Monday, 8 March 2010

Colouring With Copics or Pro-markers - A tutorial!

There are very many Copics tutorials on the net, some great some not so great so I hope I don't upset anyone by making one on here!

I'm not putting myself forward as anything very special in the world of colouring - I know that there are many very gifted colourists out there that leave me standing but I have been inundated with queries of how I do this shading, get that effect or the other and a few peeps have come right out and asked for a tut.

Some peeps think they can't colour just because they've not got it right by themselves with some felt-tips! I've news for you - neither could I! It took the discovery of Copics and then a visit to a workshop run by Maddy Hill to iron out a few wrinkles before I could produce anyhting I'd show to anyone! And I had a head start in that I've always drawn, painted and made stuff, right from a little girl.

But I could never colour with pens!

So for these peeps I have used a sunny afternoon of my life to make this, very basic, 'assumes zero knowledge', tut for you! Those of you who think I shouldn't be doing it - well, there are a lot of other blogs out there...! LOL!

Because I still haven't mastered the art of posting pics exactly where I want them on here, I'll have to make do with a main pic with the stages numbered.
If I can work our another way of doing this, I will and, of course, if YOU know, please share!

Colouring with Copics
by Eiglas

I understand that some peeps don’t want to ‘shell out’ for expensive markers which they might not get on with—I’m a crafter too—I waste nothing!
But truthfully, you do get what you pay for and whilst some peeps can make works of art out of rubbish, we’re not all Tracy Emin! (...err...perhaps not the best example I could have given...!LOL!)

You need the best materials you can afford otherwise your efforts are likely to be wasted.

Your Image
For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m going to use a popular rubber stamp image of Tilda, from Magnolia Stamps (fig. 1) but you, of course, can use any image you want but try to keep it as similar to mine as possible so the instructions aren’t too far out.

Your Card/ Paper

You also need to acquire some ‘coated’ card. This is relatively inexpensive but is so different from ordinary card it makes all the difference both to your coloured finish and to your ink consumption it’s well worth the extra few pence.

I use a brand called Rymans (recommended to me by a seriously talented colourist and artist), which is easily obtained online and from their stationery shops (some of which used to be The Stationery Box).

You need the 200 gsm card but they also do a 120 gsm paper which is also useable but is coated only on one side so you need to be sure you’ve got the right ‘smooth’ side, not the slightly rougher ‘wrong’ side!

For digistamping, both of these go through my HP printers beautifully, even though they are printers which are not a straight feed but curl the card back on itself.

Please don’t be tempted to use ordinary card—you will not get the best results and may be deterred from using markers again. Ordinary card won’t take the layers of overlaying without ‘pilling’ and buckling plus it’s more porous so will soak up a lot more of your ink.

Your Pens

I’m not getting into the whole Pro-Markers/Copics thing here because it truly is a matter of personal taste. My preference is for Copics but if you want to use Pro-Markers, I believe they perform well too but I can’t say personally, never having used them.

What is important for this tutorial is that you use a good quality solvent-based pen, not Marvy-le-Plume (which are great for their own technique but not this one) or felt-tips or other ‘supermarket’ brand pens.
I’m not saying these pens don’t have their place—they do and I use them but not for this purpose.

The colours you will need
I will give my Copics colours and codes—I’m afraid I don’t know the Pro-Markers ones, but I’m sure there is a kind Pro-Marker person out there somewhere who does!

E0000—Floral White
E000— Skin White
E 53—Raw Silk
E 33— Sand
Y 21– Buttercup Yellow
Y 11– Pale Yellow
Y 38—Honey
YR 16—Apricot
YR 07—Calamondin Orange
Roo—Pinkish White.
B60—Pale Porcelain Blue
B34 Manganese Blue


For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m going down the ‘paler’ route for skin and I do this for a reason.

Most awful examples of marker colouring feature very strong brash colours and I suspect this is because the user hasn’t quite got the hang of marker-colouring. I used to be the same myself until I discovered my lovely Copics!

Stamp your image on the coated card using a suitable watercolour dye ink such as Memento or Archival.

You may need to experiment a bit until you find the inkpad that suits you. Copics & Pro-Markers are solvent-based markers which will cause bleeding with some inkpads which will, in turn, muck up your pen-tips!

Generally, use opposites. If you're using solvent/alcohol-based pens, you need a waterbased inkpad or the solvent in the pen will 'melt' your lines. If you want to use watercolour pens then solvent-based inkpads are the way for the same reason!

This is easily remedied by ’scribbling’ on a bit of scrap card until all contamination has disappeared, but it’s wasteful of ink.

Later on in your new colouring
career, you can put this ‘ink-lination’ (...get it…?) to good use as you can get a nice ‘pen & wash’ effect.

The first colour I use is E0000 Floral White. It’s a very pale ivory which is the best base I know for skin-tone of all colours.

As a rule of thumb, whatever you're colouring, you start with a layer of your lightest shade, after which, you build up your colour in layers of decreasing area before finishing with the last all-over layer of the lightest shade.

Using nice confident steady stokes, colour her skin, avoiding the black ink-lines where possible as they might smudge. As I’m going to give my Tilda light brown hair, I’m going to use E0000 as a base for her hair too.

Do her hair last as you can’t avoid the ink lines there and might transfer a dark mark to her skin. Clean off your pen when you’ve finished, leaving it clean for the next use.

For her hair, I’m going to next use E33 Sand (fig 2).
Use this in little strokes radiating outwards from any shaded parts like the centre of her hair. Then use E53 Raw Silk (fig 3) all over the hair including previously coloured sections

Can you see where the E53 has blended into the E33 creating shine and texture?
You might be happy to leave it there or, like me, ya just have to do more…..! In which case a few very small strokes and dots of E37 Sepia (fig 4) in strategic places can add even more depth & shine.

Let the image help you. Look for lines in the hair and follow them a short way, always remembering your stroke should become lighter and more tapered at the finish. Now go over those with E53 again in a dabbing, stroking movement.
That’s the hair pretty much done.

Now you have your hair, it’s time to finish off the skin.
R00 Pinkish White (fig 5), dab a little blush area to the cheeks and immediately cover the entire face (being careful near the black lines) with the E0000 which will blend any hard edges.

If you want more colour on the cheeks, repeat these two steps again with the same colours.

Next we need to add some shadows around the hairline to suggest contour of the face and hair-hang.

Using E00 Skin White, trace the hairline carefully and extend round the jawline and finely round the outside cheek line, not forgetting the neck (it’s usually in shadow). Go over this with E0000 to blend.
If liked, do the same again, this time with E53 and E0000
It should now look something like this (fig 6)
I’ve seen on some blogs peeps putting white dots on the cheeks for some reason. I don’t care for this personally—too much like acne! LOL!

We mustn’t forget any other viewable skin either, in this case the hands and a tiny sliver of shin.

Tilda is such a simple image that it’s not hard to do this using your E00 and going over with E0000 to blend. Just remember where your light-source is coming from and put your shadow the other side.

In my case the light is coming from above right, so the shadows anywhere in this image will be below left!

The Clothing

Once you’ve chosen the colour for a self-coloured item, like her jeans, select the lightest shade you have of that colour and use it as a base.
In my case, I’ve chosen the traditional and much abused denim blue, or in our case B34 Manganese Blue & B000 Pale Porcelain Blue for the base.

So, using B000, colour in the jeans with nice long smooth stokes, avoiding the black ink-lines where possible.
Using the same blue, carefully go over parts that would be in shade.
Can you see texture starting to appear? (fig 7)

I want to make a kind of bleach-shaded effect on my Tilda’s jeans so now I use my B34 Manganese Blue and go round the black ink-lines and stitched lines in dots and just leaving patches where the light might catch best.
Then immediately use B000 in a rubbing round motion over the whole jeans area to blend the blues. We want some hard-ish lines left for the bleach-effect.
Now a lickle trick!
Get a bit of clear plastic from packaging or the clear/white top of an inkpad and scribble with your darker blue. You don’t need a lot.

Now using your lighter blue, dip the very tip in the darker blue on the scribble-pad and you will have a mid-way shader!

Take this onto the turn-ups (which are usually lighter shade than the outside of jeans and shade the edges which would have less light. Clean off your paler pen and go over the turn-up with it to blend. Deliberately leave some bits paler — it adds interest (fig 8).

As she’s holding a bee, I think I’ll colour Tilda’s jumper in similar shades to her furry friend!

Normally I’d go over the entire jumper with a base coat but as we’re using black in bands, we won’t do that this time.

I’m doing alternate bands, so I decide what order they’re coming in and decide I want black to be by her neck.
Do we just whack black on willy nilly? No, we don’t! That would be tooooo easy!

I use grey, to begin with so C9—Cool Grey 9 is a very dark grey and cover the bands on Tilda’s jumper then use 100—Black for the shaded
areas like under her arms and also for the bee’s banding.

The orange bands I coloured with Y21 -Buttercup Yellow, then shaded with Y38—Honey and YR16—Apricot and a tiny bit of YR07—Calamondin Orange to give dimension.

As a last coat I used Y11 Pale Yellow to blend the orange bands. Leave a pale centre to suggest contour and blend it to a degree you find pleasing.

It doesn’t always have to be blended to perfection. Sometimes a more rugged appearance can be more interesting!

The socks were more of the same (fig 9).

Don’t worry if you go over the lines a little. To finish off, it’s nice to take a contrasting pen in a pale-ish shade and outline the whole thing to make the image ‘pop’ off the page. You need to do this in one or three smooth single strokes. Dabbing at it just doesn’t work for this. Perhaps you might like to try it on some uncoloured images first!
And if that doesn’t work—there’s always decoupage!

Hope this is useful to peeps. If it helps just one person, it will be worth my lost afternoon of sun! LOL!

Can I just add, that there is so much more to using Copics than I can put here and if it's at all possible, a visit to Maddy Hill's Copics Workshop is a very worthwhile and enjoyable day! I had a great time at the one I attended near Leeds and we got loads done but still managed to laugh all day! Maddy is very attentive and you get one-to-one attention for quite a lot of the day.
Maddy and her pal Rachael are so welcoming and friendly - I want to go back for another go! Well worth the fee!


  1. Thanks for a fab Tutorial Eileen.. I have placed a link to it in my side it can be shared with others too
    hugs rozzy xx

  2. Excellent tutorial - thank you so much for sharing it with us. :) :)

  3. Just got the full set of copics for my birthday so this great tutorial will come in very handy. Thanks Eileen. xx

  4. Very detailed and most helpful tutorial. Thank you so much.

  5. Outstanding tutorial, Ei. I've been using copics for a while now but hair was always a bit of a problem for me. Not anymore!!!! Thanks you really did a great job. hugs to you, eisey

  6. Fab tutorial Ei, very well worded.

    Julie x

  7. Fab tutorial thanks so much for sharing.Glad you enjoyed your day with Maddy and Rach .Would love to attent but too far:(
    hugs judex


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