Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Copic Marker Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, I am ready do dive into the world of the COPIC coloring system, but for weeks have been debating about a number of things: Which set do I get? Do I get a pre-boxed set or a designer set? Do I need a set at all? How many markers do I need to do decent coloring? Should I join a marker club? Would it be cheaper to just buy on Ebay? Is cheaper necessarily better?

You get the picture.

I'm happy to share the fact that I figured it out. FINALLY. I looked at five major retailers of the COPIC markers: Dick Blick, Oozak, Ellen Hutson,, and Carpe Diem Store. Ellen Hutson stands out from the group because she offers "designer sets" of markers, meaning you actually get a bunch of useful colors as opposed to the pre-boxed sets that offer quite a few grey shades. Even with the designer sets, you'll notice that there aren't a lot of colors that are similar to be used for good blending (according to the guidelines posted on the Copic site). Although you can get some dimension from just one marker (by coloring more at the spots you would like to be darker) it won't be the same as if you were to use more than one marker... meaning even the designer sets aren't perfect. You'd still have to buy more individual markers to get the desired results.

I've been told Ellen Hutson's sets are slightly more expensive because of the time and thought she took to decide which colors to group together. I mean no offense to her or any other retailers who have put a lot of time and thought into their sets - I think that is a great resource for people who want a fast buy that works - but personally I'd rather put my own time and thought into it and pay less. That's just me. And believe me, there has been A LOT of thought going into this!

I started a thread about this on Splitcoast, and had a number of private messages requesting the list of markers I came up with so I thought I'd post it here and explain things a bit more in the process. Hopefully I can help a few people out who are trying to figure things out as well.

The bottom line is that Carpe Diem Store still has the best prices out there. If you buy the 36 pen set, it is $139.23, or $3.87 per pen. If you buy the 72 pen set, it is $278.46, which is still $3.87 per pen. So there is no real benefit to buying the bigger set over the smaller set. The problem with buying a set is that you still have the dilemma of the set having a ton of grey's in it (for instance 13 of the 36 markers in that pre-boxed set are grey or black - who needs that?!). SO, I checked and the price for each individual pen is $3.95... You only save $0.08 per pen by buying the set, which really isn't much in the grand scheme of things.

I went through the entire color chart and picked out all of the colors I like and the colors that would blend well with them where applicable. According to my research, the key to good blending is to use markers that have the same letter(s) and first number, and be within 2-3 digits of each other in the last number. I came up with 53 pens, which comes to $209.35 before S/H.

This set includes the colorless blender, but it does not include any grey or black markers. After revisiting the list I think I would add one cool grey (starts with C), one warm grey (starts with W), and their black (100, not 110 which is not a true black). About those greys... the cool greys have a bluish tint to them. In my mind, they would work well for shadows along or beside images as well as for coloring. The warm (W) greys have a brownish tint to them, and seem like they would work well for coloring as well. The toner (T) greys are neutral with no tint to them, and to me just seem kind of blah, which is why I am avoiding them.

The letters in each marker number refer to the color family. E=Earth, B=Blue, BG=Blue Green, BV=Blue Violet, R=Red, RV=Red Violet, V=Violet, Y=Yellow, YR=Yellow Red, G=Green, and YG=Yellow Green.

Note: I already own 2 Copic markers, and both are flesh tones so there are no flesh tones in this set. I also chose not to include any of the flourescent colored markers as I don't think I would get much use out of them.

Edited to add: This set could easily be broken down into smaller sets bought at certain intervals. Just make sure to keep similar colors together. For instance, BV00 Mauve Shadow is what I would call a "stand alone" color, meaning that no other colors in the set would necessarily blend with it. There are more colors like that - colors that just stood out to me, despite the fact that they were "loners" as it were. A person could start with just the colors that blend, and then get the stand alone colors later, or come up with some other system. Personally, I'm all about instant gratification ;o) so I'll be buying all at once (can you say Economic Stimulus Check? LOL)

Here is my self-made set:

  1. E55 Light Camel
  2. E57 Light Walnut
  3. B02 Robin's Egg Blue
  4. B05 Process Blue
  5. B18 Lapis
  6. B21 Baby Blue
  7. B24 Sky
  8. BG15 Aqua
  9. BG18 Teal Blue
  10. BV00 Mauve Shadow
  11. BV08 Blue Violet
  12. R05 Salmon Red
  13. R08 Vermillion
  14. R24 Prawn
  15. R27 Cadmium Red
  16. R29 Lipstick Red
  17. RV14 Begonia Pink
  18. RV17 Deep Magenta
  19. RV29 Crimson
  20. RV32 Shadow Pink
  21. RV34 Dark Pink
  22. V04 Lilac
  23. V06 Lavendar
  24. V09 Violet
  25. V12 Pale Lilac
  26. Y06 Yellow
  27. Y08 Acid Yellow
  28. Y13 Lemon Yellow
  29. Y15 Cadmium Yellow
  30. Y17 Golden Yellow
  31. Y19 Napoi Yellow
  32. Y26 Mustard
  33. Y38 Honey
  34. YR04 Chrome Orange
  35. YR07 Cadmium Orange
  36. YR09 Chinese Orange
  37. YR14 Caramel
  38. YR16 Apricot
  39. YR18 Sanguine
  40. YR24 Pale Sepia
  41. G05 Emerald Green
  42. G07 Nile Green
  43. G09 Veronese Green
  44. G14 Apple Green
  45. G16 Malachite
  46. G19 Bright Parrot Green
  47. G24 Willow
  48. G28 Ocean Green
  49. G29 Pine Tree Green
  50. G99 Olive
  51. YG07 Acid Green
  52. YG17 Grass Green
  53. 00 Colorless Blender

Click HERE to view a (easier to see) .pdf chart of all colors Copic offers. You can use the chart to see the shade of the colors I have selected, or to select your own.

Edited (again) to add: The Carpe Diem Store also sells storage containers for a very reasonable price. For instance, a 72 piece storage container is only $7.96. I was going to get one with my order, but then I saw this post on my friend Lorie's blog and decided I will wait and find a cute little container to stash them in instead. :o) Thanks Lorie!

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions (via a comment) and I will do my best to answer them.

Edit #3: I did get a question on SCS via PM and thought I'd answer it here as well to add to the info.

Q: What are the flesh tone colored markers that you have?

A: I have E00 Skin White and E02 Fruit Pink. I bought them this weekend at Hobby Lobby when they were 25% off (Reg. $5.99, sale $4.49). They blend together well (I tried on scrap paper at the store ;o)). Hobby Lobby is another retailer to watch. They do not sell the sets in any of their stores (per store manager) and don't have a huge selection (maybe 30? colors?) but they do have sales, and occasionally a percentage off coupon on their website as well. I have a link to their weekly ad and coupon in my Favorite Links on the right.

And in response to Mary Dawn's comment:

Hey Mary Dawn! I just checked Eclectic Paperie, and it looks like their prices are up there with Ellen and everyone else at $174.99 for the 36 pen set. Hannastamps, on the other hand has even lower prices than Carpe Diem!! Yikes! Hurray for a close out, eh?! When I go to order tonight I might get what I can off my list from her and then get the rest at CDS. Thanks for the tip!

Edit #4: The sale markers at Hanna Stamps are all Ciao markers, not the Sketch markers. I just got an email from Kristi Ferro confirming this. ;o)

Edit #5: Lisa, it looks like the info you can get an idea of which SU colors match which Copic colors on this SCS thread. HTH!

Happy Stamping!

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Mary Dawn said...

you sure did your research! wow

i bought set 36A from Eclectic Paperie, simply because they had the best price i could find on sets--i also got the colorless blender, i had heard they take a long time to ship, but i go my order in a little over a week and they even adjusted my shipping and refunded me the difference

hannastamps also has open stock markers for a very reasonable price, but she's liquidating them, i believe, so she doesn't have all colors

Chris said...

Thanks so much for the info you posted Sarah, very generous of you! I've downloaded the pdf and will take things from there.


Lisa said...


I thought I read in your post which Copic colors match SU colors. I don't see it now. It must have been somewhere else. Do you happen to know where I can find this list?
Thanks for sharing all your hard work.

Lorie said...

Wow, girlfriend! That is a ton of information that I think I will be referring back to on a regular basis!

I cannot wait to see what you create when your COPICS arrive! :o)

art-girl said...

WOW! A whole bunch of really useful information. I have been toying with the idea of purchasing some copics, especially for my daughter who loves to draw cartoons. Thanks for all this great info -- I've really learned a lot today!!

P.S. You have very cute babies!

Mary Dawn said...

i did get ciao's from eclectic paperie, i think the main difference are shape and the ability to re-ink, which i haven't confirmed that i cannot--brush nib is slightly larger than the sketch (i have a few sketch markers) but it is a negligible difference

Lesly said...

Fabulous information! Thank you so much for all of the time and effort you put into this.

Lori Barnett said...

WOW you sure put a lot of time into this! What paper do you think you are going to use for coloring with these markers? I read (from someone at Copic) that Neenah Classic Crest Solar White 80# is the best with the Memento Ink. Just an FYI of what I learned. Have fun! I sure wish I had all those markers too!! Maybe someday.

Lisa said...

This is so incredibly helpful! Thank you so much for sharing all your very precious and valuable research with us! And your research confirms to go with the Sketch rather than the Ciao or Original, right? I think that's what I'm gathering but just wanted to confirm. Thanks again!

Linsey said...

Thank you SO much for all of your wonderful information! I am getting ready to purchase a bunch of Copic sketch markers (have only 2 currently) and your research has given me a really great foundation in which to begin! You are fabulous for providing your tips and info--YOU ROCK! Hugs!

Emily said...

Thanks for all the great info Sarah! =)

krestkatz said...

Thank you so much for her very helpful information. I have just a few browns that I purchased and found that I really like the look that you get with them. Now I am in the process of buying more and using your list. The markers I purchase from my local stamp store are the orginal copic markers. I see that the ones that you lis are the sketch markers. I also notice that you get more colors with the the sketch. Are there anything else I should consider before investing in the Copic Markers and which ones. I have gotten so confused on this subject. I guess when you invest so much money into a hobby you want to be sure that you have the right tools.

Thank you for help and look forward to hearing from you,


Pcots said...

Hey, may I compile an image of the colors for you for easier viewing to see what colors you selected without having to search for them?

Sandy said...

I have been researching galore on copic markers as I am learning how awesome they are, and really appreciate your information. I feel like you whittled down all the frustrations I was feeling on what markers to they are quite pricey...and the sets didn't seem to give me what I was looking for. Thank you for being so generous with this information.

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