Although the focus is usually on the sheer number of Copic Marker colors available, the number of grayscale Copic Markers is also impressive. These largely color-free pens offer a whole world of nuance you can bring to your artwork.
Different Tones of Grayscale Copic Markers
There are four tone families within the Grayscale Copic Marker world:
- Cool gray: 12 different tones – C00-C10
- Neutral gray: 11 different tones – N0-N10
- Toner gray: 11 different tones – T0-T10
- Warm gray: 12 different tones – W00-W10
In total there are 46 tones of Copic gray available .
Choosing which gray to use is an art in itself, the numbers above show that it’s not as simple as deciding you need a gray in your project. The nuances available in the range of Grayscale Copic Markers mean you can match tones to the artwork you are producing. There’s no right answer, it will come down to experimenting with the different tones and knowing how they interact with the other colors you have chosen, as well as the paper you are using Copics on.
If you are used to the traditional color codes on Copic Markers, you will know that the first number in the code relates to the saturation of color in the ink – the higher the number the more gray in the mix. This obviously doesn’t apply to the grayscale Copic Markers, because they are all gray.
As a result you have the following:
The letter demarcates which family of gray the pen belongs to, and there is only one number. The number indicates brightness: the closer to 0, the brighter.
Families of Gray
Cool Grays get their cool nature from a hint of blue in the mix. This makes it ideal for coloring cold objects, such as metals and plastics.
Warm Grays are made warm by the addition of brown to the ink. Ideal for coloring natural gray objects, and those which lack the cold metallic edge of metals. This set feels furthest from a true gray, with a noticeable sepia tint.
Interestingly, to me Toner Grays feel warm as well, but with the color addition dialled back. If the sepia hue of Warm is too much for you, and you are looking for a more pure warm gray, this will be your best bet.
Neutral gray is neutral, as its name suggests, and as a result is the most versatile of gray families. With no other pigment sharing the space, this should be your first gray choice if you aren’t looking to specialise in reproducing cold or warm tones.
Take working with black, for instance. To just color an object black is to deny it any volume, any depth. So adding gradations of gray on the way up to black is a good route to take for a more natural feeling image. If you are unsure if what you are working with should feel ‘warm’ or ‘cold’, then the Neutral Grays will do you just fine.
If you are getting started with alcohol based inks, you might want to try out some grayscale alternatives to Copic Markers first.
Different Usage of Gray Copic Markers
There are loads of examples of people doing great things with Gray Copic Markers. Cartoon Block offer up this video on using the Cool Gray set in isolation.
It’s well worth a quick search through YouTube for people focusing on specific sets and working monotone, or working grays into their wider colored pieces.
Here we have listed few creative usages of Grayscale Copic Markers:
- Highlighting your subject:
When you know how to balance the contrast between dark and light color tones, it is easier to enhance the overall appeal of the subject. Start by defining the areas where background and the main subject meet. You need to enhance the edges by using darker shades so that the picture looks like it is coming out of the page.
The grayscale tones can be used creatively to add variation between lighter and darker parts of the artwork.
- Creating 3D effects:
Grayscale tones can be used to create a full bodied feel to the artwork. For example, if you might want to highlight water droplets on the leaves of a plant. Highlights are formed more by their contrast to dark areas, and so you can achieve this striking contrast by using the darkest and lightest colors of a grayscale Copic marker family.
- Single color technique:
Some artists can create masterpieces by using only one color with different shades (see the Cartoon Block example above). When you are practiced in balancing between lighter and darker shades while building up the value of grayscale tones, it becomes easier to achieve stunning artwork.
While using a single color technique, make sure you emphasise shadows to define details more effectively.
In fact, we recommend starting out with grayscale Copic markers to really hone your skills in working with this contrast, before slowly introducing color to your work.
Types of copics in the grayscale
You can find grayscale pens in every type of Copic body, but not every family of gray is represented.
Copic Wide Grayscale
You can get hold of both Cool Gray Copic Wides and Warm Gray Copic Wides, but only in numbers 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. The even numbers of these sets, and the entire Toner and Neutral Gray sets are not available as wides. However, if wides are your thing, you can always buy empty pen cases and fill them with the required ink yourself (we have a breakdown of the economics of working with refill inks if you are interested).
Copic Classic Grayscale
All 46 gray tones are available in Copic Classic pens. As well as being available in individual pens, there are Classic 12-piece Toner Grays, Warm Grays, Neutral Grays and Cool Grays. For those Gray families which only feature 11 tones (Neutral and Toner) the 12th spot is taken by a 100 Black.
Copic Sketch Grayscale
The Copic Sketch pens also offer all 46 gray tones. As well as being available in individual pens, there are Sketch 12-piece Toner Grays, Warm Grays, Neutral Grays and Cool Grays. For those Gray families which only feature 11 tones (Neutral and Toner) the 12th spot is taken by a 100 Black, but in some instances there’s a 110 Special Black in that slot.
Sketch Grays also come in a five pack, featuring tones 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 as well as a Copic Multiliner.
Copic Ciao Grayscale
Copic Ciao offer a much more limited range of grays. Both Cool and Warm Grays are offered in the 0, 1, 3, 5, 7 tones, while Neutral and Toner Grays make no appearance at all. As with the wides, a user could always use an empty Ciao with the ink of their choice is there was a need.
The types of grays you get hold of will determine your needs for organisation of your Copics as well, as it makes sense to keep your grays grouped together.