When starting out with Copic Markers, the pens are only half of the equation. The end result of your art work will depend just as much as the paper you are inking on to. Choosing the best Copic Marker Paper depends on the style you are looking to achieve, but there are some simple choices to make.
If your aspiration is to create polished, refined drawings like the Anime creators who originally used the pens produce, then there are some obvious choices in terms of paper. At the same time, one of the most rewarding experiences with Copic Markers is to experiment with different materials and find the combination which works for your own style.
If you are getting started, it’s worth considering coloring books for Copic Markers. This will allow you to focus fully on blending techniques, safe in the knowledge the paper can deal with your ink.
Recommended paper for Copic markers
For reliable colour with Copic pens, the best paper for you to use comes from Copic themselves. Keeping within the Copic ecosystem means more reliable results, with paper designed for use with the pens we love.
Beyond that, the choices are pretty much endless.
What paper is best to use with Copic markers?
Copic Custom Paper has excellent colour properties, suitable for comic and manga style illustrations. This makes it the best Copic Marker paper if that’s the style you are aiming for. There’s no real gray area here – this paper is made for the pens and gives a great, uniform finish while providing the perfect, not too absorbent surface to blend colours.
I’d recommend this paper when you are first starting out with Copic markers. It’s great to experiment, but even better to experiment when you are familiar with the basic capabilities of the pens. I started by using unfinished paper because that was my chosen medium for sketching at the point I introduced Copics into my work. I immediately loved the pens and did some work I was pleased with, but it wasn’t until I was working on properly finished paper that I saw what was possible. Once I’d made these discoveries, returning to the unfinished paper gave me even more options.
The Copic Paper selections (there are other types, suitable for different types of illustration) are pads of paper, not bound together like a sketchbook. You’ll want to have a way to file or store your completed drawings so they don’t get crushed or lost in transit.
Do Copic markers need special paper?
No, you do not need special paper to use your Copic Markers, but beginners would be encouraged to use paper designed for the pens.
Experimentation is the key to finding the best Copic marker paper for you and your style. For instance, alongside the Custom Paper, Copic also offer Premium Bond Paper which has a specific focus on being excellent for blending and ‘special effects’ (these special effects may well refer to the texture and lightening that can be achieved with a Copic Colorless Blender).
But there’s no reason to stay with Copic manufactured paper. There’s a world of different paper types out there, with different finishes and hues which will play in strange and unexpected ways with your pens. There is no right answer.
Best sketchbook for Copic Markers
There are official Copic sketchbooks which are of great quality, but for getting started the best Copic marker paper sketchbook is the square Travelogue Drawing Book. The paper is strong enough to accept a light watercolour wash without buckling, and therefore can withstand the wetness of the Copic ink.
Whats more the square version is small, so you can easily cart it around and use your Copics whenever you like while getting used to your pens. Also, the smaller page size will stop the temptation to sketch too big, and use up your inks while learning the basics of the pen. At just 5.5 inches square, you will be kept in check.
Can I use Copic Markers on non-copic paper?
There is nothing forcing you to stay with Copic branded paper and there are plenty of other brands who make paper designed for use with alcohol markers. There are also plenty of paper types which are perfectly fine to use Copics on, you don’t even need to stay with the bleed-proof.
Can I use Copics on watercolor paper?
Copic Markers work well on watercolour paper. Watercolour paper is designed to take a wash of water to activate the colours, meaning it should be resistant to buckling. Depending on the type of colouring you are doing, there can be quite a lot of alcohol solution on your page with Copic markers, so this resistance is important. When blending tones, this increased liquid situation is even more pronounced.
Depending on how rough your watercolour paper is, there might be some difficulty with precision and bleeding beyond your lines. Using light strokes until you are comfortable with the behaviour of the paper should help you overcome this issue. Also, the thicker the paper, the thirstier it will be, so watch your ink levels.
Is mixed media paper good for alcohol markers?
You won’t get the traditional, smooth finish of an anime style illustration with mixed media paper, but that’s not to say you can’t get great results by combining Copics and mixed media paper.
The rougher tooth of mixed media paper will lead to more bleeding of your inks, a little like when using Copics on fabric. But it can still result in some lovely art work.
However, there are a few watch outs when using rougher paper like this. The lack of finish and general thickness of the paper makes it thirsty for your precious Copic ink. This shouldn’t be enough to put you off experimenting and seeing if the style suits your need – but it is worth bearing in mind. If it works for you, it’s worth thinking about stocking up on inks and weighing up the lifetime cost of Copic marker ink refilling.
The paper can be rough on your nibs, which also needs to be thought about. But don’t be too precious about your pens, they are there for you to use, not to be worshipped. The paper will probably have a bigger detrimental effect on a fine nib than the brushes, but you can always replace your nibs.
Also, any paper darker than perfect white will have an impact on the appearance of your inks on the page. For instance, if you are used to working with grayscale Copic families, you will have to adjust to suit your paper. A C1 might actually show up as a C3 if the hue of your paper is darker, although the relative distinction between a C1 and C3 will remain.
Do Copic markers work on printer paper?
Copic markers (or alternatives to Copic markers) can work on cheap printer paper, but you will have to work fast if you want a good blend and watch your saturation point.
Printer paper tends to be thin, and so can take less of the alcohol suspension before it becomes saturated. At saturation point, continuing to blend becomes very difficult, and you risk damaging the paper.
Heavily saturated paper will damage in two ways. First, it will start to come away if you continue to work into it, resulting in the top layer (or perhaps all of the paper) tearing in a wet, messy ball. Second, it will compromise the overall structure of the paper, making it ‘buckle’.
If you are looking to blend colours on printer paper, you will have to work quickly. Because it lacks the finish of a bleed proof paper, the Copic ink will dry more quickly. The drier it is the hard it is to blend.