The Great Marker Challenge: Can You Survive on 42 Copic Markers?

Take the Great Marker Challenge! 42? | VanillaArts.com

It's hard to jump into Copic Markers.

Because let's face it, Copics are an investment. They're not cheap and there's no way to avoid plunking down a big chunk of money in the first year of coloring.

And yes, Copic sells fabulous color sets; the sets do provide some savings over the a la carte price. I oogled and drooled over the catalog, trying to decide which set of 72 to purchase first. But much to my frustration, there wasn't one kit marked "For Beginners" or "Buy This First!" and so I started Googling which kit to start out with.

Which only made the problem worse

No one with experience ever seems to recommend the sets and that's where the savings are. Why don't the pros like sets? Well, what a beginner might not notice is that while a set of 36 or 72 markers gives you a nice sample from the major color families, there isn't a blending pair or trio to be found in sets. Even if you're not married to the pairs theory, How in the heck do you color a blue sky using only B29 and B32?

So instead, bloggers and instructors all talk about "my favorite starter markers", "colors I use most", or "the markers I can't live without". Go Google "Best Copic Beginner Colors" and you'll get just over a half-million hits! Everyone and their dog has a blog post about starter colors. While I haven't read them all, very few recommend sets, which means buying 'em at the single marker price. OUCH!

Okay, so ditch the set idea (and the savings)

And now you get nervous, because with singles, every penny REALLY REALLY counts. As in do I eat this month or do I get to color? kind of seriousness.

So I searched for someone with real authority because hey, if I'm buying individually, I want advice from someone awesome, no?  But even when I found those who seemed authoritative and whose coloring style appealed to me, most "starter color" blog posts come with these big ol' giant disqualifiers:

 These are the markers I use most but you may color totally different images than I do and maybe my selections won't work for the stamps you have so just use my selections as a guide to things you might be able to color but most likely you'll have to decide for yourself if this list is going to work for you. Some ocular bleeding may occur. If you experience night sweats, suicidal thoughts, or are considering a face tattoo, please consult your physician immediately.

Really? You just told me what markers to buy, but then again, you're not totally sure?

You know what else is missing from those blog posts?

Proof.

If I'm plopping down $150 on markers based on your advice, then you might want to show me what's possible with your recommendations.

The Great Marker Challenge | VanillaArts.com

Don't tell me, show me!

Cowboy up and take responsibility for sending someone out to Michael-Ann's Lobby to make a gigantic purchase from the freekin' locked case based on your advice!

And this is why I'm starting the Great Marker Challenge

Yahoo, saddle up, and all that jazz.

I've developed a small(ish) marker list that I'll be using every Friday. I'll show you what's possible using my starter list.

Not only am I using this list, I'm teaching a monthly live class using it. I've got 45 students invested in this list.

How long can I go on just this list?

Let's see.

Will I have to add or modify the selections?

I'll let you know.

Will it work for my brand-new-never-touched-a-Copic students?

I'll show you.

What can you color using just my markers?

Tune in every Friday to find out.

I'd like to say that I have no idea how this will turn out, but that's not really true. There's a lot of thought that went into the list, I looked at 4 years of lessons that I've taught, my own coloring habits, and the colors that I'd use on about 50 different common stamp images. Unless you're trying to match to a specific patterned paper or you want to color something in a very stylistic manner (sepia monotoned or barely-there pastels)  then you're going to to pretty well with this list.

Is this the list of colors I personally can't live without?

Heck no.

Frankly, I use way more BG and BV markers than the average person. You'd have to poke me repeatedly in the left eye with a cattle prod to get me to color something all pink, especially a pink from the RV family. And I think I use a black marker twice a year. So no, this list is not what I need, it's what I think my generic beginner students might need.

At least in the early months. Because you can't live your entire life on a beginner set. You're going to want special colors for special needs. Eventually you will morph and edit this list to better suit your own needs.

I'm just looking to give you a launch point.

Why 42?

I know, the number is problematic. There isn't a handy-dandy Copic box for 42 markers.

And it's actually 43 if you consider the 0 marker which I think is a must for correcting mistakes and getting special effects.

Ehem... Let's make it official: Everyone needs to own at least one 0 marker.

It's 42 markers because I wasn't shooting for a pretty number, I was shooting for the markers you'd need if stranded on a deserted island for a year. Basic functionality. It could have ended up 57 or 22... the number wasn't the goal.

The Great Marker Challenge- can you live on 42 markers? | VanillaArts.com

Image #1:

Colored with challenge markers and a few Prismacolors.

This is "Daisies" by Art Gone Wild and I'm teaching it to 45 students this month. Yep, we're putting my list to the test!

Be sure to check out the new Challenge gallery

I'm going to compile my challenge images plus reader and student submissions into one great big reference point for beginner purchases.

I'm giving you the list AND showing you what can be done with it.

Join the fun! If you take the challenge, send me a pic. I can't wait to share your coloring!

42 markers? Let's see how far we can take this...

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