Choosing Your First Copic Markers

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Copic markers are rapidly becoming a favorite coloring medium for card makers and scrapbookers.  With over 344 colors to choose from, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed about how to start your collection.  I get a lot of questions from beginning Copic users about which colors are best to buy first.  The first thing that you should do is decide what stamps you will be using your markers to color.  If most of your stamps are people then you will want some flesh and hair colors first.  If most are animal stamps then you will want to buy browns, grays, and the earthy colors first.

One more thing to consider when you buy your markers is having colors that blend easily.  Take a look at this Copic color chart.  Copic markers are identified by a letter and a number.  The number on the marker identifies how light or dark the marker color is.  Markers that have the lowest numbers following their color letter are lighter and brighter colors and the markers that have the highest numbers are darker.


Picking out the colors that blend best is easy when you understand this system.  Just pick colors that are two to three numbers apart.  This will ensure that your markers will blend well and yet retain a contrast which will help you develop shadows and highlights.  In the above image I have chosen three colors: Y21, Y23 and Y26.  The Y21 is my base color and Y26 is my deepest shadow color.  Y23 will act as a median color which will create a nice blend or gradient between the light and dark colors.


Let's take a look at the next part of the image that I colored.  On the color chart you can see four colors.  I started with the lightest color and then added some BG02 for my shadows.  It was then that I realized that this color was plenty dark enough for the shadows so I picked up my BG01 to blend and create the smooth transition between the light and dark colors.

So the question remains.  What colors should I buy first?  Here are my suggestions.

  • E000, E00, E02 - Flesh tones for Caucasian skin
  • Y21, Y23, Y26 - Blond hair colors
  • E31, E37 - Used for baskets or wood as well as a great color for shoes and a base color for brown hair
  • R27 - A beautiful bright red
  • YG21, YG24 - A very versatile green for leaves and grass
  • BG000, BG01, BG10, BG13 -These colors seem to be very prevalent in scrapbook papers so they are colors that are easily matched for card making.
  • RV21, RV24 - Bright vibrant pink colors.
  • Y000, Y01, Y08, Y11 - Lovely yellow colors
  • C1, C3 - Can be used to mimic "white" clothing and to give depth and a shadow on the outside of your image

These markers are just a few of my favorite colors.  I could easily give you a list of more but these will definitely get you started.

Designer Note:  Don't forget that you will most certainly need a blender pen, so that should top your list.  In fact I already see some coloring out of the lines on my image  that the blender pen will fix in no time.

*Christine Ousley is a Certified Copic Instructor

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