How-To: Color Canvas with Prismacolor Premier Brush|Fine Art Markers

Apr 05

How-To: Color Canvas with Prismacolor Premier Brush|Fine Art Markers

April showers…bring May flowers! Learn how to color a canvas tote bag with Prismacolor Premier Brush|Fine Art Markers and watch your art bloom into a fashion accessory.

Find out how!


  • Prismacolor Premier Brush|Fine or Chisel|Fine Art Markers in a variety of colors (like 3 pinks, 3 greens, 3 blue or purple, and a black)
  • These are the colors that I used:
    • Black PB 98
    • Pink PB 8
    • Mulberry PB 53
    • Rhodamine PB 55
    • True Green PB 166
    • Chartreuse PB 27
    • Spring Green PB 25
    • Light Blue PB 47
    • Mediterranean Blue PB 143
    • Cerulean Blue PB126
    • Prismacolor Premier Illustration Brush Tip Markers in black and purple
    • Canvas bag (this How To can be used with canvas shoes or other blank canvas objects)
    • Foam core board, Plexiglas, or matte board cut to fit inside to prevent bleed through
    • Disposable plastic cups
    • Rubber Bands or elastic cord
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Paintbrush


I chose a flower design for my tote bag, so to help create circular flowers, I placed a disposable cup inside of the bag and held it in place with a rubber band or elastic cord.  This helped contain the flow of ink to a more circular pattern.  If you choose a design that is not circular, then you could use another shape to help contain the flow of your ink, or feel free to skip this step.

Helpful Tip:

  • If you choose not to rubberband a guide under the canvas, or once you remove the guide and rubberband, be sure to place foam core or Plexiglas inside of the bag to prevent the colors from bleeding through to the other side of the bag.
  • Corrugated cardboard is not a good choice as the ribs will affect your design, so choose a smooth material.

Color inside the circular area with bold strokes, using several colors of the same family.  It is a good idea to leave some of the area uncolored, as the colors will bleed out to lighter values in those areas.

Helpful Tip:

  • Do not use complimentary colors at this point or your design will become muddy and will not have bright, clean colors.

Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol in an empty cup, and then brush the rubbing alcohol over the colors using a paint brush.  Saturate the canvas with alcohol to create a watercolor wash effect.  Let the canvas set for about 5 minutes, as it takes several minutes for the color to wash out after you wet the canvas.

After about 5 minutes of setting, if you want to deepen your washes of color this is a good time.  It is also a good time to add soft details with similar colors.

Helpful Tips:

  • Do not use the black Art Marker or Illustration Markers until the canvas is dry.
  • You may use a hair dryer to speed up the process if you are ready to add the details.

While waiting for the canvas to dry, I added stems and leaves to the background, but chose not to add any alcohol to them, as I wanted the design to be crisp.

Finally, once the bag was dry, I added more details with the black and purple brush tip Illustration Marker.

Helpful Tip:

  • If you want to ever wash your tote bag, spray it with a final fixative clear coat both inside of the bag and outside.  When the fixative is dry, place a cloth inside and over the outside of the bag and iron with a medium warm iron.



  1. Tanya /

    I wonder if this will also work with my Copics – I have a lot more of those than Prismas. Also, what brand of fixative is best? I might try this at my nursing home, and since they’ll definitely have to be washed eventually, I’d have to be sure they were fully preserved!

    • Diana Garrett /

      Try a small sample first on a small area of your bag- like your name or phone number! Wash it and see if it stays on the canvas. I have only used Prismacolor so I cannot speak for another brand.

  2. Phyllis Wendt /

    Thanks Diana for sharing your wonderful ideas! I loved it. Great project. I love your design.

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