Battle of the Markers: Bic Marking vs. Sharpie

The first two sets of markers I bought for adult coloring books were Bic Markings and Sharpies. These two are probably the most popular marker brands among colorists but which one is better? I’ve included my two cents at the end of the article but we’ve also asked the talented Jan Adams to share her views about this battle of the markers. Here’s what she has to say…

In a world filled with different types of coloring mediums, I’m sure most people have a favorite coloring tool. My go-to coloring medium is markers and, within that, Sharpies and Bic Markings are probably my favorites.

There are many similarities between the two brands:
1. Both are alcohol-based markers. They color very smoothly, but will bleed. They are not suitable for use in double-sided coloring books and may require a piece of card stock placed under the coloring page if the paper is thin. Both types work very well on card stock and in books with thicker paper.
2. They are also both relatively inexpensive. I typically purchase my Sharpies at Staples because they normally have sets of 24 for about ten dollars. Wal-Mart is generally a little more expensive except during back-to-school sales. That’s when they have a set of 21 for 10 dollars. The remainder of the year the Sharpies will be around fourteen to seventeen dollars there. Bics are usually cheaper to order from Amazon. A good percentage of the year the 36 packs will be around twelve dollars. I have never seen them higher than twenty-three dollars at Amazon. I have not seen the 36 set in store at Wal-Mart, but it is possible some stores may carry it.
3. Both are also available in both fine and ultra-fine versions. This is very helpful when an image has both large spaces as well as smaller, intricate areas in the same design. It is possible to match the colors with the varying tip sizes.
4. One last commonality is the ability to buy single replacement markers. I personally haven’t bought them this way, but it is nice that this is an option. Individual Sharpies are available at most hobby stores, such as Hobby Lobby, and office supply stores like Staples. Bics can be ordered from the Bic website

Now for the differences:
1. I suspect the most important difference for a number of people would be smell. While Bics have a slight odor, Sharpies have a very strong smell. If you are worried about the odor I would recommend buying a single black Sharpie (sold almost everywhere) and making sure that the odor is not offensive before buying a set. Singles of Bics are not readily available in-store, but Wal-Mart sells a set of twelve for a reasonable price.
2. The only other difference that I see between them is the variety of colors. Bics come in thirty-six colors, although you can buy smaller sets, and include quite a few pastels in that collection. Sharpies generally come in sets of twenty-four or less and do have limited release sets of five colors from time to time. They do not have much in the way of lighter colors.

Coloring book by Maria Castro of

To sum up, I don’t see one set as preferable to another.
If you can afford it, my recommendations would be to buy both brands of markers. If not, I would think the deciding factor might come down to which colors you prefer to use. Either way you will get a great set of markers for the money.

Jan’s correct–the strong odor of Sharpies makes me more partial to Bic Marking. I’m sensitive to odors in general and when I color with Sharpies, I’m not able to do so for  a long time without getting dizzy from the smell. But I also know of some colorists who actually like the smell of Sharpies. So take Jan’s advice and see or rather, smell for yourself. ?

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8 thoughts on “Battle of the Markers: Bic Marking vs. Sharpie”

  1. Thank you Jan for your informative article and your lovely colouring. I have avoided Sharpies because of the strong odour but happily use Bic markers. You are fortunate to be able to buy fine versions of these markers! Living in Australia, only the thicker version is available and difficult to use on smaller areas of pictures.

  2. I have both Bic and Sharpie markers, I agree, the smell of the Sharpie is overwhelming but they also do color well. Additionally, I find the caps on the Bic markers to be easier to ensure they are properly on so the marker does not dry out. I like coloring with both… and for the bleed through, I reuse the same stack of papers that I put under a page to catch the bleed through. These pages will become quite pretty along the way with the mixes of designs colored over them.

  3. I don’t think I ever realized that the color availability in the BIC line was bigger than that of Sharpie. Thank you for making that chart! I think I might have been a Sharpie snob for no particular reason. You have just turned me into a BIC fan! Although, I do like the smell of Sharpie markers.

  4. I like the Sharpies, but haven’t tried the Bic. After reading the list of things that are the same and different and the color charts, I think I’ll give the Bic ones a try. Thx Jan

  5. I am a fan of the Sharpie marker solely for the depth of color you get from them. Bid seems a bit washed out to me.

  6. Thank you for sharing your advise and opinion!! Im partial to ultra fine sharpies my self. But i love all markers

  7. I love love the Bic markers. They do bleed through to me that sucks, so I don’t use them in certain books.
    The color chart was great!

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