Illustration Teardowns: 5 Amazing Posca Artists

Uni-Posca Paint Markers are known to amazingly adhere to surf and skate boards, rocks, and more, but they also provide a convenient tool for opaque overlay sketching. Here are some great practitioners of this technique…

Rose Aphrodite (final digital render) — illustration by Rob Levin
Rose Aphrodite (my initial Posca sketch) — illustration by Rob Levin

Btw, I’m NOT affiliated!

Here’s my initial sketch in Posca. As you can see, I definitely haven’t yet got the level of comfort with this medium as the artist’s I’ll be previewing in the article do, but, I’m not going to give up! I’ve already switched off the dotted paper (doh!!) But, it’s definitely a fun challenge to illustrate cleanly with these little buggers!

In the spirit of UX Teardowns, I’ll be looking at illustrators that catch my eye, and try to analyze what makes their work so compelling. Please note that all illustrations hereinafter, unless stated otherwise, are the express work of the artist I’m reviewing; I do not take any credit for their works! Also, I will try to be careful to post links back to the artist’s site — so if you click their image it will link through.


Initially, I became interested in Uni-Posca after seeing the amazing sketches that Tom Haugomat did with them (one of the featured artists of course!). I was also intrigued when I read (“somewhere”, as I unfortunately can’t seem to track down a link to the interview) that he discovered his current illustration style by the constraints enforced by some Uni Posca markers he had purchased. I’ve since purchased my own set, with hopes to use in my sketch outings as an exercise in working with such constraints. So far, proving quite challenging though enjoyable, as I’m still tinkering to see what exactly works and what doesn’t. But, this isn’t a tut, so let’s start looking at the hot shots!

Tom Haugomat

This guy’s the real deal, and it amazes most people that see his sketches that they aren’t digital—his line work and overlay is so clean!

Amazing hand sketched Uni-Posca painting which leverages the overlay capabilities of this opaque medium
A glimpse in to Tom’s process—thumbs, single element studies, color tests, roughs, and a large selection of colors, all utilized to come up with his amazing final sketch. In some ways, Poscas are like Pastels in that you’ll find yourself wanting more and more colors as you can’t seem to mix news ones from primaries.
Mark Conlan appears to start with pencil sketches and thumbnails before coloring with Posca’s
Sometimes you have to think in terms of negative space ahead of time, but, other times you can utilize the opaque nature of the medium as Mark has done with the whites in this beauty.
Another glimpse in to the process of Mark Conlan

If you’re wondering, I’ve read in one of his post’s comments thread that he used Canson 220GSM for the Posca sketches. I tried to use one of those dotted Rhodia sketchbooks and “not good”—ensure it’s all white if you want to take advantage of negative space. I guess that’s sort of a duh!

Jonathan Buck

Love the sort of tribal feel on this one
Wonderful use of overlay on this swirly beauty

And here’s a nice use of Posca paint markers for some hand lettering fun:

Taking advantage of the amazingly good adherence of this medium.

Drew Brophy

The original surf board painter, this guy’s work is unreal and there’s too much of it for me to feature here so check out his Instagram for a lot more.

Drew Brophy—surf boards, T-shirts, cloth materials, skin (pre-tattoo), you name it, this guy’s used Posca to adhere some paint to it.

Alice Mollon

It appears she blocked in with the peach, and then overlayed atop—as I learn about this medium it seems patience to wait until the first coats fully dried is key!
Wow, that’s a ton of yellow block in! Note the Posca’s come in pc-8k and pc-17k which are 8 and 15 mm respectively—so if you’ve got the “bucks” get some of these for broad area block ins.

Honorable Mentions

Rob Levin does technical things by day and illustration by night. You can view his work at https://www.instagram.com/roblevinillustration and https://www.behance.net/roblevin

Previous in series: Junghyeon Kwon. Next in the series: Rhythm and Repetition. Also, you may like one of my other illustration teardowns.