Review: Winsor & Newton Watercolor Markers

Winsor & newton Watercolor Markers

I was super excited to try the new Winsor & Newton Watercolor markers ($4.50 per marker, 6-color set for $27 and 12-color set for $51). I have loved the Sai Watercolor Markers so much I basically have two sets: one for work and one for home so I was definitely ready to try a different brand. It was time to get professional!

Physically, these are chunky pens, comparable in size to a Design marker or other larger professional marker. They are smooth cylinders but the bullet cap on one end has a notch to keep the pens from rolling off the table. It’s recommended to keep these markers stored flat to keep the ink inside evenly distributed between the tips so I’d recommend if you are inclined to own a set of six or more, to keep them in a pencil or cigar box to keep them flat and less inclined from rolling away.

The advantage of the Winsor & Newton line of Watercolor markers is:

  • The markers have two tips: a fine bullet tip on one end and a flexible brush tip on the other.
  • Most of the colors are true lightfast watercolors in marker form. I found this chart on the W&N site. Since the marker colors are numbered on the cap to align with the professional watercolors, all of the markers receive either an AA or A rating for lightfastness. By W&N’s ratings that is “permanent or extremely permanent color”. I enjoy using the Sai watercolor brushes for sketchbooks but I do not know the lightfastness and therefore do not use them in artwork or pieces that might be exposed to light nor would I recommend them to other people for work that might be displayed.
  • The W&N watercolor marker colors are super pigmented which means they can be blended and toned with water or blended with each other to give a wider range of color options.
  • The pigment colors in the markers are the same as those used in W&N watercolors so the markers can be mixed with the paints and vice versa. The colors will blend, mix and combine seamlessly.

Winsor & newton Watercolor Markers

The brush tip end is definitely my favorite. It is great for brush lettering styles and painting. Its a great way to get some quick marks on paper for making art on the go. You can even touch the tip of a waterbrush to the tip of the marker to lift color from the marker and transfer it to the waterbrush for softer color and a more washy, color effect.

Winsor & newton Watercolor Markers drawing test

I tested the Winsor & Newton Watercolor markers on Strathmore 500 mixed media sketchbook paper . The first swatch on the left is straight from the marker brush tip, the next swatch is one stroke with the brush tip. I let is dry for a minute or so and then I went back with a paintbrush loaded with water to see how much I could move the paint around. As you can see, some colors moved more than others. The hearts were done by touching a waterbrush to the marker tip and transferring the color to the waterbrush for a lighter color. The final dot was done by dabbing one dot of color from the marker onto a wet water circle for a wet-on-wet effect.

I found out, after I did my samples, that the markers can be rubbed into a non-porous dish like a white plastic, ceramic plate or mixing tray and then mixed or thinned with water to create additional colors and values. I’ve been playing around with this to get a wider, more complex range of hues and make the markers a fun way to play.

Even though the photo above shows a palette of pan watercolors, all the color was actually done with W&N watercolor brush markers, I just forgot when I took the photo. Oops!

The W&N watercolor brush markers are an interesting addition to any art kit. I wouldn’t say that they would ever replace  or usurp my pan sets but I like carrying one or two colors with me for line work or quick sketching. They are definitely good for travel and portability.

The GIVEAWAY: I’m going to give one lucky reader a set of 6 colors of the Winsor & Newton Watercolor Markers in a metal storage box thanks to the generosity of JetPens. The colors included in the tin are: Alizarin Crimson Hue, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Ivory Black, Prussian Blue Hue, Sap Green, and Yellow Ochre. (Note: In some cases, the colors included may vary from those listed.)

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite watercolor paper or brushes to use If you’re new to watercolor, tell me your dream set-up. One entry per person.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Wednesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your real email address in the comment form (not in the comment!) so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US readers only this time.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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  1. I haven’t used watercolor since middle school, so this is a new adventure. I use Bristol board for drawing though, and I think these would work well.

  2. I suggest Stamford Notebook Co sketchbook paper. They also make a Traveler’s Notebook similar to the Midori. It is a little bit wider, be advised. I do not think the Traveler’s Notebook size would fit a Midori. They do make sketchbooks that are simiar to the Moleskine, as well. As a smaller stationer, I would believe it safe to assume that the notebooks use the same paper.

  3. i have basically ZERO experience with watercolors, but these markers seem like a fun place to start!

  4. I’m new to watercolor and I want to start with markers because I want it for portable art…a small tin, some markers and a brush, a small squeeze bottle of water, and a small watercolor book–that’s my dream starter set up!

  5. My only experience with watercolors was in a college class when we used cheap ones from Michael’s. These markers look pretty neat, and much cleaner.

  6. I’ve been wanting to get into watercolors. These markers will get me off to a great start.

  7. I love cold press watercolor paper, usually strathmore or canson, sometimes Fabriano. I’ve a collection of Daniel smith watercolor triads, but have to say Winsor newton is my top brand for paint and brushes. My series 7s are well used. I’d love to try these pens; they are new to me and quite intriguing.

  8. I’m looking for the chance to dive into watercolors (pun intended) and would love to start with the brush pens.

  9. I am new to watercolors, and I think my dream starter set would include watercolor markers for easy portability, a nice strathmore watercolor pad, and some sort of small tin of watercolors with a brush or two to start.

  10. I’d like to at some point be able to say I’m very experienced with watercolors, but not yet. I’ve been wanting to put together a travel set to watercolor on the go in my Fabriano journal, but I think this set would be a very convenient way to do just that and I would love to experiment with it!

  11. I prefer Windsor and Newton paper. The weight would depend on the job but mostly I use 300gm as it stands up well to the water without wrinkling.

  12. I have been testing out watercolors to add life to my sketches. These giveaway set would be best.

  13. I currently have no watercolor pens, but I know a certain someone who would set me up with the best recommendations if I asked. 🙂

  14. my favorite brush is cheap joe’s squirrwl in a size 10. love getting big fat wet color. i liketo paint on hot press so color really floats and can be manipulated. i do not have a set of markers and would love to try them. thanks

  15. I have a Koi watercolour set and it’s water brush as a starter set. I am completely new to watercolours and am amazed and the colour variation you can get.

  16. I like the Sakura Koi watercolour set and its water brush! I read so many reviews and this is the one I chose and i’m very happy with it!

  17. I have a rather old Cotman travel kit and swear by my tiny spotter brushes for the time being. They can give such variety in their strokes and I find them easier to control than round brushes.

  18. I’ve been having a great time with Canson XL 140 lb. watercolor paper. It’s not considered artist grade, but it’s a great tradeoff between cost and performance.


  19. Just starting out in watercolors and brush lettering so I do not have any yet. These would be a great way to start!!

  20. I like Strathmore cold press paper. Most of my watercolor experience comes from a class I was a TA for; there were some brushes that were nice and some that were very beat up, but I didn’t think to check what kind they were.

  21. I took my first watercolor class last fall and fell in love with it. I’m terrible (haha) but had so much fun anyway. Since I don’t really have a good place to practice with paints at home, these markers would be awesome to have.

  22. I’m super new to watercolor. I just bought a Cotman set and Strathmore watercolor postcards…so I guess that’s my favorite paper? Haha. Although in all honesty, I really think I prefer something a bit smoother. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

  23. I’ve never tried watercolors (except for a cheap kids’ set when I was…a kid), but between your blog and The Postman’s Knock, I’m inspired to give them a try! I have no idea what my dream set up would be, but since I tend to find time for creative pursuits when I’m on vacation, the portability of these markers (as others have pointed out) is a big plus. Thanks for the giveaway!

  24. I am currently using a 16 color prang set of watercolors and canson paper, but I love trying all sorts of new art stuff. In the future, I would really like to get some tube watercolors and some better brushes

  25. I know I brand myself as a fat-fingered vulgarian by saying this, but my favorite brushes are the 99¢ pack of brushes from the Ikea kids’ section. They’re nothing to look at, and they don’t claim to be of high quality, but everything I’ve made with them has turned out great. The proof is in the putting (of paint on page).

  26. Fabriano paper and Pentel Aqua brush! Thanks for the chance at the markers!!!

  27. I’ve not had much success using the brush-and-pan watercolor setup, but I do well with pens and pencils. I would really like to try the watercolor pens. Because I have not been displeased with the Canson paper I haven’t tried much else for artwork.

  28. I’m not enough of an artist to say I have a favorite paper, but the Fabriano Studio watercolor paper is reasonably priced and readily available.

  29. My experience is pretty much limited to the Sakura Koi travel kit that I have, so these markers would make an excellent addition as I continue to explore the world of watercolor. Thanks for the chance to win!

  30. Just beginning so thus far I’ve started to try water rushes. Haven’t done enough to have a favorite paper yet.

  31. I’m a stamper, so I use Stampin’ Up’s watercolor paper. Would love to try a different brand’s markers:-)

  32. I’m new to watercolor! I inherited an old set of pan watercolors and brushes that are over 20 years old, and I’ve been using them with some Strathmore 140 lb. cold-press watercolor. I’d love to try out these watercolor markers!

  33. Recently I have revived my interest in paper, pens, watercolors, and all that fun stuff, so I don’t have a favorite right now….but I’m betting these could easily become a top contender!

  34. I’m really excited about these markers! It’ll be a while before I can try them out in person, so thanks for the giveaway opportunity! I usually use my Koi watercolor set with a waterbrush on my Hobonichi Techo.

  35. Paper – I tend to go with Strathmore because I’m cheap and so are they (relatively speaking, this is art paper we’re talking about).

    Brush – I am kind of addicted to the water brush now. It’s so convenient! I have two (a Pentel Aquash and a Koi) but mostly use the one that came with my Sakura Koi kit.

  36. New to the watercolor medium (I dabble with Copic markers) but perfect timing for this giveaway since I’ve already started stocking up on a few other supplies to start! I did my research on waterproof fountain pen inks and have already stocked up on a bottle of Platinum Carbon Black as reviews have shown it to be fantastically waterproof. I look forward to researching more on paper for watercolors, but I do have pads of Rhodia and Tomoe River already. I had no idea watercolor markers existed, so this would be an amazing set to try out. All the fun of watercolor with none of the mess. Also, less prone to accidental spills for those with a curious kitten in the house!

  37. What a cool give-away!
    My favorite watercolor paper is Lanaquerelle #140 cold press – bright white and just the right amount of sizing for good control of washes and easy lifting off.

  38. I’ve not tried to play with watercolors just yet, so I have no recommendations! I would likely use them in my Hobonichi Techo, however, as these would definitely fit well in my “play and draw and sticker” kind of journaling I do there. 🙂

  39. I’m currently using Midori paper with my watercolors, and I’m rather smitten with it! It’s thin and light, but doesn’t bleed

  40. I’m new to the water color scene but I’ve been using a set of Derwent water color pencils and a basic Artist’s loft water color pad.

  41. So recently I started trying to play with watercolors again (Aack! What an annoying sentence). I haven’t settled on any particular paper, but have been playing with both my Cotman pan watercolor travel kit and various types of watercolor pencils on a Canson mixed media pad, some Strathmore watercolor paper (nothing too fancy), and a really old mixed media pad from my stash whose brand escapes me now. I’ve also been trying my watercolors on the Tomoe River paper in my Hobonichi Techo, but I haven’t quite figured that out yet so it’s a bit of a fail. As for brushes, I must say I like using the Niji water brush I have. It works especially well with my watercolor pencils, and cleanup is so easy.

    I haven’t used watercolor pens yet; thanks for posting about your experience. Cool giveaway!

  42. I took some watercolor classes a few years ago and then did well with pastels but I have wanted to get back into watercolor again. I seem to have a bad case of winter blues and Artist’s Block (similar to Writer’s block!). I am hoping the markers will snap me out of it and I can begin to explore a new kind of technique using the markers. I don’t have any particular favorite paper…can make any of them work for me.

  43. I am new to watercolor but I just got a small midori notebook to take with me on the go and these would be perfect for spontaneous art-making!

  44. My favorite watercolor tools right now are actually the Sai markers! They’re easy to play with, and I find myself using them more nowadays than any other paints, pencils, pens, etc. I’d love to expand my watercolor pen set! <3

  45. I’m new to watercolor, but I’ve been eyeing the Sakura Koi set and different types of hot pressed paper. The markers look awesome!

  46. I am slowly trying to get into watercolour, but the traditional style of water colour palettes is a bit daunting. I would love to have a go with these markers, especially as they have such lovely colours.

  47. So generous of you! I am using DaVince and Winsor & Newton professional pan watercolors. I really love the synthetic 7020 Lowel Cornell watercolor brushes. They really hold a point and lots of water. I would love to try the samples of the W&N watercolors markers. Beautiful colors. Thank you for the review.

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