The best way to get started with any art material is to just dive in and give it a go. With that said, it won’t hurt to bolster your experimentation by looking at experienced users and following some of their Copic marker tutorials.
There are many specific ‘how to’ articles out there (we reference more than a few when looking at the best Copic skin tones), but for the purposes of this list we are looking at the real fundamentals.
Quickest way to practice with Copic Markers
Regardless of the tutorial you pick, if you are serious about getting good with Copics – you need to figure out a way to spend more of your time coloring, and less of your time drawing. The most obvious way to do this is spend your time coloring someone else’s creations. While Copic markers lay waste to the paper used in run of the mill coloring books, we’ve spend time compiling and reviewing a list of coloring books you can use with Copic markers.
Copic Marker Pen Technique Tutorials
Copic Marker Blending Tutorial
If there’s one thing that attracts people to using Copics, it’s seeing how nicely they can blend together. As nice as the pens are, they don’t just blend on their own, and as with everything there’s a technique to be uncovered.
Over at Annies Catalog there’s a great tutorial on the basics of blending Copics. The article covers everything from the importance of the Copic numbering system to your approach to blending and the importance of using the lighter shade to move the pigment of the darker shade around.
Using Copic Markers to Cover Large Areas Tutorial
For new Copic users, getting a smooth and uniform colouring can be difficult. Scaling that up to cover big chunks of paper can be near impossible unless you know what you are doing. Fortunately, ArtbyKarenEHaley has a really useful YouTube video showing the approach to take.
She discusses the reason she opts for a chisel nib when colouring large areas, as well as the importance of colouring away from the subject. Usefully, she also reveals the different coats involved in getting such nice uniform blue on the example image she’s using (spoiler alert: this isn’t a one and done kind of thing).
Most importantly, you can actually watch her physically get a good finish on the project. This is really useful for understanding the process you will need to follow to get similar results.
Copic Colourless Blender Tutorial
Staying on the video format, Suzanne Dean gives a great tutorial on using the Copic colourless blender. This is one of the most misunderstood pens in the Copic universe, and as we point out in our Best Copic Markers to Start With article, you do not need a colourless blender to get started with the pens.
If you are feeling comfortable enough to start experimenting with one however, Suzanne’s video is a great place to start.
It’s 10 minutes of showing how the colourless blender can lighten already applied Copic inks, or be used to apply patterns or textures.
A quick search on YouTube can unearth all manner of very specific Copic Marker tutorials, from how to specifically wokr with fabric to really nailing your Spiderman. Again, by learning from video you get to see actually how the pen needs to move, the pressure applied and the short term results you will see on your way to a complete project.
Copic Marker Materials Tutorials
Of course, the pens are only a part of the material selection. A great selling point of Copic markers is their flexibility to be used with other materials.
All of the Copic tutorials listed above are focused on using the pens on paper (in most cases, coated paper designed for use with alcohol-based markers). Personally I like using non-coated paper with the copics, simply because I like the aesthetic of using the pens on unfinished, creamier paper. This has led me to discover a number of truths about using Copic markers with a wider range of materials.
Copic Markers on Canvas Tutorial
Even though the canvas I used insisted it was not fit for working with alcohol-based pens, I went ahead and tried using Copic markers on canvas. After a struggle to start with, it ended up as one of the most rewarding experiences I have had with the pens.
Perseverance was key. Much like learning to layer inks on paper is the key to unlocking the potential of the pens, so reworking the ink on the canvas became essential to understanding what could be achieved.
The nature of the finish on the canvas also gave me more time to work away on the final look. This meant that no matter how poor my first 20 minutes felt, it was always coming back to a solution I could be pleased with.
Copic Markers on Fabric Tutorial
After my experimentation with canvas, I turned my hand to using Copic markers on fabric. Specifically I tried the pens on: cotton, coloured cotton, polyester cotton and pure silk. The results, it’s fair to say, were mixed. However what I uncovered were useful tips on controlling bleeding when inking on to fabric (the warp and weft are not your friends).
What became obvious as I experimented for the article was that the control of the ink on fabric is a learned skill – and so it is well worth putting in a lot of time practising on spare fabric before you commit to your design.
Also, following some tried and tested rules of getting artwork on fabric to stay in place, I delve a little into the best approach for your designs to stay long term. Full disclaimer, I’m not a decorating fabrics kind of guy. The idea of adorning my sitting room with cushions I’ve ‘created’ on gives me the creeps. Regardless, I know people out there want to show their work far and wide and I’m hoping this helps. Read the article for more lessons learned and watch-outs.
Before I got my first Copic multiliner, I used the pens on top of my pencil sketches. In doing so, I realised two things: a) the multiliner is the perfect tool for line work, because you know it will behave itself (not bleed, not run) time after time, and b) that I didn’t care, because I just loved the way copic inks and smudgy pencil lines work together.
If this is something you are curious about, you could do worse than reading my tutorial on using Copic markers with pencil.