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.

  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!

  9. Gail Plaskiewicz says:

    My dad passed away last Mon. at 2 am at the age of 93 and I have so many e-mail’s to catch up on. I’m still not dealing with it very well but it’s been a tiny bit better today. I can’t wait until I can feel better.
    Friends of mine from a card making group I belong to have used Copics for a few years and I love the way they made them look. However, they took some kind of classes or something and there aren’t any in my town. I saw some on-line but they were really expensive. I was told they were for people who wanted to teach Copics classes and that’s why they were so expensive. I want to learn to use them so they don’t look like your basic markers.
    I have some Bic markers and some from Stamping’ Up. I like them but I don’t. I like the way they look but not the way they look. One of my Bic markers is florescent yellow on the cap and the pen. When I color with it on white paper it’s a yellowish brown, it’s not florescent or bright at all and I bought it because it would be bright and vibrant. One of my Stamping’ Up pens has a cap and pen package of a bright pink and I didn’t have that color. The color of the pen on white paper is a dusty pink. It’s not the color I wanted. When you buy pens in a package you can’t try them out so you assume the pen cap and package is the color of the pen. I’ve found out a lot that it’s not and that really bugs me. I do like my Crayola Markers because so far each one that I have used has matched the pen cap and pen package.
    As for pencils I love all of mine. I wish I could remember which place I bought a lot of my colored pencils and I bought the expensive ones because like a photography/art store in my town which has been closed for a while, they sold the expensive pencils not in packages but you could buy just one. When that store was open in my town, Caran d’Ache pencils were $1 each. I still have a bunch of these and when you don’t use them everyday, all day, you will have them for a long time. When I bought some of mine 2 years ago I think on that web site, some of them were $1.50 or $2. Considering I bought mine in that store in our town in the 70’s or maybe early 80’s, I’d say I got a pretty good deal on mine 2 years ago. If I can find where I saved that store to my favorite places I will let you know. They even have color by numbers sets which I thought they didn’t sell anymore, and I have pencils from my color by numbers sets from the 60’s! My Caran d’ Ache pencils say Supra Color II Soft. My others are Berol Prismacolor and all are just the 1 pencil that I bought. When I was in a high end toy store I found these pencils that are so fun to color with but they are wide, like for kids. I have child sized hands and even for me they took a little getting used to but I love them. The brand is eeBoo and you can’t buy them one at a time. However, they only come packs of 5 so they aren’t to expensive. I think I paid $5.99 for one pack. They have the most fun colors and they come with their own sharpeners.
    I have some water colored pencils that I bought in a toy store and then I found the ones I got in grade school. I went to a Catholic school in the 60’s and when they gave us things, we got to keep them. They were called Mongol pencils but they have a new name now, I just can’t remember what it is. I can’t really figure out how to use them though and I’m sure they taught us how. They look like regular colored pencils when I use them.
    I have some charcoal pencils a friend gave me and I bless her everyday that she did because I never had white or flesh colored pencils. They are General’s Pastel Chalk Neutral Colors Pencils and I have another box of other colors. They come 8 in a box. I have a big box of Crayola Pencils because I complemented Crayola on their crayons which I also use and they sent me 2 coupons that made the pencils almost free, and they were on sale! I love deals like that. What I don’t like about those pencils is they don’t have the colors on the pencils so I think a lot of them are 2 of the same color or more. Last but not least my sister bought me for my birthday or Christmas a 12 pack of Stabilo CarbOthello chalk pastel pencils. I love them too.
    Twinkling H2O’s? Oh my gosh, they are my favorite water colors ever! I have a ton of them and wish i could have one of every color they make. I got some water colors in a tube in a box from a Christmas Tree shop that I haven’t used yet. Those would be like the professional kind. I have some that I got somewhere that are kind of like the H2O’s because they sparkle but they are in a paint box. I like them but the H2O’s are my faves hands down.
    Maybe you could do something on using watercolors? I don’t watercolor paper, just card stock.
    Sorry this is so long but as you can see, I had a lot to say.

    • Gail Plaskiewicz says:

      I forgot to mention that I sort of got to read all of what you said and I loved it all! I’m saving it so I can read it later and I’m going to keep it anyway. It’s something I need to know & go back to from time to time.

  10. Anne Lewis says:

    Love all the beautiful “bella” stamps. What’s not to love!!

  11. Ayesha says:

    I adore this blog ^_^ infact only one i visit so often hehe . Thank you so much for creating the coloring techniques threads i learn so much 😀
    best regards

Leave a Reply

Comments (required)