Tombow: An illustrators secret weapon

Here at Crafty Arts my weapon of choice is often a Tombow. When I teach the children Manga and Illustration I start off with Promarkers and Copic pens but then I slowly wander across to the more fluid art pens. These Tombows I treasure like no other. I have written a few blogs over the years about how they are so great for calligrapghy but I feel that this is just a tiny slice of what they can create.

What you can achieve with them is endless..

Tombox marker illustration
Marie Browning – Jewelled Dragonfly

Not Just a Pen

But fundamentally they are that. You can colour and blend with them. The Selections Marie Browing is an incredible artist whose works of art are so detailed you have to look twice. She has a step by step tutorial on how she draws this piece of jewellery. Click here to read.

Tombow Watercolour Markers
Create beautiful watercolour scenes


These pens have two ends, a felt nib brush end which is wonderful for covering a large area. I often end up just using this side because the fine end on the tip is perfect for detailed work, and a felt tip end. This is supposed to be easier for detailed work but I wish it was finer still. But these are not felt tips and it is a shame to use them just like that. They have so much pigment in them that you can only truly explore with the addition of water.

I am not the biggest fan of the blending pen, perhaps its because I prefer to use my mediums wet. When it comes to it I just don’t see the smoothness with the pens as I do with the water. Practice makes perfect, I may just need to explore with the pen a bit more. If I had the choice I would just prefer a paintbrush dipped in water and run it over my blended area and let the pigment and water do its magic.

Jewel tones are easy to create with Tombow

Skin Tones with Tombow

Where I find that these pens work best due to the watercolours is with skin tones. because the colours are transparent and buildable. I work on a plastic surface ( anything will do, plastic pallets, a sheet of glass as long at the pen won’t absorb into it you can use it as a palette.

I will select the skin tones I like or I need. These can be strong colours I draw them onto my palette and add water. This dilutes the colour and gives me a light skin tone to work with. This means I can layer the skins up light to dark and this also means that with one pen I can get several shades out of it.

These pens really are an illustrator’s secret weapon because you can use them anywhere, highlight a picture with a colour and then activate the watercolour techniques when you get back. They are flexible, and like the paint , they have more depth and tones than pencils and can be used anywhere.

We look forward to seeing what you create.

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