If you are getting started with Copic Markers, it is worth noting there are three common types, with the primary differences in the amount of ink they hold and the types of nibs they use. It is worth noting that you can vary up the nibs you use with each pen, with many more widths and styles of nib available from Copic to switch in at your choosing.
Types of Copic Markers – The Ciao, Sketch, Classic and Wide.
|Pen Type||Chisel Nib||Other Nib||Length||Stackable |
|Copic Ciao||Medium |
|Copic Sketch||Medium |
|Copic Classic||Standard |
|Copic Wide||Extra |
The Copic Ciao is the smallest of the Copic Markers, with a round body and a nib at each end. In the hand it feels slightly larger than the average ballpoint pen.
As standard, the Ciao comes with the Super Brush and Medium Broad nibs. As with all Copic Pens, the nibs are replaceable, which might be needed if your Copic Markers dry out completely.
The smaller size of these pens means that the distinctive Copic Colour Code is not shown on the lid . Instead, there’s a simple full colour lid with the colour code printed on the body of the pen itself. These lids are stackable, meaning fewer misplaced lids as you sketch on the fly.
The Copic Sketch is a little larger than the Ciao, with an oval shaped body and a nib at each end. The Skech holds approximately 25% more ink than the Ciao.
In a bigger hand this feels slightly more comfortable to work with than the Ciao, with the longer side of the pen nestling against the side of the middle finger in a typical pencil grip.
The nibs that come with the Sketch are identical to those found on the Ciao.
These pens carry the iconic colour code on the end of the lid, creating an easy reference point when looking at the pens from above. The lids are also capped with the representative colour, while the colour code is also represented on the body of the pen (useful if pens and lids become lost or accidentally swapped).
The one weak point of the Sketch is that the lids don’t stack, which can slow down your flow and become irritating as you scrabble around for your lost lid.
The Copic Classic is bigger again, the biggest of the more common types of Copic Marker. The Classic really feels like a substantial pen, with its chunky, almost square, body. Despite its relative size, these pens are as easy to hold as the others, and feel very natural in the hand. The Classic holds approximately 67% more ink than the Ciao, and 34% more than the Sketch.
The default nibs on the Classic are different from those found on the Sketch and the Ciao. The Standard Broad chisel nib is slightly broader than the Medium Broad found on the smaller pens, but it’s at the other end where there’s a noticeable difference. The Classic does away with the more expressive Super Brush and opts instead for a Standard Fine nib, allowing for more precise work.
Visually, these are the iconic Copic Marker. The colour code clearly marked on the end of the colour capped lid. Like the Ciao, these lids are usefully stackable.
The Copic Wide is the lesser seen of the Copic Markers, with a distinctive fat, wide lozenge shape providing a thoroughly broad inking nib. The broader body presumably has a larger ink reservoir, but with a nib that wide you would undoubtedly get through it at a faster rate.
The Wide holds about 28% more ink than the Classic.
Each type of marker is also available in a differing number of colours.
The Copic Ciaos come in 180 colours, include the colourless blender. With their thinner body and cheaper price, they form the entry point for many people on their Copic adventure. As such, I think of them as the ‘gateway’ pen: once you have experienced the quality you will be back for more.
My theory is that’s why I see more of these pens in art shops around the UK: the price isn’t enough to put people off, and once they are hooked they will go online for a serious hit. A combination of the cheaper price and smaller number of colours means many people view the Ciao as more of a hobby pen for people just getting started in their artistic career. Even the official Copic site lists the Ciao as just for beginners. If you think it’s ridiculous to say 180 colours is a limited number, read on.
But before we get to astronomical colour numbers, we need to think about the Copic Wide. This rarely seen pen comes in the smallest number of colour numbers, at a measly 36. Whether this is just Copic meeting supply and demand needs, or those artists working on a larger scale need fewer nuances, I’m not sure.
There is one mitigating factor however: the Wide Original, or empty marker. Buying one of these empty pens allows you to top up with any of the Copic inks available. This empty marker option is not available in the Ciaos, further relegating them away from being a serious, long term choice. Regardless, you can top up any Copic pen with any Copic ink, so there’s no reason you couldn’t make the Ciaos work for you.
The Classics, the largest capacity of the main pens, come in 214 colours – offering a little more variety than the Ciaos off the shelf. Those 214 colours include the colourless blender. Couple this wider range with the bigger packs you can buy (72 being pretty standard) means the Classics are regarded as a more grown up pen than the Ciao. It doesn’t come as a surprise then to learn that the Classic also comes in the Classic Original, or empty marker. A Classic user can then buy any available Copic ink to fill their empty pen, or even mix inks to create a brand new colour.
So that leaves us with the Copic Sketch, which comes in a staggering 358 different colours (there are 358 colours in the Copic universe at the moment). Needless to say, as an off the shelf option these are considered the more professional pen. A fairly pointless distinction if you ask us – as the Sketch is basically just a fatter Ciao, with exactly the same nibs and non-stackable lids.
Don’t get hung up on Copic types
Knowing the basics between the pens is important when you get started. However, don’t get hung up on them. Most serious copic users have a mix of all four types in their collection (well probably three actually, the Wides not being widely used). So long as you are using Copic ink, the only other consideration will be the type of nib you want to use. Realistically, as you progress with the pens, you will have a need for all three nibs found across Ciaos, Sketches and Classics. If you found yourself drawn to the brush nibs, there are even brushes available for the Classic, so you never need to feel trapped.
If you are looking for alternatives to Copic Markers, these types don’t apply. Most alternatives come in only one body type.
Other types of Copic Markers
There are a variety of other pens produced in the Copic range. The most notable being the Copic Multiliner, ideal for use with Copic Inks and guaranteed not to run. There’s also some glitter stuff, but that’s not really my kind of thing.