Buying Copic markers isn’t easy.
You know you should get at least the 3 primary colors: red, blue and green.
But which green do you choose – there is lime, olive, emerald, turquoise, teal, jade, mint, etc.
And how many Copic markers do you need to get started? Is 6, 24, 32, or 72 markers enough?
If you have asked yourself one of these questions before, you have come to the right place.
In this article, you will discover which are the best Copic markers for first time buyers.
What are Copic markers?
Copic markers are alcohol-based markers that many artists consider to be the best.
They are available in over 300 colors and the ink is completely non-toxic and has very little odor. And both ends of the marker have a different nib.
Normally one end has a fine nib for details, while the other end has a medium-sized nib for coloring larger areas.
Initially they were made for manga artists. But nowadays everyone uses them. Including illustrators, graphic designers, coloring book enthusiasts, etc.
However, the main reason why Copic markers have become so popular is because it is super easy to layer or blend colors with them.
Compared to other markers, Copic markers are a little more pricey. This is mainly due to their high quality standards.
Each Copic marker is hand tested before they leave the factory. And each new batch of ink is the same as before, so you won’t find small chances in color.
Moreover, unlike many other alcohol-based markers, Copics can be refilled with new ink and the nibs can be replaced when they are worn out.
So with proper care, you will be able to enjoy your Copic markers for years to come.
Types of Copic markers
There are four different types of Copic markers: Classic, Sketch, Ciao, and Wide markers.
All of these markers are refillable and use the exact same alcohol-based ink.
Except for the wide marker, they are all double-sided and the nibs can be replaced when needed.
The main difference between these four markers is the barrel size/shape, available colors, price, and the type of nibs.
Copic Classic markers
The Copic classic markers (also known as Copic original) is available in 214 colors.
It has a square barrel and is the biggest in size. This means it contains the most ink and doesn’t need to be refilled very often.
It has a chisel nib on one side and a bullet nib on the other side.
However, what really sets the Classic markers apart is that they can be used with 9 different nibs in total.
In practice, you probably won’t be changing nibs constantly. But you might just need that one nib that isn’t available for any of the other marker types.
Keep in mind that buying additional nibs for each marker can add up quickly. So if you really want a brush nib instead of a bullet nib, you might be better off buying a Copic Sketch or Ciao markers.
We’ll talk more about nibs a little later on.
Copic Sketch markers
They might be called Sketch markers, but don’t let this fool you!
These Copics can be used for any kind of coloring and are actually the most popular type amongst all four.
They have an oval barrel that is comfortable to hold, and they come with a brush nib and chisel nib.
The really amazing thing about these markers is that they are available in 358 different colors. No other type of Copic marker has that many colors.
So if you have any favorite color that you really want to use, you can always find the corresponding Sketch marker.
Unfortunately, the sketch markers are only compatible with the brush, chisel, and bullet nibs. But in most cases the combination of the brush nib and chisel nib are more than enough.
Copic Ciao markers
The Ciao markers are a cheaper alternative to the Classic and Sketch markers.
This is mainly because the Ciao markers are smaller and therefore contain less ink when you buy them.
They also tend to run dry pretty quickly so you will have to refill them quite frequently.
The Ciao is only compatible with its default nibs: the chisel nib and brush nib.
Moreover, they only come in 180 different colors, which is less than the Classic markers (214 colors) and the Sketch markers (358 colors).
The round barrel also causes them to roll of the table quite often.
Copic Wide markers
The wide marker is a little different from the other three.
They only have a single wide nib and are only available in 36 colors.
They can be used to color large areas with consistent strokes.
But normally they are used in addition to other Copic markers.
Since I wouldn’t recommend them to beginners, I won’t mention them in the rest of this post.
Nib size and shape
In total there are 9 different nibs. Five of them are for thick line drawing and 4 are for thin line drawing. If you are interested, you can find the nibs by clicking here.
Keep in mind that only the Copic Classic markers are compatible with all 9 nibs. Whereas the Sketch can only use 3 different nibs and the Ciao only 2.
However, if you are buying Copics for the first time, it’s more important to look at which nibs the different types of Copic markers come with by default.
The Classic markers come with a chisel and a bullet nib as shown below.
In contrast, both the Sketch and Ciao markers come with a chisel and a brush nib.
Since all three types of markers have a chisel nib, you basically get to choose between a bullet nib and a brush nib.
So which one is better?
Personally, I think the brush nib is much more versatile. If you look at the images above again, you can see that with a bullet nib you can only draw lines of the same thickness.
However, with a brush nib you can make thin lines, thick lines, or tapered lines depending on the pressure.
So the brush nib gives you much more control on your line thickness than the bullet nib.
Below you can see all 358 Copic colors that are available for sale.
The colors are divided in 11 color families such as violet (V), blue (B), blue-violet (BV), etc., so you can easily find the ones you need.
The labels are the same for all the markers. So for example, a BV11 Classic marker is the same color as a BV11 Sketch marker.
But keep in mind that only the Copic Sketch markers are available in all colors.
With all these different colors, it’s not surprising that beginners always ask how many and which markers they need to get.
So let’s take a look at those questions one by one.
How many Copic markers do you need?
Although there is no fixed answer to how many Copic markers you need, a balanced set normally contains around 30 to 40 markers. This is because you want at least one blending set in each color family and complement that with some of your favorite colors.
Copic markers are sold in sets of 6, 12, 24, 36 or 72 different colors. The first 3 are really too small to function as a complete starter set. If you are buying a Copic marker set for the first time, try to go with a set of 36 or 72 markers.
Best Copic markers to start with
A good Copic marker set includes colors from all the mayor color families. For smooth blending you will need at least 3 colors in each family. Some good starter colors for Copic markers include:
- B000, B02, B04 (blue)
- BG11, BG13, BG15 (turquoise)
- BV00, BV02, BV04 (violet)
- E000, E02, E25, E27 (skin color)
- E33, E35, E37 (brown)
- G21, G24, G29 (dark green)
- R22, R24, R29 (red)
- RV63, RV66, RV69 (pink)
- V12, V15, V17 (purple)
- Y11, Y15, Y19 (yellow)
- YG11, YG13, YG17 (light green)
- YR04, YR07, YR09 (orange)
The 37 colors above are in my opinion the best Copic colors to start with. You also want to add a colorless marker for blending and maybe a gray marker for easy shading. So in total that would be roughly 40 different Copic colors.
After that you can add new markers if you will like you are lacking a particular color.
Which Copics to get first?
When deciding which Copic markers to buy first, you want to take into consideration what you will be drawing the most.
If you mainly work on portraits and manga you should buy the skin tones first, whereas brown and green colors would be better for landscapes.
If you can’t afford to buy 36+ Copic markers all at once, you can buy which ever color you need to most first.
Remember that it’s difficult to blend markers from different color families. So try to buy at least 3 colors of the same family before buying a completely different color.
Best Copic marker sets
If you don’t want to buy all the markers separately, you can save yourself a headache and some money by buying a Copic marker set.
Some of these sets are well-rounded and decent starter sets, while others are mainly composed of supplementary colors.
So you don’t want to buy a random set.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 best Copic marker sets to start with.
Since Sketch markers are the most popular, I’ll mainly focus on those sets.
1. Copic Sketch 12 color set
If you are on a tight budget or if you just want to try out Copic markers without too much of a commitment, you can try this small set of 12.
The colors that are included are shown below:
As you can see, this set includes some basic and primary colors to get you started.
However, if you want to color portraits or manga characters you will need to buy additional skin tones. Moreover, smooth blending might be difficult since most colors are very different.
2. Copic Sketch 24 color set for manga illustrations
There are 2 different Copic sketch sets of 24 colors. This set for manga illustrations is a well-balanced set containing most basic colors and colors useful for blending.
The colors included in this set are:
Of course, it’s not a complete set. You can’t expect to much from only 24 colors.
The most noticeable downside is the lack of skin colors. Most of these colors are in the other set of 24 Sketch markers.
You can start with this set of 24 markers and buy the other set of 24 markers later on. That will give you a total of 48 different colors and a good Copic starter set.
3. Copic Sketch 36 color set
There is only one set of 36 colors and it’s aimed at designers.
The colors that are included are as follows:
All major color families are included. However, it doesn’t have a lot of skin colors since it’s made for designers.
If you want to color portraits, characters, or manga you can complement this set with a few skin colors such as E000, E02, E25, or E27.
4. Copic Sketch 72 set A
There are 5 different options available for the Copic Sketch 72 color set. No wonder that people always ask which Copic 72 set is the best.
For most people either set A or set B is their best choice, so I included both of them in this list.
Set A comprises vivid colors from all across the color spectrum that are great for design and illustrations.
The colors that are included in set A are:
As you can see, each color family has at least one blending set which makes it a lot easier to make smooth color gradients.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of skin tones. So you can either complement this marker set with some of your favorite skin colors, or you can buy set B.
5. Copic Sketch 72 set B
Set B is the second Copic 72 set that I recommend to first time buyers.
This set also contains a wide range of colors. However, most colors are less opaque and considerably more colors from the E family are included.
The colors that come with set B are:
This set is great of portrait and manga artists since there are lots of skin colors included. However, unlike set A there aren’t a lot of vibrant colors, so you might have to buy those separately if you need them.
Frequently Asked Question
How many Copic colors are there?
There are 358 different Copic colors available. However, not every Copic marker types are available in all 358 colors. You can collect all 358 colors by combining the Copic Sketch 72 piece set A, B, C, D, and E.
How much do Copic markers cost?
The cost of a Copic marker depends on the type of marker and the color. An average Copic Sketch marker costs around $6 to $10.
What are Copic markers used for?
The cost of a Copic marker depends on the type of marker and the color. An average Copic Sketch marker costs around $6 to $10. Buying a set of Copic markers can considerably drop the cost per marker.
Why are Copics so expensive?
Copic markers are so expensive because many artists consider Copic markers to be the most versatile and highest quality art markers. However, unlike most alcohol-based markers, Copic markers can be refilled and are therefore less expensive in the long run.
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, you can consider buying:
Are Copic markers worth it?
Beginning artists often ask if Copic markers are worth it. For an experienced artist Copic markers are definitely worth it. However, beginners might not be able to use them to their full potential and are better off practicing with cheaper markers first.
Do Copic markers bleed through paper?
Copic markers can bleed through paper if it’s too thin. To prevent the ink from bleeding and feathering you can use Copic marker paper or other paper that is at least >100 GSM. However, thick paper also requires more ink to work with.
Why are Copic Ciao markers cheaper?
The Copic Ciao markers are cheaper than the Copic Sketch markers. This is because the Ciao markers are smaller and contain less ink. Correcting for this difference in ink, both markers roughly cost the same.