Thursday, January 25, 1973

My Copic Colors

Updated December 28, 2011
Caution: colors can vary with your paper, and the computer may not look true to life.

I was introduced to Copic markers in August 2008 (thank you, Sybil!) Since then, almost all my drawings use Copic colors and multi-liners. For many of those drawings, I've listed the "Copic colors used" in my blog posts.

This chart is my personal reference chart for my Copic colors. It's a Word table (13 columns, 27 rows) that I created and printed on my usual Neenah paper (Classic Crest, Solar White, smooth, 80 lb. cover weight). Whenever I buy a new marker, I color it in. I keep the chart out of the light when not in use, because the colors will fade with exposure.

An "s" means that a color is available in the Sketch type marker, but not the Original type which I generally prefer. A "c" means that it's one of my custom colors (formulas listed at the bottom of the chart) - for more information, scroll down to my "custom colors" post (or if you don't see that post, click here and then scroll down).

Also included in my chart are a few unlikely combinations that I use a lot, two markers colored on top of each other: YG91+G21, BG32+G12, and B41+BV31.

On my chart, I omitted the N and T grays (neutral and toner) because, for my markers, I chose the C and W grays (cool and warm). Also I omitted the F (fluorescent) colors, except for my FV2 at the bottom left, which in real life is a bright purple, not blue as it looks in the scan.

If you'd like a copy of the blank chart for your own use, please leave me a comment here. I'll be happy to post it.

Wednesday, January 24, 1973

Custom Colors

Updated November 26, 2010. This post is a supplement to my Color Chart.

My first custom color mix is shown below on the left. I call it B2000. It's my name for a very pale blue in the B2_ color range. For comparison, the chart includes some similar pale colors (ending in 0's) B000, BG000, and BG10, and also B21, B24, and B26, a few of the darker colors from the B2n grouping. My B2000 recipe is 1 part B24 and 24 parts colorless blender. I could have made it with B21 instead (using more ink and less colorless blender).

Added April 17, 2010: Posted below on the right is my custom color YYR2000, made with 1 part Y11, 1 part YR20, and 3 parts colorless blender.
Added November 26, 2010: I made custom color YG6000 (not shown) with 1 part YG63 and 5 parts colorless blender.
Added September 18, 2011: Sometimes R29 is too dark and saturated, but the lighter R2n's weren't what I wanted. For example, I love R24 but, to me, it looks more orangey than R29. So I made custom color R290 (not shown) with 1 part R29 and 1 part colorless blender.
Added July 7, 2013: I made FV25 (not shown) with 1 part FV2 and 4 parts colorless blender. 

Caution: colors can vary with your paper, and the computer may not look true to life.

In some cases, the Copic users who mix custom colors were creating paler colors in the 0 series (paler versions of the existing B000, Y000, and so on). As of July 2009, there were new extra-pale colors that might be perfect for them. But what I wanted with B2000 was something in the B2n grouping, which is grayer and less bright than B000.

Marianne Walker's I Like Markers post here explains how to mix custom colors. To understand the Copic color numbering system, look at her Copic Glossary, near the bottom right of her blog pages, for descriptions of Color Family, Color Saturation, and Color Group. Her post here tells more about the color numbering system.

Sunday, January 21, 1973

My Watercolor Charts: (1) Dr. Ph. Martin's Radiant Concentrated Water Colors and (2) Lyra Aquacolor Crayons

Posted February 16, 2010
Note: if you're looking for my Copic marker chart, please click here.

The color charts above show my two different types of watercolors:
  • On the left - Dr. Ph. Martin's Radiant Concentrated Water Colors
  • On the right - Lyra Aquacolor Crayons
At the bottom of this post are the same two charts, scanned separately.

Watercolors work well with Copic markers and Copic multiliners, both of which are waterproof.

Dr. Ph. Martin's Radiant Concentrated Water Colors
  • Liquid dyes in little glass eyedropper bottles. These are my FAVORITE watercolors because of their amazingly radiant, transparent colors.
  • You can buy individual colors (1/2 ounce each), or sets of 14. There are 42 colors in total. For many years I had just six colors, but recently I bought a set of 14 (the A set), shown in my chart.
  • My 35-year old bottles still worked fine - no change in the watercolor that I could see. I replaced them because I thought the rubber in the eyedropper might deteriorate and crack some day.
  • I usually put 1-2 drops of a color into the well of a watercolor palette. Then I add 1-2 drops of water, for an intense color, or 1/4-1/2 teaspooon of water, for a paler wash. A little goes a long way on my usual small-scale paper (4 x 6").
  • Because the colors are dye-based, they are not lightfast (will fade with extended exposure to UV light such as sunlight or fluorescent light). If you plan to display something made with this product, it will need UV protection. Click here for my post on how I store and protect my drawings and materials.
  • The colors mix well with each other.
  • I like using a color chart, because the colors are so concentrated that the glass bottle, or even a drop of color on the watercolor palette, doesn't really show how it will look on paper.
  • I made my chart on 4x6" watercolor paper. Each circle is about 1" diameter.
  • The colors on my screen look pretty true to life, except that 3A and 4A are really more orange (they look too blue on the screen).
  • Click here to see my drawings that use Dr. Ph. Martin's Radiant Concentrated Water Colors.
  • Click here and here for more information about these water colors.
Lyra Aquacolor Crayons
  • Water colors in solid crayon form. The colors are more opaque than my Dr. Ph. Martin's colors, which look very transparent. Both are beautiful in different ways.
  • I have a set of 24. Sets of 12 or 36 are also available.
  • I use a wet (but not dripping) brush to pick up the color directly from the crayons and apply it to my wet watercolor paper. You can also shave off a small amount and mix with a little water.
  • The colors mix well with each other. They are said to be lightfast.
  • I like using a color chart, because the crayons in the box (my set has 24) don't give a good idea of the dissolved color on paper.
  • I made my chart on 4x6" watercolor paper. Each section is 1" square.
  • In each section, the top left dot is solid crayon colored on dry paper, and the bottom left dot is the same thing, but then dissolved with a wet brush, trying not to spread the color out very much. The right side is a streak of color picked up from the crayon with a wet brush, then applied to the dry paper.
  • The colors on my screen look pretty true to life, except #37 is really more purple (looks too blue on the screen) and #13 is really more yellow (looks too red on the screen).
  • Click here to see my drawings that use Lyra Aquacolor crayons.
  • Click here for more information about the crayons.
Paper: Canson Montval watercolor block, 140 lb. cold press, 4x6"

Saturday, January 20, 1973

About My Paper

Updated December 4, 2011

It's very important with Copic markers (as with any medium) to use paper that works well for you. Marianne Walker's I Like Markers blog includes a "paper" label with very helpful posts about paper and how different types and brands react with the markers.

My favorite paper to use with Copic markers is Neenah Classic Crest Solar White Smooth, 80 lb. cover weight. It doesn't feather, and it blends and corrects beautifully. I bought my Neenah on-line; it's available from several stamping and papercrafting sites, including Ellen Hutson. Until May 2009, I used Wausau Bright White 65 lb. cover weight, which worked almost as well. Wausau was at my local office supply store. Starting in 2008, all my 8.5x11 drawings are on these two papers unless noted in the blog post.

I have some of the Neenah in Classic Cream (like Crane's ecru) and Baronial Ivory (a bit more yellow in tone) - samples received with my Solar White order from the Neenah company website. Not quite as good as Neenah Solar White for blending and correcting, but I will still enjoy using them when I want something a little different.

I also like Crane's correspondence cards, 100% rag, kid finish, in white, ecru (cream), and sometimes tan. Some are 4x6", some are a bit larger, 4.25 x 6.375". The white does tend to feather a bit, which is easily avoided by coloring just inside the lines. And the ecru, though it looks and feels as smooth as the white, creates a slightly pebbly or stippled appearance with some colors (which I find appealing). Caution: my Crane's cards were purchased a long time ago - maybe 25 years old. They may not be the same now.

Added November 27, 2010: I recently bought some new paper, X-Press It Blending Card, as described by Marianne Walker in her blog "I Like Markers." I haven't played with it much, but it's said to be great for blending and not feathering. I plan to use it for my 2010 Advent Calendar, where it will get a good workout with the tiny drawings and many different coloring techniques. It's expensive, so I was happy to find a 25-sheet package from Ellen Hutson, one of my favorite on-line stores.
Review added December 4, 2011: I'm very late in posting my review! but here it is. The X-Press It Blending Card was not for me. It was too smooth, almost slippery, for the way I draw and color. I'm happier with my Neenah, which has a slight tooth (good for my Copic multiliner drawings), some wicking (which can lead to feathering, but is very helpful for smoothly coloring an irregular shape), and slower blending (good for layering colors without having them mix). But I'm glad I tried the X-Press It, and I've heard of other Copic users who are very happy with it.

See this post "Where I Buy My Tools and Materials" for more information about my sources.

Monday, January 15, 1973

Tools I Like

Updated October 3, 2009. This post includes my info on scanning, image splicing, paper trimming, light box, and manikins.

Scanning my Drawings - I don't photograph my drawings. Instead I scan them (.jpg format) and import into IPhoto (the photo software that came with my Mac). I don't retouch them; the scanner does a great job and, at least on my computer, the colors look very much like the original. (The only exception is, when I want to print a scanned line drawing in order to color the printout, I edit it to B&W with high contrast. Otherwise, the printer tries to tint the blank paper areas.) My new scanner (Oct. 2009) is an HP Officejet Pro 8500 All-in-One printer-copier-fax-scanner that can scan up to 11.5x14 on its flatbed surface. (Before that, I used a similar 2005 HP model.) Even the small objects like the tea strainer or the baby booties were scanned, not photographed.

Splicing or Stitching Images - DoubleTake Shareware for the Mac ($25.95) - Some of my drawings are 14x17, and I have to scan in sections (see above), but DoubleTake makes it easy to reconnect the pieces. If I scan it in 3 sections, then before I try to join them in DoubleTake, I can crop out (in IPhoto) the blurred sections where the paper bends at the edge of the glass (only a problem when the paper is larger than 8.5x14). Maybe I could do better with PhotoShop, but for the price, I'm happy. I've read that there is similar, free or inexpensive software for Windows, but I can't comment on it because I'm a Mac user.

Paper Trimming - I have a small (5.5" x 8.5") guillotine Fiskar trimmer that works well. For larger paper, my Marshall Personal Paper Trimmer is really good for the price. It's not a guillotine style - you lift up the arm, lower it in place over the paper, and then slide the small box (which fully encloses the blade when not cutting) along the arm. It uses inexpensive single-edge razor blades. It has a 14" cut, and it's open on the end, so larger paper can be cut partway. Mine was $20.99 from Dick Blick on-line.

Light Box - Mine is a Gagne Porta-Trace, stainless steel frame, 10x12 with 2 bulbs. I find it is bright enough to use through 2 heavy (80 lb cover weight) sheets of paper, or even through 2 Crane's cards, which are even heavier. For this 10x12 size, they also make a zippered carrying bag, which is nice for storage.

Manikin - For my Mary series, I bought a pair of male and female Art S Buck gray plastic manikins at my local art supply store. They helped me a lot with proportions, though certainly not a miracle cure! They are available at Dick Blick on-line for about $18 each.

Sunday, January 14, 1973

Where I Buy My Tools and Materials (Sources)

Posted July 5, 2010, updated Sept. 2010

Note: Below are a few on-line stores that I personally use. In most cases, these stores ship my order on the next business day. I've had great customer service experience with all of them.

I also buy things at my local art supply stores and scrapbooking stores, not listed here because they are local.

I'm not affiliated with any store or product, and I don't receive any free or specially discounted items. When I mention something on my blog, it's because I personally use it with good results. There are, of course, many other products, and many other sources for on-line purchases, which I haven't compared here.

Art supplies (wide variety of general art materials):
  • Merri Artist - also with a store location in McMinnville, Oregon, which my friend Sybil has visited (but which I haven't.) All Copic items are available on-line, including the Various Ink Refills.
  • Dick Blick Art Materials - also with store locations in over a dozen states, including one near me. All Copic items are available on-line, including the Various Ink Refills. My local Dick Blick store carries Copic markers and some accessories, and now (Sept. 2010) also has at least some of the refills.
Paper crafting supplies, such as greeting card materials (card stock, adhesives, embellishments, paper crafting tools, etc.):
  • Ellen Hutson - on-line only. The home page for Ellen Hutson's store includes buttons for four different educational and inspirational blogs. (Scroll down toward the bottom.) My favorite is "The Classroom" where I've learned a lot about different techniques and supplies. Many Copic items are available, including Sketch markers, Various Ink Refills, and many accessories.

  • Papertrey Ink (PTI) - on-line only. There is also a beautiful blog by Nichole Heady (PTI's co-owner) with techniques and examples of how to use PTI products and other materials. Some Copic Sketch markers are available. Note: their shipping can be slower in the first week after a new release (15th of each month), so you may wish to plan for that.
One more favorite web location:
  • Craft Critique - not a store, but a wonderful resource for crafty product reviews. (Not just paper crafting.) Products I never imagined! Product comparisons! And interesting stories on craft shows and events.

Wednesday, January 10, 1973

How I Store and Protect My Drawings and Materials

Updated December 30, 2011

I store my drawings in Itoya Original Art Profolio binders. They look like 3-ring binders, but inside are clear pockets with a black paper insert. They are acid-free, and the covers are very rigid. The prices are reasonable, and I found them at two different local art supply stores. They are also sold on-line at Dick Blick. I use them in three sizes: 5x7, 9x12, and 14x17.
Note as of December 31, 2009:
There is a new version called the Itoya Art Profolio Advantage, which I'm guessing may eventually replace the Original Art Profolio. It's very similar, but with a bit heavier cover.

I keep my markers in a small nine-compartment wooden cabinet with a drawer. The cabinet, which was designed to store dies for paper crafting, is called the Quickutz Magpie Nesting Storage System. Its size is 14 x 10.5 x 4.75". Sharon Harnist's blog post on Copic Storage shows a picture of her three cabinets in white. I only have one of them, in black. The drawer holds my small misc. items like erasers.
Updated April 18, 2010: I was looking for this cabinet for a friend, but it seems to be out of stock everywhere, and the manufacturer says it's no longer being made. Updated October 8, 2011: There was a "Color Cubbie" product, similar design but without the drawer, but it too has gone out of production. Updated December 30, 2011: I read about another product recently - the Marker Organizer from Organize More. But I don't have any experience with the company or their products.

Updated April 18, 2010: Except for my large paper and Copic ink refill bottles, everything else is in three plastic file-type boxes.

Added August 12, 2009: Because the Copic markers are dye-based, they will fade with exposure to UV light. That's not usually a problem for me, because I keep my drawings in binders, as described above. But when I do a drawing for someone who wants to display it, I protect it with a UV sealer spray called "Super Seal" by Creative Imaginations. See Sally Lynn MacDonald's blog for a review. You may find it at a local craft store or scrapbooking store. I wasn't able to find it locally, so I ordered mine on-line (added November 27, 2011: from a store which no longer carries it.) Unlike many other sealer sprays, Super Seal does not contain alcohol - very important with Copic markers which are alcohol-based. (If you spray alcohol on a drawing colored with Copic markers, the colors will run!)

Added February 17, 2010: I haven't tested Super Seal on watercolors. I wouldn't expect a problem, but I just don't know for sure. I will update this post sometime, after I try it.

Friday, January 5, 1973

About My Labels (part 1 of 3)

Updated October 3, 2009. I've tried to place consistent and helpful labels on all of my posts. One reason for my labels is to help my viewers find drawings they might enjoy. Another reason is to give me a way to sort and view my own drawings in various combinations. Most of my labels don't need explanation. "Flowers," for example. Others are explained below.
  • Abstract: Includes non-representational. I know there's a difference, but it makes my head hurt to decide which is which sometimes.
  • Airbrush: Using the Copic airbrush system (for more info, see airbrush posts at I Like Markers, Marianne Walker's blog... start here, then click on her airbrushing label for more)
  • Bad markers: Although I like my pre-Copic drawings, many of them show the problems of "bad markers" - blotching, streaking, bleeding, smearing. That's why I stopped drawing until my Copic markers came along. See Bad Marker Disclaimer.
  • Brightness: these labels give my overall impression of the coloring. "Brightness: vivid" is strong coloring, often primary colors. "Brightness: muted" is softer, paler, perhaps monochrome - often still colorful, but with a quieter feeling. It includes my black and white drawings. "Brightness: mid" is mid-range, somewhere in between vivid and muted.
For C-Z scroll down, or click here and scroll down.

About My Labels (part 2 of 3)

Updated October 3, 2009. I've tried to place consistent and helpful labels on all of my posts. One reason for my labels is to help my viewers find drawings they might enjoy. Another reason is to give me a way to sort and view my own drawings in various combinations. Most of my labels don't need explanation. "Flowers," for example. Others are explained below.

For A-B scroll up, or click here and scroll down.
  • Cards (greeting cards) are folded cards, such as birthday cards or blank note cards. Does not include drawings on heavy, flat Crane's cards (because they are just drawings). Updated July 9, 2010: Please click here for "Mostly Markers - Cards" to see the full posts on these cards up to July 5, 2010. For the future, I'll post all of my new greeting cards in Mostly Markers - Cards, not in this blog, Mostly Markers, which will also still be active with all of my non-card drawings and reference posts.
  • Coloring refers only to the Copic coloring, not to the line drawing. For example, a complex drawing might have simple coloring. Coloring: simple is plain, flat coloring with little or no shading or layering. Coloring: complex means my more elaborate layering, blending, and shading techniques, as well as airbrush or blender effects. I enjoy both complex and simple coloring.
  • Doodle: For me, this may mean unpolished, playful, scribbly, or sketchy. I'm thinking of the result, not the process. I typically don't doodle in the sense of drawing while in meetings or on the phone.
  • From imagination: Possibly drawn from memory, or from a mental image of what I was drawing, but more often, drawn as lines and gestures that became an image as I drew. See also "How I Draw."
  • From life: Drawn while I was looking at whatever I drew (flowers, landscape, an object, etc.)
  • Geode: My name for a drawing that is plain or dull on the outside, with a detailed or vivid interior. A geode is a hollow rock that contains crystals or a different type of mineral than is on the outside; some geodes are very beautiful, and all of them are interesting to look at.
For H-Z scroll down. Or click here and scroll down.

About my Labels (part 3 of 3)

Updated January 2010. I've tried to place consistent and helpful labels on all of my posts. One reason for my labels is to help my viewers find drawings they might enjoy. Another reason is to give me a way to sort and view my own drawings in various combinations. Most of my labels don't need explanation. "Flowers," for example. Others are explained below.

For A-H scroll up, or click here and scroll down.
  • Illustration Friday: Drawings for the weekly I. F. topic, offering a different word each week to inspire a drawing. My I. F. drawings are posted on my blog, and they are also listed/linked on the Illustration Friday web site, along with many other drawings by other people. To quote the I. F. welcome page, it's " a weekly creative outlet/participatory art exhibit for illustrators and artists of all skill levels."
  • Landscape: Includes plants and flowers growing outdoors, including outdoor gardens and outdoor potted plants drawn close-up.
  • Multiples: Several complete drawings on one piece of paper.
  • Ribbons: By this I mean, narrow strips of color that resemble ribbons. Except for greeting cards, I haven't done any drawings with actual ribbon or embroidery, though I might try that someday.
  • Size: When I see art on the internet, I often wonder what scale it is. That's why I included the size for each drawing in my labels.
  • Still life: Includes indoor scenes, also cut flowers and indoor potted plants.
  • Try this: Explained here (sorry for that, but it's a long explanation.)
  • Words: A drawing that contains words.

Thursday, January 4, 1973

Blog Help

Updated Aug. 12, 2009
I'm not a computer expert, but here are some things that have worked for me.

Printing - If you are trying to print a post, such as one of my "Try This" examples, you may find that it doesn't print correctly. Try "selecting" what you want to print (use your mouse to highlight the entire post), and then from your browser's menu bar, File - Print - Print selection.

Viewing - Firefox browser - To see a larger view of a drawing, click or double click on it. If it's now too big for your screen, with the Mozilla Firefox browser, you can zoom in or out. From the Firefox menu bar, View - Zoom - Zoom In or Zoom Out. (Command+ or Command- keys on my Mac.) To "reset" to the original size, View-Zoom-Reset or Command 0 keys (0 meaning zero key.)

Viewing - Explorer browser - Here is a link to an explanation of their feature called "automatic image resizing." (Explorer 6) I don't use the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser, so I haven't tested it.

Wednesday, January 3, 1973

"Bad Marker" Disclaimer

Updated July 2009

When I talk about "Bad Markers," I don't mean any disrespect to the marker brands or the people who use them, for whom they are "Good Markers."

Maybe I should call them "Bad Marker-Paper-Technique-User Combinations."

Anyway, I don't name the Bad Marker brands, because it's not my purpose to say bad things about the marker companies, and besides, their formulas might have changed since the 1980's. What I do mean is that the wrong materials (at least, wrong-for-the-individual) can harm both the drawing and the drawing experience.

Tuesday, January 2, 1973

Did I Really Stop Drawing for 23 Years?

Updated July 2009

Yes, mostly. After the "Bad Marker Example" drawing (June 1985), up to my first Copic marker drawing (Aug. 2008), I have only about 15 drawings, mostly pencil sketches and attempts to work with other media. They date from 1986-2000, and I posted a few of them. I know there were others that I didn't keep, but not many.

Over the years, I tried watercolors and colored pencils, even crayons, but they just didn't work well for me.
I started singing more, something I love to do. It seemed like almost enough, but I still missed drawing.

My friend Sybil, meanwhile, was still drawing (doodling, as she calls it), and it even became part of her prayer life. In 2006, I wrote this to her in an e-mail: "Our women's group at church had a half-day workshop on art & spirit. We spent some time drawing, with white colored pencil & circles of black construction paper.... So I got out my colored pencils & bought a couple books on colored-pencil techniques. There is an amazing amount you can do with them & unlike markers, they don't dry up & disappoint you. But I don't feel connected to them like I do with markers. I will keep trying with them for awhile and see what happens." (What happened was that I just didn't enjoy the process of working with colored pencils, and I put them away again.)

Later in 2006, responding to a comment she made about her color choices, I wrote, "I used to have a lot of different color combinations in my drawing."

I saw drawing as a part of my past, something I had loved but lost. Then Sybil visited with her Copic markers, and I started drawing again.

Monday, January 1, 1973

Earliest Post?

Updated July 2009

You might be looking for my earliest blog post.

I didn't start this blog until July 2009. Before that, the post dates indicate the approximate dates of the drawings (1974 onward).

The "1973" posts are basically reference information or explanations that I want to keep in one place, out of the way of the drawings.