How to use Copic Colorless Blender

The Copic Colorless Blender doesn’t blend ink so much as it just moves it around. If you are really looking to blend your colors, unless they are very light colors, you are better off looking at blending using the actual inks involved in your illustration.

When choosing the best Copic marker sets to start with, you don’t really have to take the Colorless Blender into consideration. You will be able to blend perfectly well using two colored Copics. However, with a little practice there are some useful ways to bring the Colorless Blender into you work.

Colorless blender techniques

There are three main ways to use the Copic Colorless Blender, and not one of them is for blending color. Odd right? It’s a strange name to choose for something which doesn’t really blend (well, not as well as the other pens in the set anyway), especially for those of you who are just getting started with Copic pens.

You will want to deploy the colorless blender when: fixing mistakes, lightening areas of color or adding a little depth or texture to an inked area.

Why isn’t the Copic Colorless Blender really for blending

The Copic Colorless blender is pigment free and so it will not lay down any color at all. Why am I telling you this? Because here’s the way to think about blending with Copic markers: any light colored Copic will move the ink of a dark colored copic and start to mingle the two sets of pigments giving you a good blend – just think of the colorless blender as the lightest Copic marker out there.

Copic Colorless Blender can be used for blending very light colors

The Copic Colorless Blender is the ideal pen when looking to blend to white (or whatever paper you have chosen to use your Copics on). Blending directly to white from a dark hue is difficult to accomplish, unless you are looking for a stark lighting technique. You would most likely pass through lighter and lighter hues before you got to white. In this case you could consider the Colorless Blender as the lightest pen in a multi-hue blend.

Otherwise, it can be considered the lightest ink in a two ink blend. Say you are working from a C0 (Cool Grey) to white blend. If you weren’t able to achieve a suitable blend through other methods (flicking etc), you could lay down the C0 first, the blend into it from the lightest point using your Colorless Blender (as you would with any lighter pen).

Copic Colorless Blender is for fixing mistakes

Because the Copic Colorless Blender is perfect at moving the ink, you can use it to move ink from where it has accidentally been applied.

A circle of Copic Sky
A hastily colored circle, with ink outside the lines.

The quicker you can address the mistake the better. This works by distributing the ink out so that it fades to almost nothing, as well as directing the pigment back towards the colored area. The nib will also pick some of the original ink up while carrying out this job, which can then be discarded by scribbling on a spare piece of paper or card.

Cleaning up an image with the colorless blender
Pigment outside the line removed via a colorless blender.

Copic Colorless Blender is for lightening

Much as we encourage you to use the Copic Colorless Blender to blend with the lightest of tones to white, you can use the pen to bring light patches to applied ink. By using the pen to simply move pigment around, you can reveal more of the paper’s original hue.

Lightening an illustration with the colorless blender
A lightened strip across the top.

Apart from some of the pigmentation which may get picked up on the nib, you will only be redistributing the color already on the page, not magically making it disappear. So you will need to be aware of building up a darker ridge of color around the area you are lightening. Light flicks will be your friend in this instance.

Use it to add depth

Using the Copic Colorless Blender you can add texture and depth to colored parts of an illustration. One of the main selling points of Copic markers is there ability to give you a smooth, even coloring. But what if you didn’t want that classic smooth finish? There are a variety of techniques you can use with a Copic Colorless blender to bring a little controlled chaos to your finish.

Adding texture to copic ink with the colorless blender
Teardrop shaped texture marks from a colorless blender.

To avoid a wet mess, you won’t want to bring too much motion to the process. Your best bet is it hold either end of the marker over the area you are looking to add texture to for a couple of seconds and then lift the pen. The released alcohol will ‘push’ the pigments away from the area touched, how much will depend on how long you hold, how dry the ink is and how dark it originally was. To be safe, you should try out a few approaches on a spare piece of paper before committing it to your work.

How do you make a colorless blender?

You can make a colorless blender with a Copic Colorless Blender refill and an empty Copic pen. Through the process of acquiring Copics, you may well find your self with two copies of the same color. It’s then an easy process to commandeer one of the bodies of these pens once it runs dry and top it up with the colorless refill.

Why would you do this? As we’ve established, the cost of Copic markers plummets when you move away from buying pens and start topping up pens you already have. This point is just as pertinent when considering the colorless blender. If there’s a spare empty lying around, save some money by creating your own – just mark it up with some tape so you remember it is your colorless blender.

How do you clean blending markers?

The Copic Colorless Blender is the most exposed pen when it comes to discoloration of nibs, but it is nothing to worry about. Through use, the pen is bound to pick up pigment from the colors it is being used against, which will result in staining the fibres in the nib. Using a spare surface, make sure to use the blender until it runs clean. If the liquid is clear but the nib is discolored, it won’t impact your future use – it is locked fast.

This is the same principal we found when using Copic pens with pencil. The graphite stains the nib, but doesn’t compromise use.