art markers

Understanding Copics and How to get started

Copic markers have quickly become one of my favorite materials to use. In this post, I will be focusing on the Copic Sketch line and will try to be as honest as possible.

So lets get started!

First of all, Copics are expensive. At an art store, an individual marker can retail around $7-$9 but you can find them way cheaper online for around $4.50 each. So consider them an investment. There are 358 colors available in the line which includes, 12 color families, four gray families, two shades of black and a blender marker (see Exhibit 1). I would suggest purchasing the 72 piece sets first to save money per marker. 

Exhibit 1: Copic Color Chart courtesy of Imagination International Inc.

Exhibit 2

The color families may seem like gibberish when you first glance at it but this is a life-saver (see Exhibit 2)! I printed out the blank chart and as I accumulated more and more markers I would shade their respective boxes. The colors on your computer screen may differ slightly from what you own so this way you know the true color. 

Exhibit 3: Blending example

Since Copics are alcohol based markers, this makes them blend beautifully but you can't expect any color combo to work . The most seamless gradient can be achieved by two methods. The first method is pretty straightforward. Let's use the color family or Broad Classification of 'B' as an example which consists of true blue colors (see Exhibit 3). The next identifier after the color family is the blending group (intermediate classification) and are considered the most ideal for blending together. Within that color family you can start coloring from light to dark which is shown by the third identifier, the specific value/brightness. The lower the number, the lighter it is.

The second way to have a beautiful gradient is by using the color's respective shades of gray. I would suggest using the warm grays for warm colors (red, yellow, etc.) and the cool grays for the cool colors (blue, purple, etc.) In my blending example, I matched B12 with shades of cool gray. Just using one color and only blending with grays in the same color family will make a huge difference!

While using Copics, you have to consider what you will be using them for. I've seen comic book artists, architects, interior designers and more using these materials. If you lean toward portraiture, I would get the shades that work well for skin tones along with some of the warm and cool gray tones. It wouldn't make sense to get colors like a neon pink if you were drawing a person right? 

As a personal preference, I rarely ever use the black shades or the blender marker. Instead of use black markers, I would rather use shades of gray to deepen the color I'm working with. I believe that this technique provides more depth and doesn't leave the drawing looking so flat. The blender marker can be used for some cool effects and some subtle clean up, but I'm not too keen on using it. Contrary to its name, I think that the blender just pushes around the alcohol in the markers and leaves a weird oily effect. But if you are interested in how to use the blender marker, there are plenty of other great resources out there! 

Essentially, you just need to play around. If you want to dip your toes in, get a blending trio pack sold by Copic and try some of the methods I shared. Remember that you only learn by doing. When I first started using Copics, I got very frustrated because I wasn't familiar with the medium. I kept on experimenting and made the material my own.

I hope you enjoyed this quickie intro to Copic Sketch markers. I plan on elaborating further with future blog posts. Have fun!

Finding my niche

Back on the topic of self discovery. I've been experimenting lately and trying to find my niche within the art world which is ever evolving. I was set on doing oil paintings of people's pets at one point. Then I experimented with cityscapes and enjoyed doing those. And then my husband got me into nerdy paintings and drawings of video game characters. 

I've been feeling this pressure to carve out a space in this vast vast world of art. When you think of the greats, you think of their masterpieces and the movements that they helped promote. Monet had his Impressionism and his lily pads at Giverny. Hopper had his cityscapes and landscapes. I ask myself everyday, what is my thing? 

My drawing of Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service.

My constant frustrations and eagerness to push myself further and faster are my double edged swords. It drives me and motivates me but it also hinders me. At the moment I'm really into using art markers and pens. I can quickly sketch out something and then color it in with my Copics. I feel like it gives me the instant gratification that I can not necessarily get from oils.

Evolving as an artist is an uncomfortable feeling. It is so natural to be complacent but trying something so different and foreign can be a great thing. I noticed how my skills had improved when I made myself paint my first cityscape. It opened up a whole new focus for me and enhanced my views on perspectives. 

My latest rendition of a Sailor Moon character.

I've always loved anime and cartoons. I've envied anybody who can easily draw in that style and create their own characters. Ever since I can remember, I would try to draw Sailor Moon and fall flat on my face. I would try to mimic the ways that manga artists would draw their characters but it felt so foreign to me with the huge eyes and pupils and weirdly shaped heads. It still is a struggle today but I ended up improving after many tries.

From the training I do have, it has been more of a traditional one. I would focus on photo realism and be disappointed that my drawings and paintings weren't exactly what I saw before me. I feel like my art style leans between realism and cartoonish, I'm still figuring out a name for that. I have to remind myself to this very day that my style is what makes my art special. As mentioned in my bio, I aim to make my paintings or drawings to look real and surreal at the same time. My problem was that I didn't see the beauty of that but now I do. 

My husband, our dog and me in the style of Pixar's Up.

The masters weren't great in the beginning of their careers and had to explore their niches as well. It's not like Monet got up and created his iconic paintings right away. I'm still in the stages of finding what I identify with that makes me who I am. I'm not even sure if I will ever have a place in the art world and inspire a movement. But for the moment, I'm taking a step at a time and learning new things.