Marker Geek Monday: Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

Hey everyone, Elaineabella here with this week’s Marker Geek Monday post! If you’re new to stamping, or thinking of trying out some new things, this post is for you!

Stamping Bella Marker Geek Monday - Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

You would be forgiven for thinking that Marker Geek Monday is all about Copics, since many of the posts are Copic related. Really though, this blog feature is all about colouring in general. Many of the posts happen to be about Copics (or alcohol based markers in general since many of the techniques/tips apply to all of them) because alcohol based markers are my favourite medium, and when I’m busy/having a stressful time posting about Copics is easier for me. If you couldn’t guess, this year has been a bit of a challenge so far!

I absolutely don’t want you to think that to colour Stamping Bella stamps beautifully you have to have Copics, or that we don’t want to see your non-marker creations using the stamps! I also don’t want to give the impression that stamping beginners need to blow the budget on expensive supplies to make beautiful cards.

With that in mind, today I thought we’d talk about some of the colouring mediums available to us and take a peek at some examples featuring Stamping Bella stamps!

Copic Markers:

Might as well get these out of the way!

Stamping Bella Marker Geek Monday - Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

Copic Markers are my “go to” for colouring. Alcohol based markers in general are a comparatively quick medium for colouring with, especially once you are familiar with them. You can get a good overview of the basics by checking out my recent mini-series of posts:

On the downside, they are expensive, so if you’re just getting into stamping and card-making you may want to keep them on your wish list and opt for a cheaper colouring medium to start out with! I didn’t start with Copics or any other alcohol based markers, in fact I started with a brand of watercolour paints I will mention below, and coloured pencils!

Coloured Pencils:

I love coloured pencils, absolutely LOVE them. A quick rummage in my craft room would absolutely confirm that. There are lots on the market, from budget to blow-the-budget.

Stamping Bella Marker Geek Monday - Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

My favourites:

  • Faber-Castell Polychromos
  • Caran d’Ache Luminance
  • Caran d’Ache Pablos
  • Prismacolor Premier

These are all fairly expensive pencils however, and if you have never tried coloured pencils before I would advise either going for a cheaper option to start with, or buying just a few individual pencils/small starter set to see how you get on with them. I’ve done several Marker Geek Monday posts on coloured pencils:

As you can see, readily available budget priced pencils can definitely be used when stamping and making cards. Grab a pack of Crayola pencils and play! If you find that you enjoy working with pencils, the pricier options are great for the birthday/Christmas wishlist (that’s how I acquired my first set of Prismacolors and my set of Polychromos). If a full set is too much of an investment all in one go, pick up a smaller set and add to it with individual open stock pencils over time. I love my Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils, but they are expensive, so I add a sneaky pencil or two to my basket when ordering other things.

I have tried Spectrum Noir pencils, but felt that the price and the fact that they are only available in sets, together with the quality, meant they just didn’t represent great value in my opinion. If the pencils were available individually, I’d say they were a good mid-range option, but the fact that you can’t buy individual pencils to replace your most used colours is a big disappointment. The price of Prismacolor pencils has recently dropped significantly, with some great prices on Amazon, making them cheaper than the full set of Spectrum Noir ColourBlend (at the time of writing this post), and the pencils are also available as open stock so you can replace pencils as you go. Personally, I’d go with Prismacolor.

Note on Prismacolor Pencils: Previously I have noted issues with the Prismacolor Premier coloured pencils. I used to have so much trouble with these pencils, sharpening them was an absolute trial. Last year however, I picked up a new set and was delighted to find that the issues seem to have been fixed. I’d still love to see a higher quality overall like that of the Faber-Castell or Caran d’Ache pencils, but I am pleased to say that I am much happier with my current set of Prismacolors.

Pencil sharpeners: if you’d like to read my thoughts on pencils sharpeners you can check out this post over on my own blog: Stamping Bella Card & My Favourite Pencil Sharpeners. A good quality pencil sharpener is a must, along with a pack of replacement blades!


There is a vast range of choice when it comes to watercolour. I’m not an expert – this is probably my least used colouring medium – waiting for things to dry is not something I’m particularly good at!

Stamping Bella Marker Geek Monday - Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

When I started out with stamping, I used Twinkling H2Os by Luminarte which were relatively new to the market then. They are still available, now under the brand ColourArte. Many of you will be familiar with these iridescent watercolours; they are lovely for watercolouring stamped images and also creating beautiful shimmering backgrounds. They are just one of many available options, but I’m still quite fond of them.

I found myself inspired to get my Twinkling H2Os out today for a little test! Here’s a quick unicorn I coloured:

Stamping Bella Marker Geek Monday - Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

Stamp Set: Stamping Bella Unicorn Sentiment Set (coordinating die set also available).

The above picture doesn’t capture the shimmer on the unicorn at all, here’s another look:

Stamping Bella Marker Geek Monday - Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

As I mentioned, I’ve had most of my collection of Twinkling H2Os for about ten years. If stored properly and allowed to dry fully before putting the lids back on, they last for ages!

I used three colours on this little unicorn: Solar Gold, Playful Peony and Wine & Roses.

As with most things, the best way to try out watercolour is probably to try a cheaper or mid-range option. There are so many on the market now from both established art brands and popular craft brands. Too many, in fact, to name them all. When I feel like experimenting with watercolour, I have a Gansai Tambi set and a Winsor & Newton Cotman set.

NOTE: as with all colouring media, while you can often get great results from cheaper brands or student grade paints, it is worth going for the best paper you can afford. The very cheap watercolour paper pads are likely, in my experience, to disappoint and frustrate. Bear in mind that watercolour paper also comes in different surfaces. I personally prefer a Hot Pressed watercolour paper, which has a smooth surface – this is much easier to stamp on. I tend to use a Fabriano Classico pad, which actually also works nicely with coloured pencil.

One of the wonderful things about watercolour is that you can get a huge amount of mileage out of a limited selection of colours. Taking a little time to learn about mixing colours, and experimenting to see how the amount of water used affects the colour intensity etc, will allow you to achieve a great deal of variety in your colouring without investing a fortune.

If I can make a little time to play in the near future, I will share some adventures with watercolour in Marker Geek Monday posts!

Watercolour Pencils:

I want to love watercolour pencils, I really do. I just never seem to find the time to get to grips with them. I have a beautiful set that was gifted to me a couple of years ago and I really need to give them some attention!

One of the main problems I have had with watercolour pencils in the past is that when using them direct to paper I would get a little carried away, ending up with lines I just couldn’t budge when applying water. A light touch is advisable when using this method, but with some colours it can still prove a bit tricky. One way around this is to pick up the colour from the pencil tip using a wet brush.

Derwent Inktense pencils are a fascinating pencil which sort of fall in this category. I have been using mine in colouring books recently to try and get a better feel for them, and as with most watercolour pencils I have tried I really don’t have much success using them dry on paper, then applying water. I find them much easier to use if I use a water-brush or a wet paint brush and pull colour from the pencil that way. The main thing to note with these pencils is that they are not really watercolour – they are a water soluble ink which when activated with water and left to dry, then becomes permanent. I really like them for adding an initial wash, then working over the top with coloured pencils like Prismacolor. The colour is rich and intense, and a little goes a long way. I have had my set for a number of years.

Water soluble crayons such as NeoColor IIs are also great fun (note the II – there are other NeoColor crayons which are not water-soluble). These are really creamy. As with watercolour pencils I have found the greatest success when using these by pulling colour from the crayon using a wet brush or water-brush. I’ve had my set for a number of years now – you use so little when using this technique. They aren’t cheap – I have the 40 pc set which was around £40 to £50, but since they do last a long time, you definitely get good value! Smaller sets are available if you want to test them out.

Stamping Bella Marker Geek Monday - Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

Gelatos are another water soluble crayon that are fun to play with.

Watercolour Markers:

Stamping Bella Marker Geek Monday - Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

We’ve looked at my favourite watercolour markers – Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens – in a couple of previous Marker Geek Monday posts. Here are the links to those posts:

I’ve also posted about them on my own blog:

I have tried other watercolour markers and didn’t get on with them quite as well. The brush tip on the Zig pens is a real plus in my book, as is the fact that they blend really nicely using just the pens themselves (depending on the paper you use).

Other people do achieve spectacular results with Tombow markers and the Distress Markers, which brings me on to…

Distress Inks:

Before I was snared by the alcohol based marker obsession, another favourite colouring medium of mine was Distress Inks from Ranger. I love these versatile ink pads, they are great for blending on paper and creating backgrounds, but they are also fantastic for water colouring with! Smoosh your ink pads on an acrylic block, grab a brush and start painting. The re-inker bottles for the ink pads are also handy if you have them, just pop a drop or two on a ceramic or plastic palette. This is a great way to get your money’s worth from the product – I love dual-purposing crafty supplies. If you’re just getting started, the Distress Ink pads are a great investment if you want to create your own backgrounds and also have a handy medium for colouring stamped images.

Stamping Bella Marker Geek Monday - Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

You can see many people posting their Distress Ink coloured work online, often with a beautiful, soft, vintage style. The Distress colour palette really lends itself to this, although you can also get some gorgeous, vibrant colour too – definitely more my style!

Here’s another unicorn I coloured today using Distress Inks!

Stamping Bella Marker Geek Monday - Colouring Mediums for Colouring Stamps!

Stamp set: Stamping Bella Set of Unicorns (coordinating die set also available).

I used just four Distress Ink pads – Wilted Violet for the body, Seedless Preserves for the mane and tail, Victorian Velvet for the horn and wings and Hickory Smoke for the ground.

Mix Your Media!

Don’t forget that you do not have to restrict yourself to using one particular medium at a time. Mix things up! Just remember that if using Copic or other alcohol based markers you probably want to use those for your initial layers, then use other media such as coloured pencils over the top, this will give the best results and also avoid clogging up your Copic nibs.

If you do want to play with a variety of colouring media, test things out and plan for what you want to use i.e. if you are planning to use watercolour and alcohol based markers, prioritise your paper choice for the watercolour – you may find it easier to work with your markers on a smooth Hot Pressed watercolour paper than trying to get your watercolours to play nicely on marker paper (just be aware that the watercolour paper will suck more ink from your markers than you may be used to, and you may need to experiment to see how to deal with the feathering that may occur more readily). If you know that you want to do a fair amount of layering and blending with coloured pencils, you will want a paper with some tooth, if you just want to smooth out some sticky marker colouring and add a little extra depth and texture, you can usually do this well enough on your usual marker paper.

How To Decide?

If you are new to stamping and just can’t decide which colouring medium is for you, here are some things to think about:

  • How much time and patience do you have? I personally have a fair amount of patience for working for a long time on colouring, but a low tolerance for having to mess around with various tools, waiting for layers to dry etc. This makes alcohol based markers such as Copic, and coloured pencils both ideal for me. This is also why, while many people use a blending solution when working with coloured pencils (see our amazing Paulabella for this), I simply use the pencils. I will happily sit for an hour carefully layering colour with a pencil, but if I have to keep picking up a blending stump, wetting it with solution and sanding the point…well…my patience quickly starts to run out.
  • What is your budget? If your budget is limited, and you have an interest in water-colouring, the Distress Inks might be an excellent multi-purpose addition to your stash (especially now they are available in the mini size). If you already have them, even better! Other great budget options are student grade watercolour sets, or cheaper coloured pencils like the Crayola pencils (seriously – you might be surprised at the results you can achieve with these). If you have a larger budget, it might still be wise to exercise a little restraint to avoid overwhelming yourself! Remember that many of the people you see online, like myself, have been collecting for a number of years (and yes, we still get overwhelmed by our supplies).
  • What’s your style/taste? Consider whether you prefer softer or bolder colours, tight control over your colour or a loose washy style. I will admit that I am a bit of a control freak, which further explains the challenges I face with water-colouring! If control is important to you, alcohol based markers or coloured pencils might be a better fit than watercolour. I love the results I see many people achieving with watercolour, but when trying to work with it myself I fight it every step of the way!


Over To You!

Let’s talk colour! Chip in with your personal recommendations and thoughts on colouring media in the comments section. What do you use? What are your favourites?

I’d also love to hear which mediums you would most like to see some posts on? Would you like to see my adventures (or more likely misadventures) with watercolour, more coloured pencil, etc? Let me know!

If you are posting your images online, we would love to see them on Instagram and all the platforms mentioned above.  To make it easier for us to find you just use #markergeekmonday and/or #stampingbella as a hashtag. Even better tag me @markergeek and @stampingbella . We love it when you connect, so don’t be shy!

If you’re on Facebook join us in our private chat group Stamping Bella Sistahood to share your creations there and chat all things Stamping Bella related!

Until next time, HAPPY COLOURING!




  1. Hazel parr says:

    I’m also a control freak so use copics and pencils with watercolouring just not my thing unless we’re talking about my ziggies! I’d love to see a few more zig coloured images as I only got mine at Christmas plus I’d love to know what cardstock you like for your zigs as alot that seem to be used are only available in the usa.
    Thanks for this great post
    Hazel xxx

    • Elaineabella says:

      Hi Hazel! A fellow control freak. 😀 I will definitely dust off my Zigs soon. I may have mentioned cardstock in one of the Zig related posts I linked. I like to use either a hot pressed watercolour card like Fabriano Classico 5 or Strathmore Bristol Board – I find the pen to pen blending works really nicely on these.

  2. CraftyNatalie says:

    I use alcohol markers to colour my images as they are the most simple. Like mentioned in your post Copic markers, although used by most people on stamp brand design teams, are so expensive. They do give professional results but I find you can get very similar results with Promarkers, my choice of marker. I sometimes think they can be overlooked when it comes to colouring, but I find these give the best results out of all of the markers I have tried ,minus copics as due to price I have never tried them. I’d like to see these used more in colouring technique articles and pencils as those were what I started with. My personal choice out of all colouring mediums would be markers as they are the easiest to get well layered colours.

    • Elaineabella says:

      Hi Natalie! I’ve done a post on ProMarkers previously –

      Having tried them, I honestly didn’t love them and so don’t use them. I strongly prefer the brush nib on the Copic marker, the ink and the fact that they are refillable (which over time makes them more cost effective). The only alcohol based markers that I have used and love as much as Copics are the ShinHan Touch Twin markers – the only reason I haven’t used those in such a long time is the poor availability of the refills here in the UK.

      I won’t be featuring ProMarkers, for the above reasons, but I will be doing some more with coloured pencils, as time allows!

  3. Sally Suhovy says:

    Thank you for this info,as I’m just starting out and don’t know where to spend my money. Very insightful.

    • Elaineabella says:

      Hi Sally! I really hope it helped. Do get in touch if you’d like to see more about a particular medium.

  4. EnigmaArtist says:

    One of the best written articles I’ve read. Thank you ever so much for helping to put all of this in perspective!

  5. Nancee Purdum says:

    Oh thanks for such a great post on mediums! This is a great review of the different types available! 🙂

  6. Laurie says:

    What a marvelous article on all of the current coloring choices, very, very helpful. Thanks

  7. Jan D., FL says:

    I’m with you 100% on using Copics….always my first choice because I’m not artistically blessed. However, with the Copics, I can blend away anything that doesn’t look just right and after several years of practice, I am getting better. Sometimes, I actually pat myself on the back when finished with an image. LOL My second “go to” medium would be pencils with gamsol. I do love the look of watercolors, but I just cannot get the hang of it….I think I’m a “color inside the lines” type person. My weekly crafting friend loves watercoloring and just purchased the largest set of Zig markers that are really nice. The colors are so vibrant and the brush is perfect, especially for details….if I were going to invest in watercolor markers, I’d definitely buy the Zigs.

    Well, thanks for such an informative post. I’m always interested in the best papers/materials to use….I’m a firm believer that the paper/cardstock one uses can make or break any project. Quality counts for everything.

  8. Karen F says:

    I have Spectrum Noir alcohol markers and pencils; a handful of the Zig watercolor pens and distress mini ink pads. I’m somewhat a beginner as I watch more videos than I create. Your videos are inspiring and educational. Your cards are absolutely amazing!

Leave a Reply

Comments (required)