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Marker Questions

Q: What’s the difference between markers?

The main differences in the markers are:
-The number of colors available
-Airbrush Compatibility
-Ink Capacity
-Nib Types

The Sketch Marker is available in 358 colors, the Copic Marker comes in  214 colors, and the Ciao is available in 180 colors. All of the markers use the same ink as a refill.  You can view the color palettes for each marker type on our website, www.copicmarker.com.

If you are interested in using our Airbrush Systems, you will want to purchase only the Sketch and Copic Markers.  The body of the Ciao marker is too small to fit into the Copic Air Grip.

Another difference between the markers is the amount of ink that they hold. The Sketch and Copic would hold the most ink, while the Ciao marker holds the least. This means that you would just need to refill it sooner, which is usually not an issue for most users.

The Copic Marker has the most nib choices of all of our markers. These nib types will work in the Copic Marker only. The Sketch and the Ciao marker share the same nib types. You may view the nibs on our website, under each particular marker.

For more specific information on each type of marker, visit their individual info pages here: Copic Markers

Q: What makes Copic markers so unique?

Copic markers are the first marker created entirely with the designer in mind. The ink formula and colors haven’t changed since they were first designed over 25 years ago. They are low-odor, so they won’t overwhelm you when using them in small rooms. Body markings are embossed onto the pen so they won’t rub off. Copic markers are environmentally friendly- you never throw them away, you just keep refilling them and replacing the tips. Markers can be airbrushed with and are blendable.

Q: Why is alcohol based different than water based?

When water-based markers are layered and blended they tear up the surface of most papers. Alcohol inks do not harm the paper surface. They can be layered and blended on surfaces other than paper as well. Alcohol inks are waterproof and will not wash away.

Q: Are they acid free?

Copic markers are filled with a dye suspended in alcohol and they become acid-free as soon as the alcohol evaporates.

Q: Are the markers Environmentally friendly? Animal by-products?

Copic markers are refillable, with replaceable tips. Refill ink bottles are recyclable. Markers are actually filled with Ethanol, a form of alcohol that can be manufactured from plants. No animal products of any kind are used in either Copic markers or inking pens.

Q: What do you mean by Shelf Life?

Copic Markers and inking pens will not dry out if they are not used and the caps are securely closed. This is guaranteed for at least 3 years.

Q: Should I store my markers Horizontally or Vertically?

Copic markers will work fine when they are stored either direction.

Q: Will it hurt my markers if they get too hot or too cold?

Short periods of hot or cold will not affect your markers, such as leaving them in your car during a snowstorm or in the middle of a heatwave. Copic markers have completely air-tight caps. They can be submerged in water or left in the sun and they will not dry out as long as the caps are sealed.

However, long exposure – such as storing them above a heater or in a freezing basement for months at a time – may cause the dye and alcohol to separate a little. You would notice this if one nib is coloring darker than the other side. If this happens, move them to a more temperate location and store them on their side or upside down for a few days. This will re-mix the ink. Otherwise, no harm has been caused to your markers.

Q: Can I fly with my markers?

Yes. They should not get confiscated by security if you wish to carry them on. If you decide to draw with your markers during the flight this will adjust the air pressure inside the marker. To keep your marker from blobbing on your paper, when you land pull the caps off both ends. This equalizes the air pressure inside. If you don’t open them during the flight then they shouldn’t cause a problem.

Q: Do they fade?

Copic markers are dye-based. When exposed to UV rays they will fade over time. Regular indoor lighting won’t fade them for a while, but long exposure will be harmful. Bright lights, or direct sunlight will speed up fading. Protecting your artwork with a UV coated glass or protective sheet will cut out the harmful light.

Q: What surfaces do they work on?

Alcohol inks are permanent on many surfaces – paper, leather, wood, fabrics, plastic, faux fur, and more. On glossy surfaces, such as glazed ceramic and glass the ink can be scratched off, so use a sealant to protect the surface. Make sure that the sealant does NOT contain alcohol, ethanol, or any other form of alcohol as these will ruin your coloring.

Q: Can you use them on fabrics?

A lot of quilters use the markers on wallhangings with great response. We don’t recommend wearables, since the markers are alcohol based dye, a drink spilled on them might interact with your pattern, and some colors will bleed when washed- we are still testing mordants to prevent the deep reds/browns from bleeding.

The dye will fade at about the same rate as other fabrics, so treat with the same care you would other fiber arts- keep out of harsh lights, etc.

Q: What other media can you use Copic markers with?

Copic markers are used most commonly with colored pencil and watercolors. We suggest doing your marker work first and adding other media after the marker is dry. If you use colored pencil, acrylics, guache, or white-out and go over it with your markers it may discolor the tip. To avoid a permanently discolored tip, immediately scribble quickly on a separate piece of paper or tissue to clean the tip. Even if your tip is discolored it will still give you a clear ink flow.

Q: Can I use Copic markers with other alcohol based markers?

Using two different marker types together will not harm the Copic markers, but you will not be able to get a smooth blend between Copic inks and other brands. Be careful not to discolor your marker tips with other marker inks.

Q: Can you cross-contaminate markers?

Copic marker inks will not ruin other Copic markers. You can color directly onto other Copic marker tips and it will not discolor or ruin your marker. This is actually a good way to produce a nice color blend.

Q: How long does the marker last?

This depends on what surface you are coloring on. Softer, more absorbent papers will suck your marker dry sooner than dense, tightly woven papers. Copic Original markers also hold more ink to begin with than Sketch or Ciao, so they will last longer before they need to be refilled. Also, the more you layer a color in one spot, the denser the color gets in that area so it won’t cover as many sheets.