7 Secrets to Make Perfect Dots with Copic Markers, Pencils, or Paint


Making beautiful dots is easier than you think.

Practically Perfect Dots | VanillaArts.com | #copic #coloredpencil #howtocolor


Nope, not kidding.

You can make them with Copic Markers, with colored pencils, with a paintbrush, or even with your finger.

I use pointillism dots and stippling a lot in my coloring lessons. And contrary to popular belief, I'm not doing it to torture students. Dotting is one of those useful little tricks that once mastered, is worth its weight in platinum liberty coins.

Beautiful stippling is easy. Evenly shaped eye highlights are anything but hard. All it takes is a little care and consistent technique. Here are seven tips to help your dots sing:


1. You need juice

Practically Perfect Dots | VanillaArts.com | #copic #coloredpencil #howtocolor

It doesn't matter if you're using a gel pen, marker, ball tip stylus, or the eraser end of a pencil to make your dot - they all require a wet tip to leave a fully round dot shape.

A gel pen with congealed gunk on it will never, ever leave a consistent dot. Wipe all the schmutz off with your finger first! A dry Copic or one with clogged pores is similarly difficult. 

Liquid naturally makes round shapes if you let it. Raindrops and paint splatters will drip round if you don't interfere.

So let the liquid be liquid. Be generous with your paint or ink and you'll be rewarded with a round dot.


2. Single touch-down

One and done is the hardest part of making dots.

The devil on your shoulder will whisper "Hey, you can do better than that! Go back and fix it... just a little touch up is all it needs..."

He's lying! 9 times out of 10 you're only going to make the problem worse.

Remember the Beatles- "Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah let it be... whisper words of wisdom let it be."

The center-most dots are single touch downs. Not perfect but sill fairly round.

The center-most dots are single touch downs. Not perfect but sill fairly round.

Hey look! I totally fixed that left pupil... not.

Hey look! I totally fixed that left pupil... not.

Practically Perfect Dots | VanillaArts.com

3. Low hover

When you play darts, where do you stand? I'm going to go out on limb here and bet that you're standing in the same zip code as the dart board when you take your shot.

And yet, for some unknown reason, I see students winding up for their dot placement a full 3 feet above their project. Who can possibly hit a target from that far away?

When dotting, rest the pinkie side of your hand against the table surface. Hover about 1/2 inch above the paper.

Even Mr. Magoo can hit the sweet spot if he's close enough.

Practically Perfect Dots require control | VanillaArts.com

4. Choke up

When baseball players want more control over the bat, they move their hands closer to the contact zone of the bat. This limits their swing radius.

When you want more control of a pen or marker, move your fingers closer to the tip. This limits the amount of play or wobble in your stroke.


5. Do the twist

If you're using a colored pencil or other non-juicy pigment, one touchdown may not leave much of a mark.

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In those special cases, take a tip from Chubby Checker. It's all about the twist.

Touch the lead of the pencil to the paper surface and then twist it like a spinning top. You don't have to go overboard, a slight twist is all it takes.

This is how I get pinpoint eye highlights in my portraiture work. And I do mean pinpoint; the eyes shown here are only 1/4" wide from corner to tear duct. These highlights are tiny but potent!

I did the same thing with each earring. Touch, twist, lift. The sharper the point on your colored pencil, the smaller the diameter dot.

Touchdown, spin the point of the pencil to intensify the dot, lift. 


6. Perpendicular approach:

Here's a Quick Tip Video explaining my perpendicular process with a Copic marker but the same holds true for any pen, pencil, or marker you use. 90 degree angles are key.


7. Don't overthink it:

Okay, I realize this is highly ironic given that I just broke down a 0,05 second process into 7 steps...

But honestly, sometimes we totally overthink art processes. In our mind, it becomes much harder than it needs to be. Don't psyche yourself out before you even try. 

You can make dots!

You can make pretty dots!

You can do it!