Copic Markers for beginners | Part 1

Hoi! I wanted to make this post for a long time since I have used Copic Markers in my illustrations for some time now. I know that some of you want to try this technique but don’t know where to begin, so I will try my best to give you the tips that I wish I had when I started.

I’ve got to try 4 brands, Copic markers, Promarkers, Kurecolor and Arteza. I’ve used the same paper for all my illustrations, a Midori Md, for me the best one out there, but that will be another review. Today I would like to focus on how to start your collection without overspending.

You can also check my free tutorial for markers with lots of tricks and tips!

Download | Markers 101

1. The colour palette

If you have been in an art supply store you know how crazy it can be, so it’s better if you can go with the exact idea of what you need to purchase. To get to this point, I advise you to follow the following steps, especially for those of you who are new to the markers and don’t know where to start.

There are many brands out there, but I will talk about Copic Markers since is the most known one. First of all, keep in mind that these are alcohol-based markers, so they have nothing to do with the ones we used at school. They are professional markers!

If you have never tried Copic Markers, start by buying only two, in light tones. They don’t have to be of the same range, I recommend combinations like the ones below.

The next step is to make sure you like technique,

  • Try them on different types of paper until you find one that you like (a bad paper may give you a bad impression of the technique, true fact!)
  • Mix them together, let them dry and reapply them on top, or mix them together before they dry. You will start to understand how they behave.

1.1 Packs

No no and no. They are usually very expensive and in the end, you will end up not using even half of them because the colour combination is quite often a bad one.

2. The basic palette

Let’s start by making your own colour palette. For this, it’s better to start working in digital until you are comfortable with the palette, and then find the markers that match those tones. Do not use more than 10 colours, you don’t need that many to start with.

The next step is to match our digital tones with the markers. Use these swatches to help you find the closest ones: Promarker and Copic. You can find more swatches on google, but be careful with the ones used by the markers brand, cause they aren’t that good, the best ones are handmade. And never trust the colour cap!!

2.1 Light Copics or dark ones?

In case of doubt, always choose the lighter tone, you can darken the tone if you colour over it again, once the base tone dries up.

2.2 Greyscale

You need to be careful with these ones, some brands like Copic Marker has two different grey tones, warm and cold. It’s up to you which ones to use. But try not to mix them, cause they don’t work well together.

3. How to colour with few tones

Try to use the palette in a more wide variety, so avoid sticking to the classic colour standards, improvise! I usually paint the animals in very diverse colours. If the palette is well done, it doesn’t matter if the cat is blue or pink as long as all the composition works together in terms of colour.

Here you will find a post from Srta.M about colour theory!

3.1 Shadows

It really depends on the kind of lighting you want to archive, if I just want to have a bit sense of depth, I use the same colour or a pale lilac tone on the floor. Since the palette is very restrictive at this point, you can’t really have a darker tone for each marker you own. So using the same tones over and over again, it really helps to create that shadow you are looking for.

Always try it first on a piece of paper before committing, since not all colours work the same, you will see why now.

3.2 Mixing brands

So far I haven’t had any problems mixing brands, but I’ve found that some tones don’t work properly, even if you mix it with the same brand colours.

I bought the Copic BV000 to use it as a shadow for all the tones. But soon I found that it works more as a blender than a colour. I’m not sure if the paper has something to do, but as you can see on the below image, it causes depigmentation.

I don’t know if the same tone in other brands will have the same behaviour, but we aware of it.

4. Which brands should I start with?

Now that you know some basics, let’s go for what you came here. Which brand should you buy first?

Markers have been my most used supplies, but I have only tried 4 brands so far. Luckily it wasn’t that hard to find a brand combo for the perfect/affordable palette.

4.1 Copic Markers

Copic is the more recognizable alcohol marker brand out there, it can be found pretty easily, but I should aware you, it’s quite pricey. There are 3 different formats: ciao, sketch and classic. I always recommend the Ciao, the cheapest one. In terms of pigmentation are exactly the same as its brothers, the only real difference is the volume of ink that contains (a bit less than the others) and that there’s less colour assortment. However, Copic Ciao still has more tones than its competitors.

4.2 Promarkers

From the brand Winsor & Newton. The colour assortment is not that big, but you can find them with a hard or brush nib. The pigment quality is incredibly amazing, even better than Copic, and they are quite affordable. My favourite brand so far.

4.3 Low-cost markers

Not my cup of tea. I try to avoid them as much as possible as they usually come in packs. And that’s a big NO for me. I rather spend in a small palette that I’m sure it’s gonna work for me, than having tons of markers. Also, they tend to have many dark/strong tones and very few light ones.

My recommendation is that you start with Promarkers and then complement the missing tones with Copic Ciao, since they are expensive, but for sure you will find the ones you are looking for. It has work wonders for me so far! Also, don’t be scared of using Promarkers hard nibs, are really good for little details.

Hope this was useful, I will talk you more in other blogs, but for now, you can check my Gumroad tutorial. Until the next one!

Download | Markers 101