Hi everyone, I’m Becca Hillburn, the artist behind Nattosoup - an art, tutorial, and review blog geared toward comic enthusiasts. I primarily consider myself a comic artist, working with traditional media such as Bristol, technical pens (mainly Copic Multiliners), and brush pens, but I do a lot of work with Copic Sketch markers as well – from toning comic pages to coloring commissions.
Most of my marker work is either done in my sketchbook as studies, or on the same Bristol I use for comic pages. That said, I’m always up for learning new tricks and trying new techniques. So for this adventure in Copics, I’ll show you how to use Various Inks to get some neat effects.
This technique would be a fantastic way to do skies, water, even the sides of buildings. I’ve noticed a couple artists – doctorCOPIC and Kareena Zerefos – utilizing a more painterly approach to rendering with Copic inks, and I’ve long wanted to achieve similar results in my own work.
Here’s a great example of how doctorCOPIC uses Various Inks for painterly effects:
This technique takes advantage of Copic’s watercolor-esque aesthetic, pushing it even further by mimicking many of watercolor’s strong points- an unpredictability from wet into wet and wet into dry mixing that many find quite charming. This cannot always be reproduced using traditional Copic marker rendering. This technique forgoes that for not-so-simple mixing of the Various Inks. While the technique may seem simple at a glance, it takes a little practice and experimentation to specific results.
To start with, I used three types of paper- Yupo Watercolor – a synthetic, tree-less paper made of polypropylene (chosen for its ability to resist water- for this technique, I wanted the ink to pool) – Copic’s Bleedproof Marker Pad (chosen because that’s usually the recommended option), and Borden & Riley #90 Vellum Sheer Trace (chosen because it’s a very excellent, heavy tracing paper with a nice finish, and tracing paper is the standard recommendation for this technique).
I used a variety of Various Inks- the Colorless Blender (0) as a general base, W5, B12, and R81. In the marker department, I mainly used Copic Sketch, BV23, YG03, B14, B00, B32, YG03, YG67, Y000, Y04, BG99, and BG98. I also used a Copic Ciao Colorless Blender (0).
My goal throughout this experimentation was to play with the Various Inks. I’ve dabbled with watercolor ink and water-soluble inks before, but never alcohol soluble inks, and although I’d anticipated that they would dry quickly. I hadn’t anticipated how quickly they’d dry while still on the palette. My method in the beginning was to pour some of the various ink (one color at a time) into the wells in the palette, and then pull up ink using a pipette. This allowed me more precise application than simply dripping it from the bottle, as it was easier for me to vary the pressure on the pipette to get the droplet size I wanted.
As you can see, the ink reacts differently on all three paper types. On the Yupo and the Vellum, it pools on the surface for a little while before drying. On the Copic Bleedproof, it sinks right in.
Next I wanted to see how the inks would react when another color was dripped on top. By this time, the inks had somewhat dried on the surface of the papers, making this a wet into dry application.
With a wet into dry ink application, the newly applied ink tends to push the pigment in the dry ink, and creates a harsh delineation between fresh and dry ink. This makes for some pretty trippy effects, and works best on slow absorption papers like Yupo and tracing paper.
I next applied Colorless Blender to see if it would push all pigment away.
With the Yupo and the Vellum tracing paper, the effect was immediate and very noticeable. Although the prior pigment did not entirely leave the page, there’s a noticeable difference in hue where the Colorless Blender has been dripped. With the Copic Bleedproof paper, there was no difference where the Colorless Blender has been dripped and where it has not. I don’t have much experience with this paper, so I’m not sure if that’s due to oversaturation or what. I do know that with the Yupo and Vellum, the ink does not actually sink into the paper, so it’s very easy to get immediate effects, but very hard to layer.
I thought that since the Copic Bleedproof Marker paper absorbed the ink so quickly, it might be fun to try a drip test. I was hoping to get a nifty tye-dye effect without actually having to wrinkle up my paper. I applied the ink so that the colors were close but not touching, and held it at a slight angle (less than 25 degrees) so the ink would slowly run.
I waited a couple days for the ink to fully dry on these pages (even now, the ink on the Yupo is still tacky) and scanned them.
Next I decided to experiment with wet into wet application of ink. This time, I didn’t bother with the droppers, I just dropped ink straight from the Various Ink bottles. For this technique, you need to work pretty quickly; otherwise the ink will dry before you’ve finished applying ink. What’s nice about this technique is you do get color blending effects you would not be able to achieve with markers alone.
Unfortunately, due to the restraints of this technique, I could not take in-process photos, but let me assure you, it really is as simple as “Drip one color. Cap. Drip another color, possibly into first color.”
After letting the colors dry a little, I pulled out my markers. I was hoping to push and pull the ink easily, but that would require a braver woman than I, as even a little markering quickly colors the nib. The dripped ink builds up more residue on the papers surface than ink applied via marker, so if you’re going to noodle about with this technique, be forewarned. Getting a little color on your nib wont cross-contaminate or ruin them. Nibs can be worked back to their normal coloring by drawing on a separate piece of paper.
Here’s the scanned wet into wet with marker test. The upper right hand circle of R81 and W5 ink are typical of wet into wet blending. I tested the Colorless Blender, and also a green (YG03) and a greyish blue (BV23).
As you can see, not all colors are equally effective at removing the original color. BV23 (lower left) is surprisingly ineffective at removing or blending, whereas YG03 is very effective at removing color, but not blending. Not quite the painterly effect I had in mind.
Next I played with wet into wet techniques using Yupo. I realized early on that using a regular Copic marker with Yupo would probably just wreck the nib, as the Yupo absorbs none of the ink. With the Yupo, I tested how colors would react when dripped into a pool of Colorless Blender.
After all this experimentation, I wanted to try and actually create something with intention. I set an easy goal – a quick, believable blue sky, and set to work. I chose to work on the vellum tracing paper, as I felt it gave me the best result, and though I started with a limited palette, I kept returning to my marker box for more color choices.
As the focus was not the trees; I just filled them in via Sketch Marker with G28, YG03, YG67. I also put a little sunshine highlight of Y000 and Y04 on the clouds.
The big key with this technique is to keep playing with it until it’s where you’d like it to be. If you make a mistake, it’s fairly easy to fix – just saturate your blotter with some Colorless Blender, and wipe away. The ink won’t come off entirely, but most of it will, and if you color over that area with a slightly darker color, it won’t be very noticeable.
My notes on this piece may be difficult to read, so I’ll transcribe them:
Goal: Create a blue sky quickly
1. Coat with colorless blender
2. Drip B12
3. Spread ink (I used a tissue, try a cotton ball)
4. Reapply drops of Colorless Blender
5. Dab up excess
6. Add shading to clouds (B00)
7. Continue to drip, dab, and noodle
8. For selective lowlights dab B32
9. You can soften marker dabs by applying Various Ink to tissue and dabbing over
10. You can pull white highlights by dabbing in Colorless Blender
Tracing vellum is a great way to replicate watercolor techniques but because the ink doesn’t sink in, new ink pushes out old instead of blending. It’s difficult to build up ink. A very messy, hard to control technique.
So there you go, hope you enjoyed this tutorial on using Various Inks to create painterly effects.
I’ll leave you with some considerations for manipulation to make while working with Various Inks:
• Ink moves with air (blowing, hairdryer, fan)
• Ink can be lifted while wet using cotton swab
• Ink can be lifted when dry using cotton swab dipped in Colorless Blender
• Can drip additional color or Colorless Blender into ink when dry
• Can drip additional color or Colorless Blender into ink when wet
• Can work markers into ink after dry