Copic markers are my favorite coloring medium, but there is a learning curve when it comes to picking colors and blending them. That’s exactly why we’re starting a new series devoted to Copic markers to help your card making journey easier.
For those that are unfamiliar with Copic markers, they are an alcohol based marker that are easy to blend. They’re refillable and durable, which I find makes them worth the investment. But! Why have a high quality marker if you don’t know how to use it? Let’s get into the Copic number system and a little color theory.
Each color has a color name and number. In today’s post I will be referring to Amethyst, also known as V17. In order to understand the marker properties, we need to break down each item in the number.
COLOR LETTER (V)
Every marker number starts with a letter that lets us know what color family it belongs to. The V in V17 stands for Violet. There’s Yellow Red, Red, Green, Yellow Green, etc.
COLOR SATURATION (1)
The first number stands for color saturation. This will show how much intensity is in a color. Those words can sometimes be confusing, so I like to say it shows how much grey is in the color. This number goes from one to nine. The lower numbers are more saturated with not much grey. A zero will be a pure, intense color where a nine is going to be faded.
COLOR BRIGHTNESS (7)
The second number shows how light or dark a color is. This number also ranges from one to nine. Lower numbers are lighter colors and higher numbers are darker.
It’s important to understand the color theory behind each marker number when choosing markers that blend. I almost always use three colors when blending to create a highlight, mid tone, and shadow. In order to blend easily, make sure the markers have the same color letter and saturation. This is the letter and first number. This is called a natural blending group. For today’s example, the natural blending group is V12-V17. Some groups have more markers than others giving you even more colors to work with.
What about the second number? Remember this number is the brightness. For highlights, pick a number that falls under 0, 1, 2, or 3. For the mid tones, pick numbers 4, 5, or 6. Lastly, for shadows, pick numbers 7, 8, or 9. Try to keep one or two numbers between each marker color for the best results. For example, V12, V15, and V17.
Copic has a small booklet available to help document the colors in your collection. I love to add the colors I own in the book. It’s the size of a checkbook which makes it portable and ready for a trip to the craft store. Another option is to print out this chart on the paper you use with your Copic markers. Having the samples makes it extra easy to match colors to my ink pads or patterned papers. Once I match a color to my project, I pick two colors around it on my chart, making sure they have the same color letter and color saturation.
This new knowledge will come in handy when blending and coloring, as well as when shopping for new markers. I always plan to purchase three markers at a time in order to create a natural blending group I can use immediately. If all of this is new to you and you’ve already started your Copic collection, don’t panic! Look at your chart or line up your markers to see if you already have bending groups. If not, you can take this knowledge, walk into the store with confidence, and pick up a marker or two to complete a group.
I hope this explanation of the Copic numbering system and color theory has helped you navigate the world of Copic markers. Understanding which markers were meant to blend together will make coloring so much easier.