Why I’m obsessed with Copic markers
I love to paint. But as with all matters of love, it’s not an easy process. I have to set aside a block of time—oftentimes an entire day—to set up my workspace, gather my brushes, palette, easel and water (I work with acrylics). Then, I carefully mix my colors and paint for hours at a time. After I have finished, cleaning my workspace is just as much of an undertaking.
While painting is an essential part of my life, I wanted to find a way to practice and explore color when I don’t have a day to spare—something I can fit between other activities.
Markers are super convenient and are not as labor intensive to use as painting. I already knew Copics are considered the industry standard in professional markers. Since they’re highly regarded by other artists, I decided to give them a shot.
Picking a style
There are a few different types of Copic markers. I went with the Copic Sketch because they have a “super brush” nib on one side that I knew I would use most frequently. It’s kind of like having a paintbrush tip on your marker, which means it lets me vary the width of the strokes. On the other side of the marker, there is a “medium broad” chisel nib. This gives me greater control when I am doing more detailed work.
The Copic Sketch is available in 358 colors, more than any other in the Copic line of markers. I started my collection by purchasing twelve Copic Sketch markers at a time over the course of a few weeks as a reward for myself. As of today, I have 36. They are a bit pricey at around $8 a marker. But they are refillable, so you only need to buy one marker of each color once. Also, you can use coupons at art stores to get them for a little cheaper.
For my first few sets of markers, I chose a broad spectrum of colors so that I would have freedom to create a variety of pieces.
My first piece
I played around with the markers for the first few weeks to get the hang of them. When I was ready, I decided my first real test would be to color an ink piece. I chose to illustrate a sparrow that I photographed on the San Antonio Riverwalk in Texas. Side note: I’m obsessed with birds, too!
I began my sparrow piece the same way I usually do: A basic graphite sketch; ink with Sakura Micron (.20mm nib) pen over the sketch to add more detail; let the ink dry; erase the pencil.
Then, I practiced mixing the colors I intended to use on a separate page. That way I could see how they would interact with each other.
Blending is impressive
One huge benefit of Copic markers is how smoothly they blend, which I had heard from other artists. But I was still impressed to experience it myself. You can go over darker colors with lighter colors to blend without worry of permanently staining the lighter colors. Copics are alcohol-based markers, so they do not destroy or warp paper like water-based markers do.
After choosing the colors for my sparrow piece, I began applying the colors from lightest to darkest, coloring the entire sparrow before moving on to the background of leaves and foliage.
It was interesting to adapt the way I blend. I am used to working with acrylic paint, which is very forgiving. You can cover up paint with more paint almost indefinitely. With markers, you have to be more conscious about the decisions you make. Once you apply a darker color, you cannot take it back.
Totally worth it
I find that Copics are absolutely worth the price. The colors are beautiful and vibrant. Blending is smooth. And, although they are very different from working with paint, they offer a more convenient way of using color.
I definitely plan on expanding my collection and continuing to explore working with these markers. Now, I just have to decide which colors to buy next.
P.S. Here’s a gif of my project from start to finish. Thanks for reading!