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Painterly Effects with Various Ink Refills

Hi everyone, I’m Becca Hillburn, the artist behind Nattosoup - an art, tutorial, and review blog geared toward comic enthusiasts. I primarily consider myself a comic artist, working with traditional media such as Bristol, technical pens (mainly Copic Multiliners), and brush pens, but I do a lot of work with Copic Sketch markers as well – from toning comic pages to coloring commissions.

Most of my marker work is either done in my sketchbook as studies, or on the same Bristol I use for comic pages. That said, I’m always up for learning new tricks and trying new techniques. So for this adventure in Copics, I’ll show you how to use Various Inks to get some neat effects.

This technique would be a fantastic way to do skies, water, even the sides of buildings. I’ve noticed a couple artists – doctorCOPIC and Kareena Zerefos – utilizing a more painterly approach to rendering with Copic inks, and I’ve long wanted to achieve similar results in my own work.

Here’s a great example of how doctorCOPIC uses Various Inks for painterly effects:

This technique takes advantage of Copic’s watercolor-esque aesthetic, pushing it even further by mimicking many of watercolor’s strong points- an unpredictability from wet into wet and wet into dry mixing that many find quite charming. This cannot always be reproduced using traditional Copic marker rendering. This technique forgoes that for not-so-simple mixing of the Various Inks. While the technique may seem simple at a glance, it takes a little practice and experimentation to specific results.

To start with, I used three types of paper- Yupo Watercolor – a synthetic, tree-less paper made of polypropylene (chosen for its ability to resist water- for this technique, I wanted the ink to pool) – Copic’s Bleedproof Marker Pad (chosen because that’s usually the recommended option), and Borden & Riley #90 Vellum Sheer Trace (chosen because it’s a very excellent, heavy tracing paper with a nice finish, and tracing paper is the standard recommendation for this technique).

workspace image

My workspace for this particular project. (not shown: Borden & Riley Vellum pad, it’s huge.) The Copics and Various Inks I’ll be using, a mixing tray, pipettes, and some inspiration (the Copic Catalogue for 2012).

I used a variety of Various Inks- the Colorless Blender (0) as a general base, W5, B12, and R81. In the marker department, I mainly used Copic Sketch, BV23, YG03, B14, B00, B32, YG03, YG67, Y000, Y04, BG99, and BG98. I also used a Copic Ciao Colorless Blender (0).

Close up of supplies

My goal throughout this experimentation was to play with the Various Inks. I’ve dabbled with watercolor ink and water-soluble inks before, but never alcohol soluble inks, and although I’d anticipated that they would dry quickly. I hadn’t anticipated how quickly they’d dry while still on the palette. My method in the beginning was to pour some of the various ink (one color at a time) into the wells in the palette, and then pull up ink using a pipette. This allowed me more precise application than simply dripping it from the bottle, as it was easier for me to vary the pressure on the pipette to get the droplet size I wanted.

Pipette drawing ink

Unfortunately the ink evaporates fairly quickly, so I used a lot of ink this way.

Ink dripped on Yupo

Ink dripped on Yupo

 Copic Bleedproof Paper

Copic Bleedproof Paper

Vellum Tracing Paper

Vellum Tracing Paper

As you can see, the ink reacts differently on all three paper types. On the Yupo and the Vellum, it pools on the surface for a little while before drying. On the Copic Bleedproof, it sinks right in.

Next I wanted to see how the inks would react when another color was dripped on top. By this time, the inks had somewhat dried on the surface of the papers, making this a wet into dry application.

R81 dripped into B12 on Yupo

R81 dripped into B12 on Yupo

R81 dripped into B12 on Copic Bleedproof

R81 dripped into B12 on Copic Bleedproof

R81 dripped into B12 on Vellum Paper

R81 dripped into B12 on Vellum Paper

W5 dripped onto R81 and B12 on Yupo

W5 dripped onto R81 and B12 on Yupo

W5 dripped onto R81 and B12 on Copic Bleedproof Marker Paper

W5 dripped onto R81 and B12 on Copic Bleedproof Marker Paper

W5 dripped onto R81 and B12 on Tracing Paper

W5 dripped onto R81 and B12 on Tracing Paper

With a wet into dry ink application, the newly applied ink tends to push the pigment in the dry ink, and creates a harsh delineation between fresh and dry ink. This makes for some pretty trippy effects, and works best on slow absorption papers like Yupo and tracing paper.

I next applied Colorless Blender to see if it would push all pigment away.

Colorless Blender applied on top of W5, R81, and B12 on Yupo

Colorless Blender applied on top of W5, R81, and B12 on Yupo.

Colorless Blender applied onto W5, R81, and B12 on Copic Bleedproof Marker Paper.  No visible difference.

Colorless Blender applied onto W5, R81, and B12 on Copic Bleedproof Marker Paper. No visible difference.

Colorless Blender applied on top of W5, R81, and B12 on vellum tracing paper.

Colorless Blender applied on top of W5, R81, and B12 on vellum tracing paper.

With the Yupo and the Vellum tracing paper, the effect was immediate and very noticeable. Although the prior pigment did not entirely leave the page, there’s a noticeable difference in hue where the Colorless Blender has been dripped. With the Copic Bleedproof paper, there was no difference where the Colorless Blender has been dripped and where it has not. I don’t have much experience with this paper, so I’m not sure if that’s due to oversaturation or what. I do know that with the Yupo and Vellum, the ink does not actually sink into the paper, so it’s very easy to get immediate effects, but very hard to layer.

I thought that since the Copic Bleedproof Marker paper absorbed the ink so quickly, it might be fun to try a drip test. I was hoping to get a nifty tye-dye effect without actually having to wrinkle up my paper. I applied the ink so that the colors were close but not touching, and held it at a slight angle (less than 25 degrees) so the ink would slowly run.

Not exactly the most impressive display of colors ever seen.

The colors mixed into a brown, expect different results with different colors.

I waited a couple days for the ink to fully dry on these pages (even now, the ink on the Yupo is still tacky) and scanned them.

Wet into Dry on Yupo

Wet into dry on Yupo.

Wet into Slightly Damp on Copic Bleedproof Marker Paper

Wet into slightly damp on Copic Bleedproof marker paper.

Hang Drip Test Copic Bleedproof Marker Paper

Hanging drip test Copic Bleedproof marker paper.

Wet into dry on vellum tracing paper.

Wet into dry on vellum tracing paper.

Next I decided to experiment with wet into wet application of ink. This time, I didn’t bother with the droppers, I just dropped ink straight from the Various Ink bottles. For this technique, you need to work pretty quickly; otherwise the ink will dry before you’ve finished applying ink. What’s nice about this technique is you do get color blending effects you would not be able to achieve with markers alone.

Unfortunately, due to the restraints of this technique, I could not take in-process photos, but let me assure you, it really is as simple as “Drip one color. Cap. Drip another color, possibly into first color.”

After letting the colors dry a little, I pulled out my markers. I was hoping to push and pull the ink easily, but that would require a braver woman than I, as even a little markering quickly colors the nib. The dripped ink builds up more residue on the papers surface than ink applied via marker, so if you’re going to noodle about with this technique, be forewarned. Getting a little color on your nib wont cross-contaminate or ruin them. Nibs can be worked back to their normal coloring by drawing on a separate piece of paper.

My first victim was the Copic Ciao Colorless Blender.

Working the ink with the Copic Ciao Colorless Blender.

Just a little dabbling and you can see it's getting kind of dirty.

With just a little dabbling on scratch paper you can work the color out of the nib.

Along the W5 you can see where I've gone in with the Colorless Blender. It doesn't remove all color, but it softens the edge on the grey.

Along the W5 you can see where I’ve gone in with the Colorless Blender. It doesn’t remove all color, but it softens the edge on the grey.

Here’s the scanned wet into wet with marker test. The upper right hand circle of R81 and W5 ink are typical of wet into wet blending. I tested the Colorless Blender, and also a green (YG03) and a greyish blue (BV23).

Here's the scanned wet into wet with marker test. The upper right hand circle of R81 and W5 ink are typical of wet into wet blending. I not only tested the Colorless Blender, but also a green (YG03) and a greyish blue (BV23).

Wet into wet with marker test.

As you can see, not all colors are equally effective at removing the original color. BV23 (lower left) is surprisingly ineffective at removing or blending, whereas YG03 is very effective at removing color, but not blending. Not quite the painterly effect I had in mind.
Next I played with wet into wet techniques using Yupo. I realized early on that using a regular Copic marker with Yupo would probably just wreck the nib, as the Yupo absorbs none of the ink. With the Yupo, I tested how colors would react when dripped into a pool of Colorless Blender.

I worked loose and fast with this, first creating a pool of colorless blender, then dripping in the B12, then the R81, and finally the W5. As you can see, you even get some nice color layering that I hadn’t expected.

I worked loose and fast with this, first creating a pool of colorless blender, then dripping in the B12, then the R81, and finally the W5. As you can see, you even get some nice color layering that I hadn’t expected.

I let that dry for a while, and then dripped some Colorless Blender on top.

I let that dry for a while, and then dripped some Colorless Blender on top.

The scanned result.  Sadly, my photos don't do the colors justice

The scanned result. Sadly, my photos don’t do the colors justice.

After all this experimentation, I wanted to try and actually create something with intention. I set an easy goal – a quick, believable blue sky, and set to work. I chose to work on the vellum tracing paper, as I felt it gave me the best result, and though I started with a limited palette, I kept returning to my marker box for more color choices.

Materials are simple- Colorless Blender and B12 for sky, a Copic proof pen (Hi Tec C) and some greens for trees. Oh, tissue paper for blotting excess ink.

Materials are simple- Colorless Blender and B12 for sky, a Copic proof pen and some greens for trees. Oh, tissue paper for blotting excess ink.

Apply Colorless Blender and then QUICKLY apply B12. It will end up bleeding past the tree line. That's ok. Note: When soaking the paper this way, it will probably curl. You could solve this by taping it down prior to applying ink.

Apply Colorless Blender and then QUICKLY apply B12. It will end up bleeding past the tree line. That’s OK. Note: When soaking the paper this way, it will probably curl. You could solve this by taping it down prior to applying ink.

Blot again to remove the harsh delineation between Colorless Blender and B12.

Blot excess inks.

Apply Colorless Blender where you desire clouds.

Apply Colorless Blender where you desire clouds.

Blot again to remove the harsh delineation between Colorless Blender and B12.

Blot again to remove the harsh delineation between Colorless Blender and B12.

Apply shading to clouds (B00) and darken blue of sky (B14) with super brush of marker. Apply with careful little strokes.

Apply shading to clouds (B00) and darken blue of sky (B14) with super brush of marker. Apply with careful little strokes.

Keep applying, dabbing, and noodling around until it's where you'd like.

Keep applying, dabbing, and noodling around until it’s where you’d like.

Filled in the trees with markers.

Filled in the trees with markers.

As the focus was not the trees; I just filled them in via Sketch Marker with G28, YG03, YG67.  I also put a little sunshine highlight of Y000 and Y04 on the clouds.

The big key with this technique is to keep playing with it until it’s where you’d like it to be.  If you make a mistake, it’s fairly easy to fix – just saturate your blotter with some Colorless Blender, and wipe away.  The ink won’t come off entirely, but most of it will, and if you color over that area with a slightly darker color, it won’t be very noticeable.

Unfortunately, my scanner doesn't capture the color very well, even with tweaking.

My scanner doesn’t capture the color very well, even with tweaking.


A well-lit photograph of the finished sky.

A well-lit photograph of the finished sky.

My notes on this piece may be difficult to read, so I’ll transcribe them:

Goal: Create a blue sky quickly

1. Coat with colorless blender
2. Drip B12
3. Spread ink (I used a tissue, try a cotton ball)
4. Reapply drops of Colorless Blender
5. Dab up excess
6. Add shading to clouds (B00)
7. Continue to drip, dab, and noodle
8. For selective lowlights dab B32
9. You can soften marker dabs by applying Various Ink to tissue and dabbing over
10. You can pull white highlights by dabbing in Colorless Blender

Tracing vellum is a great way to replicate watercolor techniques but because the ink doesn’t sink in, new ink pushes out old instead of blending. It’s difficult to build up ink. A very messy, hard to control technique.

So there you go, hope you enjoyed this tutorial on using Various Inks to create painterly effects.

I’ll leave you with some considerations for manipulation to make while working with Various Inks:

• Ink moves with air (blowing, hairdryer, fan)
• Ink can be lifted while wet using cotton swab
• Ink can be lifted when dry using cotton swab dipped in Colorless Blender
• Can drip additional color or Colorless Blender into ink when dry
• Can drip additional color or Colorless Blender into ink when wet
• Can work markers into ink after dry

For more from Becca Hilburn, check out Nattosoup, her CopicColor gallery, or let her know how much you enjoyed her tutorial on Twitter.

7/31/2012 6:32:26 PM | Comments (0) | Send a Message (PeaMail) | Vote for this Blog Post

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Using Screen Tones to Advance Your Comics and Manga

Artist Alex Heizer has a range of influences which include Japanese traditional art and manga. Here, he shows us the basics of using screen tones in comics or manga production, plus some experimental ideas for making your pages look really cool by experimenting with them. Here we go:

Using Screen Tones

Materials Used: Copic Screen Tones – Y-1071, Y-1232, Y-1578, Y-1638, Copic Multiliners for touch-ups, bristol board or manga board, art knife with a new blade, ruler.

For the up-and-coming comic artist, there are a lot of new digital tools which allow you to give your black and white inked pages a full range of grays. This gives the finished look greater depth and variety while still being reproducible on both digital and offset presses. Traditionally, comic and manga artists used screen tones and, despite the widespread availability of digital tools, they are still being used today, especially in Japanese manga.

One of the major benefits of using conventional screen tones is having more control over the finished product. You can finish the entire page without having to relying on another computer program. When you scan, print or copy screen tones, they reproduce just like the original – unlike digital versions, which look much different onscreen than printed.

Screen tones are patterns and gradients made up of black dots printed onto a clear plastic film with adhesive mounted to paper on one side. The printed patterns make it so when you print with black, it simulates different shades of gray without having to print lots of different shades of ink. If you check out any black and white comic or manga, you will see every gray area is made up of very small black dots. When a reader looks at the page, their eyes naturally mix the black dots with the white paper, fooling them into seeing an appropriate shade of gray.

Screen Tones on a Desk

The Basics
1. Finish your page. You don’t have to ink them, but it makes it easier to reproduce on a copier. Either way, once you put down the tones, you won’t be able to edit the artwork – so make sure it’s as finished as you would like. When creating your page, use a good quality board. Lighter weight papers will not be as resistant to cutting as the heavier papers made to handle ink and tone.

Tip: Plan out your entire page before laying down any tone.

2. Choose a tone. Place the sheet of tone over your artwork in the area you want to fill. The semi-transparent backing paper allows you to see your drawing as you line up the section of tone you want to use.

Tip: Be careful not to handle the tone with your ?ngers. Oil from your skin will cause the adhesive to stick less.

Screen tones on the image

3. With a new blade, use an art knife to cut the sheet of tone. Cut it out slightly larger than the area you want to fill. By using a new blade and cutting lightly, you’ll be able to cut through the tone without cutting through the backing sheet.

Screen tones cutting

4. Remove the cut piece of tone from the backing sheet using the tip of your knife. Be careful not to handle the tone with your fingers. Oil from your skin will cause the adhesive to become less sticky.

Screen tones removing the backing paper

5. Put the main tone sheet aside and line up your cut piece with your drawing. Lightly lay it onto the page in the correct position. At this point you’ll be able to move it around to make sure it’s perfect. Once you have it lined up, press firmly with your fingers to set it in place, so it doesn’t move as you cut it.

screentones placing

6. Starting with the edges, begin trimming the excess tone using your art knife. Use a ruler along the panel borders to make sure your cut is straight. You can also use the ruler on any straight cuts inside the panel or french curves if you want a perfect cut.

Tip: By trimming off small sections it is easier to remove fine details. However, if you have cut your piece a lot bigger than you needed, trim off larger sections to make it easier to reuse the trimmings.

Screentones trimming edges

7. Working in a methodical manner, begin cutting out the tone. Start on one corner of the tone sheet and work your way around in one direction until you cut the entire piece out that you are going to remove.

Tip: You can use a lot of things as a burnishing tool, whether it's a professionally made tool or something you already have around the studio. The important thing is that you want to be able to apply direct pressure on a small area but to not scratch the tone while you're doing it.

Tip: By trimming off small sections it's easier to remove ?ne details. However, if you have cut your piece a lot bigger than you needed, trim off larger sections to make it easier to re-use the trimmings.

Screentones cutting

8. When cutting, keep your hand in the same position and move your arm. This will give you smoother, more accurate cuts than if you keep your arm in one place and rotate your hand or only the knife as you move through a cut. While you may not have a problem with smaller cuts, it’s best to develop a solid technique for all your cuts.

Screen tones cutting with your arm

9. As you cut, smooth out the edge of the tone that will be left on the panel with the back of your thumbnail. This will affix it tighter to the paper and make it easier to remove the cut tone.

Thumbnail burnishing a screen tone

10. As you work your way around your cutout, periodically use the tip of the knife to lift away the tone you will be removing. This keeps it loose and makes it easier to remove without splitting. It is especially helpful if you are cutting out a lot of small details, like hair.

Lifting screen tone with knife edge

11. Continue to carefully cut your way around the figure until you have it completely cut out.

Continuing the screen tone cuts

12. Using your knife, gently lift the cutout piece from your board.

Tip: Be very careful wherever there is an angle that two cuts meet, such as the tip of the hair spikes. If the cuts do not join up solidly, either piece of the tone sheet may split as you try to separate them.

Removing excess tone

13. Save any large cutout pieces by placing them back onto the tone backing paper. Even scraps as small as 1/4 inch can be useful, so save as much as you can to reuse later.

Storing screentone scraps

14. When reusing a cutout piece of tone, use the same method you used before. Place the tone over your drawing and cut a slightly larger piece to transfer to your page.

Reusing screen tone scraps

15. Line up your new piece of tone and trim it the same way you did before.

Laying down a screen tone scrap

16. Once it’s in the perfect place, use a burnishing tool to press it to the page. Start in the center of the piece and work your way close to the edge. This fixes it into place well enough for you to trim the excess, but still leaving the excess loose enough for you to remove easily.

Tip: You can use a lot of things as a burnishing tool, whether it is a professionally made tool or something you already have around the studio. A burnishing tool is typically like a pencil with a very dull, rounded end. You can also use the bowl of a plastic spoon, the tail end of a ball-point pen or even the eraser end of your digital tablet stylus. The important thing is you want to be able to apply direct pressure on a small area but not scratch the tone while you are doing it. Finish burnishing down the tone. You're done!

Burnishing a screen tone

Advanced Techniques:
You can also experiment with the tones themselves. You can use the tones as a base and customize them. Here's examples of two very common customization techniques.

1. Mixing tones: Some tones can be mixed. Also, because of the dot pattern, if the tones are lined up a little off, you may get what's called a Moiré pattern. Of course, in the right location even a moire pattern can look really cool! Here's Y-1071 mixed with Y-1638:

Layering screen tones

2. Removing tone: Using the very tip of your art knife, lightly scratch across the surfaceof the tone. This will remove some of the black tone ink a little at a time. By working slowly, you can create highlights or even clouds in a toned sky.

Scratching away screen tones

Below are some examples of creating different effects using only a few tone sheets. By being creative, you can use the same tone to give a completely different feel to two different panels.

1. Here is a completed version of the tutorial panel. I mixed tone from sheets Y-1232 (the background, eyes and mouth), Y-1071 (hair and shadows on her arms and dress), Y-1578 (for the dress polka dots) and Y-1638 (for the highlight on the heart necklace.)

Additionally, I did a few layered tones here. I layered Y-1071 twice for the hearts on the hair clips, Y-1232 twice in the mouth and Y-1071 layered with Y-1578 in the dress.

Screen tones example

2. In this example, I created a dark, grungy background by mixing two tones from Y-1578 with the even tone of Y-1071 (on the wall panels) and the gradient from Y-1578.

Screentones example 2

3. I used the dot pattern from Y-1578 that I used in the first example to create a festive background for this couple and Y-1071 for her hair and some light shadows. This kept the panel fun and energetic, while visually bringing the figures forward off the page. Whenever you have a busy background, keep the figures shaded very simply. When you have very detailed and heavily-shaded figures, give the panel a very simple background. This allows your characters to stand out from the background, dynamically.

Screen tones Example 3

4. For this panel, I only used Y-1638 for the background and a few shadows on the figure, plus Y-1071 for all the other shading. Again, you can see how simple shading balances out with the heavy background to allow the figures to pop off the page!

Screen tones Example 4

5. For this page, I used only the four tone sheets I have used throughout this tutorial. I also extended my range of tones by layering multiple tones. By using a few tones resourcefully, you can create and add virtually unlimited amounts of textures and moods to your work.

Screen tones panel example

So, that’s it! I hope you find this tutorial useful and try your hand at using screen tones in your comics and manga production.

For more from Alex, visit him online or say hello on Twitter.

7/26/2012 11:30:27 AM | Comments (0) | Send a Message (PeaMail) | Vote for this Blog Post

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Eugene International Film Festival: Call For Submissions

Eugene International Film Festival

Join us in a celebration of outstanding motion pictures by submitting your film to the Eugene International Film Festival, now in its 7th year in Eugene, OR, USA.

All filmmakers who submit to the festival will receive 2 Copic Sketch markers and 1 Copic Multiliner SP, along with a free download of the Showbiz Software Labor Guide for North America.

The festival takes place October 18-21, 2012, with the opening reception Thursday, October 18th, 6:00 PM. Throughout the festival, attending filmmakers will have opportunities to “do lunch” or share a beverage of choice with headliners, special guests and other colleagues.

A unique aspect of the Eugene International Film Festival is the Screenwriters/Filmmakers Retreat. Tales of Amalthea instructor Terryl Whitlatch will headline her own workshop on Visual Storytelling and Character Development based on her work with George Lucas creating Star Wars creatures. Her workshop will be an extraordinary opportunity to meet one-on-one with a creative professional who has contributed much to the enjoyment of a leading motion picture franchise.

Also headlining the retreat will be Hollywood insiders Tom Sawyer (TV Series Showrunner, Screenwriter and Novelist), Ken Sherman (Beverly Hills Literary Agent) and Mike Katchman (Film and Video Distributor). Retreat registration information available by clicking here.

This is your chance to getaway to the Pacific Northwest and screen your film for industry guests. Submit today!

7/25/2012 3:41:54 PM | Comments (0) | Send a Message (PeaMail) | Vote for this Blog Post

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Game of Thrones – Stippled Hedcut Portaits by M. Ramos

Check out these Game of Thrones pen and ink portraits by Marcio Ramos, aka M.Ramos of Brazil. He’s painstakingly created these portraits with thousands upon thousands of stippled dots using his Copic Multiliner SPs, limitless artistic skill, and lots and lots of patience.

This art form is known as the “hedcut“, which draws on traditions of pointillism, woodcut and engraving.

Game of Thrones Meme
Game of Thrones Hedcut
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What inspired you to draw these hedcuts?
A friend asked me to do a hedcut for a gift, and as I’m a fan of the series, continued to assemble the collection.

So are you a big fan of the book series, too?
I could not stop drawing to read the books, but I have followed the TV series!

What other artists do you draw inspiration from?
Maurício Takiguthi here in Brazil, Randy Glass, Noli Novak and Paul Reynolds in the USA.

Do you like Multiliners strictly for stippling, or do use them for other projects, too?
I use them for scientific illustration and comics projects as well.

What sizes are you using most?
I started using pens 0.03 and 0.05 but even already today I’ve used all the nibs, including the Brush Small (BS).
Multiliner Pens are practical and easy to handle. I like the ability to exchange nibs, and the easy of use of the refill.

What’s next for you, any other big projects coming up soon?
The continued collection of a series of Game of Thrones hedcuts, a Railway Series and the production of a graphic novel… in stippling.

Like his work? Visit him online or tell him what you think on Twitter.

7/24/2012 11:06:19 AM | Comments (0) | Send a Message (PeaMail) | Vote for this Blog Post

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I Draw Cars Giveaway!

I Draw Cars and Copic Marker Giveaway

We’ve teamed up with the fine folks at I Draw Cars to bring you an amazing giveaway, perfect for anyone interested in automotive illustration!

Two lucky winners will each receive:
- A copy of I Draw Cars, the ultimate automotive sketchbook and reference guide
- Five neutral gray Copic markers (N1, N3, N5, N7 & N9)
- One black 0.35 Copic Multiliner SP pen

Want to get your hands on this fantastic set? Enter now!

I Draw Cars and Copic Marker Giveaway

Giveaway Rules
- You may submit one entry per day through July 31st, 2012. Giveaway ends on 7/31/12 at 11:59pm PST.
- Winners will be randomly selected, contacted via email and announced by August 7th, 2012.
- Entries may be shared on Copic Marker web properties.*
- Only residents of the United States and Canada are eligible to win.**

*Web properties include Copic Marker, Copic Color, the Copic Marker Facebook page, the Copic Marker Twitter page, and the Copic Marker Tumblr page.

**This contest is run by Imagination International, Inc., the distributor of Copic Markers in the United States and Canada. We are legally prohibited from sending product to other countries.

7/23/2012 11:12:38 AM | Comments (0) | Send a Message (PeaMail) | Vote for this Blog Post

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New Papercrafting Certification Classes in Orlando, FL and Vancouver, BC

Copic Papercrafting Certification

We now offer back-to-back certifications for Standard and Intermediate classes! If you have not taken the Standard class, you will need to apply for both at the same time. Below is our current class schedule:

Standard Certification
Eugene, OR 7/26
Lyndhurst, NJ 8/3
Dallas, TX 8/24
Orlando, FL 9/14 NEW!
Vancouver, BC 9/21 NEW!
» Apply for Standard Certification Classes

Intermediate Certification
Eugene, OR 7/27
Lyndhurst, NJ 8/4 FULL
Kansas City, MO 8/18
Dallas, TX 8/25
Orlando, FL 9/15 NEW!
Vancouver, BC 9/22 NEW!
» Apply for Intermediate Certification Classes

Advanced Certification classes are coming in 2013!

7/20/2012 10:33:05 AM | Comments (0) | Send a Message (PeaMail) | Vote for this Blog Post

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Creating Sketch Cards with Copics

Assorted Copic Sketch Cards

George Webber of NoCashComics is a well know freelance cartoonist and award winning sketch card artist in San Francisco. Here, he walks us through his sketch card creation process, giving tips and tricks along the way.

Sketch Cards
I’m often asked, “What are Sketch cards?”. Most people know what baseball cards or trading cards are, so I often refer to those as a starting point. Then, I explain that Sketch Cards are the same size ( 2.5 wide x 3.5 tall) and general format, with the major difference being that they’re original, ‘one-of-a kind’ pieces of art – not mass produced printed images – and, that they’re generally based on licensed characters like superheroes. Sketch cards are generally marketed by a trading card companies such as Topps, 5FINITY, Cryptozoic, Axebone Studios and sometimes by the artist themselves.

Now that we know what a sketch card is, let’s take a look at how they’re created and give you some tips along the way so you can be more successful in creating your first cards.

The first thing you need to know about creating sketch cards is that there are as many ways to do it as with any other art form, inks, markers, color pencils, watercolors, acrylics and so on. For this tutorial we’ll be focusing on inks and Copic markers. As you can see from my collection above, a sketch card can be anything from a quick character sketch to an all out artwork.

My first tip is to let you know that the paper stock used by different companies varies widely – even from set-to-set for the same company, as they try new paper stock. Some of these paper stocks have a soft surface and others a hard one, some color and blend very smoothly. Others may look blotchy when colored.

TIP: Do one complete card from inks to color before doing a full set to see what works and if there are any issues with the paper stock and your tools.

Not every sketch card artist works the same way or in the same style, some like the comic book style with black outlines, while others prefer a more painterly style without lines.

I like the comic book style and there are a couple of ways to accomplish it. One is using marker type lining pens such as Copic Multiliners. The other is using bottled inks with a quill nib dip pen, or with a brush or brush pen. Personally, I use bottled inks and a brush pen as I feel the line is much more lively, but a marker type liner pen is going to be much, much easier for beginners.

Liner Pens
If you plan on coloring with Copic markers like I do, the pen or ink you choose really matters. Copic Multiliner SPs are the best choice, as the color markers don’t smear or feather the black ink.

TIP: The Copic Multiliner SP, while costing a little more than disposable pens, comes in the widest range of tip sizes. Both the tips and ink cartridge are replaceable.

Bottled Inks
Only a few of bottled inks I’ve found will resist the alcohol-based Copics. Within that few, only two have a nice solid black color – most others look very gray. My choice (as of this writing) is the Kaimei Drawing Sol K. It is the blackest ink I’ve found to date, and is very resistant to the markers. It also works well with nib pens, brushes and my brush pen.

Now that we have some background on sketch cards and some pen choices made, let’s jump into the tutorial and some more tips while we look at how I create sketch cards:

Pencil Sketch

TIP: Keep your hands clean, handle cards by their edges to keep finger oils off of the card face.

The first step is to pencil sketch your character. Try not to bear down on your pencil or it may leave grooves in the paper stock that will foul you up later, remember the paper can have a soft surface. I use a 0.5 mechanical pencil and B2 leads. I don’t use hard leads because cleanup can be more difficult.

TIP: Use a soft touch with soft pencil leads.


You’ll need a few erasers of different types. A kneaded eraser, a couple of vinyl white erasers, a block type and a small eraser pencil are handy. I find the kneaded eraser covers 90% of my needs for doing cards and I reserve the vinyl eraser if there are some tuff pencil lines to deal with.

TIP: Once your pencil work is done, literally roll over it with your kneaded eraser to soften the pencil lines. This will do two things: help the ink adhere better, and make clean up after inking a breeze.

Sketch Rub Down


The next step is inking. Be sure to vary line weights by using a few different pen sizes. This is also very quick to do when using a brush pen. Some cards may have printed borders or logos on the front (drawing side). Those printed areas might not take ink or color very well, make sure to test it!

TIP: You can sometimes leave out some of the small details and put them in after coloring. You’ll see and example of that in this tutorial when I add eye details and clothing textures after coloring.

TIP: Let your ink lines dry for at the very least an hour – I prefer over night – before erasing the leftover pencil lines or coloring.

Clean Up

Now that the ink lines are dry, clean up any left over pencil lines using the kneaded eraser. Use the vinyl erasers only if needed, on some papers they tend to pull up some of the ink. Be careful with the card edges and corners.

TIP: Don’t rush – and don’t bend the card. The worst thing you can do is accidently bend a card! Bent cards will often be rejected because they get hung-up in the sorting shooter machine. This can cause other cards to get ruined.

When using Copic markers, there are so many possible color combinations one can use to color sketch cards. In my daily work I do a lot of Pin-Up Girl type art so that means I have a lot of skin tones. For this tutorial I’ll show you my most common color blending techniques for skin tones along with all the other coloring steps.


I start with E000 Pale Fruit Pink as a base leaving blank white areas for highlights. For an even lighter skin tone I’ll sometimes start with a base of E0000 Floral White or use the E0000 Floral White to blend into the white areas more.


Next I’ll use the E000 Pale Fruit Pink in combination with R20 Blush, I use a wet-on-wet technique. I put down the E000 and while it’s still wet put in the R20 Blush and going back over with E000 to soften the color and create a blend. In some case I’ll use a “tip-to-tip” color transfer technique. I simply touch the R20 to the E000 tip. This works best for small areas where you just want to wipe in some blush.

TIP: When using the R20 Blush, put the color down in such a way as to shape the cheek or area you’re working on. Switch between the E000 and R20 quickly while wet. Blend, Blend, Blend!


Next I’ll add shadows using the same techniques using BV00 Mauve Shadow to create my shadow areas. Put down the BV00 and then go over it with E000 Pale Fruit Pink or E00 Skin White (for a slightly darker tone) to soften and blend the shadows.

You can soften and blend everything even a bit more by going over the whole area with E0000 Floral White or the E000 Pale Fruit Pink blending back to the white highlights.

TIP: A bit of the E000 Pale Fruit Pink and BV00 Mauve Shadow in the eye whites will help them have shape, depth and more natural look as eye whites are not pure white.

TIP: Practice these coloring techniques on a similar card stock before working on a real job.


Our character is pretty young, so instead of red lipstick, I’ll use a hint of RV13 Tender Pink. Even that is a pretty strong color so not too much!


I’m using Y11 Pale Yellow, YG03 Yellow Green, G05 Emerald Green and BV00 Mauve Shadow To color the eyes. I’m layering each on top of the other starting with the Y11 Pale Yellow. Touch the edge of each color with the prior lighter color to blend a little.

TIP: You can use G28 Ocean Green after the G05 Emerald Green to make the top of the iris even darker.


I’ll be making our character blonde, and in this case I’ll be coloring in reverse – starting with a darker color (but not the darkest) and going to lighter and then darker colors again. I’m starting with Y17 Golden Yellow as my base and leaving some fairly large white areas for blending with Y06 Yellow using the wet-on-wet technique.


After that, I’ll blend some more with Y11 Pale Yellow and finish by adding lines with the Y17 Golden Yellow. Next, I’m adding shadows and lines with E33 Sand and a final blend where needed with Y11 Pale Yellow again.



I start the collar and ribbons with the darker RV04 Shock Pink, then blend with the RV13 Tender Pink and finish with some BV00 Mauve Shadow.


For the blouse, I’ve started with the BV00 Mauve Shadow to prep the folds.


Next I add B12 Ice Blue leaving plenty of white space for blending.


I’ll blend the B12 Ice Blue into the white space using B00 Frost Blue leaving some smaller white highlights. Ill also add some slightly darker shadow areas with the BV00 Mauve Shadow again.


For a simple yet striking background I used YR16 Apricot and then finished off with some detailing.

For a final touch I add all the highlights. If you prefer working with brushes, Copic makes an Opaque White for adding highlights.

TIP: Use quick strokes when working over the black, DO NOT repeat a stroke as the white will melt back into itself and as the black ink.

That’s it! That’s how I do it. I hope you find this tutorial helpful!

George Webber

Visit George on the web at

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Copic T-Shirts Have Arrived!

Copic T-Shirts
Three styles available. Grab yours today, and show your love for Copic wherever you go!

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Guest Tutorial: Copics on Gray Paper by Brandi York

This week, illustrator Brandi York shares her experience using Copic Sketch markers on gray paper.

I’m a sucker for new, fandangled art products and things I haven’t tried before. So when Strathmore came out with their new toned gray and tan sketchbooks, I was all over it. And of course, I had to try them out with Copics. It’s a lighter weight paper than I’ve been using in my previous tutorials (though I’m no stranger to using standard 80 lb. sketchbook paper with Copics).

As always, I’m using the brush tip of the Copic Sketch Markers, this time on Strathmore Toned Gray Sketchbook paper.

Copic Marker Tutorial by Brandi York

I start with a light pencil sketch of this round’s subject, Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, from The Avengers (hey, Comic-Con just finished up. I need to support my inner geek from afar this year!). I decided with keeping things simple and broke out the Warm Grays I have (to which I also discovered I do not have all of them. To be rectified later!).

Copic Marker Tutorial by Brandi York
Starting with W0, I lay in a light wash of the shadows, using a black and white print out in conjunction with the color version on my computer screen. The black and white helps with values, whether you’re working in color or grayscale. Something I noticed very quickly with the Strathmore paper (like many 80 lb sketchbook papers) is the color seems MUCH darker than it will be once it dries. This creates a bit of panic at first. And also a bit of interest, as you don’t always know exactly where the tone is going to land once dry. I finish laying the majority of the values in with W0 and W1, moving to W2 to lay in a bit more detail to the value. Most of these values will be darkened significantly by the time we’re finished, but I like to lay myself a roadmap in lighter values first. The biggest targets are laying down the value around the nose and eyes.

Copic Marker Tutorial by Brandi York
W3 and W6 come next (yep, that’s where I’m missing some!), bulking up the darker portions around nose and neckline, and in the depth of the eyes. I’ve created a deep shadow under the chin that seems a bit excessive at the moment, but I know as I add more value to the whole piece, including under the chin, it will balance out. I’ve also started detailing a bit of the hair, hopping between W0, W1, W2 and W3, with a little bit of W6 behind the neck, where the hair is darkest. I let the tip of the marker do the work with the hair, varying the pressure on the tip to create thick and thin lines.

Copic Marker Tutorial by Brandi York
As I continue darkening the values, I have to pause from time to time to let the ink dry. As you can see by the side-by-side, the ink is quite a bit darker when wet. It smooths out quite a bit and lightens a lot when dry, so you’ll have to layer and re-layer to get some of the darks to where you actually want them. I have to do this several times with the shadow on her cheek, as it takes several layers of W1 and W2 to get a smooth transition that doesn’t lighten too much once dry.

Copic Marker Tutorial by Brandi York

I continue layering the warm grays, moving up in number as I need to go darker than the previous allows. I continue darkening the corners of her mount, pupils and lashes, adding a bit of value into the irises of the eyes with W2 and W3. I also continue detailing out the hair, similar to the method used in my curly hair tutorial. To finish off and offset the hair a bit, I use W1 in the background, using the brush tip to fade out the edges to create a soft, darkened halo around her hair.

Copic Marker Tutorial by Brandi York
I hope this has been helpful in urging you to try something outside your comfort zone, like new papers, or working grayscale. Don’t be afraid to try new things! You might discover you love it!

See more of Brandi’s fantastic illustrations on Copic Color, and add your own work while you’re there!

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An Interview with Disney Storyboard Artist & Writer Aliki Theofilopoulos Grafft

Aliki GrafftTell us about yourself! How did you get your start, and how did you end up at Disney?
I am originally from San Diego. I came to L.A when I became a Fine Arts major at the University of Southern California. After I graduated, I took some more animation-focused classes at various little schools around Los Angeles. One of the schools had an open-house night where a few people were chosen to display their portfolios for the studio executives that would be visiting.? This lead to landing an animation training internship at Walt Disney Feature Animation. I worked there for 7 years on films like Hercules, Tarzan and Treasure Planet. During the collapse of the 2-D animation department I left to begin a career in television, working at Nickelodeon in the story department and was also a character designer on a show called “Chalk Zone.” Later I created and produced two original shorts for Nickelodeon/Frederator called “Yaki and Yumi” and “Girls on the GO!” The work I did lead me to a job as a writer and story artist on Phineas and Ferb, where I also have the pleasure of voice acting a character (Mandy) and writing songs… One was nominated for an Emmy in fact (“Come Home Perry”)!

Aliki Grafft

Copyright Walt Disney

?What is your earliest memory of drawing or making art???
I don’t remember a time where I didn’t love to draw and color. I have vivid memories in fact of trying to draw a ballerina in preschool!

Who or what are your biggest sources of inspiration?
My granddad who always encouraged my love of drawing and animation. I also have to thank my many great mentors from my days at feature animation: Brian Ferguson, John Ripa, and Eric Goldberg, without whom I wouldn’t be where I am today. My greatest inspiration however, was the beloved gesture drawing teacher from Disney Features and veteren animator Walt Stanchfield, who is no longer with us. Walt changed my life. His passion for drawing and living in general was infectious. He taught me how to see what I was drawing, how to feel it and how to express emotions in my work.

The number one thing people always tell me about my drawings, no matter how loose or sketchy they are, is that they are full of life. Walt is the one who taught me that. I will forever miss him. Any student of animation, or drawing in general, should find anything and everything they can about this lesser-known Walt from Disney.

Aliki Grafft

Copyright Aliki T. Grafft

What has been your favorite episode of Phineas and Ferb to work
I would have to say “Tri-stone Area.” It was an episode that took place during the days of cavemen and sabertooths!–where language was nothing more than grunts and growls. I loved the challenge of communicating a story only with acting, gesturing and action. I think the fans got a kick out of it too.

Aside from your storyboard and writing work on Phineas and Ferb, you also write songs and provide the voice of the character Mandy. Do you prefer some of these tasks over others?
I absolutely love voicing characters and writing songs. But nothing excites me more than working out a story and breathing life into an idea.

Aliki Grafft

Copyright Aliki T. Grafft

What’s the best thing about your job?
The people that I work with and the joy we all share in doing something we love.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?
My writing partner loves listening to thrasher metal music… We work things out though, and end up settling for The Shins. Other times I simply plug my ears and start singing the Greek National Anthem as loud as I can… Wait, what was the question?

You’ve created two original shorts – “Yaki and Yumi” and “Girls on the GO!” Can you tell us a bit more about these?
I created them for a Frederator/Nickelodeon shorts program called “Random Cartoons.” I drew upon characters I knew or had known in my life, and also incorporated some ideas from my Greek heritage (the bat and dragon character were based on my Greek parents, and the main character in Girls on the Go is Greek—Katerina Metropoulos). They both aired on Nicktoons, but did not get picked up by the studio (they chose Eric Robles’s fun short, “Fanboy and Chum Chum”). “Girls on the Go!” has gained quite a lot of traction on YouTube, however, and I am hopeful I’ll get to make it into a series one day! It features the voice talent of Danica McKellar, who is fantastic.

Aliki Grafft
How do you use Copic markers in your process, and what do you like about them?
I use Copic markers mostly when I am doing story sketches, but also for quick-sketch life drawing, or even location sketches. I love to sketch out an idea really loosely and rough—focusing purely on the feeling, movement, and life that I am trying to breathe into that moment. Then I use the Copics to add form, depth and mood (using either the cool or warm grays). Sometimes I use a lighter toned pen to sketch out a rough idea, then draw into it with a darker fine ink pen. I love the different values I can get with them, that they really seep into the paper nice and smoothly. I like that the pens don’t overpower my ideas, but instead enhance them.

Aliki GrafftWhat are your future career goals?
Ultimately I would like to produce an original animated series of my own, as I absolutely love writing stories, developing characters, and breathing life into made-up worlds! I also have some feature film ideas that I’d like to further develop some day.

What advice would you give to new artists hoping to pursue a career in animation?
Draw, draw, draw, and draw some more! Look for mentors in your chosen careers and see how you can learn from them. Ask them for help, tips, and advice. Show them your work, and don’t be afraid of criticism. At the same time, listen to your inner voice and discover what it is you want to say and create. What is the mark you want to leave on this planet, and by what means do you wish to express it? Then, go grab some Copics, and start sketching!

Find Aliki on the web:
Twitter: @alikigreeky
Yaki and Yumi

Girls on the GO!

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Copic at Comic-Con 2012

Comic-Con 2012

Copic Marker will be at Comic-Con 2012, July 12-15th at the San Diego Convention Center! Find us at booth #5337 near Artist Alley.

Don’t have tickets to this sold out event? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and photos from the show. Hope to see you there!

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