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Using Copic Markers

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.


About Copic Markers

Copic markers are actually a Japanese product that has skyrocketed in popularity in the last few years. The company that manufactures these gems is called too. They are distributed by Imagination International and Notions Marketing in the United States and Canada.

Copics also blend extremely well, helped by their color range. Blending is achieved by layering color on top of and next to an existing color while the first color is still wet.

The markers themselves are known for high-quality performance. They are permanent alcohol-based markers. They are non-toxic and acid-free. Because they blend so well, not only can you use the colors that are available, you can also blend your own custom colors.

The markers are different than other markers because the dye color is suspended in a buffered alcohol solution instead of water. The alcohol dries quickly and so does the paper. The color actually blends with the fibers in the paper. So, as you add color/ink to the paper, the better your blending will be.

The markers have a three-year shelf life. Once you get them, I doubt that you will let them sit there that long.

The labeling on the side of the marker is embossed, so it will not rub off.

Getting Started With Copic Markers

Copic markers are fast drying, double ended markers available in 322 colors. They are reliable, permanent and acid free-perfect for artwork, card making and of course scrapbooking. Since the nibs are replaceable and they are refillable, they are in the long run, very economical .The broad nib offers smooth consistent area coloring, while the smaller nib is great for detail work. There are techniques in using these unique markers and using Copic markers is what we are focusing on. You can expect to spend about $6-$8 per marker, but remember, they are refillable !

Alcohol inks are permanent on many surfaces - paper, leather, wood, fabrics, plastic, faux fur, and more. On glossy surfaces, such as glazed ceramic and glass the ink can be scratched off, so use a sealant to protect the surface. Make sure that the sealant does not contain alcohol, ethanol, or any other form of alcohol as these will ruin your coloring.

They offer a three year shelf life for the ink on the Copic markers.


Why Chose Copic Markers?

  1. Refillable ink and replaceable nibs, never throw your favorite marker away!
  2. 334 colors- and more are on the way!
  3. Guaranteed shelf life of three years, these markers don't dry out! Copic Markers and inking pens will not dry out if they are not used and the caps are securely closed. This is guaranteed for at least 3 years.
  4. Copic Markers are Non Toxic.
  5. Alcohol-based ink dries acid free, so it's safe around photos and other precious memories. When water-based markers are layered and blended they tear up the surface of most papers. Alcohol inks do not harm the paper surface. They can be layered and blended on surfaces other than paper as well. Alcohol inks are waterproof and will not wash away.
  6. Guaranteed color consistency
  7. Copic markers are refillable, with replaceable tips. Refill ink bottles are recyclable. Markers are actually filled with Ethanol, a form of alcohol that can be manufactured from plants. No animal products of any kind are used in either Copic markers or inking pens.

What Do The Copic ID Numbers Mean?


How Copic Markers Are Classified/ Numbered

  • Copic markers are classified by color family and intensity. They have a letter for the broad classification and a number for the color intensity. For example, a blue marker might have a broad classification of B and a color intensity of 22. The lower the number the brighter the color.

All markers have identification on the body or the cap.

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For example in the case of RV63. The information in the marker is simple to decode.

  • The RV designates the color family.
  • The number 6 refers to the Blending group. The blending group has a number from 0-9. This number indicates how intense ( saturated ) the color is,
  • The number 9 is the specific value. Specific value means how light or dark a color is.

More About Blending Groups

Natural blending groups are sets of markers that are numbered in groups that generally blend seamlessly. This lets you know that the markers within that group will all blend when you apply them to your paper.

There are usually three tones within the group-a light tone, a mid-tone, and a dark tone. AS you get into more colors, there may be more tones added to the group.

Most people choose to blend with two markers and choose the lightest and the darkest in a color family in order to get a contrast.

Copic Sketch Color Chart


Different Types Of Copic Markers

There are several different types of Copic markers to chose from, depending on your needs:

  1. Copic Sketch - The widest range of colors features medium broad and super brush nib combination. Has 358 Colors. Has an oval barrel. Includes a Medium Broad nib and a Super Brush nib. More nib options include Super Brush, Medium Broad and Medium Round
  2. Copic Ciao-Same quality in a more affordable price. 180 Colors. Features a round barrel. Includes a Medium Broad Chisel nib and a Super Brush nib. Two additional nib options include Super brush nib and Medium Broad nib.Come with a child-safe cap that features small air holes
  3. Copic Classic-This is the original line of Copics and most often used. 214 colors. It has a square barrel. Includes a broad chisel nib and a fine nib on opposite ends. Additional nibs can be applied-Brush nib, Standard Fine nib, Standard Broad nib, Semi Broad nib, Soft Broad nib, Super Fine nib, Round nib, Calligraphy 3 mm nib and Calligraphy 5 mm nib
  4. Copic Wide-Comes with a 3/4 inch nib to color wider areas and backgrounds. Has a flat barrel. Available in 36 colors.2 Nib Options: 18 mm and Broad Calligraphy This marker has a flat body.

Comparison of Copic Markers

Type Of MarkerNumber Of Colors AvailableType Of Nibs AvailableNotes

Classic Marker


9 different nibs

More ink than other markers. Comes with 2 nibs-chisel and bullet. Others can be purchased separately/

Copic Sketch


3 different nibs

Comes with the brush tip and the chisel tip. Bullet tip can be purchased separately. No Other tips available/

Copic Ciao


2 different nobs

Fewer colors and less ink in the barrel. Have a circular barrel which can roll off a counter

Copic Wide


2 different nibs


Copic Markers 36 Piece Basic Set

Starting With Copic Markers-What Should I Buy?

In the total collection, there are 358 colors. Obviously, to have all the colors, you would have to have a large budget.

Take into consideration the type of coloring you will be doing. If you are doing portraits and mangas, of course, you will want to focus on skin tones. Browns and greens would be for those who focus on landscapes and outdoor scenes.

Instead, you will want to focus on three colors from each of the color families. Having three colors, you will assure that you will be able to blend the colors. You are going to want to select the colors that you would use most often. You should start with the three primary colors, red. blue and green.

Which Markers Should I Buy?

The Copic Sketch is probably the most affordable of all the markers and is good for all levels of papercrafts.

The Ciao markers are even more budget-friendly. However, one thing to know about them is that they are smaller and have less ink. So, you will wind up filling them more often.

The Sketch and the Ciao markers have a brush tip and a chisel tip. The bullet nib is especially useful for getting a line-free coloring.

How Many Copic Markers Do You Need?

There is no fixed answer to that question. Copic markers are sold in groups or 6, 12, 36, and 72 in different colors. If this is your first time getting Copic markers, you are better off purchasing a set of 36 or 72 markers. This gives you the most amount of options as you start your Copic journey.

Best Copic Markers To Start With

These markers give you the best selection from each color family.

  • B000, B02, B04 (blue)
  • BG11, BG13, BG15 (turquoise)
  • BV00, BV02, BV04 (violet)
  • E000, E02, E25, E27 (skin color)
  • E33, E35, E37 (brown)
  • G21, G24, G29 (dark green)
  • R22, R24, R29 (red)
  • RV63, RV66, RV69 (pink)
  • V12, V15, V17 (purple)
  • Y11, Y15, Y19 (yellow)
  • YG11, YG13, YG17 (light green)
  • YR04, YR07, YR09 (orange)

These are to me, the best colors to start with. You can add a colorless marker to blend your colors and maybe a grey color to add shading. That would make a total of about 40 colors.

Copic Marker Nibs

Nibs can be purchased online or at most craft stores

Nibs can be purchased online or at most craft stores

Types Of Nibs Available With Copic Markers

One of the features that makes Copic markers so popular is the choice of nibs.

Nib Basics

  • Brush Nibs (Also called the Super Brush Nib)-Very similar to a fine chisel paintbrush. Has a light touch that gives ink readily. You can create a thin to thick line just as you would with a paintbrush When using a light touch, the very end of the tip can be used to create thin strokes and if you hold the marker at an angle to your paper, you can use the flatter side of the brush tip to achieve thick stokes that can fill in large spaces I suggest that you should definitely favor Sketch and Ciao markers (which both come with brush tips) and pass on the Original markers (which come with chisel and bullet tips).
  • The Chisel Nib (Also called the Broad Nib)-Also used to create different widths from fine to wide. Already loaded into three of the marker systems. The chisel nib (broad nib) is slightly larger on the Copic Original than it is on the Copic Ciao and the Copic Sketch. You can use different surfaces of the chisel to create strokes of different widths. All three marker types come with chisel tips. Take note that the chisel tip (broad nib) on the Original markers is slightly larger than the chisel tip (medium broad nib) on the Ciao and Sketch markers. This means that if you’re replacing the broad nib or medium broad nib, you need to double-check that you’re buying the right size nib.
  • The Bullet Tip ( Also called the Fine Nib)-Is only loaded on the Copic Originals. You can get a Fine Nib for the Copic Sketch. These nibs are used to make very fine lines and color small areas. The bullet tip (which Copic calls the Fine nib) is mainly designed for thinner strokes, as opposed to laying down lots of colors. This tip is only available on the Original markers (with the chisel at the other end), but you can buy bullet tips that will fit in the Sketch markers if you want to use them in combination with the brush tip

The classic has the most options when it comes to nibs. The choices are brush, calligraphy, round, soft brush, standard broad, super fine, standard fine, and calligraphy fine,

The sketch marker nibs include super brush, medium brush and medium round

The Ciao options are a super brush and a medium brush

There are also some broad tip options. They are broad calligraphy and extra broad

Replacing The Nibs

Another great feature of the Copic markers is that the nibs can be replaced when they are worn or when you want a different stroke type.

  1. To replace the nib, use a twezzer to grab the nib in the marker.
  2. Gently but firmly remove the nib at the nib base
  3. Use the twezzer to insert a new nib
  4. Maker sure that the nib is in far enough in the barrel of the marker.

The ink will automatically start flowing once the nib is in place.

Replacing Your Nibs

Copic Color Families

There are 16 color families with various shades in each family. Here are the shades as well as their designations:

  • BV-Blue Violet
  • V-Violet
  • RV-Red Violet
  • R-Red
  • YR-Yellow Red
  • Y-yellow
  • YG-Yellow Green
  • G-Green
  • BG-Blue Green
  • B-Blue
  • E-Earth
  • C-Cool Grey
  • T-Toner Grey
  • N-Neutral Grey
  • W-Warm Grey
  • F-Flourescent

Copic Marker Color Chart


Where Do I Start When Buying Copic Markers?

The first thing to chose is to decide which kind of markers you want to use. The sketch and the markers are probably the two most popular choices. Remember, when choosing, only the markers are available in all of the 358 colors.

Naturally, you are going to want as many colors as possible. But of course with 358 different colors, that might not ne possible all at once.

So the best way to start is to chose three colors from each color family, Chose colors that are close together so that they can be blended.

Think not only about the primary colors, but what your personal needs are. What kinds of images are you going to color. Are you going to be coloring a lot of images where you will need a lot of skin tones? Or are you leaning more to flowers and generalized coloring?

A balanced set would be about 30-40 markers to get started. Here is a suggested set, but of course, you can choose the colors that interest you the most

  • B000, B02, B04 (blue)
  • BG11, BG13, BG15 (turquoise)
  • BV00, BV02, BV04 (violet)
  • E000, E02, E25, E27 (skin color)
  • E33, E35, E37 (brown)
  • G21, G24, G29 (dark green)
  • R22, R24, R29 (red)
  • RV63, RV66, RV69 (pink)
  • V12, V15, V17 (purple)
  • Y11, Y15, Y19 (yellow)
  • YG11, YG13, YG17 (light green)
  • YR04, YR07, YR09 (orange)

If you are on a tight budget, you may want to try a set of the Copic sketches. They are reasonably priced on Amazon. Once you try them out, you can decide if Copics are right for you.

Average cost for a Copic Marker is $6-$8. They have a shelf life of about three years. The thing to remember is that they are refillable. So once you purchase them, all you are going to do is buy refillable ink. You may have to replace a nib at times.

The other thing to remember about Copics, is that unlike other brands, you can replace or add individual pens. Many of the other brands require you to buy sets, even if you just need one particular pen.

More About The Copic Hex Chart

The Colorless Blender

The colorless blender has the same ink type as the other markers, but without any color at all.

You can use them to add highlights to your projects or they can be used to fade an area where you might want less color.

They can also be used to fix any mistakes that you might have made along the way.

Other Uses For Colorless Blenders

  • Fading to white
  • Pre-soaking paper
  • Adding textures or patterns
  • Muting colors
  • Cleaning up lines

Copic Ciao Color Chart


Creating A Swatch Chart

Many people who take their markers seriously create a color swatch. These are small examples of the marker color either placed in a loose leaf binder in see through coin envelopes or on an metal ring.

These are handy when you want to see how the color will appear when dry on your paper. It is also used to keep an inventory. Finally it will help you know what you have and what you will want to purchase.

Check on the images in your favorite internet browser. There are numerous blank charts that will hep you keep track of your favorite color combinations.

Creating A Copic Color Swatch

Best Paper To Use With Copic Markers

The paper that you chose is really important to get the best results from your markers.

Copic markers work well with very smooth-grained papers. Look for heavy-weight smooth-surface papers which can withstand repeated soakings with marker ink. You can also opt for special marker paper which is designed to handle the ink from Copic markers. This paper is thin, smooth, and coated with wax or a special sealant to keep the paper from absorbing ink

If you chose to use glossy colors, you will have to stick to darker colors to get the best results.

Vellum generally does not absorb the ink at all, so it is best to avoid using it.

You can also use special marker paper that is made for markers. This paper is thin, smooth, and coated with wax or a special sealant to keep the paper from absorbing ink. So with this paper, you don't use as much ink.

Best Paper To Use With Alcohol Markers

Get A Copic Marker Color Chart

Before you get started with copic markers, you need to decide what colors you would like to have. You can buy them in sets, but the best way to buy them is to chose the colors that you really love, then buy at least three tones in each color. That way, you will be able to build up your collection and have the variations to do copic coloring techniques.

You will want to do two things before your first purchase-

1. Get a copic color chart so you can see and chose ahead the colors that you want

2. Get a blank color chart so that you can color in the colors you have- this is a smart carry in your bag idea-especially when you are shopping.

Free Copic Resources

Copic Markers 32 Piece Set

What Do The Copic Labels Mean

These labels are easy to read and give you a lot of information about each of your pens.

  1. Each marker, no matter which line, is identified by a letter and number. This letter indicates what color family it belongs to. For example "B" would be blue, "R" for red, ect. Sometimes the color may be two letters like"BG" which would be blue -green.
  2. The number indicates that saturation and intensity. That means how pure the color is. The range is from 0-9. 0 would be a high saturation of pure color with mo gray in it. 9 would be a color with a lot of grey-less pure color.
  3. Color Name is just the name of the color that Copic has assigned to it.

Caring For Your Copic Pens

Another part of the Copic upkeep is to clean the inside of the marker lids, you can soak them in the blending solution. You will need to do this when you notice your ink getting sticky and that’s due to the dried ink on the cap getting on the nib of your marker causing your nib to get all gunky and your nib will need to be changed. These markers are seriously amazing and will last you forever!

Most folks including the manufacturer recommends that you keep your pens horizontal to help keep them from drying out.


A Basic Copic Marker Technique

Crosshatching is an easy and enjoyable tecnique to use with your copic markers.The crosshatch is a series of intersecting perpendicular lines which follow the object's edge. Crosshatching is generally used in areas that you want to shade.Use a 0.1 or 0.5 multiliner thickness to crosshatch. Practice on this tecnique will yield you a lot of satisfaction


Blending With Copic Markers

It takes a little practice to learn how to blend with your Copic markers. But once you master the technique, you will be coloring everything in sight.

Start with some heavy smooth paper. Paper quality is important to get the best results.

You can start with a stamped or drawn image. If you start with a stamped image, make sure to use the right ink. Momento ink is said to give the best results. Once you stamp the image, you need to give it plenty of time to dry. Be sure to give it plenty of time to dry, specifically a few hours. If you want to speed up the process, use a heat gun to dry the ink. Make sure to dry the image evenly and keep the heat gun about 7 inches away from the paper so that the paper does not get damaged.

Do not use Stazon inks. The ink will ruin your markers !

If you want to do your own drawings or doodles, make sure to use a pen that will work with your markers. Copic does have a line of drawing pens that will work with their markers. Better to be safe than sorry.

Blending Steps

  1. Fill in the section of the image that you are coloring from edge to edge with the lightest color you have chosen. Move in small circles to prevent streaking.
  2. Use a marker that is one to two steps higher than your base color. It should be one to two shades darker than the base color. Add the darker color where you want your shading to be. Normally the shading would occur along the edges and creasing.
  3. Now go back with your base color ( the first color). With small circles, color over the areas where the two colors come together with the lighter color.

That is all there is to blending. You will want to move fairly quickly through the steps. You will get better results if the ink is still wet when you blend it.

How many Copic Markers Do You Have?

Shading With Copic Markers

To blend, start by filling in the darker color on the object. Usually, this color is the shaded area around the edges of any object. Take the lighter color and start coloring just inside the edge of the dark area, working out into the rest of the object. The lighter color picks up the darker ink and mixes with it as you fill in the rest of the object. Copic also makes a colorless blender, which actually removes ink from the paper, but can be used to blend by gradually lightening the ink.

More Shading With Copic Markers

These Colors Were New-12/27/2011

These Colors Were New-12/27/2011

These Colors Were New-12/27/2011

Refilling Copic Markers

Refilling your markers is not that difficult. It does take a little time and patience. Remember to wear plastic gloves when you do this task. The ink may stain your skin and your manicure.

Drip Method To Refill Markers

Refill the ink by uncapping the broad end of the marker and unscrewing the ink refill. The ink refill has a plastic tube which drops ink out one drop at a time. Tilt the marker up at a 45-degree angle and let the ink refill drop ink onto the broad marker nib. This ink runs backwards through the nib into the marker. Place as many drops as you feel comfortable with into the marker.

How many refills do you get per bottle?

  • Copic Sketch-about 12 refills per bottle
  • Copic Ciao-about 15 refills per bottle
  • Copic Wide Marker-about 7 times per bottle
  • Copic Classics-about 9 times per bottle

Booster Method

  • For Classic Markers-attach the booster needle to the ink bottle. Insert the needle into the nib of the marker and squeeze 2-3 ml of ink.
  • For The Copic Sketch, Ciao or Wide Markers-remove the nib and drip the ink directly into marker body using the booster needle.
  • For Copic Wide -drip up to 5 ml of the ink into the nib while holding the marker at a 45 degree angle.

Use the right ink to refill your marker ! Mixing inks is never a good idea !

Top 10 Tips For Copic Markers

Free Copic Tutorials

Learning How To Blend Copic Markers

More Copic Blending And Coloring Tips

There are a few tips that will take you farther along to better blending and coloring.

  1. Do not over-blend. You will lose the contrast and the image will start looking like blotches. This often happens when you go to fix something and then fix the fix. Let the color dry between applications. When you start coloring try not to go back over the dark colors with the light, repeatedly. This causes your darker color to separate and makes your coloring look blotchy.
  2. Believe it or not, coloring too slow with Copics will cause problems. The longer the marker is on the paper, the more ink it will soak up. This will lead to bleeding on the paper(where the ink goes through the paper to the other side.)And you can waste a lot of ink that way.
  3. The flick stroke brush gives the best way to blend ink on your images. If you color in straight lines you will not get the blend you are looking for.
  4. If creating Shadows with your Copic Markers isn’t your strong point – try thinking of your image in a fully lit room. Where would shadows make sense?
  5. The best skin tone colors are my skin tones E15, E13, E11, E00, E000, E0000, and W5. Depending on how light or dark I want the skin will determine how much of the dark or light I use
  6. The best cheek colors are R20 and R22 or R30 and R32. I will usually start darker on the outside of the face and under the eyes and then work my way out with each lighter color flicking in towards the face.
  7. The biggest tip for coloring white is leaving a white space!!!!! You are basically just shadowing areas of depth and or to give a rounder appearance…but you must leave white space!

Coloring Hair With Copic Markers

Many people tend to overthink when it comes to coloring hair. Hair is not one solid color. It has many colors. So you need to stay away from just laying a flat color.

Remember where-ever the hair gathers together so if it’s in a ponytail or at the twist of a curl.. that’s going to be the darkest point.

Start at the darkest point and flick the tip of my Copic Marker, following the lines and leaving white space between. Then follow up with a coordinating color but keep some areas white-toned.

Skin Tone Ideas

Creating skin tones may be one of the most challenging concepts for beginners. Here is an easy guide to get you started to create the right skin tones on your images

Light Skin Tone

The most popular colors for light skin tones are E11, E00, E000, and a touch of E13 for shadows.

Medium Skin Tones

Try E13, E00, E11, and E000.

Dark Skin Tones

E25, E11, E00, and E000 are most often used.

Where to Shadow On A Face

These are the areas where you will want to shadow on a face to make them more realistic

  • Around the hairline (where the hair is falling around her face).
  • On the right side of the nose because of the angle, her nose is.
  • A little under the lip.
  • On the neck just under the chin area.
  • And the insides on the arm.
  • On the backside of her hand where her wrist is bending.
  • In the fold of her arm where her arm is bent.

Shading Fabric

Copic Calligraphy Markers


Copic Calligraphy Markers

There are now new liners and markers in the Copic line to do calligraphy. They are just in black in a line to a broad stroke. Also comes with a medium Calligraphy tip. The ink is water-based pigment ink that is acid-free. That makes this marker perfect for just about any paper project, including scrapbooks.

Copic Marker Care

Once you notice that you are not getting a good ink flow or that your pens are not blending well, it is time to consider refilling the ink. If you let them go dry, the nibs will get stiff and will not be usable.

Another part of the Copic upkeep is to clean the inside of the marker lids, you can soak them in the blending solution. You will need to do this when you notice your ink getting sticky and that’s due to the dried ink on the cap getting on the nib of your marker causing your nib to get all gunky and your nib will need to be changed

Storing Your Copic Markers

Your Copic Markers are an investment, so you will want to keep them the right way to extend their lives. The same rule of thumb goes for your refill ink bottles too.

The most important thing to consider is to keep them out of direct sunlight. Those UV rays are really bad on them. They can cause the markers to degrade and even crack The color will fade or start drying. The nib will also go dry.

You will also want to store them in a cool place as well.

Refilling Your Copic Markers

The finest feature of Copic markers is that they can be refilled. Copic has every color that you need to get the color back into your markers. The new pen-shaped bottle design features an elongated nozzle that can be inserted into the marker (after the nib has been removed), which offers more control and prevents spillage.

The new bottles are smaller than the old ones (12ml vs 25ml), and cheaper (around $5-6). This might actually suit some artists who found that the old bottles were too large and struggled to use up all the ink.

The new bottles can fill a Sketch marker 7 times, a Ciao marker 9 times, and a Classic/Original marker 5 times. That’s certainly a lot more efficient than having to buy a new marker every time it runs out of ink!

How To Refill Your Copic Marker

  1. Cover your work area with newspaper or scrap paper
  2. Uncap both sides of your marker. This will equalize the pressure in the marker.
  3. Take some tweezers and gently remove the chisel/broad nib. Never remove the brush nib (unless you're replacing it with a new one) because it's made from several pieces of felt and may come apart.
  4. Uncap the refill ink pen and insert it into the marker. The nozzle won't easily release ink until you squeeze, but be gentle so that you don't squirt too much out by mistake.
  5. Squeeze the ink bottle to slowly fill the marker. Because the marker is opaque, you can't see how much ink is in the barrel. f you know the marker is empty (because the nib is dry), use the markings on the refill pen to add 1.8ml for Sketch, 1.4ml for Ciao, and 2.5ml for Classic/Original. If the marker isn't completely empty, but you want to top it up, just add 1ml because you don't want to risk overfilling it, which can cause leakage. To judge the amount accurately, make sure you’re holding the bottle vertically.
  6. Now you just need to use your tweezers to gently re-insert the nib back into the marker, and you're done!

Ultimate Storage Idea For Copic Markers

The Copic Airbrush System

Another feature of the Copic markers is that they can be used with an air brush system. The Copic Airbrush system is compatible with two marker types. Only the Copic Classic and the Copic Sketch will work with this system.

There are three different airbrush systems available. All of the systems are lightweight and portable.

More About The Copic Airbrush System

More Copic Tutorials

© 2011 Linda F Correa

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