Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Distress Markers VS Paper

You may recall this little bit of posting I did earlier this year:
"I no longer like Distress Markers....I will just use up what I've got and not invest in any more."

Umm, yeah...about that...
I think I may have changed my mind.

At the beginning of the year, I was really hating my Distress Markers. They only seemed to work well on watercolor paper with water. I admit that I blamed the markers. In fact, it was User Error and high expectations. It was also my paper.

Let me back up a bit. (beep, beep, beep)
I was making a pocket letter for my niece and decided to color in a stamped image that I was going to fussy cut. So I grabbed a piece of scrap paper that I have in a small pile. I never really know what kind of paper/cardstock I'll grab. I grabbed something marvelous. This amazing scrap of paper allowed my Distress Markers to blend almost seamlessly with each other and with no added water or blender pen. No streaky lines or fast drying. The marker ink seemed to hesitate on the surface just before slowly sinking away. In fact, I smudged it. Honestly, I have only ever smudged a Distress Marker when I've used it on glossy cardstock.

I was amazed and truly excited. Eureka!!! What the heck kind of paper was this? I frantically dove into all my hoarded white cardstock. I pulled out everything I could think of and nothing matched it. OH NO! Was this little scrap of paper the last of some cut up card base? Was this all there was left and I can't figure out what it is? Finally, it came to me. Bristol. I had bought a pad of Bristol paper not long ago to try out with my new Zig markers. (The Zig markers that were going to replace these old Distress ones.) Yup, the papers matched...the amazing paper/cardstock was Bristol.

I had been watching a video by Kristina Werner when she mentioned her great success with Bristol paper and Zig markers. So I bought a pad of it to use with my Zigs. I don't know why I was so surprised that Distress markers worked so well, too. But I honestly think the Distress markers worked better on Bristol paper than my current watercolor paper!

So my next step was to swatch out my Distress and Zig markers on a variety of cardstocks that I have accumulated. I bought several varieties for different purposes and I'm now regretting it. I want only 2 white cardstocks, a watercolor cardstock, black and kraft cardstock, then a few colors for fun. I don't want to have 4 white cardstocks and not remember which one works with what supplies.

So if you're interested in my results, read on. If not (or if this is not news to you, I'm sure this is something that veteran colorists know already!), feel free to skip to the end.

I pulled out 6 different white cardstocks to test with both the Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers and the Distress markers. I wasn't very scientific about it. I wanted to see how colors blended together with just the markers and then with a blender pen. (I'm using a blender pen from Stampin Up.)
I'm using three colors of blues. From Zig: 036 Light Blue, 030 Blue, 038 Peacock blue. These colors aren't great for blending together, so I decided to use 2 sets of blues from the Distress line. One set blends pretty easily and the other...not so much. I used: Tumbled Glass, Broken China, and Mermaid Lagoon for the lighter blue set and Weathered Wood, Faded Jeans, and Chipped Sapphire for the darker set.
 I first tried Laser cardstock. This is from Hammermill and this 100 lb cardstock is designed for laser printing. I work in a copy shop and we use laser printers. This cardstock is scrap that we might otherwise throw out. I figured I'd use it for something. But from these tests, apparently I will be using it for card bases only. Both the Zig and Distress markers sank right into the paper and did not want to come back out to blend. It was practically instantaneous. This makes sense, naturally, as in a print shop you want that ink to dry as it comes right out of the copy machine so it doesn't smudge. But 100 lb scrap cardstock will be great as a base or to use as pages in a small journal. This stuff is super smooth and the Sharpie that I wrote with looked great. For coloring though, this was definitely the worst.

The next sample wasn't much better. It was Cheap Cardstock. I can't tell you a brand, in fact, I'm starting to think it might have been a large index card that I chopped up. Sometimes, I like to just use an index card to stamp something small that I'm going to cut out. It is definitely no heavier than 60 lb paper and it has a bit of tooth to it, not super smooth. The Zig markers liked this stuff better than the above though if overworked, the paper would start to pill. Blender pen pulled it along but still left the original mark. Distress markers showed no improvement over the laser paper.

Here is where the improvements began for both markers. This is white 65 lb cardstock from Recollections. I believe this is the Micheal's store brand of cardstock. It's a big thicker than an index card and much smoother. It's a joy to write and stamp on, too. I give this one a bit better rating because of it's smoothness. The smooth finish of this cardstock allows the ink to settle and spread slightly to provide very even coloring. Blending wasn't any better than the cheap stuff and it still pills very easily.

Next up is the watercolor paper/cardstock. I'm no expert on watercolor paper. I'm not a watercolor artist and I only use it for "washes" generally. But that may be because I hate stamping on it. Any way, these two markers performed better on this cardstock. Both Zig and Distress blended better on this watercolor paper. But I still couldn't get all the marker ink to "dissolve" so I still had dark blobs of color in the middle. My blender pen also pilled the paper pretty easily. This can't be a very good watercolor paper as I know Zig markers will work well on this type of substrate. I even tried just using water to lift the ink and move it around...the results were basically the same.

This one was a surprise to me. I didn't expect this cardstock to perform so well. This is 110 lb white Coredinations cardstock. I bought this to use as card bases. It was heavy and I didn't think it would work well for coloring...see my results with cheap cardstock. But this stuff gave me similar results to the watercolor paper. When I used the blender pen, I had much less pilling as well. This cardstock is also very smooth which is advantageous to a stamper.

The best performer of the bunch was Bristol. This is Strathmore Bristol that comes in the 9 X 12 pad with the yellow cover. It has a nice smooth surface. Both markers performed very well. The ink even stays wet on the surface for a bit before sinking in to the fibers. This allows you a small window to blend. My blender pen also worked very well without pilling the paper as I went over an area. Just be aware that the ink stays a bit wet on the surface so smudging is a possibility if you're not careful. Working in small areas a little at a time seems to be the way to go with this paper.

So overall, here's what I learned:
1. Bristol paper rocks for coloring. Both Zig and Distress markers work great on it.

2. Zig markers outperformed Distress markers on all papers when it came to blending the inks. Even on the crappiest of paper, some ink from a Zig can be pulled out of it's spot. Not so with Distress markers.

3. I have crappy watercolor paper. I'm fairly sure that my watercolor paper is not an artist quality paper. I found it very surprising that I couldn't get better results.

4. I'm astounded that Coredinations cardstock worked equally as well as watercolor paper. And for the Zig markers, it was a definite win.

So what am I going to do with this information?
I'm going to renig on my initial statement at the beginning of the year. I will probably not retire my Distress markers. In fact, I may get more. Even though the Zig markers blended better overall, on the Bristol paper, the differences were non-existant. They performed equally well. So if I invest in Bristol paper for coloring, I can use Distress markers in the way that I like. I LIKE the Distress line palette of colors. The Zig markers are bright and bold or dark and deep. But the Distress line is a line of muted colors...colors with a touch of brown or gray. They are more true to the things I color, like plants and animals, scenes and water. The recent additions of colors to the Distress line fill in gaps and allow for better blending.
Overall, I'm happy to report that I'm sticking with the Distress colors and adding in the Zig for simple coloring and whimsical images. I find myself thinking in Distress colors and that is why I'm so excited that I tried the Bristol paper. This paper has saved my Distress markers from the junk bin!

Thanks for sticking to the end of this long post.
Perhaps this information will save some of your markers, too!
"I dream in color and paint what I see."

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