Thursday, June 16, 2011

Copic Markers

Hi all,

So, on Saturday I went to the copic certification class and I just don't think it would be fair for me to keep the information I learned to myself.  So, I hope to create one blog a week about Copic Markers.  First, a clarification.  I do not work in the crafting/card making industry.  I work for a semi-conductor company Mon-Fri to pay for my stamping addiction.  I am purely a hobbyist and have no compensation what so ever from any stamp company or the company that makes Copic Markers.  However I am biased in that I love my copic markers... so now that you know where I'm coming from here goes.  Also, I must give credit to the teachers of the class.  Lori Craig, Debbie Olson and Maryann Walker are the true experts on copics.  I encourage you to check out their blogs below for a look at really good use of copic markers.  My blog will be a learning environment.  You will see my practicing, it will be a long time before you see the super great results these ladies produce.

Debbie Olson's Blog

Lori Craig's Blog

MaryAnne Walker's Blog

So for today I thought I'd start with 10 common questions about copics.

1) Should I buy copic markers?  This one is pretty simple. Do you have some discretionary money?  Here's a clue.  If you have a credit card balance that you can't pay off you probably don't want to get into copics.  No, I'm not preaching on fiscal responsibility.  But what I am saying is that copics are like potato chips.  You really can't just have a few.  Be prepared to make an investment in this art tool over the first year.  If you don't really have any discretionary money now, don't worry.  You can get some great coloring results with prisma colored pencils for a lot less money.  Go to your 'big box' craft store with a 50% off coupon.  Buy a pack of 24 or 48 prisma colored pencils.  Get a bottle of Sansador solution and a blending stick and use that.  However, if you have a little discretionary income and you want to buy markers - definitely get copics.  If you want markers - they are your best investment.   Don't waste your money on other markers. 

2) How many markers should I start with?  I would recommend you buy at least 20 markers to get started.  If you spend $6.00 per marker, that is $120.00 (see question 1.)  If you buy less than this, I can assure you that you will be back to the store within a few months adding to your collection. But wait, here's an idea.  Do you have kids or a husband who need good gift ideas in the $20.00 range for birthdays & holidays?  For that kind of money your kids can get you a set of 3 copics in a new color.  Wouldn't you love to open that gift and have a genuine expression of excitement over the gift?  I know I want copics in my christmas stocking and it's an easy thing for family to buy you.

3) What paper should I buy to use with my copics?  I recommend papertrey ink stampers select white.  This is my 'go to' paper for MOST copic coloring.  This 110 pound thick paper won't cause any feathering and you'll be able to do some decent blending and shading with that.  Once you've been using your copics for a while you may want to invest in the more expensive XPress it paper.  That paper is better for more significant shading and highlighter you want on larger images.  Other people like Neenah Solar White and Bazzill Simply smooth but I find that I add a lot of color in my coloring so my images generally feather and I am not happy with my results.  If you have those other papers though, use them.  Just use them with a 'light touch' and be careful not to oversaturate your page or you'll get feathering.

4) What ink can I use to get my stamp image on my paper?  Use Momento Black or Ranger Distress Inks.  Do NOT use Stayz On or Versafine.   These will ruin your markers (see question 8.)  Stampin up and other home based stamp company inks won't work for you either.  These are water based inks and your image will bleed through them. These others won't ruin your markers, they'll just ruin your stamped image.

5) What colors should I buy?  Look over your stamp collection and decide what types of images you have.  If you have a lot of My Favorite Things Pure Innocence or A La Mode girls, you'll want E000, E00 and R10 to do skin color and pink cheek highlights.  You'll also want some light browns (E33, E34 & E35) and yellows (Y21, Y23 & Y26) for hair color.  If you have a lot of critters (like Cat's Pajamas or Penny Black) you'll want mostly earth tones for brown bears, dogs and bunnies.  If you have a lot of flowers (like papertrey ink, Lockhart or Just Right Stamps) you'll want to get a few pastel color schemes to do your tulips, daffodils and pansies.  Always buy THREE of every color family.  Start with a few favorite color families and using the color chart - pick your favorite color and get the two colors just below that one.  Also get a colorless blender.  It has many uses. You should also get a BG000 as a nice shading color for your images (more on that in future posts.)

6) What does the copic numbering system mean?  The first letter is the color family.  Y is yellow....  The second letter would be a color combination. YR is yellow red.  The first number is the amount of gray.  A 0 means it is pure color (no gray.)  A number 8 or 9 means there is a lot of gray and the color is more muted.  The second number is the intensity of the color.  So again a second number of 0 means very light.  A second number of 7 or 8 means very bright.  YG23 is a nice bright green.  It is pretty pure tone and not too intense.  R89 is a very dark but muted red.

7) Which style marker should I get?  Copic sells the sketch marker, the Ciao, the original (square barrel) and the wide marker.  If you are using them for coloring stamped images I recommend the sketch.  The brush tip of the sketch is great for feathering and also does well in tight spaces.  They also come in the widest range of colors.  The original is okay too, but I don't always like the smaller tip for the larger images I color.  I find the sketch markers are the most versatile but I have colors in each of the 4 types and I use them.

8) How can I learn to use them?  Go to the blog ''  This blog has videos and instructions all over it.  It is the BEST teaching resource on the web.  You can also buy books at your local stamp store.  One is called 'coloring with copics.'  Another is called 'shadows and shading.'  Both are written by Maryann Walker.  You can also take a class.  You should also practice.  Like anything you will get better by using them.

9) Can I damage my copics?  Yes, but probably not in the ways you would think.  You cannot 'contaminate' your copic markers by blending colors together.  However, if you use the wrong ink, you can ruin them.

10) Where should I buy my copics?  The best place to buy them is at your local stamp store.  They will generally have colors that work for stampers and it is really nice to see the color in person.  I have yet to find a good website that does a good job showing the color.  Wait till you have a rewards card filled or watch for a promotion (buy 3 get 1 free.)  While you can get them a little cheaper online, it isn't that much cheaper and we all need to do what we can to keep our local stamp store in business.  I was sad to see another LSS announce their closing at the end of the summer.  Also, another good place to get them is from papertrey ink.  They sell colors in sets of three and they match the paper colors.  Lastly, a local art store is another good place to go.  Here in Boston, I like Blick's Art Materials near fenway park.  They have a huge selection and it is a fun stop when we are in Boston for other things.

So, that is my 10 questions about copics.  Leave me a comment if you found this useful.  Next week I'll post some details on one of the first basic techniques.  I may even try to make a you tube video! It may be comical - who knows!

Anyway, have a great day - start practicing!

Notes about products mentioned above.
Papertrey ink is only sold online.  The website is
Momento Black and XX are sold in big box stores.  You can get refills for this at your local stamp store.
Copics can be bought at your local stamp store, and art stores.  They aren't sold in big box stores.  Blick's Art Supply has a good selection for a good price.  They have stores and on-line.


Shirley said...

Sounds like you had a fabulous time and that you are really really sold!! TFS

Sassafras said...

Thanks for the nice advice column regarding Copic markers. It is a very useful place to start when considering getting involved with these lovely tools, since it does involve an investment. You give very practical and helpful information - I especially liked learning about the numbering system - and good tips on resources. I look forward to a coloring session soon!