Skip to main content

The Epic Marker Review (Part 1: The Metallics)

The Epic Marker Review (Part 1: The Metallics)

Author’s Note: All of these pens have either been purchased by myself, or kindly donated by fellow members. My thanks to Broderick the Porg Lover, ‘Sweet Mike’ Davis, Gijs Wermuth, John Augustine, Kevin Swartz, and Chris Williamson for their contributions of markers and trading cards.

Also, it’s ultimately up to you to test the pens for yourself to see what would work best for you and your item, as not every surface, climate, condition, etc can be reasonably tested for. This was just because I wanted to try out a bunch of pens and find the best one out there, and figured the community would enjoy the information.

I also took the time to review color markers in a later post, which you can find here.



image_blog

What pen should I use on this item? What about on that item? That’s a question that frequently gets asked in the Star Wars Autograph Universe group and other autograph groups routinely, and a lot of times it boils down to personal preference which can vary widely based upon where people live, and how much money they are willing to spend on a single marker.

This review was spurred by the tried and true Silver Sharpie metallic marker, as it’s a fickle mistress when it comes to delivering consistent results, as one moment you have a fantastic silver signature, and the next time, it’s dead and ghosting on you, and that’s the last thing you want you’re paying good money for a signature. We are all familiar with the black and silver Sharpies as the go-to option for disposable pens, but is there a better option out there? The same goes for paint pens, and I wanted to dig deep into this question and see how the markers performed on different types of photo paper and trading cards. 

I also realize that some people are going to be nitpicky about this because I didn’t pick their favorite marker that is relatively unheard of, or there’s some unique use case scenario that I did not test for, but hey - you are more than welcome to do your own test and share your results with the group.

The testing consisted of evaluating 60 different markers and paint pens (markers are pens that require no preparation or shaking, and paint pens are characteristically known by the shaking action to prime the pen) on lustre and metallic photo paper, vintage non-high gloss finish and “modern” glossy trading cards, and book pages for the archival pens. While the list is predominantly focused on silver markers, I did take a look at some of the other more common colors such as blue and black, as well as red, gold, and bronze. While I did not look at colors beyond those, I feel that there is enough information from my evaluation to safely say that it applies to the other markers of the same line. I also tried to find pens that were readily available from local and online sources (I’ll list them later on), but I do realize that some of the brands are regional, which is why you’ll see people from Europe favor brands like Edding or Staedtler over Deco or Sharpie.

The criteria I used when testing out these pens was how quickly they dried after use, the overall appearance of the marker to include the opacity (can you see through the ink to what’s on the photo), price of the markers, and used Sharpies as the de facto baseline for which I compared everything against. You can see the full list below, along with all of the relevant information. 



image_blog

 Clearly there are a lot markers that I took a look at, so I’m not going to go in depth on each one, but I’ll do a quick blurb about each of them, but go in depth on the recommended ones, and identify the ones to avoid. I have also broken up all the reviews into three parts – Part 1: Metallic Markers, Part 2: Colored Markers & Paint Pens, and Part 3: Trading Cards and Books, as I’ve got a plethora of scans for your to see how they actually look when used.  

Markers

Everyone knows about the Silver Sharpie, but what about Michaels' Recollections, or the silver Staedtler or Permapaque markers? I honestly did not realize that there was actually that many challengers out there to the ubiquitous Silver Sharpie, and the surprising thing about all three of those pens - they're either on par or better than the Sharpie. But in the end - all markers should be considered to be disposable.

Sharpie Metallic Marker



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold, Bronze

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

This is the one silver marker that everyone knows well, but everyone also knows that there's drawbacks with using a Silver Sharpie, as they can be temperamental.  The longest running problem that I have had with silver sharpies is their inexplicable ability to dry up at the most inconvenient times, or just show up dead on arrival when I buy a box full of them. One time when I ordered a box, at least half of the pens that came in the box were dead on arrive and didn't write cleanly, so I am a bit leery of using them. The pros of this marker is they're cheap when compared to paint pens and won't explode like a paint pen, and produce a nice result when they're working due the fine tip. Just toss the marker after it's used, as you don't know when it'll turn against you. 

Staedtler Silver Metallic Marker



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

You may have heard of Staedtler before with their blue Lumocolor permanent markers, they're a German company, so this brand is more available and popular over in Europe. This marker is a lot like the Silver Sharpie, but the difference with this marker is the tip, which has a finer point, which is useful for when you want to get a signer to do a quote or are adding a lot of signatures on an item. In my tests, I'd say it is comparable when compared with the Silver Sharpie in both results and price point, but is more reliable. One thing of note, is that it will wipe off of highly smooth surfaces like plaques, statue bases, and glossy trading cards.. 

Sakura Permapaque Marker



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold, Bronze

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

This was one of the metallic markers that was a pleasant surprise, but a reminder that you should always buy fresh markers from a good source, as I had tried these markers out late last year and wrote them off because I had bought a couple off of Amazon and received some duds. It flows well on both the luster and metallic photopaper, and is aided a nice fine point on it that delivers a solid result. I would say that this is a good silver marker alternative to the Metallic Sharpie that is available worldwide at a comparable price point, the one downside that I have noted when compared to the other markers, is that it's lighter than the rest of the markers.

BIC Intensity Marker



image_blog

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

This was one that I've seen before sold under another name for BIC as the 'Mark It', and it is a decent metallic marker that yields solid results. One thing to note is that this has the thickest and most flexible nib of all of the metallic markers that I have tested, so I would not recommend using it for pieces that need quotes, personalization, or character names. Where I would recommend it, is on 11x14 and larger pieces that are going to be signed by one or two people, and if you want the signer to sign big, as that is where this marker shines.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

I only know about this German brand is because of an artist that had lectured a friend helping me out with getting some items signed, that his items were not color fast and archival. It has the finest point of all the pens, so it's great for pieces with lots of signatures, but it doesn't perform as well as the Permapaque. It's also the most expensive of the silver markers that I've purchased, is not readily available across the world, and I honestly cannot justify the price for the performance of the pen when compared to the other ones that I evaluated. 

Michaels Recollections Signature Metallic Marker



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

NOTE: Michaels Arts and Crafts is a US-based chain

When I first heard people talking about this marker as how it's a Silver Sharpie replacement, I was skeptical because it was from the Michaels Arts and Craft store and typically in house brand items do not perform as well as other well established brands, but let me be first to say I was wrong. It is not just a Sharpie replacement - it's a Sharpie killer. Despite what the name implies, the medium nib is the equivalent to the fine tipped Silver Sharpie, but it just flows so much nicer than that marker, and has a darker silver tint than the rest of the markers. I've been playing with it over the past few months, and it continues to write as if I had just purchased it. It also comes in a broad tip, which is comparable to the BIC Intensity. I think I'm going to be ditching all of my silver metallic markers for this one, when I need a disposable pen to use or giveaway. The best thing about these is that Michaels regularly does online sales for items that are regularly priced (such as these markers), so you can easily order a bunch online and either pick them up in store, or have them shipped to you.

Gold notes: This color is equally as amazing as the silver marker, definitely worth picking up if you're a fan of gold.

My Recommendation: Michaels Recollections Signature Metallic Marker

Runners Up: Sakura Permapaque, BIC Intensity Marker

As I stated in the beginning of this review, I have grown tired of the unreliableness of the Silver Sharpie and was looking to find something to replace it, and I did. I was honestly surprised by the results of the Recollections Marker – especially for being a cheap store brand marker. It’s everything that you want the Sharpie to be, at the same price point, and people have been using this pen for several years now without any notable issues. If you are in the US, give one a try – you can easily pick one up with Michaels’ weekly coupons, and if you do like them, you can often buy them in bulk online at a discount and either pick them up for free in store, or have them shipped to you. As for the other pens, they provide a good balance of nibs to choose from, as the Permapaque has a nice and fine one, whereas the BIC offers a broad one that signs nicely.

PAINT PENS

Paint pens are the markers that you have to shake to prime the pen for signing, delivering a nicer and consistent result when compared to metallic marker, but there is a drawback to using paint pens - they have a tendency to 'explode', or leak over an item due to a signer pushing hard on the tip of the pen, causing it to release ink from the internal reservoir. One upside to using paint pens, is that as the name implies - they use paint, and because of that, you have a wider variety of colors to get your items signed in.

For example, there are 30 different colors in the Decocolor line, 22 in the Edding 751 line, and 59 in the Uni Posca line. Some words of advice when using paint pens is to carefully read the instructions for first prepping and using that particular pen, as some can be quirky, and the other is to prep and test the pen just before the item is going to be signed, as you want to ensure the best result possible. Silver is the most popular metallic option, so I went out and bought as many random and different silver paint pens that I could find, and here are my findings. 

Sharpie Metallic Paint Pen



image_blog

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

It should be of no surprise that Sharpie also has entered into the realm of paint pens, but just how do they measure up to other paint pens such as the DecoColor? My biggest takeaway is that just like their metallic marker brethren, the paint pens are temperamental, and require more prepping than the other paint pens. It flowed nicely, but the results are not what you would want for a signature that you pay for, as in my test it seems that the paint seems to separate faster than other paint pens, and can be visible during use. My thoughts on the Sharpie Paint Pen line - avoid them, especially when there are better options out there that aren't as finicky. 

Marvy Decocolor Paint Pen



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold, Copper

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

This is the go-to for most people who want to use a paint pen, I have been using this brand for almost a decade now as it's been extremely dependable (you can also buy replacement nibs to make them last a little longer), and don't have any real issues with it. As mentioned earlier, it is a solid performer that delivers a nice dark, silver metallic signature when used, and is the cheapest in the paint pen class. One other thing to note about the Decocolor line, the paint pens are available in three different thicknesses - extra fine, fine, and broad

Marvy Decocolor Premium Metallic Paint Pen



image_blog

Dry Time: Within 1 minute

Since I had been using their 'basic' paint pen for awhile, I figured I should give their "premium" version a try and based upon my testing, I'm extremely disappointed with it. For an item that's double the price of their basic version, there's nothing premium about it other than a new label and it's a little more 'glittery' than the standard one. Hard pass.

Edding 751 Paint Marker



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

This is a brand that I have heard mention many times by European collectors, but have not seen them myself in any US-based stores, so I was fortunate to get some help with obtaining some of these pens. Without typing up too much of the same stuff, they are just like the Decocolor paint pens, but are more readily available in stores to the European consumer. Solid performer and no issues with the end result. Like the Decocolor series, they're available in different nib sizes and colors, but are only identified as such with different numbers, such as 780 for Extra Fine, 751 for Fine, and 750 for Broad

Uni Posca



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold

Dry Time: Within 1 minute

This pen performs as expected like any other paint pen, but what makes Posca Paint stand out from the rest of the paint pen market is the sheer amount of color options - 59 different ones to choose from, and up to eight different nib options depending on the color, so you can choose something that suits your specific needs. The one thing that is worth noting, is that it took a little longer (less than a minute total) than other paint pens to dry. So be mindful of that if you're using Posca Paint Pens.

Sakura PenTouch



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold, Bronze

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

This is the paint pen version of the Sakura Permapaque marker, and for double the price of that ($1.88 vs $3.11) - it outperforms it in every way as the ink is darker and more opaque. Like the Decocolor and Edding series, it comes in Extra Fine, Fine, and Broad tips. I would say that this is the most surprising performer of the paint pens when

Amsterdam Acrylic Markers



image_blog

Dry Time: Under 2 minutes

I'm not going to waste time talking about this marker - avoid it at all costs, as it's by far the worst one I've tested of all of the markers. When used, it did not yield crisp signatures, rather it was more diffused and bubbly, and was more translucent and glittery than the other paint pens.

Molotow One4All Acrylic



image_blog

Dry Time: Within 1 minute

This performs like the other paint pens, but there's a couple things that set it apart from the others I've tested. The first thing is that it's acrylic, meaning that it doesn't have any fumes, and you can refill these pens and see how much ink is left on the side thanks to a built-in window. Definitely an option to consider if you are sensitive to smells, and is by far the best acrylic paint pen of the four I tested. One thing that the One4All Acrylic line has going for it, is that it has nearly 50 different colors to choose from.

Molotow Liquid Chrome



image_blog

Dry Time: Within 5 minutes

This pen is most likely the result of someone asking themselves "How can I make this the most obnoxious and over the top silver metallic marker?", and the Liquid Chrome marker is the result of that. It's also the most expensive pen that I tested ($8.50 a pen), but is definitely worth that price point if you want something to truly pop on a dark surface, as the finished signature will end up having a mirror-like reflection, something that I think would look amazing on a dark metallic print. Here’s a great example of the end result:



image_blog

That being said, this pen is also the one that took the longest to dry (I stopped tracking it at 5 minutes) AND will immediately stop being shiny if you touch it with your fingers, so please keep that in mind if you use it to get an item signed.

Montana Acrylic Markers



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold, Bronze

Dry Time: Within 1 minute

This is also an acrylic marker like the Molotow One4All, but the one thing that makes it unique from the rest of the metallic markers is that they tend to be more dull metal than metallic in appearance. 

Gold and Bronze notes: Like the silver, these two colors are also dull metal in appearance, which allows it to stand out.

Krink K-42 Paint Pen



image_blog

Dry Time: Within 1 minute

When you aim to try out all of the silver paint pens, you're bound to come across an odd one or two, and this is one of them as it's a solid metal marker with a large tip, and is extremely high priced for what you get ($7.42). The result is less than desirable from any of the paint pens, especially for what you pay for it - another hard pass.

Ironlak Pump Action Paint Marker



image_blog

Dry Time: Within 1 minute

This is another oddball acrylic paint pen, and the only thing that makes it stand out from the rest is that it takes forever to prime between uses. Hard pass.

Prismacolor Premier 



image_blog

Colors also tested: Gold

Dry Time: Within 1 minute

This is the BIC Intensity of the paint pens - comes in either an extra fine tip or a broad tip that doesn't allow for much detail work, but would yield nice and bold signatures on larger pieces.

Liquitex Professional Acrylic  



image_blog

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

The final acrylic paint pen I reviewed, it only comes with a chisel tip that takes a while to prime, and the ink is semi-translucent, leaving you with less than desirable results. Hard Pass.

My recommendations: Decocolor, Pentouch, or Edding

Runner Up: Molotow One4All, Montana

When it comes to metallic paint pens, Decocolor, PenTouch, and Edding are all pretty much on a sure footing with each other, and the edge to which one would ‘win’ in your eyes boils down to either personal preferences, or your geographical location (Edding brand is pretty much exclusively found in Europe).  Examples of personal preferences could be having a paint pen with a thin nib (PenTouch has a 1mm nib without being a metal ultrafine tip) or a little fuller one like Edding (1.5mm) or Decocolor (1.8mm), or a certain color tint.

As for the runners up, it’s purely a coincidence that both happen to be acrylic in nature, but I felt like the end result from them as far as a metallic paint pen goes, left something to be desired. They are a good alternative if you want to find a pen that does not have an odor, and dries somewhat quickly. 

Scans from the Field Test

These are direct scans of the markers on the various photo papers I tested, click on each of the squares to pull up the larger image.

Silver Markers and Paint Pens ON LUSTER PHOTO PAPER:



image_blog

image_blog

image_blog

image_blog

Silver Markers and Paint Pens ON metallic PHOTO PAPER:



image_blog

image_blog

image_blog

Gold Markers and Paint Pens ON LUSTER PHOTO PAPER:



image_blog

image_blog

Gold Markers and Paint Pens ON Metallic PHOTO PAPER:



image_blog

image_blog

Bronze Markers and Paint Pens ON Luster PHOTO PAPER:



image_blog

Bronze Markers and Paint Pens ON Metallic PHOTO PAPER:



image_blog

Continue reading

Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver Signings Postponed

Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver Signings Postponed

Jonathan Majors to Sign for SWAU!

Jonathan Majors to Sign for SWAU!

New Rise of Skywalker Images on Star Wars Authentics

New Rise of Skywalker Images on Star Wars Authentics