6 Tips for Getting Started with Copic Markers

By Michelle Houghton

Copic markers have been around for a while but have just hit the scene as a great tool for stampers, card makers, scrapbookers, scientific illustrators, manga artists, and more. Michelle Houghton is a certified copics instructor with a self-paced on online class, Copic Craze.


I’ve got 6 tips with free starter tutorials that will show you why Copic markers are different and how you can get started collecting and using them.


They were originally created for designers and with the needs of designers in mind. Here are things that make them special:

  • All of the markers can be refilled with ink and come with replaceable nibs or tips.
  • The labeling on the side of the markers is embossed so will not rub off.
  • The ink in the Copics is an alcohol based dye ink. This formula allows you to blend the colors together without tearing up your paper like a water-based ink.
  • The ink has a guaranteed color consistency so you know your colors will always match and color smoothly.
  • As the alcohol evaporates the ink becomes acid free so it works great on paper-crafting projects.
  • The markers have a three-year shelf life, meaning if they are closed tightly sitting on a shelf they will still be good after three years.  I do not think once you get your hands on them you will let them sit that long.
  • Two of the marker styles are also compatible with an air brush system.




Here’s a starter lesson on this topic: Buying Copic Markers. If you decide to really get into in you’ll need to understand the four types of copic markers: copic, sketch, ciao and wide – brief descriptions. Additionally, there is a four-part labeling system you should use when buying them. The labels on all the markers work with a numbering system that includes 4 parts: broad classification, intermediate classification, brightness, and color name. And . . . there are exceptions.




If you are a doodler and are planning on making your own doodles to fill with your Copics you will have the best luck using one of their pens to doodle with. Copic makes sketch pens called multilinkers. There are 2 styles of these pens. The Copic Multiliner is a great sketch pen that ranges in size from .03mm to 1.0mm and also comes in 2 brush sizes.  The ink is waterproof and compatible with Copic markers.  They come in black and 5 colors as well.

If you have a favorite sketch pen already you can always test it with your Copics.  Draw a small circle on your paper, color in the inside of your circle with a Copic marker. Going right up next to the line but not over it.  Continue adding more color so that the color begins to spread and bleed.  Watch what happens to the ink line as the Copic washes over it.  If the ink line stays tight and does not bleed you have a pen that will work with your Copics. If it bleeds and becomes fuzzy you will have to find another pen to use with your markers.

stamping ink
If you will be stamping your images you will need ink that is compatible with your markers.

Tsukineko Memento or Brilliance Ink, Ranger Distress Inks, A Muse Dye, or Stewart Superior Palette Noire all are recommended. You can get even more consistent results by heat setting before you color with your markers.

StazOn and Stampin’ Up ink are solvent inks which are meant to be used with water based media they DO NOT work with Copic markers.

You will need paper to do any of this fun stuff.  There are many brands of smooth white cardstock that will work with the markers.  Bazzill Smoothies can be found fairly easily, I have used the smooth white cardstock you can purchase at Archiver’s. Other brands that are recommended include Neenah, Prism, Georgia Pacific, Gina K., and Papertrey.


The magic of these markers is in blending the colors together, so let’s look at how to do that with my starter lesson: How to Blend with Copic Markers. As you progress, you’ll want to learn other ways to add shading into smaller areas and where to add your shading.



My first question after I saw someone demonstrate how to blend Copic markers was: “What is the blending marker for then?” I got my answer and then played, researched, and discovered a little more. The standard answer is that the blender is for “pushing” color. Learn more in my lesson: Using the Blending Marker.


Take a look at my lesson: Copic Marker Shading with Printable Rocket.

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, scrapweaver.com.

19 Responses to 6 Tips for Getting Started with Copic Markers

  1. Sallie November 14, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Bless your heart! The Copic lessons are WONDERFUL!

    • Michelle November 16, 2010 at 8:25 am #

      Thanks so much Sallie I am glad you are enjoying them!

  2. Lora Reister January 10, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Hi administrator, I’ve a little request. I was simply just googleing for some details about the subject you published and found this post. Some great material you published right here. May i if possible discuss this post on my own latest web site I am creating? That would certainly be terrific :). I’ll come back once again later on to see how you replied. Bless you, Lora Reister

  3. Phyllis January 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    I’ve read everything I can find, about buying the copic markers, but I only see how to use the numbering system. Can you please tell me the differences in the types (4?) of markers? What is the Ciao (sp.?)

    • Michelle February 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

      Sorry Phillis just saw this! Are you still curious, why don’t you pm me from the forums and I will try to get you a little more info. the other place to check is http://www.copicmarker.com/

  4. Irena March 1, 2011 at 3:15 am #

    Thank you for sharing! Very neat explanation! Highly recommended!

  5. Chris Duea March 3, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    I have looked, watched Copic markers being used and have always wanted to own them. I think your information will certainly help me make my decision in buying them. Thank you I have never had such good instructions.

    Is there ever any deals on the markers? I have always gone all the way with anything I do. Thank you!!!!

    • Michelle March 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

      Chris, The best I can tell you on deals is shop on line. There are a few sites out there that really so give decent prices. They are a pricey investment no matter where you go :-)iCopic.com is pretty good as well as the Carpe Diem Store (online)

  6. Loralei Brown March 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    Is this in book form? That would be great!

  7. Marilyn S March 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Thanks for the information on Copic pens. It was helpful.

  8. JULIA BURGESS March 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm #






  9. Michelle March 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    Julia check out the first tutorial in this series it talks a little about how to buy and what you are looking for. Are you looking to buy only 2-3 markers or 2-3 color families which is closer to 6-9 markers. Typically you are buying 2-3 in a row to do blending with. Feel free to continue a conversation here or e-mail me if you want you can find me as scrapweaver in our forums and can contact me there.

  10. Kay March 27, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    I found your site and am learning so much about copic markers. Thank you so much! I see on this page some very cute little chicks that you colored with some nice blending. I’m wondering if you have any tutorials or info on how you cut out the chicks (or the butterfly that is also pictured, or anything else so intricate). If you could point me in the right direction, I’d be grateful. Thanks for such wonderful, clear information!


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