How to Seal Water Based Markers: Quick & Easy Guide!

how to seal water based markers

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Do you love using water based markers but worry about them running or getting damaged? Water-based markers are a popular choice for artists and crafters alike, thanks to their versatility and ease of use. Over the years there’s one common concern most artists have and that is the potential for the ink to smudge or not be as long-lasting as desired. To address this issue, it’s important to learn how to seal water based markers, ensuring that your artwork maintains its color and integrity for years to come.

In this article, explain:

  • effective methods for sealing water-based marker creations
  • how to preserve their vibrancy and protecting them from wear-and-tear
  • the importance of using a clear acrylic or watercolor sealer to the proper spraying techniques
  • additional tips will help you achieve professional-looking results that withstand the test of time.

Choosing the Right Sealant

When sealing water-based markers, it’s important to select the appropriate sealant to ensure long-lasting and vibrant artwork. There are a few key factors to consider when choosing the right sealant for your project:

  • Compatibility with water-based ink
  • Flexibility and durability
  • Resistance to mold and mildew
  • Adhesion to various surfaces

One popular sealant option for water-based markers is a clear acrylic matte sealer, like those used in Sharpie Paint Pen projects.

These sealers provide a protective layer without impacting the appearance of the artwork. For best results, apply the sealer in light, even coats, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next.

Another approach to sealing water-based ink is with a light spray technique using watercolor friendly spray sealant.

I like to use Krylon watercolor sealant as I figured waterbased markers are basically the same as watercolor paints in that they are pigments suspended in water. The water evaporates and leaves the pigment.

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This method involves applying a gentle mist of sealant from at least 12 inches above the artwork, allowing the sealant to settle on the surface.

Three or more light coats are recommended for maximum protection.

By taking the time to choose the right sealant for your water-based marker artwork, you can ensure a durable and long-lasting finish.

Preparing the Surface

Before applying any water-based markers, it’s essential to properly prepare the surface you’ll be working on. This ensures that the marker ink adheres well and lasts longer.

First, clean the surface to remove any dirt, dust, or grease. You can use a mild cleanser, like dish soap or rubbing alcohol, and a soft cloth or sponge to get the job done. Make sure the surface is completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Next, consider the texture of the surface. Some surfaces may need sanding to provide a rougher texture for better ink adhesion.

To do this, use a 120-grit sandpaper and gently sand the area where you plan to apply the markers. Be sure not to over-sand, as this may damage the surface or make the sanded area too noticeable.

Once the surface is clean and appropriately textured, you can apply a primer if necessary. Primers can provide extra adhesion for the ink and make the colors pop.

Keep in mind that not all surfaces require a primer, but it’s a recommended step for plastic, metal, or other smooth surfaces.

Applying the Sealant

Before you begin, ensure your water-based marker artwork is fully dried to avoid smudging or smearing of colors. Now, let’s discuss the steps to apply a sealant to protect your water-based marker creations.

First, choose a suitable sealant, such as a clear acrylic matte sealer or a spray like Krylon watercolor spray sealer.

These sealants create a protective barrier over the artwork and prevent it from fading or damage.

If you are unsure about which sealant to use, refer to the manufacturer label of the product you purchase.

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When applying a sealant, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results. Typically, the process involves:

Preparing the surface

Clean the surface of the artwork to remove any dust or debris. You can gently use a clean, dry cloth to wipe off any particles.

Applying the sealant

Lay the artwork flat and, if using a spray sealant, hold the can at least 12 inches above the piece, as mentioned in WetCanvas.

Apply an even, light layer by gently misting the sealant over your work. Make sure not to over-apply the sealant as it may puddle or drip.


Allow the sealant layer to dry completely. The drying time is typically specified on the sealant’s label.


For added protection, apply at least two additional thin layers of sealant, allowing ample drying time between each layer.

Remember to work in a well-ventilated area while applying the sealant to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.

Take your time and be patient throughout the process to ensure a successful sealant application that will protect your water-based marker artwork for years to come.

Drying and Curing Time

When working with water based markers, it’s essential to understand the drying and curing process to achieve the best results.

Proper drying and curing will ensure the longevity of your artwork and prevent smudging, fading, or other issues.

Drying time

Water based markers tend to dry quickly, usually between a few seconds to a couple of minutes, depending on factors such as humidity, temperature, and the type of paper or surface you’re using.

To speed up the drying process, you can try using a heat gun or hair dryer, but be cautious not to overheat and damage the surface.

Curing time

Curing, on the other hand, refers to the process of ink becoming permanent once it dries. This process can take several hours or even days before it’s fully cured.

One way to accelerate curing time for water based inks is by applying heat, such as using an oven, for at least 10 minutes at 300°F, as demonstrated in this YouTube video.

Here’s a summary of drying and curing times to keep in mind:

  • Drying Time: A few seconds to a couple of minutes
  • Curing Time: Several hours to days

Remember to always test the ink on a small, inconspicuous area when applying heat for drying or curing to ensure it doesn’t damage your artwork or surface.

And be patient; giving your water-based marker project ample time to dry and cure will lead to better, longer-lasting results.

Tips for Long-Lasting Results

Getting the most out of your water-based markers can be achieved if you follow some essential tips. These tips will prolong the life of your markers and ensure smooth, vibrant lines every time you use them.

1. Store markers horizontally

This keeps the ink evenly distributed and prevents one end from drying out. Storing markers with the caps pointing down can cause the ink to flow toward the tip, making them dry out faster.

2. Put caps back on tightly

Make sure to put the caps back on your markers as soon as you’re done using them. Air exposure can quickly dry out the marker tips.

3. Use the right surface

Water-based markers work best on porous surfaces such as paper, cardboard, and canvas. Using them on non-porous surfaces like plastic or glass won’t allow the ink to set properly and may wear out the tip.

4. Revive dried-out markers

If your marker tip has dried out, you can try dipping it in a mixture of 3 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar for a few minutes. This can help rehydrate the marker and restore its ink flow.

5. Prime your markers before use

If you’re using a new marker or have one with a little trouble starting, tap it up and down a few times to help get the ink flowing. This ensures consistent ink distribution.

how to seal water based markers – Wrap up!

By following these tips, you’ll be able to get the most out of your water-based markers and ensure they last a long time.

Learning how to seal water based markers is not that hard and to achieve the best results just follow a simple yet effective process:

  1. begin by allowing your artwork to fully dry
  2. then choose an appropriate sealant such as a spray fixative or acrylic sealer.
  3. Apply the sealant evenly, following the manufacturer’s instructions
  4. give it ample time to dry.

By taking these steps, you can protect your creations from smudging, fading, or other potential damage, allowing you to enjoy and showcase your work for years to come.

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Joe Colella - Chief Wasted Talent
Joe Colella – Chief Wasted Talent

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