Getting smooth Copic blends is so darned hard!
Do you rub and scrub and work really hard to make the blend smooth and it just doesn’t work?
Are you beginning to think that you’ll never blend well?
Can I ask you a question?
And don’t roll your eyes at me, this is a serious question…
When was the last time you refilled your markers?
Refill my markers? But they’re not dry yet!
See, I knew you’d roll your eyes when I asked about refilling your markers.
Because you’re not stupid. You’d know if your markers were dry, right?
Many people have never refilled their markers.
Most people are using dry markers and they don’t know it.
Look, I know it sounds crazy.
I know there are all kinds of supposed rules about Copics…
how they can go for a couple of years before needing a refill
how they squeak when they’re low on ink
how the nib turns white when they’re drying out
how they’ll leave blank streaks when they’re dying
No, no, and more no.
Every one of those tips is a lie.
Sometimes you can go for years, but not usually. Some markers may squeak, but most won’t.
And the nib only turns white or stops coloring when it’s DEAD, not when it’s dying.
If you’re waiting for your marker to tell you it’s thirsty, you’re probably blowing right past the thirsty stage!
By the time you hear or see dryness, you’ve been secretly having problems for a while.
Most people with blending problems don’t have a blending problem, they have a refill problem.
Simply put: Your markers are dryer than you think.
The only sign that a marker is thirsty is that it suddenly doesn’t want to blend well.
Fill the marker and you’ll have more ink to blend with!
Smooth Blends happen automatically
… When you’re generous with the ink
But blending can’t happen without lots of ink. When your markers are less than generous, the blend simply won’t happen.
No matter how skilled you are. No matter how many years of experience you have. Ink levels matter.
Even professionals struggle to blend with thirsty markers!
But I’ve barely used my marker!
Whoa, hold on. It doesn’t take much to deplete your markers beyond optimal blending levels.
Just one or two projects.
To prove the point, I started this rose project with a full Y13 marker that weighed 14 grams.
After I finished coloring, I weighed the marker again. It came in at 13.2 grams.
I used .8 grams to color this rose, which doesn’t sound like a lot.
But my marker is now dry.
To be clear, it’s not dead. However, it is too low to blend well.
And that’s after only ONE project.
How do I know I know it’s too dry to blend anymore?
I know from years of coloring and from knowing the feel of a Copic against paper:
At anything less than 13.5 grams, you will feel more friction due to decreased ink flow. When the ink flow is low, the blends will take more coaxing, stroking, or even scrubbing to occur.
Friction and reluctant blending are the signs of a thirsty marker
Now I know, a lot of you reading this are fighting the concept. If the marker is still making colorful marks then it can’t be dry, right?
Copic Markers are amazingly consistent
You can not judge a marker’s fullness by the strength of the color coming from the marker.
That’s because Copics are a professional tool designed to be used and abused. They will keep giving you consistent color as long as they possibly can.
Check out this test.
I refilled the same Y13 marker shown above, taking it back up to 14 grams.
Then I ran it dry.
Starting up in the left hand corner and working downwards, I weighed the marker after every row.
Each row used between 2-3 grams of ink and you can see the marker weighing less and less as we move rightward.
And yet the color is amazingly consistent, it’s still the same vibrant yellow almost to the end of the page. I had to get to almost 12 grams before the color started looking weak.
But here’s what you can’t see in the test — the friction.
About halfway down the second column, my nib started to drag on the paper more. Everything looked normal but it felt wrong. The slick glide was gone. By the time I got to about 13 grams, the nib changed again; this time from dragging to feeling weirdly tacky. By the 6th row, it was actually sticking to the paper!. At the end, I was physically using more muscle to move the nib and mentally coaching it, “C’mon baby, you can make it!”
I notice this kind of tacky feeling a lot in classes when I pick up a student’s marker to demonstrate something… sticky nibs are incredibly common.
You folks don’t notice it because you’ve gotten used to the feeling!
Why do new markers feel new? Because they’re full of ink. You can have that new marker feeling every day if you keep them full!
And pssssttttt… I colored this whole entire page and the marker never squeaked. Not even once. Squeaks mean absolutely nothing! I’ve had markers that squeaked while brand new and barely uncapped and I’ve had markers like this Y13 that’ll never make a peep. You can’t assess volume by sound!
Want to know how to refill your marker?
My friend Michelle Houghton from Copic in the Craft Room has a great article here:
She refills by the drip method which means she has more patience than Mary Poppins.
I’m a yank-out-the-chisel-nib-and-squirt-it-in-quick kind of girl. But c’est la vie and to each his own. I’ll bet the birds and squirrels sing to Michelle as she fills her markers too.
My numbers are also a little different than Michelle’s. I live in fear of markers leaking ink, so I’m pretty darned nervous about filling a marker too full. I’m guessing the spoon-full of sugar prevents Michelle’s markers from exploding all over her projects.
Amy’s (less brave) numbers:
Fill a Sketch Marker to: 13.9 to 14.1 grams (with both caps on)
Fill a Ciao Marker to: 10.6 to 10.8 grams (with both caps on)
Refill a Sketch when it gets to: 13.5 grams (with both caps on)
Refill a Ciao when it gets to: 10.1 grams (with both caps on)
Better blends are just a refill away!
Don’t just talk about buying refills someday.
That’s essentially saying “I’ll blend better someday.”
You can have the best technique and all the talent in the world, but if your markers are thirsty, you will never blend well.
Don’t make blending harder than it has to be!
Supplies I use for Copic Marker refills:
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