when machine-washed and dried, while others need to be hand-washed. Be sure to read the product specification before using them. Compared with alcohol and water-based markers, paint markers last better on fabric.

5. Do paint markers dry out?

Paint markers dry out, but you can avoid this by storing them horizontally to keep the ink from drying out and clogging the nib. Pumping the art markers too much also results in clogging the nibs.

Why Trust Glytterati?

Our team of editors is passionate about art and craft projects, so we only recommend products that we genuinely believe in. We provide honest, unbiased reviews of the best art supplies, and we often consult with industry experts to make our content professional and friendly, even for beginners. So if you're looking for new ways to improve your creativity, we can help!

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