Marker Geek Monday: Copic Basics Part 1

Hey everyone, Elaineabella here with this week’s Marker Geek Monday post!

Today we’re going to take a look at some basic Copic info to help some of you who are just getting started, and perhaps others who just need a refresher!

Marker Geek Monday - Copic Basics Part 1

Copic Marker Basics:

Copic Markers contain an alcohol based dye ink. They come in four different styles and are all refillable. They also have replaceable nibs.

Note: Copic is pronounced COH-PIC.

Marker Geek Monday - Copic Basics Part 1

Copic Classic or Original: these markers have a square body and come with a Fine Point bullet nib and a Broad chisel nib. It looks like you can now purchase 9 different optional nib styles for them, which is pretty cool. These markers are available in 214 of the Copic colours.

Marker Geek Monday - Copic Basics Part 1

Copic Sketch: these are the markers that I use and I believe these are the most popular choice overall. Sketch markers have an oval body and come with Super Brush and Medium Broad chisel nibs. You can now purchase an optional Medium Round nib to replace one of the existing nibs if you would prefer that, which is fantastic if you would prefer to have this instead of the chisel, although the replacement nib will work in either end of the marker. Personally, I do tend to use the chisel end of the marker for various things, so I’m happy with the nibs as they are, however I know a lot of people will be happier with the new optional nib (I may have to give them a go myself, just to see)! The Sketch markers come in all 358 Copic colours.

Marker Geek Monday - Copic Basics Part 1

Copic Ciao: these are the most budget-friendly style of Copic Marker. They only come in 180 of the Copic colours, but I know many people simply supplement their collection with the Sketch markers. They are definitely a cheaper way to build your collection, or just to try out the markers if you’re not sure. Ciao markers come with the same nibs as the Sketch markers. No optional nibs are available, but the nibs are replaceable. These markers are also refillable. Unlike the other styles, the caps on the Ciao markers are child-safe and have small air holes.

One of the main differences in these three marker styles is how much ink they hold. Classic hold the most ink, and a Various Ink refill will refill one of these markers around 9 times. A Sketch marker can be refilled around 12 times from one refill bottle and the Ciao marker can be refilled around 15 times from one refill bottle.

Marker Geek Monday - Copic Basics Part 1

Copic Wide: this fourth style of marker is the least used in card-making. It comes with one nib, the huge 3/4″ extra broad wide chisel style nib. You can purchase an optional nib – the broad calligraphy nib. Wide only come in 36 of the Copic colours. This marker style is really designed for covering large areas. I do have a selection of wide markers and have used them for colouring backgrounds and also for colouring cardstock to coordinate with my coloured images when making a card. I actually purchased them on sale in sets as the sets come with matching Various Ink refills for the markers, and the sale price meant buying the sets was cheaper than buying the refills on their own! Unless you come across a great deal like I did, or you intend to do a lot of background work on larger pieces, you probably don’t need to pick up the Wide markers.

You can also purchase empty marker barrels, which you can use to create your own custom colours or if say you collect the Classic marker style and would like to add more of the colours to your collection, or if you would like a Wide marker in another colour not currently in the range.

Copic Various Ink:

Copic ink being a dye, is not light-fast. This means that unless protected from light artwork will fade over time. This isn’t really a huge concern for card-makers, but it is worth bearing in mind.

Copic Markers are generally considered to be “acid-free”. As the alcohol evaporates and the ink dries, it becomes pH neutral.

You shouldn’t need to worry about purchasing refills for a while. With the exception of the Copic 0 Colourless Blender refill it was quite a while before I purchased any refills at all, and I still have some markers that have never been refilled. I will discuss refills in the next post in this series.

Choosing Your First Markers:

I’m often asked for recommendations on which colours to buy first. Really, it’s incredibly difficult to recommend a specific selection of markers that you should start with. The colours you choose really need to be tailored to your personal preferences regarding colour and also the subjects you intend to colour. If you prefer to colour floral images, there isn’t much point in my recommending skin tones, and if you want to colour lots of character images my recommending a variety of greens won’t be much help (well, unless those characters are aliens or monsters of course).  While colour combos are great fun to share and make note of, what works for me might not work for you. The results you get from using a colour combo I share may be entirely different to my results due to various factors. Your preference might be for more muted shades, while I prefer vibrant colour. Purchase colours you’re going to love and use, not ones I love and use!

Marker Geek Monday - Copic Basics Part 1

With all that in mind, my recommendation for getting your Copic collection started would be to do the following:

  • Consider the subjects and types of images you prefer and are most likely to be colouring. This will help you to decide on the colours you will want to prioritise when collecting.
  • Grab Sandy Allnock’s Hex Chart. It is well worth the $5.99 investment, and I wish it had been available when I first started using Copics! Use the pre-coloured version of the chart as a reference to help you select colours to purchase. Bear in mind that of course, the colour representation will not be 100% accurate, but it is a useful guide. This chart makes it easier to see colours that will work well together and colours that are visually very similar where you may not need both.
Marker Geek Monday - Copic Basics Part 1
  • When purchasing colours within most blending groups, start out by picking light, medium and dark shades leaving a couple of shades in between. For example: R20,R24,R27,R29. This will give you a nice range of colours with which to achieve depth and variety, without breaking the bank! Because Copic ink is translucent you can achieve deeper colouring by layering one colour multiple times, so even if you only have one or two markers in a particular colour family you can still achieve some shading.
  • Get some greys (more on this below). You don’t need them all, but having some light, medium and dark greys will help you to add extra shading even if your collection is otherwise limited.
  • If you still want some combo ideas, make sure you check out the free Copic Color Map downloads that are available for most Stamping Bella stamps. Whenever I colour the images for the website and packaging I put together a colour map showing the exact colours used on the images. You can find out how to obtain these by clicking HERE.
  • You can also review my Marker Geek Monday posts – there is a round up list of most of them HERE – previous posts have included some suggestions for hair and skin combos which you may find useful.

Which Greys?

One question I see being asked frequently is “Which greys should I buy?”. I discussed Copic Greys in a previous post – Marker Geek Monday: Colouring Cute Elephants with Copic Markers, which includes a visual comparison and some basic information.

When I first started colouring using Copic markers I only had the Warm and Cool grey options, and these worked well for me for a number of years. If you are just getting started with Copics, I would recommend starting with a selection of the Warm Grey and Cool Grey markers. As discussed above, there is no need to buy all the markers in each group, just skip a couple between each and you should have plenty to work with.

Sets vs Individual:

You can buy Copic markers in sets ranging from small 3 marker packs to 72 marker box sets. I didn’t collect mine this way – I think the only sets I’ve purchased have been the boxed set of 12 new releases in 2012 and the Wide sets that I mentioned above. My personal feeling is that collecting the markers individually as open stock is a more flexible approach. That said, sometimes you may spot the sets on offer, or if they stock Copics in a local store that has coupons, that might be the more cost-effective approach. Again – consider the options, your plans for the markers and how quickly you want to or can afford to build your collection.

Marker Geek Monday - Copic Basics Part 1

There’s something to be said for building a collection slowly, it allows you time to become familiar with the markers without being overwhelmed. It took me several years to build my collection and I’m still missing a few from the range.

I’ve heard recently that the larger sets may be proving difficult to get hold of in some areas, and some sellers on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay may be inflating the prices. Do your research – visit the official website or a reputable art store website and find out what the RRP is before purchasing.

Storing Your Markers:

Copic Markers can be stored either vertically or horizontally. Either way is perfectly safe and will not harm your markers or cause them to dry out. Store them however works best for you.

Because I don’t like to be chained to my desk, I keep my markers in the top of an Ikea Raskog cart. This means I can easily wheel my markers through to another room. I also store my refill bottles in the cart, so I always have the refills on hand too! The markers sit in the small bags/baskets from the official Copic storage bag, so that if we’re going away for a few days I can easily transfer my markers to the bag for traveling!

I almost have a complete collection of all 358 colours in the Sketch markers, and as you can see they fit perfectly in the top of the cart, along with a folder and the clipboard I use when colouring.

Before I invested in the Ikea Raskog cart I simply kept my markers in the Copic bag.

Other people use cubbies, stands, the Ikea rail and buckets systems and homemade boxes. Whatever works!

NEXT WEEK: We will talk about marker maintenance and look at a few “dos and don’ts”.

Copic Videos:

If you would like to take a look at how I colour using Copic Markers, you can watch some of my colouring videos in the playlist below or over on my YouTube channel.

Over To You!

If you have any Copic tips please share! Especially if you have a great way to store the markers and refills. Let’s talk colour!

If you are posting your images online, we would love to see them on Instagram and all the platforms mentioned above.  To make it easier for us to find you just use #markergeekmonday and/or #stampingbella as a hashtag. Even better tag me @markergeek and @stampingbella . We love it when you connect, so don’t be shy!

If you’re on Facebook join us in our private chat group Stamping Bella Sistahood to share your creations there and chat all things Stamping Bella related!

Until next time, HAPPY COLOURING!




  1. Laura says:

    The hex chart is a big help when deciding what colors to choose…wish I had found it first as I could have added to my collection with more variety. Thanks for all the info Ellainabella 🙂

  2. Now, just how did you know I needed a “refresher” on Copics Markers??!!
    LOVE it! Even “seasoned” stampers need this every so often, and it’s WONDERFUL for “newbies” as well! Thanks for doing this …..Happy Stampin’ n’ Coloring! :-))

  3. Jo says:

    This is perfect as I had a class with Fayeabella yesterday and feeling full of enthusiasm and confidence!

  4. Beverly says:

    Well, they are still on my wish list and I would love to be
    Able to work on this list. Right now I’M learning with the new Altenew colors. easier on my bank account. thanks for the really good info.

  5. Thanks for sharing Elaine! I love the Hex Chart from Sandy and use it every time I color! It is so helpful! I store my Copics in the Copic storage bag. When I first started collecting them, I found a “stackable” plastic container that worked great. It had four smaller containers that the Copics fit in perfectly….until my Copic markers kept multiplying! LOL! I never did by a “set”, just purchased individually. I found the best prices at Dick Blick. They discount the markers a little bit, so I was able to purchase more markers for the same amount of money. I started small and just added to my collection about once a month. I do happen to own all of the colors in the Sketch line. I have been using my Copics for about 5 years now and only have about 20-30 refills for the Copics I use most often. The other markers are just fine, even after so many years. Thanks for sharing all of your information! Great refresher information! 🙂

  6. Sheri says:

    Thanks so much! This was an excellent article on getting started.


  7. Lauel Stimlerr says:

    You’re so right about the Hex Chart! Really helps me pick colors that will blend – I refer to it constantly.

  8. Gail Plaskiewicz says:

    Wow, who knew there were so many colors? My box of Crayola Crayons doesn’t have that many colors. I was drooling over all the colors because that’s me. You should see my colored heart leggings I’m wearing. Those Copics have nothing on my leggings! LOL
    Thanks for all the info on the Copics. There are so many I don’t know which ones to get other then the ones I already have. I’ll have to save this one along with the others so I can know what to do with my Copics. Thanks again for all the great info.

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