So for this month's post I thought I'd review Chameleon markers. These are alcohol-based markers that have a special tip that allows for blending from clear to color and from one shade to another. You simply hold the color top blender to the marker tip for a few seconds and then begin to color. If you want a gradient effect to create more depth in your artwork these markers do create a pretty cool result (see my test page on the right). However, there are a few problems I would point out.
These markers are pretty expensive. I bought mine on clearance and they were still around $15 - and that's just for a small five pack! At regular price, they can be just under $30. Plus, to blend with other colors you need to purchase separate packs of the color top blending chambers. So, unless you really want to use these regularly in your professional work I would recommend trying the same blending technique with cheaper, regular markers. (Just be sure to use the same kind of markers with one another - water-based with water-based, alcohol-based with alcohol-based - or you'll ruin your markers.)
Blending takes some practice. This is actually something that is true of blending with any kind of markers so I can't level all the blame at Chameleon. After transferring color from the color tops to the markers it will take some practice to figure out how to make your shading even, especially if you have to "refill" to keep going. It can be pretty difficult to match up where you left off and have it look seamless. So, before creating anything important I'd say it would be best to practice so you can better control the outcome of your work.
The color combinations the markers come in are kind of limited - unless you spend the money on larger sets. When you buy sets of five you get colors in the same range - warm neutrals, pastels, blue tones, etc. and I understand why, but it would be nice to have sets with more variety. Or, at the very least it would be nice for the color tops to come in wider varieties. That way it would be easier to expand the range of color blends you can put together without having to buy every single set of markers just to cover all the sections of the color wheel.
My last complaint is another common one I have for many other brands of markers - they bleed through paper. You can't use these markers if you want to draw on both sides of your paper unless you use especially thick paper. The color quickly bleeds through to the back so be sure to put a piece of scrap paper underneath when you use them, otherwise you can get marks of color on whatever is beneath your piece. I've noticed that alcohol-based makers do this the most; perhaps it's because paper absorbs the alcohol pigment more than water-based pigments. (I don't know this for sure; it's just a theory.)
So ultimately, while the effects of the Chameleon color blend markers are cool I can't say that I'll be rushing out to buy a full set - at least not unless I see a steep discount at the store! Again, if I used markers more consistently in my work I might consider them a good investment, but if you're someone like me who only dabbles occasionally with markers I'd say try to find less expensive options to play around with before committing the money to purchase these.
product photo from Michaels.com