So, I reviewed the Spectrum Noir pens from Crafter's Companion here and today I'll be reviewing the new Letraset Flexmarkers.
Just to clarify, this review is my honest personal opinion, I have not been paid or sponsored by anyone, including Letraset.
Letraset launched the Flexmarkers at the beginning of August exclusively with Create & Craft tv and the initial launch was limited to 4 packs of 6 flexmarkers.... Set 1 & 2 includes 12 colours that are brand new to the Letraset family i.e. they are not available in Promarkers or Trias, and Set 3 & 4 include 12 colours that have only previously been available in Trias. So if you already have promarkers that is 24 new colours for you.
The next batch of Flexmarkers will be launched in September and will be available at all good art supplies retailers. These include 4 packs of 12 markers - 27 out of these 48 colours are not available in Promarkers.
The point of me telling you all this is to illustrate that these don't have to be an alternative to Promarkers and other brands, these compliment the Promarker range - adding some much needed paler shades and other colours that are "missing" from the Promarker colour chart.
However if you don't have any alcohol markers, or want to try a new brand then these would be a great place to start - there aren't a huge number in the range to collect - I know a lot of people are put off by the fact that there are 148 Promarkers, over 300 Copics or Trias and over 160 Spectrum Noirs, there are only 72 Flexmarkers - so that would be a great set to start with and if you needed to add colours you can select from both the Promarker and Tria range, in the knowledge that they will work perfectly together.
Here's the Flexmarker Colour Chart - the ones marked with * are NOT available in Promarkers
The main difference between the Promarkers and the Flexmarkers is the nib - both markers have a chisel nib at one end, and instead of having a bullet nib like the Promarkers, the Flexmarkers have a brush nib.
So let's move on to what I think...
First impressions... well the packaging of the sets is very clever, I love these new blister packs which double as portable storage - ideal for on-the-go colouring and crafting.
The barrels of the actual pens have a very striking design, which I personally quite like - it is very distinguishable from the Promarkers and the Trias, the end caps are the same or similar to those on the Trias and like the Trias the colour and HSL value is already enclosed at either end so no need to colour in your own sticky dots like we have to do with Promarkers
The only downsides I can find here are
1. both end caps are identical so you can't tell which end is which, purely by touch and
2. the visual indication on the barrel is a little ambiguous and not immediately obvious.
The Flexmarkers use the same ink that is in the Promarkers and Trias, so the quality is terrific, nice crisp colours. The Flexmarkers seem to be more juicy than the Promarkers, the ink seems to flow from the brush nib far quicker, so you definitely don't want to be heavy handed with them or you'll end up with ink pooling on the surface of your paper/card.
If you are used to Promarkers then the brush nib takes a little getting used to, but with a little practice I'm sure you'll start to love them. Copic users and those of you who have Trias will already be familiar with a brush nib so will be quite comfortable with the Flexmarkers. The brush nib also allows you to create effects that you can't with the Promarkers, just by varying the pressure you use, I also find it easier to fill in an area that's a little too big for the bullet nib of the Promarkers but not big enough or too fiddly to warrant using the chisel nib, you can colour the area quickly and smoothly with the brush nib. This also makes blending that bit easier - because it's always easier to blend when the ink is still wet, before the alcohol has evaporated.
The introduction of a lot of paler colours is a huge bonus for those who already have promarkers - we definitely needed more pastels and the ones in set 1 and set 2 are just ideal. For those who have asked me how to colour white... Light Fawn and Antique White in Set 1 will be particularly useful for colouring wedding dresses, polar bears, white rabbits etc etc
I tend to use strong, bright colours in my crafting, I'm not usually a pastel-ly type person BUT I'm enjoying experimenting with these pastel shades in Set 1 and 2 for more subtle effects.
Conclusion: I love them, they are exactly what I've been waiting for - the colours Letraset have chosen are clever choices for 2 reasons
1. if you only have flexmarkers then you have a self-contained but comprehensive range of 72 blendable colours and shades and
2. the new-to-promarker colours fill many of the gaps in the promarker colour chart
The only negatives I can find are the ambiguous nib indicators on the barrel and some of the end caps are harder to remove than others.