*WORK IN PROGRESS*
Copic Markers come in 4 different types: Sketch, Ciao, Marker, and Wide. Ciao and Sketch are the most common markers used in the crafting/stamping world.
When I first decided to try Copics I chose to buy the Ciao Markers because they were the least expensive. I bought them in the pre-chosen sets of 36 markers - I started with 36A, then later bought 36B, 36C, 36D and finally 36E. Buying a set of 36 represented value for money as I paid around £60 per set, which worked out as around £1.70 per marker. If I'd known what I know now, I would never have bought the markers in predetermined sets as there are some markers that I have never used except when colouring the little rectangle on my colour reference chart!
Sketch vs Ciao. Personally, I will always buy a Ciao Marker over a Sketch Marker because they are cheaper per cc of ink. A Sketch Marker holds 3cc of ink and retails at £5.99, whereas a Ciao Marker holds 2cc of ink and retails at £2.99. Many people prefer the weight and barrel shape of the Sketch Marker over the Ciao Marker, but it is worth remembering that they both use the same ink, both can be refilled, and both have the same nibs which are replaceable. The only difference is that the Ciao Marker CANNOT be used in the Airbrush System, so if you are considering buying and using this system for perhaps sky backgrounds and the like, you will probably prefer to buy the colours you'd like to use for this as Sketch Markers. Also Ciao Markers are only available in about half the number of Sketch Markers colours, so even if you opt for Ciao Markers, you will find you want to "fill in the gaps" with some Sketch Markers. Some people like their markers to be the same and so will opt for Sketch Markers from the beginning. It really comes down to budget.
Sketch Markers are available in ALL colours (currently 358 colours). They have a replaceable flexible Super Brush nib which acts like a paintbrush in both feel and application, as well as a replaceable Medium Broad nib. They can also be refilled with reinkers. They can be used in the Copic Airbrush System.
According to Copic, one bottle (25cc) can refill up to 15 Ciao Markers or up to 12 Sketch Markers (numbers based on a used, non-dry marker) but this will, of course, depend on how dry your marker is when you begin refilling it. A Sketch Marker holds 3cc of ink and a Ciao Marker holds 2cc of ink, so if your marker is completely dry, one bottle of ink will refill approx. 8 Sketch Markers and 12 Ciao Markers. The cost of one bottle retails at £7.50 and the cost of 8 Sketch Markers is around £48, so buying refills is much more cost effective, especially for colours you use a lot (e.g. skin tones, greys, colourless blender).
I periodically check if my markers need topping up/refilling with ink by drawing a fairly quick line with the Medium Broad nib. If it is a good solid colour, then your pen doesn't need refilling at that time. However, if you find the line is 'streaky' with lines of missing ink, then it's time to refill.
To refill a marker, I remove both end caps and then gently remove the Medium Broad nib (you can do this with your fingers or use the special Copic tweezers available to buy separately). Working over several layers of newspaper to protect my surface, I hold the pen vertically with the Super Brush nib pointing down, open the ink bottle and start to drip ink into the open end of the marker barrel (Medium Broad nib end). I add 10 drips at a time, stopping for 10 seconds in between each 'set' to allow the ink to be absorbed into the barrel. I like to add ink slowly otherwise I find I overfill the marker. As soon as I see the Super Brush nib becoming 'shiny' with ink, I lay the marker down horizontally onto a clean surface and allow the ink to settle in the barrel for 20 seconds or so. I then continue to add ink until I feel the pen is refilled but not overfilled. I often replace the Medium Broad nib, leave the pen for 20 seconds and then draw my checking line - if the streaks have gone and I feel the Super Brush nib feels smooth when colouring and not 'squeaky' then I'm happy to stop refilling, if not I remove the Medium Broad nib and start refilling again.
If you overfill the pen, it will drip ink from one of the nibs when you start to colour with it, even if you've left it for a while after filling. Simply take both caps off and scribble on a piece of clean card, or use a piece of kitchen towel to soak up the excess ink, or leave the pen with the caps off for a while. If you overfill too much and store your markers vertically, you could get ink pooling in the end of the cap!
If you find the fibre tip is damaged, or has dried out (and refilling the pen doesn't remedy this), simply replace it with a new one.
A pack of 3 Super Brush spare nibs retails at £4.99. A pack of 10 Medium Broad spare nibs retails at £3.65. Official Copic Tweezers for removing/replacing nibs retail at £7.30 each.
Even though the packaging says "Copic Sketch", both the Ciao Marker and the Sketch Marker use the exact same nibs which can be replaced on BOTH markers, so you can purchase and use these replacement nibs regardless whether you have Ciao or Sketch Markers.
As Copics are alcohol-based, you need to use the correct ink (dye-based) when stamping so that your ink won't smear or bleed when you colour with Copics. I use Tsukineko Memento (fade resistant dye ink) in Tuxedo Black for stamping images. Tsukineko Memento ink is available in 24 different colours, in either a large ink pad or a small Dew Drop ink pad.
Tsukineko Memento (Tuxedo Black) large ink pad
I have always used Ryman A4 200gsm Bright White Coated Card. I did some research into which card to use when I first started my Copic journey and because of what was available in the UK at the time, and as I have a restricted budget, this was the card I chose. It is usually priced at around £10 for 100 A4 sheets and so works out at 10p per sheet. However, there are often deals to be had at Ryman, and last time I stocked up I paid £15 for 200 sheets! I learnt to use Copic markers using this card, and as I'm completely self-taught, I don't really know if I colour 'normally'! I don't have any problems with the ink bleeding using this card, although it does soak through so that you can see it on the reverse, so you can't use this card to create one layer card blanks that you colour straight onto. I often have problems with the darkest shades of brown and black where the ink kind of sits on top and doesn't blend well if I put too much on or layer the dark ink on top of the lighter ink. I don't have this problem with any of the other dark colours though. This card is suitable for laser, inkjet and photocopiers so you can use it with your digital stamps too.
Make it Colour Blending Cardstock is a card I would really love to try. It was sourced by Zoe from Make It Crafty and is endorsed by the likes of Elaine Hughes and Annika Ryan - all these women are amazing at colouring and blending with alcohol markers. If you are in the UK, you can buy this card from Quixotic Paperie. It works out between 26-40p per A4 sheet depending on the size of pack you buy, so it's 3 to 4 times more expensive than the Ryman card I use (7.5-10p per A4 sheet). I am concerned that once I try it, I'll fall in love with it and have to use it! When my Ryman card supply runs low, I will invest in a pack of Make it Colour and compare.
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My personal Copic colour combinations:
- colours in bold-type are only available as Sketch Markers
- colours in brackets are colours I use but you don't need to buy at the beginning
Caucasian: E000 E00 E11 R20 (E02)
Ash Blonde: (E57) E55 E51 (E50)
Brown: E49 E47 E44 E43 (E42) E41 (E40)
Black: W9 W7 W5 W3 W1
Golden Blonde: E37 YR23 Y17 Y15 Y21
Auburn: E18 E15 E11 E000
Lime Green: YG00 YG03 YG63 YG67 (G99)
Pink: (R89) R85 R83 R81
Denim Blue: B99 B97 B95 B93 B91
Gold: E37 YR23 Y17 Y21
Kraft: E44 E43 (E42) E41 (E40)
Black is a colour a I never use as I find it too harsh. At the moment I use W9 or C9 for the 'black' when using Warm Greys or Cool Greys, but I plan to buy W10 and C10 as 'final' alternatives to black.
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