How to use copic markers tutorial 2 | how to blend with copic markers

This is the 2nd article in a series by Michell on copic markers. See the first: An Introduction to Copic Markers.

by Michelle Houghton

The next step once you have some Copics is to get them out of your drawer and start using them.  The magic of these markers, like I said, is in blending the colors together so lets look at how to do that.  Before I start though let me say that this takes practice!  For a lot of people blending and shading does not come naturally.  It is an acquired skill that takes time to learn.  So like anything worth doing it does take time to do it well.  There will be some of you who pick up these pens and just get it, there will be others that have to work at it.  Either way, here is some helpful info to get started and some step by step for those who need it.

You will want a quality smooth cardstock to work on.  Heavier paper will stand up better to more moisture and the smooth texture is a must for your drawing.  Most people will start with a stamped or drawn image to fill in with their Copics.  If you are stamping make sure to use an ink that will be compatible.  The one that is being highly recommended right now is Memento.  The ink needs plenty of drying time. Make sure to allow a few hours, or if you are short on patience like myself, you can use a heat gun to speed up the process a bit.  DO NOT use your Staz On ink, this will ruin your Copics!  If you are wanting to start with your own doodle or sketch Copic makes their own black pens that work well with the Copic markers.  There is the Multiliner, Multiliner SP, and Sketch pen.  These are harder to find and my local scrap booking store did not know about them even though they are selling Copic markers like crazy.  You will probably have to find an art store to locate one of these.  As you would with any pen try it in the store so you can double check thickness and feel.  What I liked about the Multiliner SP, that I purchased, is no drying time, just doodle and then fill in your design.  Both other pens would work this way as well.

Once you have an image stamped or drawn you are ready to start playing.  Now remember this takes practice so no starting on the image already attached to your card you are sending to Mom in the mail today!  Get out a practice sheet stamp or draw a dozen images and get ready to experiment.

Step 1) Pick your lightest color and fill the area you are going to be shading completely from edge to edge.  Move your marker in small circle strokes, this helps avoid streaking.  I prefer working with the brush tip of my markers, but try both to see what works for you.  You want to get nice even coverage. Do not worry about getting the page too wet, the alcohol that suspends the ink is not like water, it will not tear up your paper.  I am starting on a stamped image.  I used a stamp by Hero Arts, ink by Memento and Copic Sketch marker B00.

Step 2)  Take your next marker that is one or two numbers higher.  It should be one or two shades darker but in the same family as your first color.  Add this darker color on top of your lighter color where you want your shading to occur.  If you are not sure where to put the shadows, try experimenting with edges and along creases for now.  I will come back with another lesson on creating depth with Copics if there is an interest.  For this step I added Marker B02.

Step 3)  Come back with your first marker, the lighter one, and again using small circular strokes go over the area where the two colors intersect.  The alcohol in the markers acts as a solvent softening the edges and blending the two colors together.  You want to work fairly quickly through steps.  Letting the inks dry in between makes it considerably harder to blend and often leaves your work blotchy.  I came back with marker B00 to do the blending.

Step 4)  You can finish with step 3 or you can go on and add darker shades.  Each time you will work back through your lighter pen to blend the colors together.  Do not worry about contaminating the tip of the lighter pens they do not pick up the ink they just push it around.  On my image I added a third color B05 to the blue and colored the other wings in the same way.  Then I used BV13 and BV17 to complete my butterfly.  I did not do any blending with the blue, violet colors, just used them to fill in the body and wing outline.

Here is my finished butterfly all cut out and ready to fly through the mail to a friend.  I am not a great card maker but I have to say this little colored butterfly sure made a nice card!

Bio-shot-2011-150Michelle Houghton is a wife, mother and artist living in Iowa. Even before she began scrapbooking, she was a lifelong artist, majoring in Fine Arts at the University of Oregon and then teaching high school art for 7 years. Michelle has been scrapbooking for more than 15 years and she enjoys adding her own art, doodles and handmade elements to her pages for a one-of-a-kind look.

Michelle teaches doodling, Copics, handlettering and more at workshops throughout the country. She writes tutorials at Get It Scrapped and is an instructor for Imagination International Inc., the US distributor of Copic products. The best way to learn more about Michelle is at her website,

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45 Responses to How to use copic markers tutorial 2 | how to blend with copic markers

  1. tami March 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    awesome.. you make things look so easy!

  2. Sharon March 31, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    There IS an interest in going further with these techniques!! I love the detailed instruction and can hear you saying “Don’t worry, it’s good!! Just play.” Thanks Michelle!

  3. Brenda March 31, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    I am loving reading about using these markers! You butterfly looks beautiful and it looks like I could even do this. :)

  4. Gill March 31, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    I found this really helpful – especially that you told us exactly which colours you had used. Please do continue with this series on techniques with Copic markers. Thank you.

  5. Wendy March 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    I am trying this tonight!! Do you have a recommendation for a brand of paper to use? Thanks! Wendy

  6. Miche April 1, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    Wendy I purchased mine from Archiver’s it is their basic smooth cardstock. I would avoid the light weight stuff that comes free with scrapbooks:-) BUT I think as long as it is heavier and smooth you should be fine. Buy just a few sheets if you are concerned and try them out.

  7. Gab April 1, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

    Oh Michelle, you make me want to run out and buy some!

  8. Cath April 2, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    I’m fairly new to copics and tutorials like this are invaluable so thanks xx

  9. Kaye April 3, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    I too, am new to Copic Markers and really appreciate the help learning how to use them more effectively. Thanks

  10. Kaye April 3, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    This seemed like a well organized and nice to work with website.

  11. Lori S. April 12, 2010 at 2:16 am #

    Bazzill is producing a cardstock weight (the exact weight escapes me at the moment) that is made for Copics and similar pens, however, I don’t know who carries. Art supplies might be the first place to look.

  12. Miche April 14, 2010 at 12:12 am #

    Thanks Lori!

  13. Christine Rickert May 14, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    In case you need my address to send my card to-(you said you were sending it to a friend)it’s 16251 Gap…
    Thanks for the great lesson. Gotta try this. So beautiful the colors and blending.

    • Michelle Houghton May 16, 2010 at 12:17 am #

      LOL glad you liked the lesson! Sorry the butterfly found a different home :-)

  14. Jenn Copeland January 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Papertrey Ink has the Copic colors that match their paper, ink and ribbon colors. They often don’t have the pens in stock, but you can get the color combinations they use.

    • Michelle February 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

      Thanks Jenn I will have to check that out!

  15. Julia January 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    I am very new to Copics and I am sooooo happy that I found your site. I am very excited to go and play with my new Ciao Copic markers now! I will be followin your tutorials step by step. Thank you for them!! ;-)

    • Michelle February 7, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

      Glad you found us Julia! Happy coloring!

  16. Jaine March 22, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    Hi Michelle…Thanks so much for simply explaining the technique…I have attended a class and tried myself but wasn’t able to get my head around it…but then you came along and turned on a light switch…and now my blending looks like blending….Thanks you

    I look forward to the next tutorial! Keep them coming!

  17. Valarie March 22, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    This is great!!! Thank you!

  18. Carol Ann Ater March 22, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Your tutorial was better than a video. Thank you and do keep sharing tips on Copics.

  19. Tina March 22, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Oh my, I am so glad I found your site!!
    I have been trying to teach my self with the copics, trying and trying is the way like you said. Your tutorials are a fantastic help!! keep them coming
    thank you so much :)

  20. Margaret March 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Excellent instructions!!!!

    Tell me more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Michelle March 22, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Hi ladies! Jaine, Valarie, Carol Ann, Tina, and Margaret, I am so glad you found me as well. There are currently 17 tutorials, and more to come, so make sure to peek at them all and several have images you can color along with. If you want even more in depth I teach a Copic class as well you can find it at the above link “Buy Classes”. So glad you enjoyed!

  22. Sue C March 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Thank you for the instrudctions. I now can help my grand daughters 8 and 10 learn how to blend with these markers. The girls all 3 hae been usingmy markers every since the arrived here in Minnesota.

  23. Michelle March 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    Sue have fun with them my girls use mine, they are 6 and 8. They really can’t damage them and they love them, they just eat up the ink so I own a lot of refills :-)

  24. CC March 25, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    I just took a class at a local craft store & paid $$ to be shown the same thing you have here.

  25. Cindy March 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    The only paper I use is Georgia-Pacific 110lb. white card stock. It is sold in packs of 150 sheets. I use it for everything! It doesn’t allow the copics to bleed past the ink line either. I buy it at Walmart and it is very reasonably priced. Hope this helps.

  26. Michelle March 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Glad you found us CC i also have a full class and will be putting together a second one the tutorials will keep coming as well.
    Cindy I use the Georgia-Pacific as well i get mine at Sam’s Club. After experimenting with all different kinds I like the Georgia Pacific as a general paper the Bazzil is very good as well but my favorite is the X-Press it is amazing unfortunately the price is as well. So I stick with G-P for a lot and go to X-Press for special images.

  27. Ginger March 30, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    The copic tutorial for shading is very helpful.Please keep these kind of tutorials coming showing how to use copics. Thanks!

  28. Kristine Vencel March 31, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your techniques. I am one of those that find it extremely difficult to shade, but I can make a very nice card w/o coloring!

  29. June Carlile March 31, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    I tried it ! It was so fun. You just can’t go wrong!
    Thank you,

  30. Michelle April 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    thanks Ginger, Kristine, and June, so glad you found the lesson and felt it was helpful. Kristine these marker are gorgeous weather you shade or not :-)

  31. Talyn March 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    Have two sets of copic markers + a pack of skin tone markers and I just don’t know what to do with them! I’m self-taught, but I have to admit defeat when it comes to markers, since I prefer pencil anyday… This page right here is in my Favorites folder labelled “IMPORTANT SITES” since I’ll definitely -and grudgingly- refer back to this neat little tidbit filled how-to.

    • Michelle March 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

      So glad this is helpful. Really if you want more my Copic Craze class is a perfect starter class and give you all the beginner info. I hope you use your markers no matter what, they really are fun. I love all sorts of mediums too, pencils, paints,m pastels and these are one of my favorites.


  32. sherry gardner September 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    I would be interested in seeing a tutorial on creating more depth in an image…

    • Michelle September 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

      Sherry – adding depth usually is shown through shading an image light to dark around it’s surfaces. An object appears to get darker as it curves away from the light source. Take a look at some of the other tutorials in the series that have more contrast light to dark and see if they are what you are looking for. If not maybe you can give me an idea of an object that you are trying to add depth to and I can help.

  33. Copic colors October 4, 2013 at 5:54 am #

    Really amazing colors for any kind of art…!

    • Michelle October 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      They are great on just about any surface! Thanks for reading! Post any questions you have.

  34. Ann Bligh January 2, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    Just got some Copic markers for Christmas from my DH. So glad I found these tutorials. Thanks so much.

    • Michelle January 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

      Yeah for new markers! Have so much fun and ask questions as you hit them! You can also find more of my Copic tutorials and classes at Creative Passion!

  35. Dale Thornton June 8, 2018 at 3:46 pm #

    I love reading about how to use my copic markers but as I have just starting to purchase them I dont have the selection to follow your instructions

    Dale Thornton

  36. Michelle Houghton June 24, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    Thanks so much for referencing my tutorial at your blog! I left a little love there as well.


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