Yippee, I now got my set of Copic marker pens! They are apparently the Rolls Royce of markers popular with professional illustration artists. Unfortunately, though, they do cost an arm and a leg compared to other markers and more so out here as they are imported all the way from Japan. I know, I could have waited till I’m out there soon but I couldn’t resist a good deal I had seen on eBay in the U.K. It is the Copic Ciao series which are cheaper and recommended for beginners. Anyway, am in it for the fun so don’t take it all too seriously as long as the stuff is good quality. Now let’s take it to the test and see what the hype is all about!
To draw properly with markers, it is recommended to use smooth-surfaced paper. Copic Pens, though, are of alcohol ink which is permanent and water-proof but at the same time, bleeds through paper. For this piece, I used Strathmore’s Mixed Media pad of paper which has a smooth velium finish. The thickness of the paper is 190 gsm but the ink still managed to bleed through so I had to place a scrap piece of paper underneath to avoid it seeping to the next page. Here I drew Little One again! Having her big hair and big eyes day. And looking pretty in pink. It was a random choice and the first thing that came to mind. I must’ve been in one of those kawaii moods!
A Bit of Mixed Media
So the outcome of the Copic Pen looked fine. I like the multi-shaded effect of the brown hair and how saturated the colours of the rest turned out. And what a lovely shade of pink for the dress! But I also wanted to see what it would be like to combine this ink illustration with other media. After adding the grey polka dots as pebbles on the ground, I shaded the rest of the ground with grey coloured pencil (Staedler’s Ergosoft). I used some watercolour for the background above by diluting with water a drop of Dr. Ph Martin’s Hydrus liquid in Hansa Yellow Light and then added a few strokes of yellow colour pencil on top. To add some shading on the pink dress and fill in the white spaces in the hair, I also used colour pencils. White Uni Posca marker was used for the whites in the eyes, details in the dress and doodles in the background. Then for the sparkles in the lashes, I dotted in some gold with Amsterdam Acrylic marker.
I thought I was finished with the piece but the following day, I looked at it and thought something wasn’t right. It was the yellow background. Although a bright colour, it made the painting look dull. Then it dawned on me, Why not use a complementary colour like green against the pink? I just wanted bit of green tones with the yellow without overdoing it so with a sponge, I gently smudged some Distress Ink in Twisted Citron. It was a pleasant surprise to notice that the white doodles from the Uni Posca markers emerged more clearly. I finally drew in some green plants with Copic markers too and again was amazed with the effect of the Uni Posca doodles I had drawn underneath. And now, that’s much better!
The Copic Experience
It was an interesting experience using the Copic Ciao markers. The range of available shades and colours is quite impressive (I got one with 72 and even then it’s only “Set A”) and ink quality is highly commendable in terms of yield, saturation and spread. The fact that it bleeds is typical of alcohol inks so may or may not be for some. Generally, drawing with the Copic markers is quite pleasant although I could just as easily have drawn with my other favourite markers, Faber Castell Pitt Artists Pens which are derived from another type of permanent ink, India Ink. They are not as expensive. Copic markers use a dual system with different type of nibs from the Pitt pens: Thicker and wide on one side and longer softer on the other which makes colouring easier. Meanwhile, the Pitts Artists pens are mainly a stiff 1.5 mm for the coloured pens making colouring more time consuming. I would be curious to see the difference should the nibs be similar. Meanwhile, I will just enjoy both types and use them according to what I decide to draw and where my mood takes me!