This is a mighty long post…. sorry…
I’ve gotten a few questions on how to pick Copic marker colors when starting out. It’s a good question – the markers are tools that will last a lifetime and you don’t want to waste your money on colors you won’t use.
But, everyone is an individual so its pretty hard for me to tell you what you will like. I decided to share with you my favorite 30 (ugghh… that was hard – I love them all really. Turns out I had to add another optional 6).
Please take my choices with a big grain of salt (maybe the whole shaker!). It is very important for you to look at what you color and what you like. I’m going to review my top 30 and why I chose them – then you can decide if what I’m saying makes sense for you or not.
A couple bits of info that might help with color choice. The Copic numbering system is actually very helpful. The letter is the color family – so all markers with the same letter have a similar base. The first number is what I think of as the “brightness” of the color. Lower numbers will be very bright and clear and higher numbers will be more muted and have more gray in them (compare BG-02 and BG-72 in the chart below). The last number is the color intensity or darkness. Low numbers are very light and high numbers are dark. (Compare YR-02 and YR-07 in the chart below)
If you look at the trees on the two images to the right, the top tree was colored with markers in the green (G) family. The lower tree was colored with Markers from the yellow-green (YG) family. I tend to be partial to the YG’s – but you may like G’s better.
I put together a chart of my top 30 below (plus another 6…. couldn’t resist). I selected these based on what I reach for most often and what I would have a hard time being without. I included a color swatch of all 30 (36) in the chart below – but you know that computers do not always render colors perfectly.
I strongly believe in buying color pairs or groups. You will enjoy your markers much more if you can start blending right from the beginning. If you want more information on color pairs, you can read THIS POST. So I have arranged my “top 30” in groups that blend and work together.
My 30 include colorless blender – for fading to white, fixing “goofs” and doing effects.
I like B-60 for many of my shadows.
I use the color group of E-00 and E02 for most of my skin. Of course if you need different tones, you’ll want to choose different markers. I have had success with E-25 and and E-27 for dark skin tones.
My green group includes YG-03 and YG-63, they blend easily together for fresh new foliage green. I also use G-21 with either of them to get more green , less yellow. And I often use G-40 as a base for my greens or for a blender. I added G-17 to my optional choices to get darker true green. I also really like YG-95 to get olive tones. It can be blended with any of the other YG’s. (I told ya – hard to pick 30 – I love my greens!)
BG-000 is great for snow, glass and water. I use it with BG-02 and BG-72 for blue green blends. I like BG-72 for distant or shaded water (plus I just love the color).
My favorite brown grouping is E-31, E-34 and E-25. I find I can create a lot of different shades with just these 3. (I have quite a few browns and love them all. If you need more browns, consider E-44 (a slightly grayed brown) and E-27 for a darker shade).
For reds, I mainly use R-14, R-27 and R-59. R-59 is a pretty dark color but is great for darker shadowing on red objects. I can get pretty much the range of reds I need with just these 3 markers. I added R-20 to my additional 6 because it is a nice warm pink and I’ve used it often. If you love red – consider adding R-29 too.
B-21 and B-24 – a nice set of clear medium blues that do not have green in them. I added B-97 in my optional group in case you want a dark navy. I don’t use it often, but there really is no other substitute if you need it.
I settled on RV-21, RV-23 and RV-34 as my pink group, (although I really wanted to include RV-11 too). All 3 blend together and give a range of pinks.
I use mainly YR-02 and YR-07 for my orange grouping. I use the YR-02 for the base and for blending in the darker YR-07.
Another yellow-red grouping is YR-21 and YR-24. I use YR-21 a lot and often blend it with the Y group. It is also useful for blending to white to make a cream/off white.
For yellow, I like Y-11 and Y-15. With the yellows, you need more distance between the numbers to get enough color variation for shading to show (IMHO….). In my optional group I added Y-21. I love this color and use it often, but I can get close to it by using YR-21 and doing a fade to white with the blender.
Last, I like C-1 and C-3. I can blend them for gray, use them for shadows, and they are great for coloring metal. They can also be blended with brighter colors to tone them down.
Lastly, I added 2 BV colors to my “extra” list. My “top 30” did not have any purples (I’m just not a purple person) so I added a 2 color blend to the extras. Of course – if you ARE a purple person, then my top 30 list won’t work very well for you.
If you notice, few of my picks have a last number above 4. I find the lighter colors much more versatile. The create better blends and don’t obscure the lines of the stamped image. Of course, there are exceptions but I would recommend starting mainly with lighter colors. And don’t waste you money on black. If you want “black” you are better off getting a dark gray (last number of 7 or 8) so you can still shade and blend.
So these are my picks based on my experiences and what I like to color. Hopefully, you can use some of this info to help make your choices.
You can get more mileage out of some colors by doing fades to white. The two houses at the right use a fade to white for the icing. The first is a fade of YR-21 (Cream), the second is a fade of BG-000 (Pale Aqua).
To do a fade, you edge the area in the color and then use the colorless blender in small circles from the colored area toward the center. I find that my fades come out better if I use a very light shade – like the BG-000. For darker shades (like and end number of 1), I do better if I pre-wet the area with the blender pen, then put the color line around the edge, then blend towards the center with little circles. I did not do the pre-wetting on the first house (with the Y-21) and you can see the edge is a little harsh (haste makes waste….).
Well, if your still with me you deserve a prize! (but I don’t have one)
The Copics in the Paper Garden Projects store are still 20% off through Sept. 5. I realize some of the colors are sold out – but never fear more are on the way! They shipped today and should be in the store by Monday.
Whew – I think I’ll go color something…..