Alcohol Markers: Winsor and Newton Brushmarkers Review

Winsor and Newton Brushmarkers come in 72 colors and they have no trouble blending with each other to create a beautiful non-streaky finish. The markers have a brush tip (brush nib) and a chisel tip; each tip highly distinguishable because of the way the cap for the brush tip is shaped.

The ink laydown of the Winsor and Newton Brushmarkers are outstanding. I love the flat, beautiful print-like quality they give even better than Copic markers. Did I just say that? Yes I did. No, I won’t take it back.

The brush tip is soft and glides across even the cheapest paper. I mean, the cheapest paper I’ve used is the 28 lb Georgia Pacific inkjet paper and I can get blends even on that paper.

It’s also impossible to mix up which tip is the chisel and which is the brush. As I mentioned earlier, the brush tip has a sharper almost bullet-shaped cap. The chisel tip has a regular cap with a sticker-indication of which color it is.

The code is on the tip of the cap. The actual color name is indicated on the body of the marker.

What are Alcohol Markers, though?

Alcohol markers are markers containing alcohol-based ink often used to give a print-like quality to your hand-colored creations. They also blend well as long as the colors are similar.

Alcohol markers have the extra benefit of blending without tearing your paper the way some water-based markers do. They also don’t usually ruin the ink when you’ve printed out an image to color with your printer.

All alcohol markers bleed through to the back of most paper. Expect it to happen unless you’re using Rendr paper, which is specially designed to prevent bleed through to the back of the page. It’s also more expensive than some other papers.

I’ve read that very, very thick cardstock (cover stock) also seems able to resist bleed through to the other side of the page.

However, if you’re using Bristol smooth, Neenah Exact index or regular copy paper, don’t be surprised at the markers bleeding through to the back of the page. That is the nature of alcohol markers.

Comparison to Copics

It’s inevitable that all alcohol markers are compared to Copic markers. Copics are the industry standard and are used by professional illustrators all over the world.

Winsor and Newton Brushmarkers are cheaper than Copic Sketch markers. As far I’ve been able to research, they are not refillable and no ink refills seem to be available at the big online art stores I’ve checked.

I also don’t see any nib replacements available. Ink refills and nib replacements only matter if you’ll be doing a significant amount of coloring and plan to keep the same exact set of markers for years.

As for price:

Store Winsor & Newton Copic Ciao $3.49 $3.59 $3.59 $3.59 —– $3.59 $4.49 $3.59 $4.99 $5.99 —– $3.59

(prices as of this writing)

Copics have a superior color naming system, they are refillable, the nibs are replaceable and they come in more than 350 colors.

Some people have had the same set of Copic markers they purchased years ago. They consider the Copics an investment because they can be refilled, the refill ink is readily available and the color system makes it easy to find different shades of colors which work well together (color families).

Initially I thought Copics were the be-all, end-all markers because of the reviews from the pros. I bought about a dozen Copics (mostly Ciaos) at first. But on this journey of testing out different kinds of alcohol-based markers, I got curious about alternatives.

Enter Winsor and Newton Brushmarkers! These were the first Copic alternative markers I tried because they have a brush tip. I’m not going to waste my time on bullet nib markers, so I skipped over the Winsor and Newton Promarker (the bullet tip version of their Brushmarker).

I haven’t worked with alcohol markers for years like so many others, but I’m very quick at picking up on subtleties. I notice the brush tip is much softer than the Copic markers, which may or may not explain why the ink lays down so beautifully.

This, coupled with the slightly wider tip, allows the flexibility of the brush to cover more area with less strokes. As far as I’m concerned, the less strokes the better — even though alcohol markers typically aren’t streaky like water-based markers.

One thing I’ve already experienced is the unusual quality some Copic reviewers complain about where white spots can be seen through the color of the Copic ink. I hope I’m explaining it well. It makes the colored image look like there are very obvious tiny white specs which can be seen through the actual color of whatever marker you’ve used. Maybe that’s a ‘feature’ of the marker instead of a ‘bug’, if you know what I mean?

However, that issue hasn’t happen enough to irritate me or prevent me from wanting to use the Copic markers. I’ve simply noticed this effect sometimes as more layers of ink are added.

I have yet to see this effect — to the same degree as it’s visible with Copics — while using the Winsor and Newton Brushmarkers on any paper. Not even the cheapy paper! The Winsor and Newton ink seems to lay down a lot better.

By the way, the images above were done on Neenah Exact Index paper.  I hear the Neenah Solar White paper is smoother, thicker and is even better for markers than this paper is.

Winsor and Newton Brushmarkers feel more premium in the hand than Copic Ciaos in my opinion. On the flip side, some people can’t stand the ‘sticker’ that wraps around the body of the Winsor and Newton markers. It’s completely up to you which one you’ll like better.


# If you need to save a little money, go with the Winsor and Newton Brushmakers over Copics Sketch.

# If you need a gigantic range of color and the upfront cost of Copics is something you can stomach, get the Copics.

# If you’re a cardmaker or scrapbooking hobbyist, I don’t think you’ll notice a significant enough reason to justify the additional price of Copic Sketch markers. Usually people who require more than 72 colors as a cardmaker are professional illustrators and can probably already afford to invest in Copics.

# With that said, try to get the Winsor and Newton markers on sale. If you find Winsor and Newton BRUSHMARKERS (not Promarkers) on sale for under $3.00/each, grab as many as you can! That’s a good price.

# However, if you’re going to pay $4.99/each for Winsor and Newton Brushmarkers, you may as well get a bunch of Copic Ciaos for $3.59/each. At least the Copic Ciaos are refillable and you can replace the nibs.