My backstory with Copic markers – I began using them in the early 2000’s, when my local store started carrying a few – they had a tiny rack with just some pastels, since everyone was in the season to make Easter cards. I’d seen them online, and thought, “Who needs such pricey pens when I have my Tombows and my pencils?” I bought a couple just to prove that I could blend just as well with pencils.
I found they blend “like buttah!” And my coloring took off!
Copics are alcohol markers, which gives them all sorts of properties that other pens don’t have and abilities they cannot achieve. There certainly are techniques to get close, but the intensity of color and smooth blending is fairly unique to Copics.
This video is from the free PreClass lesson in Copic Jumpstart; note a change, which is that the wide markers are now only available as an empty body to fill yourself.
Each marker body can be purchased as an “empty” marker, and you can custom-mix colors. OR if a color is unavailable at any store you can find, just buy the empty and a refill of the color you need and make your own!
Ciao are the least expensive of the Copic family, with a round body. It’s smaller than others, and holds less ink; that only means it needs to be refilled sooner, but the nibs are the same as the Sketch so they perform the same. The Ciao come in fewer colors (180) than the Sketch (358) but the 180 are within the 358-color range. It’s certainly possible to mix and match Ciao with Sketch markers, unless you’re the kind of person who, well, needs things to match. Print the pdf for the labels on a sticky-back sheet then hole punch them, and you can then have numbers on the ends of your Ciaos.
Sketch markers are most common, as they come in the largest number of colors (358). The bodies are oval, so they don’t roll off the table. These have a SuperBrush nib on one end, and a chisel nib on the other (see the Copic Airbrush lesson for a great way to use that nib.)
Original markers, also called “classic“, have square bodies. They come in fewer colors (214) than Sketch (358), but the 214 are within the 358 range.
Wide markers, which have been discontinued, can still be used – you can still buy an empty wide marker and fill it with the color of your choice.
There is a bullet-style nib which can now fit the chisel nib end of sketch markers; I recommend viewing the Copic Airbrush lesson before deciding to replace that on all your markers. I don’t find this “tiny” nib to be “tiny” enough to warrant a mass changeover, but you might try one pack and see if you want to do them all. Note they don’t blend nicely like the brush nibs, you have to do lots of work to get that to happen. I put a special piece of washi tape on markers that have the fine nib on it just so I remember which ones I’ve swapped. Video below has more info.
About the Sketch Fine (bullet) nibs….
Below is another video from the free Preclass lesson in Copic Jumpstart…..all about taking good care of your markers! Supplies for refilling:
Last but not least….a “trick” I’ve used for years – and described – but finally had a marker that was so awful with crystalline gunk that I could videotape the process! Try this with any markers before replacing nibs – I’ve even had it work when I just had little fuzzy bits hanging off the nib sometimes. Not all the time, but it’s worth a couple drops of colorless blender to save changing out a nib!