Today's markers are available in hundreds of colors and
have varying tip (nib) configurations and widths. Since they are compact and
easy to work with, markers have become a medium of choice for many artists. With
this range of color, ease of application, and compatibility with other mediums,
markers are a good choice for creating landscape illustrations that display
great range and diversity.
Markers can be purchased separately or in sets of various sizes. Tip
configurations vary from micro-point to wide widths that allow for large-area
coverage. Large markers have generous reservoirs so that pigment can be
dispensed in a consistent line.
An interesting technique for landscapes is called glazing. This is achieved by
first laying down a bright base color and then coloring over it with thin layers
of lighter color(s). The blend is attractive, as the colors pull and create
unique shades. Once the glaze colors have been applied, other markers can be
used to detail the drawing.
The final appearance of a marker illustration is affected by paper type. For
texture, a light-colored charcoal or matte-finish paper should be used. Since
the surface of these papers is so uneven, lightly pressed markers tend to skim
along the peaks, creating a grainy look. Colored paper will also affect applied
marker colors to help create works from monochromatic schemes to vibrant
contrasts. Mixing mediums can also be very exciting in marker landscapes;
crayons, spattering, and watercolor are among a few that can be effectively
In a landscape scene, objects lose a degree of red and appear more blue as they
recede. They also lose value and detail as they appear more unfocused. This
phenomenon must be observed when creating landscapes especially for shadows.
Foreground shadows benefit from a Prussian blue marker, since it contains the
darkest-red pigment. As shadows progress to middle ground, try Dutch blue, which
is bluer and lighter. For faraway shadows, Space blue will produce light,
Ambient light in a landscape is an important element that helps set the tone.
Since daylight is ever changing, its quality and direction suggests the time of
day and the atmospheric conditions. For example, sunrise is brief with long,
cool shadows and a sky that typically contains Ultramarine, Sky blue, and pastel
At midday, overhead lighting is stronger with an Ultramarine or Cobalt sky, and
shadows are minimized but darker. Clouds become white with a suggestion of warm
gray shadow. As sunset approaches, pale orange colors bathe the terrain in long,
warm shadows that are tinged with purple. The sky once again darkens with a
deeper blue that is laced with pastel streaks. At dusk, the sky appears quite
bright against the darkened foreground horizon as all colors deepen.
Night scenes can be illustrated in a variety of ways depending upon the amount
of moon, star, or artificial lighting. In all cases, foreground subjects can
still have detail but will appear bluer (Space blue) or greener (dark olive) and
will possess a tighter range of values. The sky at the horizon should be a
lighter Space blue and gradually fade to a darker Indigo or Prussian blue with
stars dotted throughout.
To suggest moonlight, try using a Cream of Maize marker over an area of dark
color. To accentuate foreground objects, try placing a dark sky against a light
subject or the reverse. Artificial light sources--such as an incandescent lamp
or the glow of a distant city--have individual qualities, so each should have
its properties carefully assessed. Unless it is a floodlight, most artificial
light will quickly fade into the night sky.
Illustrating water is more challenging, since it has many properties and is
often kinetic. Key to the effective illustration of water is observing and
understanding how it moves and reflects light. To help create a "wet" look,
apply a marker when it is fully loaded and fresh. To aid the dynamics, use a
low-porous paper that will absorb moisture slowly. Working quickly with broad
strokes, select compatible colors and let them overlap slightly. The colors will
tend to diffuse into each other so try using a cotton swab to feather the edges.
Extreme weather poses unique opportunities and challenges when working with
markers. In most cases, a limited range of colors will suffice to capture most
effects, since stark contrast helps create more powerful images. For example,
instead of hundreds of raindrops, it may help to illustrate a large, dark sky
with only a few drops. This helps suggest the birth of a storm on the verge of
an imminent deluge. Keep in mind that some raindrops will catch and reflect
light while others block it and appear dark. (This holds true for snowflakes as
Snow can be illustrated by using blue and Ice blue markers on white paper, which
serves as a base color. Wispy streaks of snow or flakes themselves can be
introduced with white dots or smeared streaks from a brush. Cool and basic grays
can be used to illustrate dark and angry skies.
Markers are effectively versatile, portable, and fun to use. With all the colors
and tip configurations available, just about any type of landscape (or other
subject matter) can be faithfully or stylistically illustrated. If you haven't
worked with markers yet, try them and see the results for yourself.