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Copic Markers: My Newest Illustration and Some Helpful Beginner Tips

“Meet the Ghost Captain… No one knows much about him, where he is from, why his ghost is clinging to the wrecks of old ships. But you’d do well to sit and listen to him, if you’d meet him wandering the lonely shores at night. Sometimes he’d be alone, but some nights you may notice a spectral parrot at home upon his shoulder or arm. He could tell you tales of sirens, sea serpents and ships that long since became homes to such creatures below the waves. But, when morning comes, he will disappear and once more leave you wondering if what you had seen and heard was a dream, or a wild reality of life on the sea.”

I’ve been getting a few requests to help teach artists new to markers how to use Copic Markers. Copic Markers are usually a big investment, so I thought I’d give some beginner tips on how to start with these markers.

  1. Always store your markers on their side as to stop the ink from running to one end of the marker and drying the other. It is also best to keep them out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Purchasing a Copic Carry Bag or a clear tub to keep them in is usually your best bet when storing your markers.
  2. Never use watercolor paper, or sketching paper with a rough texture. This will damage the brush tip on your marker and you will have to purchase replacements to fix the marker. Watercolor paper will also absorb the ink, drying out your markers much quicker than smooth, thick paper will. The best I can recommend is card-stock or Bristol Board.
  3. Start by coloring small areas. Start on smaller illustrations for blending, smooth layering and flat washes of colors. Not only will this help build your confidence, but you are less likely to get streaky results.
  4. If possible, watch lots of videos about Copic Markers and the different methods of using them. Another good tip might be to talk to an artist who has experience with this medium. These tips will help give you realistic expectations on what to expect when you start with your Markers. Although Copic is one of the best brands of alcohol-based markers available, the markers themselves aren’t without flaw. Unfortunately, many artists, including myself, find themselves disillusioned when they realize that Copic Markers will not turn them into a professional, nor will it improve your art without practice. But don’t let this discourage you from trying! Just remember to be patient and not to panic if you do struggle.
I am very proud of how this character design turned out! I’m a big fan of using pastel colour pallets, and the mixture of light cool grays, purples, teals and blues really helped bring this ghostly Captain to life. For the background I used Copic Inks, rubbing alcohol and a brush to paint in the transparent ships and clouds. The rest of the drawing was done in Copic Markers over the purple sketch-layer.

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