A panel on alcohol based, professional quality markers (like Copic, Prismacolor, Letraset) that introduces commonly available brands and alternatives, techniques, and accessories. Presented at Mechacon 2014 by Heidi Black and Becca Hillburn. Introduction image courtesy of Heidi Black.
Introduction to Alcohol Based Markers- Presented at Mechacon 2014
Introduction to Alcohol Based
Copics, Prismacolors, and
I'm a childrens comic artist and freelance illustrator originally from New
Orleans but currently living in Nashville, TN. I graduated from SCAD
with a Masters Degree in Sequential Art in 2013, and from the University
of New Orleans with a bachelors degree in Hypermedia (digital art). My
main focus is currently watercolor comics, and my hobbies include
writing for my blog, Keep on Truckin' Nattosoup and attending
conventions as an artist.
Heidi is a sequential artist and illustrator from dayton, ohio. She likes
cats and potatoes and hates writing bios. Her work is at
electricabyss.com, including her tutorial artbook, Electricabyss, and her
newest comic, Sons of Fire.
What are Alcohol Based Markers?
• Markers that use an alcohol based solvent to suspend
pigments, as opposed to water
• Prismacolor, Copic, Letraset
• Not Crayola, RoseArt, or other ‘student grade’ markers
• Used by comic artists, graphic designers, illustrators
• Quick, fairly consistent results
• Noted for ability to blend
“Pippi in the South Pacific”
Alcohol VS Waterbased Markers
• Typically tend to be much higher quality than
student grade brands
• Often feature refillability, ability to replace tips
• More expensive than most waterbased brands
• More difficult to find- usually have to go to a
dedicated art or hobby shop, order online
• Able to achieve impressive results with
Anatomy of an Alcohol Based
Image Via: store.copicmarker.com
Papers for Alcohol Based Markers
• Strathmore mixed media sketchbooks
• Copic (Too) brand papers, my favorite is the
• Cardstock paper
• Strathmore 400 series and above smooth and
plate finish Bristol paper
• Hot and cold pressed watercolor paper
Selecting an Ink for Lineart
Always do a test swatch on separate sheet of paper ahead of time. Try to let
your inks dry overnight before applying marker, to prevent smearing.
• Solvent based inks (or lacquer based) are NOT alcohol based marker proof.
• Waterbased inks tend to be alcohol based marker proof.
• Copic Multiliners are always alcohol based marker proof.
• Sakura Microns are usually alcohol based marker proof.
• Kaimei Sol K ink is alcohol based marker safe (I use it myself with brushes).
• Winsor Newton tends to be alcohol based marker safe.
• Avoid Prismacolor technical pens as they bleed
Good Alcohol Based Marker Brands
• Copic- Original, Sketch, or Ciao
• Prismacolor (available in bullet or brush tips)
• Shin Han Twin Touch (available in bullet or
• MEXPY (available in bullet or brush tips)
• Letraset Flex Marker
• Letraset Pro Marker
Keep a Swatch book
All marker brands have different color coding systems, so it’s
handy to keep a book of color swatches organized by color
families, especially if you mix brands.
Copics: Worth the Expense?
• Fairly common
• HUGE color selection
• Often go on sale, if you know where to look
• Replaceable nibs
• Super brush tip available on Sketch and Ciao
• Copic Wides useful for effectively covering large spaces with less streaking
• Empty markers are available, so you can mix your own colors
• Plays well with a lot of other brands like Prismacolors, Letrasets
• Even a ‘wrecked’ Copic marker can be salvaged
Comparison Between Copic
http://fantasyartclass.blogspot.com/ Image Source:
Copic Sketch and Ciao
Starting a set from scratch
(Copic, but applicable to other brands as well)
• Start with a selection of Warm Greys (W00-
• Colors can be layered for saturation
• Start with a couple colors in each family until
you know what you need.
• Skin and hair colors are most pressing needs if
you render figures
• Blue violets (BV000-BV01) useful for shading
skin and cool shadows
Copic and Watercolor mixed media
on Fluid watercolor paper
Copic Color Chart
– Utilizing Colorless Blender
– Utilizing lighter colors in same family
– Tip to Tip Blending
– Palette to Tip Blending
• Applying a wash of marker
• Splatters with toothbrIumsaghe Soourrc pe: aintbrush
Marker Technique- Shading
• Same color in layers (E00 on top of E00)
• Same color family in layers (E02 on top of E00)
• Analogous color (YR on top of Y, R on top of YR)
• Complimentary Color (BV on top of YR)
Enjoyed our presentation?
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