ElfQuest Fan Art

Elfquest => Art and Elfquest => Topic started by: Startear on September 21, 2011, 01:00:01 PM

Title: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Startear on September 21, 2011, 01:00:01 PM
I first learned about copics when I lurked on the old SoC site in 2010. I've noticed people here use 'em, and I'm curious about the pro and cons, plus the techniques you guys are using.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Eregyrn on September 21, 2011, 01:30:33 PM
I'm glad you started this up!  A couple of us were talking about doing something like this -- Treefox and I were having a conversation in comments on an art piece about "what colors are you using to achieve..." this or that, and I think that could be REALLY useful, since Copics give you the number/name system by which you can really identify what you're using.  I think most of us come up with combinations to use in a hit-or-miss way, and it can be really hard to tell from the results what exactly was used.  Or like, I'd love to know what others use, because maybe someone else has tried a color that I don't have yet, but that I'd like to try to get. Or, someone else's "formula" for caucasian skin-tone may be really different from what I use, but finding out could leave me to find a new technique I'd like!

I guess one of the main things to talk about first is: what kind of Copics did you get?  (And, how many colors do you have to choose from.)

I think there are 3 main types of Copic marker sets:

Originals -- with one fine point, and one wide wedge point.

Sketch -- with one flexible brush-tip point, and one wide wedge point.

Ciao -- with one flexible brush-tip point, and one wide wedge point.


To be honest, I'm really not sure what the difference is between the Sketch and the Ciao lines.  I think when I bought my first set, it appeared to me, on the website I was looking at, that the Sketch had a much wider range of colors available, while the Ciao line was more limited; but I'm not sure if that's completely true?

What I use, therefore, is the Sketch markers.  I bought an initial set of 72, and have added a bunch of individual colors since, based on what I found I needed/wanted.  (Some of which were kind of duds, because I order all of mine online, and sometimes the swatch doesn't quite match the actual color on the paper I use.)

The techniques that people use will vary a lot, depending on which kind of markers you have.


The second-most important factor in using art markers of any kind is what kind of paper you use.  The same color will look different on different types of paper, and different papers will "blend" better than others.  So experimenting on different papers is a good idea.

And a good tip: whether you like using a variety of papers, or just one -- take a sample sheet of each kind of paper you use, and then color a half-inch square of each of the colors you own on that paper; write the color-number below or beside it.  I find it a lot easier, when I'm coloring, to figure out what colors I want to use, or what I should use next for shading, when looking at that guide, and the guide helps me reach for the right marker.  Doing that also helped me figure out what the actual tone and intensity progressions were in the colors I owned (since you can't always go just by the numbers on the top).
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Treefox on September 22, 2011, 07:24:46 AM
Thanks for starting this thread, Startear!
I think Eregyrn's tips are very good.
I really wish I had a good store to buy Copics closer by. Even though I live in Frankfurt, there are no good art supply stores here (that I know of at least). Used to be much better in my home town.
As I haven mentioned somewhere else, my sister and I put our saved money together and bought a pretty neat choice of colors as initial set.
Even as the colors didn't seem that attractive at first, we thought they might be needed. So we chose a lot of browns for clothing, hair, skins and backgrounds. A LOT! As we bought the Copics for a specific comic project that we were planning we also got the basic colors for our character's clothing and so on. This got us a surprisingly good color palette. We got around to even starting that comic due to becoming busy with work and studies, but we sure go a lot of nice Copic pictures out of that project.
Anyway, I will contribute more and hopefully also more useful stuff here once I get home and re-check what I am really using.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Treefox on September 22, 2011, 12:21:06 PM
Okay, now that I have re-checked, I saw at least that the sketch markers have the name and number of the color written on their cap. That can actually be useful.
And sadly it's true: the ciao line has less colors. I wanted to buy a new Burnt Sienna and it didn't exist. To my dismal currently only ciao are available at the store where I usually buy them.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Eregyrn on September 22, 2011, 12:28:34 PM
I would love it so much if there was a store in my area that I could walk into and have a full range of Copics to choose from.  Because I would really prefer to test them on paper and then choose what to buy.  But I haven't found them for sale in the Boston area yet.  (Plenty of places have the full line of Prismacolor.  If Prismacolor had offered a brush tip, I would have gone with them instead!)

I have to say, the other reason I really like Copics, and went with them instead of Prismacolor, is that they're refillable!  I now have about 15 of my most-used colors in the refill version, and have refilled the most-used markers multiple times.  Love that.  I'm now at the point where I am thinking of ordering some replacement brush-tips.  I just really like that all the parts are replaceable like that. It's a cost-savings in the long run.

(Although, there are drawbacks.  I wish there was a clear window in the marker so you could see how much you're filling it up.  Instead you have to keep count of how much is going in.  If you overfill it, you can sometimes have problems with a big droplet of it leaking out of the brush end while you're coloring.  I've become good at spotting the signs of it about to happen, and moving the pen before ruining what I'm coloring!  I think I've only ruined one piece that way.)

I've heard that you can create custom color mixes, by buying the refill tubes (which are just bottles of ink), and filling up a marker with a new color mix, and putting a new tip on it.  This seems like a great idea, to me... I just haven't experimented with it much myself. 

(Considering that my method for doing skintones at the moment involves 5 different alternating colors, not including the shadows at the end... I probably SHOULD try to create a custom blend, and save myself some coloring steps...)
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Treefox on September 22, 2011, 01:01:14 PM
I so agree! I love the fact that you can refill. I got refills for my favorite base skin color (Milky White) and for Sepia. I have been using them for so long now and there still over half full.
I never heard about mixing colors yourself. That is a fascinating concept.
Actually, when I started with markers, they also sold Letraset Tria markers at favorite store (that store is nothing but amazing!). Actually I still use the ones we got even today. I love that they also come with a fineliner. But sadly they have stopped selling them here and I also like to go to the shop and try the pens out before buying them. Ordering is not really an option.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Afke on September 23, 2011, 01:36:00 AM
I'll read the rest of this later, but I just wanted to say something about the differences between sketch and ciao; ciao is mostly seen as a disposable marker (ciao, bye bye in the bin). This doesn't mean you can't refill them (which you can, I did), but it means that it has some try-out colors for which no refill is available. I found out once they were getting empty, that if the color is not available for the normal/original copics, you'll just have to buy a new ciao to get that color. Or try to mix 'm yourself. :)

I made one mix myself; I was missing a strawblond color for Zoetgras and Lispel's hair. If you want their haircolor, it's 1 part E21 + 2 parts Y00.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Shadowstar on September 28, 2011, 01:03:52 AM
I've never used Copics at all. In fact, I do most of my coloring for my images by sketching them, going over the lines again, inking them, scanning them, and doing everything on my laptop. But I really want to try Copics out.

How easy are they to use? And are there any tutorial type things for beginners such as myself?
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Miss Gillespie on September 28, 2011, 04:26:35 AM
You might try Twin Touch Marker. They're markers as well, but way cheaper than copics. The quality is said to be fine, too. I guess the main reason for the price differnce is, that Copics are from Japan and Twin Touch is from Korea...
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Treefox on September 28, 2011, 04:35:36 AM
I think there are a couple of other marker brands that might just be as good as Copics and much cheaper. The reason why I still use Copics is, as Eregyrn pointed out, that I can go to a store here and try them out myself. For me seeing how it really looks and feels is very important. Other brands I could just order by mail and take the risk that I don't like how they feel or look.
Concerning whether they are easy to use or not:
It depends. For me they were surprisingly easy to use.
I think it depends very much on your drawing style. But I also think that anybody can learn to use them. As I still haven't figure out how to use that "blender" Copic pen, I try to fill out large areas quickly, so I will get an even color. If you draw very slowly there is the danger that you see the single pen strokes.
Apart from that, as Eregyrn also pointed out, the paper really, really plays a big role on how those pens work.
If possible I would definitely try to go to an art supply shop and just try them out.
They do have so many good quality like making a really even, waterproof base, you can blend them, make many layers of them to get a new, deep color.
I do love them and truly wish I had the money to get more of them.
But as mentioned before, they last very long and you can buy refills.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Eregyrn on September 28, 2011, 09:43:29 AM
I hadn't heard of the Twin Touch brand before!

Looking them up, though... although they're definitely cheaper, which is nice, I wouldn't have chosen to buy them over the Copic Sketch set that I ultimately bought.

* it appears they only come in a dual-ended marker that has a fine tip and a wedge tip.  No flexible brush tip.  Can't tell whether the tips are replaceable.  (Copic's are.)

* they don't appear to be refillable, which over time is more cost-effective.

* they offer 162 colors.  Copic Sketch has 310.  (Granted, you are probably never going to NEED that many!  And it can be irritating to sift through all the color choices to find the ones that are most useful to you.)


For me, while the Copic's brush tip is not really like painting with a brush... it's MORE like painting with a brush than using any marker that only has fine/wedge tips would be.  I found that my brush-painting skills translated PRETTY easily to using the markers.  There's still a bunch of stuff you have to get used to, in terms of figuring out the best techniques for the technical limitations of a marker.  But there are times when I feel like I'm using techniques that are very similar to watercolor or ink-coloring.  So I feel like they are pretty easy to learn, fairly quickly.  (Talking about the brush-tip Sketch line, not any other type.)

Shadowstar -- there are definitely Copics tutorials out there.  Some can be found on deviantArt.  But you can also just do a seach-engine search for "Copic tutorial" and find some videos.

I've never gotten the "colorless blender" to work.  I tried it, and gave up on it.  Maybe it's the kind of paper I use, or maybe that it's just that I didn't get my head around it in the right way.

One thing... well, two things that do frustrate me a bit with Copics, but I"m not sure this wouldn't be true of most markers...

* it's probably the paper I use, but I actually find there is a limit to building up a really deep, dark color.  I feel like I can only get so dark. And I can only apply so many layers before it kind of starts diluting or rubbing off the lower layers.

* related to that: this is DEFINITELY the paper I use, but I'm not sure it wouldn't be true with most papers: Copic marker ink is transparent.  I know, sounds obvious.  But it lets light through very easily.  When you scan a piece, the light of the scanner is going to go through the layers of color and bounce back off the paper -- this effect can be stronger depending on the type of paper.  So for me, that's another problem of getting really dark, rich colors -- the darkest bit always "wash out" because of that light-bounce-back effect.  I have things that look nice and dark on the page and are MUCH lighter in the scan.  Which is why every once of my pieces is marked "and effects in Photoshop", because I'm always scanning them and then using PS to do some color corrections, and adding shading that wouldn't survive the scanning process (or the layering-colors process.)
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Czarine on September 29, 2011, 04:36:11 AM
I'm still new with Copics, but I really like to use the colorless blender, when "spreading" the colours. But I have noticed that the paper has a noticeable effect on how the blender works.

I've used copics on regular copypaper and some art paper, and they do fine (if you learn to watch out for bleeding. The copic ink spreads too easily if you press hard). But with the blender I really recommend using a specific marker paper, since it doesn't quite work on regular paper. Marker paper is kinda thin, a bit transparent (?), "hard" paper. It's good when tracing/inking a pencil sketch. I have a japanese brand, .Too Marker Pad, but I'm sure there are other equivalents, maybe even better (and cheaper).

I've noticed that if you want a colour to spread softly, mimicing watercolour, you should use the blender first on the spot where you want the colour to spread, and after that apply the colour. Then you can make something like this --> http://fav.me/d2ladau (http://fav.me/d2ladau) I think blending two colours together is a bit harder. I usually use the blender to soften and lighten a colour's edge.

Nowadays I use copics mostly when travelling. They're easy to take with you anywhere, and they're quick to use. I don't bother with the fancy paper, unless I really want to make something cool. They're also fun to experiment: copics on ballpoint pen line art makes an interesting effect. Try it with caution. xD
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Treefox on September 29, 2011, 05:22:34 AM
For me the blender didn't do anything. It was like a blank pen. I will try it again, though on my marker paper. I actually thought that mine was maybe not properly manufactured, but after reading that Eregyrn couldn't use it as well, I really started thinking there is no sense to these blenders at all.
May I also gasp in awe at your beautiful art? So versatile, so amazing!
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Czarine on September 29, 2011, 05:40:50 AM
Heh, thanks, Treefox. :) I think the more you apply the blender, the easier it will spread the colour. I usually apply as much as I can! :D And here too, being quick is beneficial; I usually have the marker ready to be used the instant the blender has been applied. Sometimes I use them almost simultaneously, with the blender in my left hand.

I've been thinking, maybe something alcohol-based fluid could substitute for a blender... I'd like to pour it on the paper, rather than rub it with a nib. Or, maybe a brush would do... Heh, I think there would be lots of room to experiment!
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Eregyrn on September 29, 2011, 07:01:14 AM
Yeah, I think the blender didn't work for me because I wasn't using it on the right kind of paper.  When I first got my Copics, I tried to also order a pad of marker-paper, but it was out of stock at the place I got the Copics from (online ordering), and I kind of forgot about it.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Afke on September 30, 2011, 11:27:15 AM
I've used the colorless blender as well, in several ways. Blending two colors might not be the way they're supposed to be, because I don't use marker paper -- I have some, but I prefer copypaper; I can print on it and it's cheap.

I did the blending when trying to fade a dark blue to a lighter blue for example. I first color the dark part, then color over it with the lighter one, going over the sides where I want the fading, and then go over the whole part again with the blender.

I've also used the technique Czarine describes; blender on the paper first, then while it is still wet, put on the color you want to fade.

I've also managed to erase a bit of color with it! I accidentaly grabbed the wrong marker while working on one of my calendar pieces. I quicky started coloring the now to be named "stain" and kept coloring until it disappeared enough for me to be able to use the right color on that spot.

About other brands; I have a fairly broad choice here in stores nearby, and the ciao's were one of the cheapest, WITH brush tip (very important for my way of using them), and with all the benefits other copics have. As Eregyrn mentioned the replacing of nibs, and refilling. If I could choose I would start with copics again.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Afke on October 07, 2011, 03:27:09 AM
I found this artistshospital.deviantart.com/art/Marker-Tutorials (http://artistshospital.deviantart.com/art/Marker-Tutorials-139338720)
One place that is collecting many copic marker tutorials on dA.

Via www.copiccolor.com (http://www.copiccolor.com) !! (or copiccolor.com/afke (http://www.copiccolor.com/afke) to see my page)
You can add all your markers there and make a wishlist. If your mobile allows it, you can also have this list with you when you're in the store.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Eregyrn on October 07, 2011, 07:13:43 AM
Those are both great links!  I'm really looking forward to going through them, and doing something on the second page.


(I was amused that the first Color Collection that came up in the lower left, when I visited the page, was someone's collection for "skintones", and the first color they have listed is BV02.  Man, it took me *forever* to figure out that I should try to shade skintones using violet, rather than the combo of very-light-blue and warm greys I'd been using.)
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Shadowstar on October 08, 2011, 10:03:46 PM
Oh wow, you guys have an amazing database of knowledge at hand about this!  :lol

I think I'm just gonna stick to the basics right now, since I'm still just a beginner, and can't even get the Copics right now. But I'm definitely going to try and remember all this, because this is definitely something I want to try someday.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Startear on October 11, 2011, 09:16:07 AM
I've been watching tutorials for Pitt artist pens today, and one of the people were making a point that the reason why he used them was because he made a lot of art on the go, like subway and busses, and the Pitt pens doesn't give out any odour. Which made me wonder, does the copics give out smell?
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Eregyrn on October 11, 2011, 11:06:21 AM
No, they don't smell strongly.  I notice it a little when I'm covering a really big area, but it's not strong.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Treefox on October 13, 2011, 02:30:51 PM
Wow, I hadn't seen the links! Thanks, afke!
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Startear on October 16, 2011, 12:16:00 PM
I just placed a bid on ebay. Nine copics, sketch markers. 32 dollars is my bid. *fidget* I want to get them, but at the same time not, because it was a slip on my part. (I wasn't supposed to do a bid at all! And people wonder why I keep being broke :P )
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Icebird on October 25, 2011, 12:29:39 PM
Anyone willing to share some pointers on how to colour black hair with copics?
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Treefox on October 25, 2011, 01:07:09 PM
Wish I had more time now to elaborate on this. But actually I find drawing black hair with copics not so hard.
First I'd say you should decide if you want to give the hair blue, brown or Winnowill's raven-like multi-colored highlights. I would then color the entire hair with that basic color. Then take the copic black (best if you have the sketch or ciao copics) and start from the hair line and try to let them end in a slightly fuzzy way at where you want the highlights to be. Something like this:
(http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o161/Matschauge/th_Hair.jpg) (http://s120.photobucket.com/albums/o161/Matschauge/?action=view&current=Hair.jpg)
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Eregyrn on October 25, 2011, 02:07:32 PM
Yeah, I do something similar -- although I haven't tried to go back and add in additional white highlights with white pencil or ink, as it looks like was done in that sample.  I should try experimenting with that!

I based my technique for black or very dark brown hair on the way Wendy did it for the comics.  That means doing the basic foundation of the black hair color in the inking phase, and leaving highlight-areas for coloring.  I usually use the "formula" that "black hair" = black with blue highlights, while I tend to think of black hair with brown highlights as being "very dark brown".

That usually works for me in cases where the areas of highlight are pretty small, overall.  I just use one color, and haven't experimented yet with putting white highlights in too.  But when I've done a larger figure (like a bust portrait), I usually use two blues -- the first one lighter, and then the second darker, to suggest gradations of shading even within the highlight area.

I ended up doing this because of the effect I mentioned above, which is that because of the paper I use, the Copic black marker doesn't give me a "solid" black.  Light bounces through it in the scanning process.  Because I laser-print my inks to color them, that gives me a very solid black
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Afke on October 26, 2011, 12:18:00 AM
I don't like using blue hues for black hair. As I do for clothing, I use darker greys for black.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Icebird on October 26, 2011, 03:39:59 AM
Thanks for all your inputs, ladies  :D I'll let you know how it goes~
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Treefox on October 26, 2011, 08:52:11 AM
I agree about the basic color of black hair make it seem more like dark brown or red hair, or whatever.
Depending on what effect I desire I also use grey for the highlights of black hair. Or just paint it black and put the highlights on with opaque white.
I guess the greyish tone is more realistic. But I like raven-like blue highlights. :D
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Eregyrn on October 26, 2011, 09:25:49 AM
The blue thing is definitely a comic-book convention.  ;)  I have only once or twice seen hair in real life that made me understand where that convention comes from.

But I also kind of like that it gives me the option to use other colors -- grey (cool or warm), brown, red -- to suggest different dark hair colors.

Again, going back to EQ -- Leetah's hair in the OQ was really done with red highlights and black undertones, simply because of the needs of the comic originally being printed in b&w only, and Wendy needing to use black shading to create visual interest in the inking.  But it's really effective. 
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Startear on July 15, 2012, 11:04:24 AM
This little video is not about copics, but it does touch upon things that you can do with the blender, which I thought is pretty cool.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=q_0md6tE4A0 (http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=q_0md6tE4A0)
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Treefox on July 17, 2012, 02:40:24 AM
Oh thanks, Startear. I want to watch it as soon as I find the time.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Afke on July 18, 2012, 12:56:05 AM
I have used the blender the way she does as well, I have even used it as far as an eraser -- I just grabbed the wrong marker, and the ink was wet enough to be able to remove with the blender.
She explains it wrong though; what the blender does is absorb the ink. That's why the color got lighter. It will end up on your blender (perhaps her color was light enough she didn't notice, and she also does such tiny pieces), but it can be easily removed by coloring it out on a blank piece of paper.

I also saw a tutorial once where it's explained that the absorbing property of the blender is exactly what you should use it for; you hold the tip of the color you'd like to fade against the blender, let it absorb the color, and then when you color with the blender on paper it'll start out your chosen color at darkest and get lighter and lighter until all the colored ink is gone from the blender.
I used a little bit of that to fade Picknose's bright red shirt in his calendar portrait.

I like to use all possibilities the blender gives, I don't think there's one "right way", let your own creativity experiment with it. :)
It is nice to know the blender works with more brands of marker; the blender contains more alcohol than the other Copic markers, perhaps that's why.
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Startear on July 18, 2012, 08:31:02 AM
Can that ink be stuck on the blender? Let us say that you didn't clean the blender, could the ink from the markers stay there?
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Afke on July 18, 2012, 11:58:15 PM
I don't know, but I don't think so, because of the alcohol ratio being much higher in the blender "ink".
Title: Re: [Tools of the Trade] Copics
Post by: Startear on November 06, 2015, 11:53:15 AM
Hey guys, I know a lot of you are busy with the calendar, but I found this video today and thought it was a neat idea that never occured to me. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnAYfvKN3_g (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnAYfvKN3_g)