Sketching on Canvas With Acrylic Markers

I used an acrylic marker to sketch out this painting of Akron Falls State Park. The marker lines are most visible in the trees.

One overlooked drawing tool for sketching on canvas is acrylic markers. There are a variety of acrylic markers on the market that use the same pigments that you find in regular acrylic paints. Liquitex offers acrylic markers that are just as archival as regular acrylic paint. The paint is water resistant when it dries so you can paint over it without smearing your drawing. They’re available with wide and fine tips.

Liquitex Professional Paint Markers

from: Blick Art Materials

You can paint over acrylic markers with acrylics or oils. Painting oils over acrylics is an acceptable practice. The one thing you don’t want to do is paint acrylics over oils because it will lead to adhesion problems.

You can purchase empty Montana paint markers and fill up with your own colors. I use the High Flow Acrylics from Golden because they have an ink like consistency.

Since you can refill them it should save you money in the long run. The nibs will eventually wear out but you can buy replacements.

Sketching with markers is similar to working with a pencil. Many artists sketch out their compositions with a paint brush. I find that drawing with a brush has a different feel because of the way you hold a brush, the movement comes more from your shoulder than from your hand.

When you draw with a pencil or marker, you can rest your hand on the canvas which gives you more control. The tip of the marker allows for greater precision than a brush. If this is something that appeals to you, then these marker may be worth experimenting with.

A technique that I use sometimes is to draw with two different colors. I’ll begin the drawing with a light color, and then switch to a darker color when I’m am confident with the placement of the shapes. The darker color stands out more so you don’t get confused. This approach works best if you paint opaquely and have no plans of allowing the sketch to show through in the final painting. It saves time because you don’t have to erase the mistakes that you make with the lighter color, you just draw over them with the darker color.

Similar Posts


  1. Martha Dee says:

    Thank thou so much for this post. I am just getting back into painting. Apparently, I seem to have forgotten more than I ever learned! I was looking to learn how to lightly sketch on a gesso’d or matte acrylic background & have the pencil Mark’s NOT show through. I am working on both black & white canvasses & am really loving the black canvasses for now. Again, I am still not sure, but will re-read your post. Many thanks.
    PS: I am a Finger Lakes native 🙂

    1. Chris Breier says:

      Hi Martha, I would try sketching lightly with a pencil that has hard graphite such as a 4H or 6H. The acrylic paint should cover the drawing, especially if you use opaque colors. You can also try drawing with a gray watercolor pencil. Watercolor pencil marks seem to dissolve as you paint over them so they shouldn’t show in the final painting. Plus the gray will show up on both white and black canvases. You’ll have to do some experimenting to see what works best for you. I hope this helps! PS- I love the Finger Lakes region! I try to visit at least once each summer.

  2. Thank you so much for post, This is the first time I read such type of blogs, Its really useful for the users. Keep updated This type of blogs provide information to the users ..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *