Review: Daiso Illustration Marker

The other day I went to Daiso looking for shikishi board.

Predictably, they didn’t have shikishi in stock, but I saw this instead:

Daiso Illustration Marker next to the Daiso Fluently.

It finally happened! Daiso has an alcohol-ink marker with a brush tip!

The Daiso Fluently marker showed up a few years ago and proved to be a very decent alcohol-ink marker, but it had the standard bullet and chisel tip combo. There was no brush tip version.

The Daiso Illustration marker seems to be the long-awaited follow-up: it looks exactly like the Fluently, but with a white marker body instead of black, and a brush tip instead of a bullet tip. It has the same squareish marker body, so it’s still modeled after the shape of the classic Copic marker, rather than the Copic Sketch or the Copic Ciao.

Daiso Illustration markers. As with many other alcohol-ink markers, the caps don’t post. 😔

The Daiso I was at only had three different sets of two colors, so I’m not sure what the full color range of the series is, but it’s probably around the same as the Fluently (which was 19 colors and a blender).

I picked up two of the three sets, so the colors I have are Blue Lavender, Dusty Purple, Sky Blue, and Mint Blue.

The colors are denoted on the cap ends, but not the marker body. Tip indicators are on the body, but only on one side. The three other sides are blank, and there’s no other way to tell which tip is which without uncapping. (Some markers have a grey band on one side as an extra indicator.) This is all consistent with the Daiso Fluently.

Initial Daiso Illustration marker test on an index card. You can tell how wet the ink is by the gradation in the strokes and the feathering on the more heavy-handed blobs.

First impression: the ink in this marker is very, very wet. It comes down heavy and saturated on the page and spreads easily.

The brush tip is noted to be 1.0mm, but this seems to be the measurement for the point of the brush, which… doesn’t feel like very useful info? It’s not a bullet tip… The brush length is about 10mm long (so 1.0 cm), but the entire brush tip isn’t flexible — only about the last 2.5-3.0mm of the tip is flexible. This is more common in water-based markers than alcohol.

The 7.0mm measurement for the chisel tip is correct if you’re measuring the long diagonal edge of the chisel. This is the same size of chisel that was on the Fluently.

Daiso Illustration marker test on Strathmore 300 series Bristol. Feathering and bleeding is very obvious on the heavy strokes.

The limited flexibility of the brush tip is a side effect of the lower quality of material, which is not very dense. The point of the brush doesn’t hold its shape well and starts to visibly fray pretty quickly. This, along with the extra wet ink, makes it difficult to get small/fine strokes.

Broader strokes also tend to feather and bleed a lot, too. The alcohol smell is very strong when you lay down thick strokes or use the chisel tip.

I think there might be a higher alcohol ratio in the Daiso Illustration’s ink than I’m used to? That might be why it feels so wet, and when you blend it, the “speckling” effect is very prominent as the alcohol evaporates from the paper.

Daiso Illustration marker colors and blending test VS Copic Sketch (BG 05, BG53, B66, BV01). Right color is layered over left color in all tests.

Speckling happens when blending most alcohol inks, but the Daiso Illustration marker has some of the strongest examples of the effect I’ve seen. The ink in the Fluently wasn’t this splotchy. Are they different inks, or have they changed the formula in the years since I tested the Fluently? (I didn’t pick up any new ones.)

Aside from speckling, there are some weird hard edges that happen sometimes; it looks like when pigment gathers at an edge? You can kind of see it in the top left blending test above, with the Dusty Purple blending over the Blue Lavender.

This was more obvious when actually coloring, though the effect is kind of cool when you’re coloring water Pokemon, as below, since it makes the coloring look extra wet and organic?

Drawing of a Vaporeon with Tombow Fudenosuke and Daiso Illustration markers in the Punctuate sketchbook. Look at all that blotchy blending on the end of the tail. :O

When coloring, I usually put down dark colors first and layer lighter colors over it, softening edges and blending colors together. With the Daiso Illustration markers, this led to lots of splotchy patches of shading and areas where it looks like water pooled and then evaporated, leaving lines of pigment. Alcohol-ink markers are dye-based and don’t have pigment, so this was an interesting effect.

Coloring in the lines took extra concentration and didn’t always work out. The marker really wants to spread ink around. Back-of-page bleed is typical for alcohol-based inks, but these markers were extra bleedy and usually bled onto the next page too. Use a buffer sheet!

The ink is less streaky than other alcohol markers, but it’s more splotchy, especially if you go over an area a lot. Any area you touch again with the marker has more alcohol evaporate each time, so it just gets splotchier and splotchier, even if it’s also getting darker.

This can be a neat effect if you’re doing some scale details and dot patterns — you can see it in some of the light same-color splotching on Vaporeon above — but would be really annoying if you were coloring and shading something you want to look smooth.

Darker color layered over lighter color will get you a crisper edge. Going over the same color again makes it more saturated. Please ignore the back-of-page bleed-through from the other side, haha.

Layering dark colors over light instead of vice versa reduces the splotchiness, but only on the first pass. The more times you go over an area (with any color), the splotchier it becomes.

An area will also get more and more saturated if you keep going over it with the same color. This is noticeable if you go over part of an area again, but not all of it. For small areas, you can get the saturation to even out by going over it a few times (though this does make it more prone to feathering out over lines you may be trying to stay inside of), but larger areas can be challenging.

You’d have to color in slower, shorter strokes for the saturation to even out. I did not do that for the edges of the background below:

Drawing of a Dratini with Tombow Fudenosuke and Daiso Illustration markers. Would’ve liked the lines on its belly to be thinner, but the tips weren’t really firm or fine enough for it.

Using the chisel end instead of the brush end doesn’t do much to mitigate the splotching, though it may take a bit for the splotchiness to become obvious because the chisel end tends to be more dry and puts down less ink.

The flat chisel end of the Dusty Purple marker was almost dried out (barely noticeable in the water below) despite its brush end being very, very wet (shadow of Wooper on the rock). This isn’t uncommon in alcohol markers, but I think it was extra noticeable for the Daiso Illustration because the ink was so juicy.

Drawing of some Woopers with Tombow Fudenosuke and Daiso Illustration markers.

Daiso raised the prices of its cheapest items last year from $1.50 to $1.75, so each two-pack of Daiso Illustration markers was $1.75 + tax, but that’s still less than a dollar a marker. You can get that price on some of the Ohuhu marker sets (which I haven’t tried), but those are a much bigger commitment than a two-pack.

Performance-wise, the Daiso Illustration marker is less good than almost all other brush tip alcohol-based markers on the market (except the Blick Illustrator, which sucks), but it’s less than a dollar a marker, which cancels most of all my complaints, tbh.

Daiso Illustration Marker VS a bunch of other alcohol-ink markers on Strathmore Bristol. You can see speckling in the Daiso Illustration marker even in the thicker test strokes at the top. No other marker does this. (I know black isn’t the best example color to demonstrate, but trust me on this.)

The Daiso’s chisel tip is wider than average, which I don’t have any feelings about, but its brush tip is strictly inferior to the average, being both less flexible and less precise. The wetness of the ink limits its precision further and the extra alcoholiness makes its coloring splotchy and kind of unpredictable.

I’m also still not a fan of the squarish marker body. It’s bulky and annoying to hold for long periods of time. A slimmer design would fit in the hand better.

These are non-refillable markers, and while you could probably drip refill inks from another brand onto the tips to refill, I don’t think the brush tip would last long enough for it to be worth it.

Chisel and brush tip comparisons, left to right: Daiso Illustration marker, Copic Sketch, Blick Studio, Blick Illustrator, Sketchmarker Brush, Winsor & Newton Promarker Brush, Tombow ABT Pro.

But still, the Daiso Illustration markers are bright, vibrant, and highly saturated. The benefits of alcohol-based ink are still there. The brush tips aren’t great, but they’re okay.

I wouldn’t use them for anything “serious,” but the markers are still pretty fun.

Lapras drawing with Tombow Fudenosuke and Daiso Illustration markers.

The splotchiness can be leveraged purposefully to cool effect, and the limited availability of colors (luck of the draw depending on your Daiso!) makes for a built-in limited palette exercise!

Only a handful of alcohol marker brands are available open stock, and while Daiso’s two-packs aren’t quite that, they’re still a great way to test out brush tip alcohol markers.

I’m really glad these exist now.

About the author

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