Review: Marvy Le Plume marker

Emerald City Comicon often has art supply distributors and vendors in their Exhibits Hall. Sometimes, these vendors will go through Artist Alley during pre-opening hours, passing out sample supplies and coupons to artists. I always intend to thoroughly test these samples and review them, since it’s rare I get the opportunity to test product I didn’t specifically pick out.

Well, it’s been three years since I’ve been in ECCC’s Artist Alley (and no one thinks to leave art supplies for Homegrown artists), and I’m finally dusting off these Marvy Le Plume alcohol-ink markers for review, lol.

Marvy Le Plume marker writing sample and initial brush test

I have two colors of the regular Le Plume, a dark grey (CG897) and a medium blue (B717). I also have a Le Plume “fine brush” in a light skin tone color (OR825). Marvy now also has a newer line of Le Plume II markers, but these are not those!

The Le Plume is a disposable, alcohol-based ink marker with a single flexible felt brush tip.

The alcohol smell in the ink is obvious, but it’s not the worst (so, not as bad as Sharpie or Prismacolor classic markers). The brush tips are very juicy, so the ink flow is very wet, even after a few years of disuse.

On light cardstock, it bleeds through to the back of the page, but not the page under it unless you’re specifically going over your strokes many times or pressing down hard. On regular printer paper, it leaves faint traces on the next page for light single strokes; if you press down or are heavy-handed though, the juicy ink soaks right through the paper and onto whatever’s under it. On Bristol board, it shows through the back of the page, but does not bleed onto the next surface even if you press hard.

Marvy Le Plume, page reverse bleed on medium weight notebook paper.

The inks are vibrant and single colors come down pretty solidly. Streaking seems pretty minimal if you go over it once or twice.

The brush shape is a little rounded and plump, making it difficult to maneuver mid-stroke, which makes line art and coloring tight spots a bit trickier. The extreme juiciness of the ink also causes it to feather quite a bit, depending on hand pressure and the paper you’re using, which can make coloring within lines difficult.

Drawing sample using only the grey and blue Marvy Le Plume markers
Drawing using only the grey and blue Marvy Le Plume markers.
Marvy Le Plume and Le Plume fine brush tip comparison
Marvy Le Plume VS Le Plume fine brush.

The regular Le Plume markers seem much better suited for covering large flat areas than for coloring small details.

The “fine brush” Le Plume has a brush tip that’s half the width of the regular one while being the same length. It can fill tight spots more easily of course, but while the regular brush tip feels a little too wide for its length, the fine brush feels a bit too long for its width, which also makes it difficult to maneuver, as the brush is too flexible.

I didn’t play with the fine brush as much though. The color I have is hard to photograph and it also seems that the tip has dried out a little over the years of disuse, unlike the regular brushes.

Marvy Le Plume VS Copic Sketch

Unsurprisingly, while testing the Le Plume, I automatically compared it against the Copic Sketch marker in every category, as the latter is what I’ve championed as best in class for alcohol-ink markers for over a decade.

The brush tip for the Marvy Le Plume is a smidgen shorter and a little fatter at the base than the Copic Sketch’s brush tip. I think this is what makes the ink flow a little wetter in the Le Plume while sacrificing a little control and finesse. You can sort of see the finer strokes I made in the lighter grey (Copic) below, compared to the darker grey (Marvy).

Drawing using Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen (black), Marvy Le Plume marker (dark grey), and Copic Sketch marker (light grey).
Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen (lines), Marvy Le Plume marker (dark grey), and Copic Sketch marker (light grey).

The marker body for both the regular and fine brush Le Plume is circular — the regular marker has a little ledge sticking out one side to prevent it from rolling, but the fine brush doesn’t have this. The Copic Sketch is an oval shape, which I think is a bit more comfortable to hold. (The regular/classic Copic marker has a square body, which I also think is inferior to the oval shape.)

Dark grey and blue as my two Le Plume colors makes blending a difficult to test. I didn’t get the impression that the Le Plume blended particularly well between those colors, but Copic Sketch in similar colors (C7 and B06) blends comparably, and I generally think Copic blends great. So it’s probable that Le Plume colors that are closer in value and hue would blend better.

Still, even in this blue-grey test, I think Copic comes out a little ahead. For the tests below, I put down the dark grey first, then used blue on top of it. On both papers, the edge where the grey stops is a little fuzzier with Copic, where it blended into the blue a bit better.

Marvy Le Plume VS Copic Sketch ink blending test.
Marvy Le Plume VS Copic Sketch ink blending test. I used Copic Sketch C7 and B06 for the test.

Other comparisons:

Marvy Le Plume Copic Sketch Winner
Brush tip Shorter, fatter Longer, more flexible Personal preference?
Brush control
Average High Copic
Chisel tip None Has one Copic
Marker body
Circular Oval Personal preference
Ink vibrancy
Great Great N/A
Ink smell Average Average N/A
Ink bleed Average Average N/A
Ink blending Average Good Copic
Color selection 138 358 Copic
Refillable? No Yes Copic
Price** ~$2.17/ea ~$4.33/ea Marvy

** I couldn’t find the Le Plume available as singles anywhere, so price per marker is based off the cost of an average 6-pack for both brands.

More miscellany blending tests
More miscellany blending tests on cardstock.

I know I’m very biased towards Copic though.

I’ve been using Sketch markers since 2006 and have spent hundreds of dollars on them over the last decade. It’s not really in my best interest to find something better (because then I’d have to buy an entire ‘nother marker collection!), so maybe I’m finding reasons to be ho hum about the Le Plume?

It’s also hard to compare an hour or so of playing around with two markers from Marvy with thirteen years of experience and a nearly complete collection of Copic.

Marvy Le Plume VS Copic Sketch brush tip comparison
Marvy Le Plume VS Copic Sketch brush tip comparison.

The Le Plume is an okay marker though.

Colors are rich and vibrant. Blending isn’t too different from Copic, and ink flow is great, even after sitting around unused a few years. I didn’t find anything particularly noteworthy, but I don’t have any major complaints either. The price point is attractive, but it’s also non-refillable.

And personally, that alone makes it a deal-breaker for a long-term marker investment. I make do with some of my favourite brush pens being non-refillable, but those are all black inking pens — having to buy new single markers for a full color collection sounds like a nightmare! (To be fair, hoarding refill inks isn’t that great either, and can be killer on storage space, but at least it’s more cost efficient!)

Drawing sample with Marvy Le Plume over Tombow Fudenosuke and Pentel pocket brush.
Marvy Le Plume over Tombow Fudenosuke and Pentel pocket brush.

About the author

Kiri is a Seattle-based artist, writer, and (brush) pen enthusiast with over 12 years of convention vending experience and a lot of opinions.