Today we welcome our resident artist and mangaka, Chihiro Howe, to share with us how she started building her Copic marker collection. It can be hard knowing where to start, so let Chihiro show you how to start your collection with six markers and achieve some amazing results. Just look at this kiwi!
358 colors of confusion?
There are 358 colors available in Copic markers! That is a lot of colors to choose from and it can be overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting your collection. That’s how I felt when I first started collecting my own set of Copic markers. Going to the art store and seeing all of those pretty colors, my mind swirled with wonder… What colors should I pick first? How many can I buy now?
The first time I went to the art store to purchase Copic markers, I could only afford a few markers. That meant I had to select my colors carefully… I could come back later for more, but if I picked colors without planning, how do I use those random colors for my drawing? A good way to start selecting colors is to decide what you’re drawing. A person? An animal? A landscape? Do you want to use light colors? Dark colors? Bright and saturated? Desaturated?
Only a handful of markers can make it come alive.
Having an idea of what you want to draw makes it easier to select colors, eliminating the colors you probably won’t use for that drawing. But that is still a lot of colors to choose from. Believe it or not, you CAN create amazing artwork with just 6 markers!
In the realistic kiwi drawing, I used only six markers. In drawings, there are many elements to consider that affect the coloring of an object (ie: shadows, highlights, reflecting lights, etc), and using only a handful of markers can make it come alive.
Since I wanted to select only six colors for this project, I had to pick them carefully, just like I did when I bought my first few markers. I used reference photos to see what basic colors I needed, and determined that a kiwi fruit is brown on the outside and green on the inside. When you’re coloring with Copic markers, it’s good to have three shades of each color that you want to use.
Pick three shades of a color
- A base color: the lightest color
- Mid tone: the next lightest; it connects the two other colors
- Shadow: the darkest.
If you’re really limited, then just the base color and shadow will work. Depending on the subject, there are different shades and tones that you might need. Kiwis have light green fruit, either softer green or yellowish green. Since I like bright colors, I went for the yellowish green. There are two families of green for Copic markers: Yellow Green (YG) and Green (G). The lower the number on the first digit, the lighter the color will be. The lower the number on the second digit, the brighter the color will be.
Keeping that in mind, I picked three shades of green for this drawing: YG01 (base color), YG03 (mid tone), and G07 (shadow). As an artist I wanted to challenge myself more, by adding leaves and flowers to the drawing, so I picked greens that could be used for both the leaves and inside of the fruit. Since the leaves are a darker shade of green than the fruit, I used more shadow tone (G07) and no YG01. To make G07 lighter, like on the fruit, I used the lighter colors to blend it out and take out the color.
For the skin of the fruit, I needed shades of brown. But if you look at a kiwi closely, you can see that the green from inside the fruit shows through the skin. E81 and E87 have a greenish tint to them, so I picked those colors for the skin - E81 for the base color and E87 for the shadow (you can color the light greens over them to make it look even more green). To connect these two colors, I selected E55 as the mid tone. Instead of using E84, which would blend better with E81 and E87, I picked E55 because it had a brighter tone to it than E84.
As for the flowers, the photo I used for a reference had a greenish tint to it. I used YG01 on the shadow area, along with E81 to make it so it didn’t look too much like the color of the flower rather than the shadow.
To get the really dark colors, like the seeds and the shadow on the leaves, I mixed the colors I already had - G07 and E87. Coloring it in multiple layers will make it even darker.
Remember these tips
- Decide what you like to color
- Pick the color family you want to use
- Decide if you want saturated/light or desaturated/dark
- Customize your set to YOUR art style, experiment, and have fun!