Saturday, February 05, 2011

Copic Marker Review: Are Copics REALLY the Best?

I LOVE my markers! I love the colors and how easy they are to use. I have several brands of markers; Copic, Touch Twin, Dick Blick and no longer made Design markers. I recently updated my color swatch chart. While looking it over, I noticed that most of my Copics were splotchy and mottled looking compared to the Touch and Dick Blick swatches. Hmmm..Copics are considered the premium markers out there. There is a lot of really great tutorials on how to use them and classes available and so on. They are easy to find but not easy to afford, with prices from $3.50 to $7 for each marker.

ShinHan Touch Markers can be very hard to find information on and where to purchase. They are HUGE in the asian market and are made in Korea. I found them sold at Dick Blick and the price was much less, I got them for $2.09 per marker on clearance (ShinHan is coming out with a new marker style early summer 2011 which will be refillable and replaceable nibs as well as brush styles). I also got a few Dick Blick brand markers to fill in colors I didn't have. Touch are also available online at Pearl Arts, Jerry's Artarama and several people have good results on Ebay. Some stores carry them locally.

So back to the mottled Copics. I posted on Split Coast Stampers (SCS) asking if anyone knew why I was having this problem with Copic? I didn't get very many responses but had some good suggestions that it might be the paper, inadequate saturation or using not using enough ink, ect.

Well, I spent good money on these Copics and I really want them to work and look nice so I had better find out what is going on. I was given some different paper samples by some SCS so I decided to see if it is my paper and what more or less ink would do.

After seeing the Copic results, I decided to see how the Touch markers compare and also did one swatch with a Dick Blick marker.

Very interesting results...and not in Copics favor. But some very useful findings about what papers work better with Copics and which to avoid. Paper definitely has an effect on Copics, as you will see in the following pictures. They also effect Touch and Blick, but not to the degree as Copics.

All papers are layed out the same way - Copics on top, Touch below and the Lilac is Dick Blick. Each color has the same number of strokes, the darker part of the color has 3 strokes, the lighter shade at the bottom is a single stroke. Looking at the back of the papers, they are all saturated at the same level. I have picked out the closest in color and hue of my Touch markers to match my Copics.

To define the problem clearer, I am finding Copic inks "mottle" when they dry. This means that the ink had lighter or white specks throughout, rather than consistent coverage.

PTI 110 - Obvious mottling on G07, YG 23 and YG 45 Copic. Some mottling on Touch 100 and maybe a tad in 102, but at acceptable level. DB (Dick Blick) looks pretty good also.

Copic Blending: This is a smmmoooth paper. The markers move nicely on it. However, I found that all of the pens can leave puddle of wet ink on top. It quickly absorbs in but if someone isn't careful, I think they could smear this puddle before it dries. Mottling on G07, YG23, YG45, E44 Copics. Trace mottling on 47 and 100 Touch and DB. This mottling is a bit different. It almost looks like there are shiny areas embedded in the paper or maybe the slick coating on this paper isn't consistence. When this is looked at in person, it looks like shiny flecks.

Gina K. heavyweight. This paper is VERY heavy! There is absolutely NO bleedthru on the reverse of the paper. It is fairly smooth feeling. However, I would NOT recommend this paper with Copics. As you can see, there is major mottling with the Copics, in every color. There is less noticeable mottling with Touch but still on an unacceptable level, with the worst being 47.

Next is SU card stock. When I put my marker on this paper I said "awww..", the markers glide over this like skated on ice. I thought this would be it. But it's not. It is on the same level as the Gina K. above. Serious mottling in all colors. Not recommended for Copics at all.
BUT...the Touch markers and DB worked pretty good with this paper. Slight mottling in the darker colors, nothing in the lighter colors.

Wausau/GP - I think this is available at Walmart but I could be wrong. It isn't the brightest white and I would not use it with Copics. Like SU and Gina K. above, it doesn't play well with Copics. Obvious mottling in all colors.
Touch - does pretty good with Touch and DB markers. Colors don't look quite as bright on this paper as the others. I think it suck in more ink than the other pages also.

Papertrey PTI medium. This has the roughest feel of all my samples, but it's a keeper. Copics look pretty good on this paper, mild mottling in the darker colors. Touch and DB look great. All colors are nice and bright.
Neenah Classic 80. Obvious mottling with Copics in all colors except R17 and slight in YR68. I would not recommend with Copics because it is very obvious in the greens.
Works well with Touch and DB, mild mottling in 100 and DB but not on a noticeable level.

Copic X-Press. Same problem but as Copic Blending but even more. Looks like flecks in the paper, almost like mica flecks in a rock. At first glance, it looks like mottling but on closer inspection, it is flecks in the paper. But they are noticeable and are seen more with the Copics than with Touch markers. DB is too small to evaluate.
So white spots due to flecks in the paper, which are obvious with Copics.

Bienfang Smooth Bristol Board. This is one of the better/best paper for Copics. Mild mottling, the most noticeable is G07. Touch and DB look very nice, no mottling.
This is what I think is going on with Copic inks. These are alcohol based inks. The alcohol carries the pigments and then it evaporates off the paper. As I watched the Copic inks dry, it seems to me that the alcohol might be "puddling" in the light/white areas and there is more alcohol than pigment in the puddle. When the alcohol evaporates, it is lighter or whiter because there was less pigment

Final Thoughts.
Copic need to improve their quality. The quality of ink is not worth the price people are paying. And limited papers that work with these fussy markers just adds to the expense.
Some people have hinted that this is just happening to because I found it right on Copic's very own website. Check out the dark side of the cube (E44).
I understand how people love their Copics, especially if they have never tried any other artist marker brands and have paid big bucks for their collection. If you are happy with your Copics, please continue to be happy with them, I'm not telling you to stop. But before bashing me (yes, I have been bashed for my opinion), try your own tests with an honest evaluation.
I will continue to be happier with my Touch markers - better quality, value and consistency.


Becky said...

Thank you for all of this information. I have copics, started last year, and I have tried many different papers with different results. I was thinking on trying another type of marker, now I will :).

Michelle said...

Thank you for your comment, Becky. If possible, get a Touch marker or two while they are clearance from DickBlick or Jerry's Artarama and give them a go. If they don't work out for you then you have only invested a few bucks and if they do work out, then you are Golden! You can get the Beinfang Smooth Bristol from Blick and Jerry's also.
If you do try these, I'd love to hear your how they work out for you.

Barb Urbassik aka Stampenstein said...

Thank you so much for your research on the Copic I know I am not crazy for thinking the Copics were just okay and that I had seen better products on the market in the did a remarkable job on this evaluation...nice to know what paper I should be buying to use with my Copics...

Loni said...

Thank you for doing this research and sharing it with others. Nobody should bash anyone for sharing their time and effort so we don't have to spend them. Great food for thought.

Michelle said...

Thank you, Barb and Loni!

I have found that the people who seem to get most upset about my opinion of Copic have never used any other markers.

I admit, I have caught myself longing after some of the Copic colors that Touch doesn't have..But I just can't pay any more money for markers which might not work for me. It's hit and miss. And I can't wait until Touch comes out with their brush markers this summer :)

Sara Frye said...

I just discovered the touch online tonight and just have to have I have experienced the problem you describe with copics. I'm new to this art, well, art in general and thought it was my novice level causing problems and was getting upset at the blending. I had changed paper several times and noticed improvements with paper changes but still had not resolved the issue. So I am going to plunge into the touch, well after I talk my hubby into another plunge. Wish me luck!