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September Product Review – Copic Markers

Copic Markers
By: Susan Wolf Caplan, Product Guru

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Copic Markers are professional illustration markers.  They are double ended, low odor and alcohol based.  These markers are also refillable and come in over 200 colors.  Sounds pretty interesting, don’t they?

The one thing stopping me from buying a few to test for this review was their cost.  My local store sells them for $6.50 each.  Therefore, I still do not own any.

However, my friend Marianne has taken the plunge and bought a good selection. Recently we got together to figure these markers out and see why so many people are hooked. I approached using these markers as I approach any other product: play with it and see what happens. There are "certifications" for Copic markers, but like most stampers, experienced or not, I would rather jump in and enjoy rather than go to school. This review is based on my experiments and experience.

Marianne  purchased special paper that is sold on a website specifically for the Copic markers.  This is the paper that I used for my first attempt.  I quickly discovered that waterproof ink (Memento) cannot be used to stamp the image, because the markers being alcohol based, will make the stamped image bleed.  My images was a smudgy mess!

My next attempt was with Brilliance ink.  After allowing the ink to dry and heating with a heat tool (just to make sure), I began coloring the image the way I always color, from lightest to darkest.  I usually start with a light shade, repeat with a medium tone and then with the darkest tone for definition.  Well, that did NOT work with these markers.  The colors would not blend and the image looked very streaky.  I tried to blend with the colorless blender, but that didn’t work either.

I read that the best results are achieved when coloring from dark to light and in a circular motion.  So, I colored with the darkest shade and blended with the lightest color.  That looked even worse!  Frustrated and disillusioned I gave up.

I am not one to throw in the towel so easily and since my friend has invested quite a bit of money I was determined to figure these markers out for her.  On our next get-together we revisited those little devils.  This time we used different paper.  I use Becket Expressions, which is a smooth finished paper, for most of my work.  This is what we would be using this time around.

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I stamped the teapots with Brilliance black and allowed them to dry.  I then chose three shades of yellow markers.  I began with the darkest shade along the edges, blended  in a circular motion, towards the center with the medium shade, and finished my blending with the lightest shade.  I was very pleased with the results.  The colors blended fairly effortlessly.  Could it have been the paper that gave me problems last time?  I tried again with two shades of blue.  Once again the colors blended beautifully.  However, if you turned the cardstock over, the color does bleed through the paper.  A problem if you want to use them on a card front without layers.

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Marianne ran into the problem where her coloring bled out of the image lines.  She colored within the lines and as the image dried the coloring bled outside the line.  You can see this if you look carefully in the card below.  This did not happen with the cardstock that I used.

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I have my list of Pros and Cons on these markers below. 

Pro:

  • Waterproof (but not on clothing)
  • Can be used on other surfaces
  • Acid free
  • Double ended
  • Refillable

 Cons:

  • Dye based Alcohol markers, so they WILL fade over time.
  • Scratches if used on glossy surfaces
  • Cannot be washed if used for wearable art.  Will bleed.
  • Very expensive.  $327 for 72,  $58 for 12,  $4.75 for 1 ( as per an on line vendor)

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Seeing as these markers are not fade proof and cannot be used on glossy surfaces as most other markers, I don’t see the point in investing in them.  I have both Sharpie and Adirondeck   permanent markers.  I think I will experiment with them a bit more and see if I can’t get good results.  Who knows, you may just see my results in an upcoming review!

I give the Copics a C-       (because of cost and they are not fade proof.)


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10 Responses »

  1. Hello,

    I am the copic certification instructor for CA, NV, AZ, CA, UT. I would love to share with any or all of you Different Copic techniques. Please check my blog for dates for upcoming Certificaiton classes and Copic Technique classes. Currently scheduled in CA, AZ, NV, and UT.

    jenniebstampin.blogspot.com
    ilikemarkers.com

  2. Check out Sandy Hulsart's blog about copics. She used cryrogin paper and that works the best. She is a certified teacher and has taught our group all about copics. You could get a lot of information from her. She lives in Michigan and has taught many copic classes. Here is her sight. creativemomentswithsandy.blogspot.com.

    Keep your coments coming as always enjoy reading them. Edna

  3. Oh my good to know. I too have heard a bit about these markers. I pesonally would not go the expense of these markers. I have three different brands of similar markers. To be honesst I still like the blending pens and inks. Or I do have the prisma color pencils and the water color pencils. I should look at the difference in the types of paper. I know some things I like various things for, I didn't think about the paper. Maybe that is it. I need to study things a bit more closely. Unless I make money with my work I think I will play with what I have. thanks for the 411... cyn

  4. I purchased just a few Copic markers to try them for myself, and liked them so much I've been buying more every chance I get. I did not have the problems you mentioned. I used Gina K. white cardstock, and StazOn black ink for the image. I had stamped several images, then didn't get back to them for several days to color. That could be why I didn't have trouble with bleeding or smearing. In fact, when I first "stroked" the chisel tip across a large grass area I thought, "Oh no, streaks!" But by the time I was done coloring, everything had blended together for a non-streaked, smooth look....almost like a bought card instead of one I colored myself! I have tons of other name brand markers that just sit in drawers. That's why I was leary and only bought a few Copics to begin with.

    A vendor at the Las Vegas Stamp Convention last weekend had Copics (the Ciao style) on sale for a little over $3.00 each. I bought over $166 worth of markers that day ~ they sold out before noon, I think! Sorry you didn't have good luck with them. I would be interested in seeing a rebuttal review from someone who has had great luck with Copics!

  5. I love my Copic markers. They are juicy and the brushes stand up well to use, far better than Memento. I heat set my ink first on glossy paper, but have not needed to on cardstock. I move from dark to light for shading and sometimes shade over with an separate shade. For fading, I spray with workable fixative. They are great with Stampscape images.

  6. Very cute cards - I love them! I am currently discovering copic markers too and found that paper choice makes a big difference. I have had some successes - but I've had some pretty ugly results too. It's all fun.

  7. Dianal,
    Thanks for the info on not coloring too closely to the image. That makes great sense and I will pass it on to her.

  8. Thank you. I can't see why so many are raving about these markers, and I don't understand who would pay so much for them.

  9. Thank you for this information on Copics ... I have used the Momento black ink with no problems. I usually stamp my image and let it sit for a while or I will heat set it, have never had any problems with bleeding. For the bleeding Marianne was getting I was told not to colour close to the lines to allow the alcohol ink in the markers to flow outward. Hope this helps and thank you for sharing.

  10. Thank you for your honest review. I have been wondering about this product, too. I really didn't have the money to experiment with them. I appreciate your willingness to be honest about your experiences with different products. I'm sure there are alot of people who just love their Copic Markers, but for the amateur (speaking for myself), I think I'm perfectly satisfied with the brand I have now. Thanks again! Kristy Tyra