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The Epic Marker Review (Part 2: The Colors)

The Epic Marker Review (Part 2: The Colors)

Author’s Note: All of these pens have either been purchased by myself, or kindly donated by fellow members. My thanks to Broderick Martin, ‘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 metallic markers in a earlier post, which you can find here.

The ubiquitous black Sharpie permanent marker has been a reliable tool in the autograph world for quite some time now, but since the debut of the black Sharpie, there has been the introduction of the blue Sharpie and many other colors, as well as paint pens. As a follow up to my previous article about the metallic paint pens, I'm taking a look at the more standard colors of black and blue, but also red and white as horror movie collectors love to use them on their items. 

The criteria I used when testing out these pens is the same as the last test - 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. 



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Markers

Sharpie Permanent Marker



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Colors Tested: Black and Blue

Dry Time: Less than 30 seconds

The more I look at Sharpie markers, the more I wonder if there's anything that could be done to improve upon the design. Not much to say about black Sharpies aside from the fact that you know what you're getting with them, and they are not completely opaque (meaning that you can still see through the ink).

Staedtler Lumocolor Permanent Marker



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Colors tested: Black and Blue

Dry Time: Less than 30 seconds

For those of you who have been collecting signed Star Wars cards from Topps for some time, know the blue version of this pen well, as that's what they almost exclusively use to have their items signed, and that's because they do the job well. Staedtler is a German manufacturer, so these pens are more readily available across the pond in Europe, but are obtainable in the US and elsewhere in the world.  I evaluated both the black and the blue pens as part of this study, and I feel like the pen itself is on par with Sharpies, but both of these colors outperformed their Sharpie counterparts when compared to how dark and bold in color they are.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen



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Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

As I mentioned in the previous review, I only discovered this brand of pen because an artist who chastised a friend who was helping me get a book signed, because the pen wasn't archival and all that jazz. Anyways, this pen is more like an ultra fine Sharpie as far as the nib goes, and produces a similar result - but is an extremely niche product. Overall, it is an archival friendly India Ink pen, which means that it would be a good pen to use on art prints, but I wouldn’t recommend using it for photographs or posters.

Permapaque



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Colors: Black, Red, Blue, and White

Dry Time: Within 30 seconds

After having been pleased with the results of the metallic counterparts, I decided to expand my testing to include the basic colors as well. Overall, the red, blue, and white markers were a complete disappointment to me, because they were not opaque and they did not come out well on photos or trading cards. The black Permapaque pen however was the complete opposite from the others, as it was a solid performer that is a solid black ink versus sharpies that aren’t always a dark black, and unlike the other black paint pens I have tried - it dries relatively smooth.

My Marker Recommendations

  • Black: Sharpie, Staedtler, or Permapaque

  • Blue: Sharpie or Staedtler

PAINT PENS

Paint pens are more known for their metallic counterparts, but there’s a few brands out there that offer a plethora of different color options out there that could satisfy the most picky collector. For example, there are 30 different colors in the Decocolor line, 22 in the Edding 751 line, and 59 in the Uni Posca line.

Paint pens shine when used on transparent surfaces like figure windows, as the standard Sharpie is semi-translucent, but good paint pens are opaque, meaning that you cannot see through them. But you also must be careful with them - 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.

One thing that I found with a few a few of the color paint pens, is that when you did not shake them long enough, they did not completely mix, so you could see the white base paint along with the color pigment in the signature. So be sure to shake the pen long enough and test it out on a similar surface before putting it to use.

Edding



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Color Tested: Black

Dry Time: Within a minute

Again, 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.

Sharpie Paint Pens



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Colors tested: Red and Blue

Dry Time: Within a minute

Sharpie is a known quantity out there when it comes to their permanent markers, but not so much so with their paint pens. When evaluating the red and the blue paint pens, one thing that I noticed about these two is that even when you think you have shaken up the pen enough, you still occasionally get uneven distribution of pigment when you write with it (this is most evident on the black luster photo paper test). 

Posca



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Colors Tested: Black, Red, and White

Dry Time: Less than 2 minutes

When compared to the other paint pens, the Posca Paint pens are surprisingly unique when compared to any others on the market for two completely different reasons. The first is the non-metallic paint that they use is flat, as in there's no glossy characteristics to them, and that might be what you need on a certain item. The other unique thing about Poscas is that the ink is completely opaque, meaning that you will not be able to see through it to whatever was signed, allowing for the signatures to stand out from the item that was signed. 

Because of the opaqueness of their ink, I think Poscas are the clear winners when it comes to white and red, as with the other markers I tested, their paint was still translucent enough that you could see that was something underneath it. Poscas also have quite the selection of colors to choose from, the most of any of the paint pens out there, and you can see their selection of 59 colors here.

PenTouch



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Colors Tested: Black, Red, Blue, and White

Dry Time: Within a minute

If you are looking for a glossy alternative to Posca or DecoColor Paint Pens, well look no further than these pens. While they do not have quite the variety of colors that the Poscas and Decolors do, the results and the different nib sizes more than make up for it. I especially like these over using black sharpies on practically any item, as it's not semi-translucent like sharpie ink is, and stands out boldly. Where I feel that the DecoColor edges out the DecoColor is their 1mm nib, which is narrower than DecoColor's 1.8mm Fine pen, giving the ability for heavy handed signers to be able to write a little more clearly.

The black one is definitely my favorite out of the group, as it yields a solid, opaque result, whereas I would say that the white one yields a mediocre result when used on a dark background. The red and blue ones really shine when you use them on a lighter background image, versus something that’s completely black. This is because they’re not completely opaque, so the color is muted by having a black background, but pop on lighter surfaces.

DecoColor



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Colors tested: Red and Blue

Dry Time: Within a minute

Decos are best known for their metallics, but they also have quite the extensive color options to choose from, as they’ve got around 30 non-metallic colors to choose from. They’re definitely a known quantity when it comes to performance, but the issue I encountered is the fact that their red and blue markers weren’t quite true to the color, and were off enough that it was noticeable. I’d recommend testing it before having someone use it for signing.

Montana Acrylic Marker



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Color Tested: Kent Blood Red

Dry time: Within two minutes

I’ve never used anything by Montana before this test, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect, as I had also tried other one off brands, but they were more niche and lackluster when they came to pricing and performance. Montana’s Shock Kent Blood Red however, is quite nice. While it’s a pricier paint pen at about $4 each, the end result is well worth it, as it was completely opaque when signed on a black surface, and stayed most true to a red color. Montana offer 36 different colors to choose from, so between Montana and Posca, if you’re looking for a non-metallic color pen, you might want to check them out.

My Paint Pen Recommendations

  • Black: DecoColor, Pentouch, or Edding

  • Blue: Sharpie, DecoColor, or PenTouch (lighter colors)

  • Red: Montana Acrylic and Posca

  • White: Posca

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