Spectrum Noir Illustrator pens – Review

Today, I popped into my local craft shop – Dandie Crafts (Dandie Crafts Facebook Page)- in their new premises in Caerphilly.

The shop is larger, smells fresh and new, has more space for stock and much more space for classes and demos.  The warm welcome was very much the same.

I had gone there to stock up on paper for my printer; I like their own range of acid-free heavy-weight paper (usually 160g/m²) and found the Spectrum Noir Illustrator  twin-tip alcohol markers in stock.

I bought the six packs of pens, which cost £12.99, so the pens work out a little over £2 each, which is about half the price of a Copic Sketch marker, Promarkers you can get for a little over £1 each at the moment.

Debbie, the lovely lady in charge today, told me they’re supposed to be a new formulation of ink that blends more easily with quality Japanese nibs.  One of the nibs is a bullet nib, the other a brush nib.

On the Illustrator marker packaging it says:

For smooth, natural linework and detailed colouring.  Fully blendable, streak-free coverage.  Perfect for drawing and illustration.

So, I just had to buy and try them out!

I drew the design using the True Black marker and the bullet tip.

The bullet tip isn’t as fine as I thought it would be.  The tip is softer than the bullet tips found on the Promarker pens.  Personally, I’d prefer the bullet nibs to be firmer.

The pen drew nicely with plenty of ink in the new pen (something that hasn’t always happened with my experience of Spectrum Noir pens in the past).  Also, the ink seems jucier in a different way that I can’t describe.  It does seem to be a different formulation.

The black lines are thicker than I’d usually draw, but I’m hoping they’ll give a stained-glass kind of feel to the art.

Once I’d inked out the design on 160gsm smooth white card, I started to colour in the design using just two colour blending.  That was going to be a bit of a challenge as I have eight of the six pen sets which aren’t the full range of colours in the Illustrator pens.

What I did notice is that the colours do blend much more easily than the original Spectrum Noir markers, and also the Promarkers and the Copics!  The ink in the Illustrator pens is definitely different to the others.

Also, where I coloured fairly large areas with one colour, there was no streaking!  Admittedly I didn’t colour a huge area, but so far so good.  The lack of streaks was the case with both the bullet nib and the brush nib.

For the green leaves, I also used a tip-to-tip method to transfer a little of the darker colour on to the lighter colour to help blending with two quite different shades of green. That worked well.

The brush nib is made up of fibres that do spread out – more like the Chameleon pen nibs than Copics.  I don’t now how that will affect their ability to get into small nooks and crannies as they are used over time.

I also noticed that the inks are a lot more vibrant and ‘cleaner’ in colour than the original Spectrum Noir pens, which is a huge plus for them.

The only downside is that as I was colouring, the inks would blend out the black ink, so some of the lines have bled where I don’t want them to bleed.

I do need to test them out with the usual pens I use for drawing and also with the Epson Ultra-brite ink I favour, which hasn’t been affected by alcohol markers previously.

Overall, I’m happy with the pens.  I most probably will get the full set of 96 and will use them along with my other alcohol markers as I’m sure they’ll work well with them.




6 thoughts on “Spectrum Noir Illustrator pens – Review

  1. susiesews4Susan 21 January 2017 / 04:46

    I have the regular SN makers, liked them well enough for what I do. I bought the Illustrator makers at Michaels. Yes, I really like the blending and the brush tip but I am disappointed that so many of them have the same number as my other ones but the colors are distinctly different. Was hoping to use them as I finished up what I owned.


    • Angela Porter 21 January 2017 / 08:08

      I didn’t compare them in terms of color with the original markers – I didn’t think to do so! So, thank you very much for your observations.


  2. Denise hubbard 20 February 2017 / 00:37

    Did I understand correctly that there will be 216 illustrator version ,they have 96 now ,if so do u know when the release is for the others ,thank u


  3. Rochelle Beach 6 March 2017 / 18:37

    Thanks for your review. I have loved the second generation spectrum noir markers and used them for the last two years. I was so eager to purchase this new set as I have been wanting the brush tip. I like the smaller nib alot but the brush tips I am find that they are fraying almost with the first use even with the least bit of pressure from one coloring page………I have tried different paper and no matter what I do I still get the same results a frayed brush tip that also smooshed down and makes the brush tip unuseable……am I doing something wrong?


    • Angela Porter 6 March 2017 / 20:00

      Thanks for your comment. I have found them the same. I rarely use them now,unless I can use the bullet tip. I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong at all. Copics they aint, that’s for sure!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s