Do Copic Markers dry out?

Do Copic Markers dry out? Heck yes they dry out! Making sure your ink doesn’t evaporate on you in a wasteful way is rule one of Copic maintenance. The inks in Copic Markers are alcohol based. One of the main points of using pens with alcohol based ink, is that the alcohol evaporates quickly.

If you leave a lid (or two lids!) off a Copic Marker, the alcohol will naturally evaporate. While the alcohol is escaping, the ink isn’t. Leave it for long enough, and you end up with a pen completely out of alcohol. The good news is, an empty pen doesn’t need throwing away, Copic refill inks can be bought to breath new life into the used up pen.

Do Copic Markers dry out and cause irreparable damage?

Copic classic with lid off on colourful note pad
Do not leave your lids off. Ever.

A dried out pen can become unusable, but dealt with in the right way it won’t be unsalvageable.

If the alcohol is gone, the best bet is to use official Copic Marker refill inks to rehydrate the pen. If you use any other type of alcohol, you run the risk of damaging the pen permanently unless you know that it is high quality. If you are familiar with art supplies, it might be worth experimenting with substitutions. On Amazon, the inks are a single item, and once selected you can use a drop down menu to choose the colour you need.

According to the official Copic site, the nib can dry out to such an extent that it needs replacing. In my experience, over using a pen which is drying out can also result in nib damage, as the lack of liquid results in more friction with the page.

Replacing nibs is a much more appealing thought than having to replace the entire pen. Remember too that different types of Copic Markers come with different nibs, so this could be an opportunity to experiment. Buy some nibs that aren’t native to your pen, and see what suits. It’s easy enough to get hold of Sketch brush nib replacements, medium round nibs for Sketch, Classic brush nibs (the Classics do not have brush nibs as an off the shelf option), round nibs for Classic and many other combinations.

I would recommend, before splashing the cash on new nib, to try and submerge the nib in official Copic ink to see if it rejuvenates.

Do Copic Markers dry out without use?

If you maintain your Copic Markers well, they should not simply run out of ink without being used. Aside from use and leaks, the main source of ink loss is evaporation. The seals on Copic pen lids are pretty airtight, another sign of the quality of the pens (and another factor in justifying their bigger price tag). Tighter lids means less exposure to air, less exposure to air means less chance of evaporation.

Proper maintenance is very straightforward, the main rule is to keep the lids on the pens when they aren’t in use. Other usual advice also applies here, like keep the pens away from direct sunlight and out of extreme temperatures. Any of these extreme exposures can weaken the plastic case, and that case is the key to protecting the ink.

But mainly, please, keep the lids on.

How quickly will a Copic Marker run out through use?

How quickly a Copic Marker runs out through your usage, unsurprisingly depends on how much you use the pen. If you have a colour you return to often, of course you will find it emptying out quicker than other pens.

The first pens of mine that went empty were the C1 and C2 in the Cool Grey set (I recommend these as a great set to start with). This is because I tend to layer lighter greys across my images and then build up shadows and contrasts with darker greys. As a result, I’ve always got C1 and C2 ink top ups to hand.

What you are drawing on will pull different levels of ink too. Inking on to official Copic paper will be a fairly ink light experience. However if you are doing heavy blending between different shades, it can take a few passes to get what you are after – this will, of course, use more ink. If you use Copic Makers on canvas, or on uncoated paper it is likely to draw on more ink from your pen, drying out the ink well faster. Similarly, inking onto fabric is pretty thirsty work for a Copic too, as the ink is pulled into individual fibres and spread further, needing more layers to get the colour you were expecting.

Are Copics more likely to dry out than other pens?

Copic Markers will not dry out any faster or slower than other brands. However, cheaper pens with less well constructed bodies and lids which don’t seal as well will be more prone to leaks and evaporation.

All alcohol based markers will dry out fairly quickly. As irritating as it is to have a pen that dries out, the upshot is having colours that can blend and dry fast when applied. Whether it is a Copic marker or another brand makes no difference. I’ll say it again: keep the lids on. If you are struggling to maintain your pens properly, it’s worth spending some time thinking about how best to organise your Copic Markers.

Water based markers don’t dry out quite as fast, but they don’t blend so well either.