If you are looking to practice your Copic coloring technique (because you are just getting started) without putting all your time into creating the linework, we’ve taken a look at some coloring books for Copic Markers for you.
How do we qualify coloring books for Copic markers?
We’ve gone after books that offer decent paperweight (as the only the right types of paper will stand up to the amount of ink needed for good blending). We’ve also sought out books with one-sided illustrations because there would be no use wasting every second illustration.
What are the best Coloring Books for Copic Markers
We take an in depth look at these coloring books with single sided illustrations:
- Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal
- In The Garden: Color & Frame
- Good Vibes Coloring Book
Attributes of the best Coloring Books for Copic Markers
We look at the following attributes of each option:
- Blending – how well the Copic inks blend on the paper (you might also want to think about which Copic colors to start with)
- Bleed – how the inks behave on the paper (and how much trouble they will give you trying to stay in the lines)
- Illustration/style – completely subjective of course, but we know what we like.
- Penetration – how readily the ink passes through to the page behind. While we expect you to use a scratch sheet to catch the ink anyway, it can tell you a lot about the properties of the paper.
Now, you could technically argue that Floribunda isn’t so much a coloring book, as it is a journal with coloring elements. Nonetheless, I gave it a try because compared to a lot of the colouring book options touting thicker paper, it is a little more classy in terms of illustration.
There’s a decent blend possible with this paper, but it will take a little work. To achieve the sketchy example used here I was into my third pass with the Light Mahogany (E07). The paper feels completely uncoated, so while it is thick and allows mixing without buckling, it will also suck up ink. It takes a few passes to get a good level of saturation, but that can be your friend when blending! As a result, it’s a good choice for coloring books for Copic Markers.
The bleed on this paper isn’t the worst, with a slight digression from the initial line I placed down resulting in a going over the line of the illustration. It would be pretty quick to learn the bleed rate of the paper and avoid this happening. The way it bleeds is fairly predictable, not at all like using Copics on fabric. Applying ink a millimetre or so away from the linework should avoid mistakes.
I love the illustration style of the flowers in here, somewhere between scientific diagrams and expressive children’s books illustrations. The only downside is the relative scarcity of illustrations: 37 across 144 pages. Of course, if you wanted to combine journaling with your Copic coloring, this might just be the one for you. If you are looking to practice your inking without running your pens dry, the isolated images will work well too.
There was a surprisingly light amount of ink bleeding to the page behind, testament to the thickness of the paper.
With perforated edges perfect for an 8 x 10 frame and one-sided illustrations, In The Garden: Color & Frame ticks our main boxes for consideration. It features 32 illustrations by Lily Ashbury across 64 thick pages. It doesn’t mention how thick, so we got stuck in.
The paper used for In The Garden: Color & Frame allows for a really nice blend with Copic Markers. The paper isn’t so thick that you need too many layers before you reach a nice level of saturation. At the same time, it can take some serious working over to get the blend you desire. To achieve the blend below, it only took two layers of each pen (an E07 and YR09) to achieve a soft transition between the two.
This paper is a pleasure to work with, there’s minimal bleed and whewin it does happen it is predictable and manageable. As you can see from the sample above, everything is within the lines. This was achieved on my first pass, so I hadn’t had to learn anything about the paper to achieve it.
The sample also featured multiple layers, and it’s those second and third layers that can often catch you out as the ink feels like it moves faster through saturated layers.
The illustrations in the book are a mix between mandalas and still lifes. The mandalas are nice, simple repetitive mixes of geometric shapes which create a meditative state when drawing. A lot of them are full page though, so will be quite thirsty on your inks.
That simplistic style is also translated across to the still life drawings, which for me leaves them a little flat. Although, the more simple the line work, the more room you have for expression in color.
This coloring book is pretty forgiving on the bleed front. As you would expect, the ink is visible from the rear of the page, but that’s why we’re only looking at single sided designs. From the multiple layers of ink used to achieve the blend above, you can see the faintest of bleed through to the page behind.
The Good Vibes Coloring Book (I used the Enjoy This Moment one for this write up) doesn’t just offer the space to color, it also starts out with inspiration and palette ideas, delving into color theory and color combinations.
Pages are perforated, to make it easier to showcase your work.
The paper on the Good Vibes Coloring Book allows for a nice blend, with a lot of potential for rework before the paper starts to buckle. In my trial I eneded up with a nice smooth transition between two colours, although I did notice more speckling than I would normally anticipate.
I noticed a big spread of ink after I lifted the pen on this one. After putting down what I thought was a pretty accurate layer, I looked back a few seconds later and the spread had taken the ink beyond the line I was aiming at. I spent another ten minutes trying and finally felt like I came up with an approach which minimised spread, but it was far from perfect.
The sample I show above proves just how difficult it was to get it right first time, with each new layer acting less predictably than the last. The end result was, to say the least, a mess.
If you love word art, this one is for you. Each artwork is a slogan (“happy to be me”, “enjoy this moment” for instance). The slogans are adorned with floral elements.
Although these are one sided pages, there is a quote on the reverse of each art work (“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine” for instance). For anyone who has worked with alcohol-based markers before, you will know that if there’s anything on the reverse, it will show through as you are inking. Not expecting to see part of a reversed quote, I found this disconcerting at first. However, once the inking dried up, the lettering disappeared again.
There was a fair amount of ink leaking through to the next page in the book.
How to tell a good Copic coloring book
If you find yourself looking for a new coloring book for your Copic markers, there are a few key elements to consider:
- The quality of the paper
- The type of image which requires coloring (which is more about you than the book)
If you’re main aim is to color in recreationally, for relaxation and a way to empty your mind for instance, Copic markers may not be for you. They are great pens to use, but have a bit of a learning curve. However if you are looking to hone your skills with Copic markers through practice and experimentation, getting hold of the right kind of coloring book will be an ideal route to take.
Coloring books for alcohol markers are the same
At copicthinking.com we love Copic markers, and we know there is a devoted community just like us out there. That’s why we focus on finding the right books for Copics, however the same principle applies to any other alcohol based markers out there. You will be looking for the right paper quality and designs, thats all it comes down to.
Artist quality coloring books
Ideally, you are looking for the same quality of paper you would seek out when making your own artwork with Copic markers. Copic make a great range of papers designed specifcally for use with the pens, however they don’t manufacturer coloring books using that paper.
So we end up searching around for other high quality paper coloring books. Its no exaggeration to say that most of the coloring books you will come across use far from high quality stock.
The examples above come from extensive searching based primarily on quality of paper (or claimed quality of paper in some instances).
Look for a thick paper coloring book
To get the blend you are after with alcohol markers is murder for think paper. Thin paper is cheap, abundant, easy to get hold of. But it warps, buckles and bends when you give it a real going over with with alcohol based inks.
If you are looking to make artwork that has a good finish, you are looking for thicker paper. The same applies when looking at coloring books. If you want to sketch, play and throw away – scrappy thin paper coloring books will probably suffice. For anything you want to keep, reflect on, really hone your skills on or show off – it’s going to have to be thicker.
Card stock coloring book
Card stock is thicker than most forms of paper, but not as thick as other forms of paperboard. As such, is is difficult to come by genuine coloring books which feature card stock.
There are still options however, like sets of preprinted postcard designs which can take a good pasting with alcohol inks.
As close to card stock is what you are aiming for with coloring books if you want to use Copic works and have them last.
But you don’t need to set yourself the impossible task of colouring on card stock and nothing but card stock. Set your sights on finding a coloring book with paper that will most closely match the paper you plan on using long term.
Coloring with markers
Second to importance of the type paper you are using when coloring with alcohol based markers, is what your are coloring.
Best markers for mandalas
Truth be told, alcohol based markers probably aren’t the best option when coloring mandalas. For the uninitiated, mandalas are simply geometric patterns and symbols. Coming from various spiritual traditions, the idea was that the repetition and interlocking nature of the patterns helped with mediative focus. In the world of adult coloring books, the idea is that coloring these patterns can be relaxing for you too.
The tight, compact nature of the patterns means there are lots of tight angles to fill in. Unless you have a paper that you know won’t bleed, alcohol based markers can be an exhausting way to color these in. Other pens, less likely to blend, less likely to bleed, are probably better suited. Colored pencils are probably an even better option.
Why would you want an intricate coloring book?
Mandalas, and other intricate coloring books feature lots of tight space and very little in the way of expansive area to cover. Difficult as these can be to color using alcohol based markers, they do pose a great chance to increase your skills.
Covering intricate spaces with a single layer of alcohol based ink is easy enough. A second layer is where things get trickier, as you start to even out the tone or introduce a blend as the paper becomes saturated its hard to control the edges of your color. The result is a constant battle to understand how it will behave. Your control of the ink will improve over time, and when intricate angles come in to play in your own artwork you will know what to do.
Choosing a color palette for coloring books
Alongside the technical aspect of improving your alcohol marker work, coloring books will also help evolve your palette selection. Whether mandalas or still lifes, the ability to focus on color selection over and over again will help you in the long run. Brush up on color theory and experiment. The beauty of alcohol based marker is the layering of colors can add such depth.
Rather than just diving in to coloring, or trying to go for realistic tones, sit and plan before starting to color. Map out and make a plan of how you will use colors, try to surprise yourself.