50 SHADES OF GREY MARKERS: HOW TO DECIDE WHAT YOU NEED
While 50 shades might seem like an exaggeration, it really isn't that far from the truth. When buying grey alcohol-based markers, you have a choice of over 20 different shades. Winsor & Newton (my favorite!) have 24 shades in their grey range. How many grey markers do you need? How do you decide which alcohol-based markers to buy? What is the difference between cool and warm greys? Can you just buy a set of 6 or 12 alcohol-based grey markers? Read the post to find out!
WHAT ARE GREY MARKERS USED FOR?
It may come as a surprise to you, but grey markers are, in fact, very popular. There are three main uses for them:
Drawing grey details in your urban sketches. If you look around, you'll notice that there are many things you can draw with grey: the pavement, the water, the sky, and some metal details.
Drawing with just the grey range. You can create powerful sketches without using any other colors at all. This is especially great for 'tech' things: cars and motorcycles, robots, and gadgets, but you can also create an all-grey sketch of Northern Europe in winter.
My favorite: use the lightest grey marker instead of a pencil to make the sketch before you color it. This is the technique that I use in my classes and tutorials in alcohol-based markers.
This skillshare class teaches you a quick and easy technique of sketching houses with alcohol-based markers, using the grey marker for the preliminary sketch.
You can also do my beginner-friendly tutorial on How to Draw a Colorful House Front with Markers.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT GREY ALCOHOL-BASED MARKERS
Just like with any other color, there are three color tones within 'grey': warm, neutral, and cool.
Winsor & Newton have made it very confusing for us by not following the traditional naming of colors. When you look at the color codes of the grey alcohol-based markers, you'll notice they start with two letters:
WG stands for warm greys, that's easy.
CG stands for cool greys, but in fact, this is Winsor & Newton's neutral range! Don't let the 'cool' part of the name confuse you.
IG stands for ice grey, which is a cool tone.
Unless you are an experienced artist with a great understanding of colors, stick to this rule: Do not mix different grey tones in one sketch!
When you use the lightest grey instead of pencil, as I do (check out this tutorial to see what I mean: Beginner-friendly tutorial: how to draw a colorful house front with markers), some of its lines will still be visible in the finished sketch. So, it's important to use the right tone so that your sketch looks harmonious.
If the other colors in your sketch are mostly warm, use warm grey, too:
When using predominantly cool colors, stick to cool shade of grey (ice grey in Winsor & Newton's marker collection):
If the color scheme is mostly neutral or there is a mix of different tones, use neutral grey (again, Winsor & Newton call it 'cool grey').
BUYING GREY ALCOHOL-BASED MARKERS IN SETS AND SEPARATELY
Winsor & Newton have sets of 6 and 12 markers:
6 marker set on Amazon
12 marker set on Amazon
These sets include warm and neutral colors. Ice Grey does not come in sets yet.
When buying markers separately, use my color charts to see which tones you like best and what combinations work well together.
When building your grey collection, choose one tone (warm, neutral, cool) and buy markers of this one tone. You do not need to buy all the markers of the same tone; you can start with 1, 3, 5, 7 or 0, 2, 4, 6.
Here are some other resources on alcohol-based markers:
How to use a colorless blender marker: two easy techniques for sketching.
Alcohol-based markers Q&A: everything you need to know.
How to blend alcohol-based markers: step-by-step instructions.
How to sketch expressive fruits and berries with alcohol-based markers (Skillshare class)
Markers 101: learn the basics of using alcohol-based markers (Skillshare class)
Disclaimer: some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission when you buy something (at no additional cost to you). I appreciate every sale because this is a way for me to continue creating free content for you!