Jan 15, 2009

The great copic debate

I want to take a moment and talk about Copics...or rather my lack thereof. I own two Copic markers, a colorless blender and then a pink marker (Lipstick Pink I believe) in the Sketch style. I bought them on sale and still couldn't believe I was spending that much for just two markers. I played around with them a bit and I will admit that they are pretty awesome. I can completely understand the appeal of these markers. The color is clean, streak free and saturated. Even with all that, I still cannot bring myself to buy more. I did some major searching and price comparisons after receiving a very nice gift card for Christmas. While the Sketch markers had the most flexibility, at $4+ a marker, they were well beyond what I wanted to pay for a decent color selection. I looked at the lower price option of getting Ciao markers. I found these beauties as cheap as $2.96 a marker. That doesn't sound bad until you start doing the math. To get a decent (at least 36 colors) selection, I'm still paying over $100 ($106.65, to be exact from MerriArtist.com). Affordable with my Christmas money, but what about when I decide I want more colors?

Don't get me wrong, the little I have played with Copics makes me seriously covet a complete set. I could completely wipe out my Christmas money buying just Copics, but it's rare that I have this sort of money at my disposal and I want to get as much bang for my buck as possible, including some stamps I've been coveting far longer than those markers. So I dug through my stash of art supplies for some watercolor pencils and some standard colored pencils. Courtesy of an artist mother, I can draw and paint, I just don't enjoy it. At least not from scratch. Stamping allows me to skip the bits I don't like and go straight to the bits that I do. Which means I have an appreciation good art supplies.

Part of my collection of art supplies included a moderately okay set of watercolor pencils. Watercolor was always the most forgiving of the art mediums I tried growing up, and the pencils are a perfect match for stamping. I simply trace out the image areas with the color of choice and apply water with a brush to pull the color into the center of the area. Voila, instant shading. Coloring in the area lightly and tracing the edges more heavily gives a more intense color. It mostly just takes a bit of practice to learn how to get the results you want.

Take a look here. The image to the far left is done in colored pencils, the image in the center is watercolor and the image to the right is the watercolor before the water was added.


After several hours of playing with my watercolor pencils I came to the conclusion that my moderately okay set of pencils was limited on color selection and needed an upgrade to at least a very good set. Fortunately, Hobby Lobby carries what I consider to be Very Nice water color pencils in open stock. Even better, they were 30% off this week. I invested in a few in the color range I wanted to experiment with and was very pleased. I will be adding to my collection in the near future.


The image to the left is the same as before. The image to the right is also the same, only this time with water applied. The image in the middle is with the new watercolor pencils. I'm really pleased with the color options the new pencils provide. The standard colored pencils used on the image to the left is a super cheap set of Crayola brand pencils. Functional until I can invest in a MUCH better set, most likely a full on tin of soft lead Prismacolors.

A selection of my pencil play -


On the bundled up cutie in the top, the left is colored pencil, the right is watercolor. I purposely went with pale shades on the watercolor one as I was experimenting. Overall, I'm very pleased with the results. The girls are both Elisabeth Bell from Funky Kits in Scottland, while the boot and daisies are Alessa Baker from Impression Obsession.

So let's talk money. I've already mentioned the price per marker up at the top. If you're just starting out and aren't concerned about the color options available, hit the school supplies section of your local discount store (Wal-Mart or Target) and grab a set of Crayola or Kodak colored pencils. I have both and can attest to them being excellent for play and even full fledged card making. I've seen sets from RoseArt in 72 colors, although it's more likely that you'll find a sets of 24. Personally, I'd skip over RoseArts. I'm not a big fan as the quality overall isn't that good. Price wise, expect to pay under $10 (to be honest, if you pay more than $6 or so, I'd be surprised). Once you decide you like the results you're getting, you may want to upgrade to a high end set of pencils. My favorite is Prismacolor. With their latest release of colors they have 132 shades. You can find the whole shebang on Amazon for $110. If you do the math, you'll come up with a whopping 83 cents per pencil.

If you want to try watercolor pencils, expect to pay a little more. Hobby Lobby carried them on open stock (selection of 60 colors) for $1.49 a pencil. Watch for a good sale and you can pick them up like I did this week at $1.04 a pencil. So for the $12.50 I spend on watercolor pencils, I got 12. For that same $12.50 in Copic Ciao markers, I could have gotten 4, or in high end colored pencils, 15. On my limited budget and in this economy, it's pencils all the way. Try them. I think you'll like them.


Unknown said...

Very helpful - I've been debating getting some copics for a while now - think I'll give them a miss, least till I win some money!!

Unknown said...

Hey V... you won the Shower the Baby Blog candy over on my blog! Please send me your information and I'll send it off to you! Congratulations!


Anonymous said...

I don't know if you are in the U.S or where but have you ever heard of Shihan Touch markers? Same as Ciao but a lot cheaper.
We can discuss more if you want to about this. No I don't sell them just know where to buy them.

Katie said...

Thanks for this, it's very helpful. I don't have copic and must admit that I don't really want them. I much prefer the look of pencils, the image looks more natural to me. I think that images done with markers sometimes look a bit too 'professional' and store bought??


Janice said...

Hi, really helpful, was thinking about copics but like you the price tag is just too much, I'm of to hunt out my water colour pencils for a wee play!