Wide Marker Customization [TUTORIAL]

 [This tutorial originally ran on the CopicMarker.com website. Read the Original Post here. Enjoy!]

          Wide markers are great for a number of things: filling large areas with rich, consistent color, calligraphy and lettering, applying background foundation tone for shading and sketching, and for making plaid patterns. For those with an adventurous spirit there is a final frontier to the exploration of wide markers, and that is the customization of your own nib.
               Through the selective removal of areas of the wide nib through physically cutting into the nib itself, you can add raking lines to your encyclopedia of mark making, and a really nice way of making rainbows as well!
Things you’ll need:

Copic Tweezers: These handy tweezers have teeth that are handy for gripping the nib for mess-free removal and replacement.
Spare Nibs: The stock Wide marker nib is the angled Extra Broad chisel nib, but the flat Calligraphy nib is great for lettering and controlled raking lines.
Xacto Knife: A Sharp cutting tool is essential. There’s no match for a sharp blade when making clean cuts! Using a dull blade will result in frayed cuts that are undesirable for this technique.

The Technique:

Safety First! R29 is a great color for blood, there’s no reason to make your own! For this tutorial, I will show you how to cut a number of notches into the flat Calligraphy nib resulting in raking lines that are great for making crosshatch lines, and exciting zigzag lines.
            When cutting notches into the nib, you want to cut at an angle into the nib, resulting in a notch that has a V-shape. This will give you a clean, un-frayed notch.
Once you have your first notch cut, evenly space the notches along the nib, but leave enough space between notches so that the nib still has some structural integrity.

                  The next step is swapping out the existing nib from your favorite wide marker and inserting the new custom nib.

Notice that with the tweezers, I am pulling the nib straight out of the marker. When removing the nib, be careful not to damage the nib, as you can save the original nib in an airtight ziplock bag, and swap it out later!

Now What?
Now we have a customized Wide marker. At this step, the new nib is dry, without any ink and it will take some time for the ink from the marker to fully ink the nib, but if you are looking for faster results, you can use ink to “refill” the nib for instant coloring! Be sure not to add too much ink, but just enough to soak the nib itself. Once you see the nib fully colored, it’s ready to go. Ink from the marker itself will fully saturate the nib over time.
Now the Fun Part:
                  As you can see from the pictures above, I have inserted my customized the nib into a colorless blender marker. Now I’m going to use a number of colors to make a rainbow with the notches that I have created.

Touching the chisel end of a sketch marker for a few seconds (any other marker will do, but I find that the chisel end works best) to the end of my customized colorless blender wide marker, I have created an instant rainbow marker.

Voila! Depending on how much ink you add to the blender marker, the longer you will be able to color with your new Rainbow Copic.
IMPORTANT: Make sure to use up all of the added color to the colorless blender marker before capping the marker for the day. Any color left in the nib will seep into the marker itself and tint your colorless blender over time. Coloring on some scratch paper or smooth Bristol board is a great way to clean your colorless blender of added colors.

Other Techniques:
Use this technique to create interesting raking lines, or for separating a marker into two broad strokes, which is great for calligraphy and borders.

Using the colorless blender with a number of notches cut into the nib, you can create some very interesting textures to colored swatches!

                  I encourage you to experiment with different ways of customizing the nibs, and using your marker not only for lines, but also for stamping and patterning! Try overlapping your lines for quick gridwork, or for drawing flowing hair; but most of all, have fun!

Copic Marker Screen Tones [TUTORIAL]

Copic Marker Blog Entry:
Using Traditional Screentones
with Copic Marker

      This tutorial was originally featured on the CopicMarker.com website, you can check out the original posting via this link.

     Once upon a time, back before there was Photoshop and the Pop Art Movement, artists needed a way to add consistent and reliable texture and tone to their images. Screen tones became widely used in the 1930’s by artists in the cartooning and advertising fields as a shortcut, and became the industry standard for background tones and texture.

      Screen tones are made up of a matrix of dots that build up a visual tone or gradient, depending on the density and size of the dot. Today, screen tones are used both digitally and manually (traditional-style) by artists that want a particular look and texture, particularly popular in Japan among Manga artists. Used with Copic Marker, screen tones can really add a lot of pop to your work, and can give your artwork that polished and ‘professional’ look of the comic book industry.

      Screen tones are quick and easy to apply; all you’ll need is a couple of screen tone sheets, a fine cutting knife (Such as an X-Acto) and a burnishing tool (I use an old flat plastic pallet knife). In this tutorial, I will demonstrate how to apply the tones, and talk about 2 different ways that they can be used.


     To begin, these are what screen tones look like when in their package, as you can see; they come in a variety of styles. Typically, they are backed in a waxed paper sheet, which is easily peeled back to expose the sticky side of the screen tone.
     One way to use the screen tones is to cut a rough shape about the size of the area that you wish to cover with the screen tone. Sticky side down, screen tone is sticky enough to hold its place, but you won’t have to worry about it ripping the paper, it has a very low tack. Using an X-acto knife, cut away the excess area and simply peel off the unwanted tone. The screen tone sheet is very thin; you need only apply very little pressure to slice the sheet, and not your artwork! *Remember to always use care with the sharp blade, and cut away from your fingers and body!

     Voila! There you have a very simple application of a screen tone. In this case, I have chosen to use the tone to describe the texture and darkness of the skateboard. If you look closely, you can see the matrix of dots that make up the tone.
      Now, I’ll demonstrate another technique for applying the screen tone to finished artwork, which includes a soft colored pencil, like a non-photo blue.

     Here we have a very simply colored artwork, in which I made sure to keep the tones on the lighter side, as I will be adding darker tones as an overlay, using the screen tones!
   At this point, I will take a screen tone sheet, which in this case is a gradient that fades from light to dark. As the screen tone has a semi-transparent backing, I can place it above my artwork without worrying about it sticking in place. (No, that’s not a bad photo, that’s the gradient of the screen tone!)
      I have placed the sheet above the artwork and will now use my colored pencil to draw the shapes that I will ultimately cut and place on the finished piece. Drawing lightly, the pencil lines will be erasable with a white vinyl eraser.
        Tracing my lines with the X-acto knife and peeling away the excess, I now have a consistently toned image that fades in its tone from light (near the top) to dark (at the bottom of the tail)!

     Another way to use screen tones is to add nifty texture and effects to backgrounds, which can supercharge an image and draw attention to certain areas, or away from others. 

    Here I have chosen a sunburst pattern and after peeling the waxed backing, have placed it stick-side down on the artwork. Cutting along the lines of the drawing, I simply peel away the excess areas, rub the screen tone into place, and Presto! Instant Impact!

    I encourage you to pick up a couple of screen tones and experiment using them with Copic marker! Here’s a tip: You can use Copic Marker on top of the screen tones for interesting transparent color overlays or overlap the tones for added texture and effects. Hope you enjoyed this bit of how-to, now be careful with those X-Acto knives, and have fun!

Thanks for reading!


P.S. The screentones and markers used in this tutorial are available on the CopicMarker.com website, which you can access via the banner on the left!

Practice with Copic and Acrylics [TUTORIAL]


 More fun with Acrylic and Copic!
For more information on this technique, click the car on the right side of the page, or see the 

    Last night I decided to paint a self portrait using my sketch markers as a sort of underpainting for the acrylic paint layers on top. Working on smooth bristol for this technique is a good idea because it accepts markers well without absorbing too much ink, dulling out the color or being too rough on the marker tips, and it also accepts acrylic without curling too much, unless you're really getting thick with your paint! I really enjoy this technique because I can use light pencil or my light skin tones to draw a really loose "skeleton" for the image without worrying about keeping inside the lines or messing up with the inks because I can always fix mistakes or change things later on. For example, after I finished the initial sketch (below), I realized that I had drawn the forehead too short and the right eye was too high, but it wasn't until after working the image a bit that I came to this conclusion.

    In retrospect, there are a lot of things about the original sketch that I really like that I feel like I may have lost in the 'finished' painting above. For example, I really like the contrast in the planes of the face that is in the sketch that became much softer once the paint came out, and I like the jagged angular-ness that the drawing holds, but that short forehead hurts me a little, it's like I gave myself a sharp forward hairdo!

        Thanks for reading!


Sketching From Life [TUTORIAL]

Copic Marker Blog Entry: Sketching From Life with Copic Marker
Sketching Tonally and Quickly

This tutorial has been featured on the CopicMarker.com website! Check out the post here!

          I often find that the task of starting a sketch can be a little daunting. A blank white page can sometimes be a very intimidating thing. In my experience, the best practice in learning how to draw is to draw from observation, that is, to draw anything and everything around you. In this tutorial, I will describe two ways in which I like to use Copic Markers to sketch from life. First, I will describe how to gradually build up tones like a watercolor painting, and second, a quick-sketch method for getting a drawing done fast. I usually use brush end of the Copic Sketch or Ciao, and the chisel when I am looking for a sharp edge, such as a shaded cheek bone or table edge.

Sketching Tonally

I like to start a sketch with a very light tone marker, for example W3 (Warm Gray 3), E31 (Brick Beige) or R20 (Blush) and build up the tones with a medium-dark tone, such as W5 (Warm Gray 5), E33 (Sand) or R02 (Flesh). I think that it is important to begin a sketch very loosely, try and let your eyes do the drawing, and don’t overthink it!

Here I have used a dark tone to pick out the darkest areas in the drawing as a way of establishing my range from brightest (the white of the paper) to darkest. Depending on the drawing, I like to use E77 (Maroon), E87 (Fig), W9 (Warm Gray 9) and often 110 (Special Black). Try not to use too much of this darkest tone and allow it to be the one dark shade that can’t be beat by any other tone. Here I’ve used R20 (Flesh) as my light sketching tone, E33 (Sand) as my middle tone and E87 (Fig) to pick out the darkest areas.

Now that I have the lightest area (white paper without any color) and the darkest area (the darkest tone) any colors that I add in between will make up the mid-tones that will describe the subtle variations of tone and color throughout the rest of the drawing.

In this drawing, I found the lightest areas to be light bouncing off the hair, tip of the nose, forehead and cheek (I surrounded these areas with W3 Warm Gray 3). The darkest tones I found to be the inner nostril, inner eye socket and eyelashes, and parts of the hair (110 Special Black). Starting with W5 (Warm Gray 5), I then “roughed in” the darker areas that are not being directly hit with light, which in this drawing, was almost the entire side of his face!
Now, because I have already established the “darkest darks”, I can be sure that any markers lighter than my darkest tone won’t destroy my contrast hierarchy, and with a little practice, you can train your eye to look for those “tonal landmarks” and in no time, your drawings will read spatially and volumetrically.

The Quick-Sketch Method
Sometimes, you simply don’t have the time to make a complete tonal rendering of your subject at hand, be it your best friend or your dog, if they won’t sit still, you’ll be hard-pressed to make a complete drawing!
I like to start with a very light tone, similar to beginning a full tonal drawing, typically W3 (Warm Gray 3), E11 (Brick Beige) or R20 (Blush), in order to make a quick and rough sketch. At this point, I’m not too concerned with getting the lines exactly where they should be, but rather to give me a real sense at how my drawing will sit on the paper. Keep it loose and try to capture the “energy” of your subject.

Once I have a rough sketch done in a very light tone marker, I use my Multiliner SP BS (Brush Small) to clean up my lines, and define the drawing that is hidden in my “rough sketch”. Don’t worry about staying inside or following the lines of the earlier sketch, consider yourself to be like Michelangelo, chipping away the paper to reveal the inner drawing.

Remember to keep the rough sketch loose and allow yourself to really feel out the lines of the detailed drawing. Try to keep your sketches under ten minutes and move on to the next subject!

Often I will use the Multiliner BM (Brush Medium) or 110 (Special Black) to “rough out” the background or quickly draw shapes in the background. It’s important not to add too much detail in the background that it takes away from the subject of your drawing, but just enough to accentuate the focus of the drawing.

Many of your best models are right in front of you. Draw your friends, draw your parents, draw your cat, draw your computer! You can never draw too much.

Keep Sketching!