How to Color with Copic Markers: Detailed Steps + Tips

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to color with copic markers

Coloring with Copic markers can be a fun and creative way to add vibrant and professional-looking colors to your artwork. Copic markers are alcohol-based markers that offer a wide range of colors and blendability. To help you get started, here is a guide on how to color with Copic markers!

Guide to Color with Copic Markers


Step 1 – Gather Your Supplies


  • Copic markers (Various colors)
  • Marker paper or a smooth, heavyweight paper
  • Pencil and eraser (Optional, for sketching)
  • Fine-tip pens (Optional, for adding details)
  • Colorless blender marker (Optional, for blending and correcting mistakes)

Step 2 – Choose your colors


Copic markers come in a vast range of colors, so take some time to plan your color scheme. You can create a color chart or refer to the Copic color numbering system to identify the shades you want to use. Start with a basic set of colors and gradually expand your collection over time.

Step 3 – Sketch your drawing


Use a pencil to lightly sketch your drawing on the paper. Keep the lines light, as you will color over them with the markers.

Step 4 – Start with light colors


Begin coloring with the lightest shade in the area you want to color. Start with a light layer of color and build up gradually, as the alcohol-based ink dries quickly and allows for layering.

Step 5 – Apply the next shade


Once the initial layer has dried, choose a slightly darker shade of the same color and add it to the areas where you want more depth or shadow. Use light, flicking strokes to create smooth transitions between colors.

Step 6 – Blend and layer


Copic markers are known for their blending capabilities. To blend colors together, use the lighter shade to gently blend the edges where the two colors meet. You can also use the colorless blender marker to soften transitions or lighten areas that have become too dark.

Step 7 – Experiment with techniques


Copic markers offer various techniques to enhance your artwork. You can try feathering, stippling, cross-hatching, or using different stroke directions to create different textures and effects. Practice these techniques to see what works best for your style.

Step 8 – Add details and highlights


Once you have laid down the base colors and achieved the desired blending, you can use fine-tip pens or darker shades of markers to add details, such as linework, textures, or highlights. This step can bring your artwork to life and make it more visually appealing.

Step 9 – Practice and experiment


Coloring with Copic markers is a skill that improves with practice. Continue experimenting with different color combinations, blending techniques, and subject matters. It is also a good idea to explore tutorials, videos, and online communities to learn from other artists and expand your skills.

Ways to Color with Copic Markers for Beginners


  • Basic Coloring: Start by applying a light layer of color with your lightest marker shade. Gradually build up the colors by layering darker shades on top. Use smooth, even strokes to create a consistent color application.
  • Blending: Copic markers are well-known for their blending capabilities. You can blend Copic markers to achieve smooth color transitions by overlapping two or more marker colors. Start with the lighter color and then use the darker color to blend the edges where they meet. Alternatively, you can use the colorless blender marker to soften and blend colors together.
  • Creating Gradients: Create a gradient effect by blending multiple shades of the same color family. Start with the lightest shade at one end and gradually transition to darker shades as you move across the area you are coloring. Blend the colors together using overlapping strokes or the colorless blender marker.
  • Feathering: This technique is useful for creating texture or softening edges. Start by applying a light layer of color and then use the colorless blender marker or a lighter shade to create small flicking strokes outward from the edges.
  • Stippling: Stippling involves applying small dots or stipple marks with your markers. This technique can create texture, shading, or gradients. Use the tip of your marker to create small dots or stipple marks, varying the density and spacing to achieve different effects.
  • Cross-Hatching: Cross-hatching is a technique where you create intersecting lines with your markers. Use parallel lines in one direction and then add lines in a different direction to create depth and shading. Vary the density and spacing of the lines to achieve different effects.
  • Tonal Coloring: Instead of using different colors, you can experiment with coloring an object using various tones of the same color. Start with a light tone and gradually build up darker tones to create shading and depth. It is somewhat like shading with Copic markers.

Remember to practice these Copic marker techniques and experiment with different colors and drawing ideas to develop your own unique style and effects.

The more you explore and try different approaches, the more you will discover the versatility and possibilities of coloring with Copic markers.

You can also look for online suggestions of cool things to draw with Copic markers to get inspiration!

Other Things To Do


Practice Color Theory

Understanding color theory can greatly enhance your coloring with Copic markers. Learn about color harmonies, contrasts, and how colors interact with each other. This knowledge will help you choose and combine colors effectively to achieve the desired results.

Experiment with Different Papers

While Copic markers work well on marker paper or smooth heavyweight paper, you can also experiment with different types of paper to achieve unique effects. Try textured paper or watercolor paper to add interesting textures or experiment with the way the markers interact with different surfaces.

Common Challenges & Mistakes


When coloring with Copic markers, there are a few common challenges and mistakes that beginners might encounter. Here are some of them along with tips on how to overcome or avoid them:

1. Bleeding and Feathering

Copic markers are alcohol-based, which means the ink can bleed or feather if not used correctly. To prevent this, use appropriate marker paper or smooth heavyweight paper designed for alcohol-based markers. Also, avoid going over the same area repeatedly, as it can saturate the paper and cause bleeding. Practice controlled and light strokes to minimize bleeding.

2. Streaky or Uneven Coloring

Uneven coloring can happen if you do not apply the ink consistently or if the marker nib is dry or damaged. Make sure to maintain an even pressure on the marker and apply the ink in smooth, overlapping strokes.

3. Overblending or Muddying Colors

Overblending can result in colors losing their vibrancy or blending together too much, creating a muddy appearance. To avoid this, work with compatible colors and allow each layer of color to dry before applying the next. Gradually build up the colors and use the colorless blender marker sparingly to maintain clarity and contrast.

4. Not Testing Colors

Before applying a color to your artwork, it is helpful to test it on a separate piece of paper. This allows you to see how the color looks and blends with other colors before committing to your artwork.

Testing colors can help you make adjustments or choose better color combinations.

5. Using Too Many Colors

While Copic markers offer a wide range of colors, using too many colors in one artwork can create visual confusion and lack harmony. Start with a limited color palette and focus on color harmony and balance. Gradually introduce more colors as needed and learn to work with a select set of colors effectively.

6. Not Allowing Sufficient Drying Time

Copic markers dry relatively quickly, but it is still important to allow each layer of color to dry before applying another layer or working on adjacent areas. Rushing the process can cause smudging or unintentional blending, resulting in a messy appearance.


Now, you know exactly how to color with Copic markers. Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy the process and let your creativity flow. Happy coloring with Copic markers!

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