Buying 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 learn which Copic markers to buy first as a beginner and why.
Short summary: if you are looking for a set of Copic markers that has a collection of colors that is versatile enough for most projects, I would recommend the Copic Sketch A set which you can find on Amazon by clicking here.
Types Of Copic Markers
Before we can talk about which colors to get, you will have to choose which type of Copic marker you want to get. There are 4 different kinds of markers; Classic, Sketch, Ciao, and Wide.
Except for the Wide Copic marker, the Copic markers all have two different nibs. The Classic marker comes with broad chisel nib and a fine point nib, while the Sketch and Ciao both come with a medium broad nib and a super brush nib. The Wide markers come with a singular big 3/4″ nib.
Since the size and shape of a nib determines how your strokes look like, choosing the right nibs can be quite important.
Copic Ciao Vs Sketch
You probably noticed that both the Ciao and Sketch come with the same nibs. So how are these two models different?
A good way to think of the Ciao is a slightly smaller version of the Sketch. This means that you will have to refill the ink more often and that they can’t be used with the ABS airbrush system. Moreover, the Ciao doesn’t have the color code written on the top, which might finding the right color difficult if you have many markers.
However, if you have small hands than the Ciao might be more comfortable to hold.
Getting Started With Copic Marker
All Copic markers use the same ink and produce the same vibrant colors we all love. However, there are a few differences when it comes to the different markers.
When choosing which type of marker to buy, keep the following 3 things in mind:
- Comfort: Every type of Copic marker has its distinct shape. The Copic Ciao has a round barrel which makes it intuitive to hold, whereas the Wide marker has a flattened oval shape. The Classic and Sketch, have a square and oval barrel shape respectively, which might take some getting used to.
- Color Range: A big difference amongst Copic markers is the available colors. The Wide type only comes in 36 colors, while the Sketch comes in 358 colors. The Classic and Ciao are both available in 214 and 180 colors respectively. Of course you have access to many more colors by blending any of these markers together
- Available Nibs: Copic markers either come with one or two nibs. These nibs have a big influence on the work you can do. For example, a flat and wide nib will be good for filling in big areas but will be useless when it comes to detailed work. Thankfully, most Copic markers give you the option of changing the nibs. This lets you use the same marker for a variety of different projects. The Copic Classic is the most versatile with 9 different kinds of nibs. The Sketch can work with 3 different nibs, while the Ciao and Wide give you the choice between 2 different ones.
Starter Colors For Copic Markers
As mentioned the Copic Sketch comes in 358 colors, while the Classic and Ciao are both available in 214 and 180 colors. So how do you choose which colors and how many colors you need to get started?
There really aren’t any must have Copic Colors. It all depends on what type of art you are planning to do. If you want to specialize in portraiture you will need lots of earth tones such as E000, E02 and E51 to make skin colors. For landscape artists, you will mainly use colors from the YG and B family for plants, water, and the sky.
When it comes to the amount of colors you need to get started, my general advice is as many as your budget allows. Copic markers are sold in sets of 6, 12, 24, 36 or 72 different colors. Buying the 72 marker set is a great start for any aspiring artist. But if you want to try them out a bit before fully committing, you can opt for a set of 24 or 36 colors. The smaller sets of 6 or 12 colors feels too limiting to me.
Which Copic Markers To Buy First?
The Copic Sketch markers are the most popular choice for beginners. However, depending on your personal preference, you might want to consider the Ciao or the Classic Copic markers as well.
After choosing which type you want, you will have to choose which Copic set to buy. You can choose how many markers and which colors the set contians.
Normally I recommend buying a set with 72 markers, since it will give you plenty of artistic freedom.
When it comes to the colors, you unfortunately can’t choose them all individually by yourself. The sets come in predetermined color combinations. So knowing which colors are included in which set is crucial when choosing.
Below you will find which Copic 72 sets are best depending on your art projects.
Copic Sketch Marker Sets
If you buy a set of 72 Copic Sketch markers you get to choose from set A, B, C, D, and E.
Set A is great for portraits, designers and manga artist since it includes many vivid colors and skin tones. Set B is also good for portraits and manga characters but the colors in this set are less opaque.
Set C includes a wide selection of grey colors and is better suited for design and shading. Set D offers many natural and muddy colors which will be much appreciated for people that make many landscapes.
Finally, set E features many light 000 colors, wine-colors and natural colors. So if you are a crafter or just like pastel colors, then this might be the right set for you.
- Oval barrel
- ABS Compatible
- 358 colors available
- Medium Broad and Super Brush nib
- Alternative nib options: Medium Round
Copic Classic Marker Sets
The Classic Copic markers come in 3 different sets: A, B, and C.
Set A has a very balanced selection of colors that is great for any beginner or designer. Set B includes mainly grays and pale tones with a few primary colors mixed in.
Set C has a lot of neutral colors and is mainly aimed at more experienced users that already own set A or B and want some complementary colors.
- Square barrel
- ABS Compatible
- 214 colors available
- Includes a Broad Chisel nib and a Fine Point nib
- Alternative nibs: Brush nib, Semi Broad nib, Soft Broad nib, Super Fine nib, Round nib, Calligraphy 3 mm nib and Calligraphy 5 mm nib
Copic Ciao Marker Sets
For the Copic Ciao markers you can choose between set A and B.
Set A contains a variety of vivid green and purple colours balanced out by some soft and warm colors. Anyone from beginner to expert can make good use of this set. However, especially people looking to improve their blending and gradating skills will love it.
Set B includes a wide range of neutral colors like brown and beige with a few bright colors as well. This set is probably not the best for beginners, but can be a great addition to set A.
- Round barrel
- 180 colors available
- Medium Broad Chisel nib and a Super Brush nib
- Comes with a child-safe cap that features small air holes
Frequently Asked Question
How many Copic markers are there?
There are a total of 358 different colors you can choose from. However, not every type of markers is available in every color.
The Copic Sketch comes in 358 colors, while the Classic and Ciao are both available in 214 and 180 colors.
Where to get Copic markers?
Copic markers are some of the best and most well-known art markers. However, they are more expensive than most other markers. That’s why you can’t always find them at local arts and crafts stores.
I always get my markers from Amazon because they have fast shipping and offer most of the Copic sets.
How much do Copic markers cost?
Depending on the type of Copic marker and the color the average marker will cost around $5 to $8. This difference is mainly because some pigments used in the ink are more difficult to make than others.
However, if you buy them in bulk like one of the 72 marker sets mentioned above the average price drops to almost $4 per marker.
Are Copic markers worth it?
If you are looking for the bes quality marker available, then Copic markers are definitely worth it.
You won’t experience any streaking, the ink stay wet and workable for a long time, and it’s super easy to blend colors together.
However, to get the most out of them you do need a fair amount of practice and experience.
If you are looking for cheaper alternatives, you can read our article on other alcohol-based markers.
What paper works with Copic markers?
Just like any other art markers, Copic markers will start to bleed if you are using very thin paper. For more information, read our article on the paper for Copic markers.
How to refill Copic markers
Refilling your markers is much cheaper than buying completely new markers. There are several methods to refill your markers. For detailed instructions, read our article on how to refill Copic markers.
Are Copic markers alcohol based?
Yes, the ink is made using alcohol instead of water like most other high quality markers.
How to color with Copics?
You don’t need to buy all the different Copic color markers in order to start drawing. One of the benefits of working with Copic is that you can easily blend colors in the same color family. Learning how to use Copic markers such as which colors can be mixed and how is vital for getting good results.
Most markers will have a code written on them containing one or two letters, followed by two numbers. The letters will indicate what color family or hue that the marker belongs to (R=red, B=blue, RB=red-blue, etc.). The first number will indicate stands for the saturation of the ink. The last number shows how light or dark the color is; ranging from highlights (0-4), mid-tones (4-6) or shadows (7-9).
When blending Copic colors it is best to stay in the same color family and either keep the first number or the second number the same. By only changing the first numbers you can make a nice gradient of different saturations. By only varying the second number you can control the whiteness or the amount of grey.
For example, the YG13 marker is from the Yellow-Green color family and has a saturation of 1 and can be used for highlights. It will mix well with the YG17 and YG11 for a gradient in intensity or with YG23 and YG03 to change the saturation.