The Beginner's Guide to Coloring with Copic Markers
This guide will give you all the info you need to know about coloring with Copic markers for the first time.
Copic markers are great tools for coloring but they do come with a learning curve. Here are my go-to tips for beginners who want to give Copics a try.
Copic markers are high quality, alcohol-based markers that are particularly loved because of their blending abilities. There are four different Copic marker tip styles: Classic, Ciao, Wide, and Sketch. Here, I’m using the Copic Sketch marker with a brush tip nib. This style of marker is great for loose and organic coloring, where you can fill in solid blocks of color nicely.
What makes Copics unique and awesome is that the inks are refillable and can even be mixed to create different colors. The nibs are also replaceable, which comes in handy if they ever become dull or damaged over time. However, Copic markers are a bit on the pricey side, ranging anywhere from $2-$9 each depending on what type you’re purchasing and where you buy them from.
If you’re a beginner but interested in checking out Copics, we suggest starting with a few single markers, which you can find for sale at most craft or art stores. If you’re ready to invest in a small set, check out this 12-Piece Sketch Basic Set ($62.55).
How to Read Copic Marker Labels
At first glance, the labels for Copic markers can seem a bit confusing but with a little explanation, they’re easy to follow. Each marker is identified by a color code consisting of letters and numbers. The letter indicates the color family—for example, an “R” means it belongs to the red family. Sometimes the color code may use two letters, such as “BG,” which means blue-green family.
Now for the numbers: The first number on the marker indicates color saturation and intensity, or how pure a color is. This number can range from 0-9; zero being a pure, saturated color with no gray in it and nine being a de-saturated color with a lot of gray in it. The second number indicates how light or dark a color is. This number can range from 000-9; 000 being a very light color and 9 being a very dark color.
Choosing the Right Paper for Permanent Markers
First thing’s first: Because Copics are permanent markers, the ink can bleed and feather at the edges. To avoid this issue, we recommend printing your coloring page on a thick, heavy cardstock. I’ll be using a 100lb cover speckletone paper by French Paper Company. (You can get a similar one from Amazon here: True White Speckletone Recycled Cardstock 8.5x11 100lb) Unless you’re using a paper specifically made for alcohol-based markers, the ink will probably bleed through the back. This is totally normal! For good results, you should place a few pieces of scrap paper under the printed design to avoid staining your work surface.
Coloring and Blending with Copics
Today, I’ll be demonstrating a few techniques for basic coloring and blending with Copics using a coloring page from my book, Don’t Worry, Eat Cake. Want to color along with me? Download my “Hard Stuff” design here.
When you first start out using Copics, it can be tricky to get the color to lay down evenly. It’s best not to use zig-zag strokes because this can lead to uneven color distribution. Instead, use small, even circles to fill an area with color. You can also use controlled flick-like strokes—the edges will be a bit darker than the middle but both sides will slowly even out as they’re lightly layered over each other. You want to work quickly while the ink is still damp, if it dries you can sometimes end up with a hard edge of color, causing it to look uneven and making it difficult to blend.
Beyond coloring solid blocks of colors, there are two main ways to blend Copic markers: Using an array of two or more colors or using a colorless blender.
When you want to blend colors, you should pick colors that are in the same color family—those will look the nicest when you blend them together and appear the most seamless. For the second number (the one that indicates how light or dark a color is), you want to stick to numbers that are within two or three numbers of each other for the most seamless blends. Although, you can always experiment outside of that range! Some of my markers, for example, have a difference of five.
Blending With Two Copic Markers
To blend using two (or more) markers, it’s recommend that you use the lightest color first and then gradually add in the darker shades. Start by coloring the entire desired area with the lightest color first. Then, add the darker color gradually by using controlled flick-like strokes, lifting the marker slightly at the end of each stroke. Doing this can help you prevent that hard line of color. Once that’s done, take the lighter color again and go over to blend where the two colors meet. Use the lighter color to pull the darker color to get a nice, seamless gradient.
Blending With A Colorless Blender
The second way to blend Copic markers is with a colorless blender. The colorless blender has the same solution as is in the markers but without color. The main feature of the blender is that it can actually remove ink. This feature helps you blend colors, remove colors, fix mistakes, and can help add really fun textures to your designs.
One technique to try is to start by covering the entire desired area with the colorless blender solution first. Then, take the darker color and color in the areas that you want while the solution is still damp. Once you’ve done that, take the lighter color and blend over the whole area using small even circles.
Another technique you can try is to start with the darkest color first. Color the desired area using the controlled flick-like strokes and then take the colorless blender and go over the color while it’s still damp. Blend over the dark color and you’ll see that it will start lightening up slowly. Then, take the lighter color to go over that area and blend it out.
Other Ways to Use The Copic Colorless Blender
The colorless blender is also a great tool for adding highlights. You can lighten up certain areas of colored artwork to add depth and make things appear more three dimensional. The blender is also great for helping fix mistakes and clean up edges. To clean up edges, simply use small strokes in one direction to push the ink back to where it’s supposed to go.
The blender makes for fun textures and patterns, too. You can try things like stripes or polka dots to add some interest to your coloring page. When you first put the marker down on a color, you won’t see immediate results. But, slowly, you’ll start to see the ink move away from where you touched down with the blender and eventually spread away from the solution to create your pattern.
Copic markers can seem a little intimidating, but now you have basic knowledge so you can experiment and create something fun for yourself!
Have you tried coloring with Copic markers? Tell us what you think in the comments below!