(page last updated 01/09/2017 at 1:46pm EST)

Welcome to Marker Painting Foundations

I'm so glad you have joined the class!

I know you're eager to get started, so let's go over the preliminary information you need to gather supplies and to make room in your life for the next 12 weeks of learning. If you have any questions (and no question is too stupid to ask), please post it on the Foundations Facebook page. Your questions spur conversation and spark the learning process for everyone else!

Facebook Group?

Yep. The gods of the internet are laughing at me right now. I'm not a big fan of Facebook because frankly, if you haven't talked to me since kindergarten, I'm not really sure why I need to know that you had chicken for dinner last night.

And yet I can't deny that single topic Facebook Groups serve a valuable purpose.

If you haven't yet received an invitation to the MPFoundations discussion board, that means you're either jack-rabbit fast and super eager to start this class... or I accidentally invited a creeper on Facebook with the same name as you. Email me at Amy@vanillaarts.com and I'll rub the magic lamp to score you another invitation.


Need help?

Never, never, never hesitate to contact me! That's what you're paying for... but seriously, I really like helping people and student questions are never a bother.

I have a few areas open in the classroom lesson areas for questions. They work but they're not always user friendly. I receive a notification when you leave a message there but I'm not convinced that you see a return message when I answer it.

Use the Foundations Facebook page for easy communication but you can also PM me on Facebook. 

Failing all that:

And by the way, no question is stupid. In fact, it's usually my fault when a student has a dumb question because it means that I failed to explain something, failed to include something, or my website isn't functioning. None of that is your fault!



This is a biggie and it's why I broke my Facebook embargo...

I'm a teacher, not a demonstrator.

In order to learn, we need two way communication going on. Sure, you can watch my videos and read all my printables as if they were delivered straight from Mount Sinai, but if you never show me your work, never ask a question, and never open yourself to instructor feedback, you won't see amazing and fantabulous growth.

In my live classes, I can watch your flick or blend and I can point out "hey, it's a little easier if you try it this way instead..." But we're doing the online thing here and due to the recent changes in stalking laws, I'm not allowed to peek into your bedroom window anymore to watch you color your assignments.

Show us your work. Ask questions. Offer helpful feedback to others sharing their work. You'll be amazed at the support you receive and the growth you'll see. If you lurk quietly in the background and we never hear a peep out of you, you turn me into a demonstrator and there's plenty of that on YouTube for free.

We're doing this on Facebook because most of you know how to use FB already. It's easy to check, easy to post, easy to set your notifications to your liking.

Communication from student to teacher and from student to student facilitates learning. So don't be a wall flower!



Foundations Marker Palette | VanillaArts.com

What supplies do you need for the Foundations Class?

On the left, you'll see the required Copic markers. The two E markers at the bottom are optional. As we move through the weeks, I'll make suggestions on more markers (always optional) that can improve or change your project results.

Copic makes four different types of marker. You must have a brush nib which means either a "Sketch" or a "Ciao" style Copic. Brush nibs are juicy and springy, they're designed for artistic coloring.

If you have a bullet nib (found on the traditional style, square body Copics), you can still use it but please understand that a bullet nib is for lettering and precision application. They're a small nib and they're stingy with the ink which makes blending harder. You can't get the same look from a bullet nib. I advise my students to slowly upgrade their collection from the older Copic style to the Sketch or Ciao versions.

Foundations Pencil Palette | VanillaArts.com

Above are color swatches for the colored pencils we will use in several classes.

I recommend an artist grade colored pencil. Prismacolor Premier is an easy to find and relatively inexpensive brand to start with. Beginners do not need super expensive artist grade pencils like Polychromos or Luminance. Use them if you have them but don't feel pressured to invest in them for this class.

Colors vary from brand to brand which is why I've given you swatches instead of names/numbers.

I will be using Prismacolor Premier in this class:

  • 938 White
  • 931 Dark Purple
  • 928 Blush Pink
  • 901 Indigo

Other supplies:

Click the image to be taken to Amazon for product details. (They're associate links but you do not have to purchase at Amazon. Please shop around for the best price.)

X-Press It Blending Card- My preferred brand of marker cardstock; I will be using it exclusively throughout the class.

Please do not use marker paper. We will discuss this more in a dedicated lesson.

If you are using any other cardstock, you will get different results. Again, we will discuss this in the dedicated paper class. I highly encourage you to purchase at least the small pack of X-Press It. There's a reason why this is my go-to cardstock.

Uniball Signo White Gel Pen- I use different brands of white gel pens for different purposes. This is the pen I will use in a few lessons for this class. Other brands will work, but not the same way.

Uniball Signo is a water soluble, juicy pen that rarely leaves train tracks or skips if used correctly.

I have occasionally come across bad Signo pens or pens which are stingy with the ink. It's also easy to pick up dirt or grit and ruin the flow of the roller ball. This is why I always purchase them in at least the two-pack. The insurance of a back-up pen is always comforting.

Sharpie Poster Paint, Extra Fine Tip, Water-based formula, white- I love these pens.

Having said that, they're temperamental and never seem to hold much ink. But while they work, they're amazing.

If I need a perfect white dot, like for an eye highlight or the seed of a strawberry, this pen produces like no other can. We will use it for several projects and there is no equivalent or substitution.

Another pen that I buy in multiples. They're simply too fussy to only own one.

Printing Digital images

In order to print the class materials you will need a printer attached to your computer.

We are not using rubber stamps, instead we will use digital stamps drawn especially for this class. I draw all my stamps by hand and then digitize them.

The digital stamps (digis) are delivered to you via a link which usually pops up in a second window. If the image doesn't open, check your popup blocker as that's the usual source of the problem. I give you a choice of file formats:

  • PNG - the traditional digital stamp format. These digis have a transparent background and can be combined with other stamps to form unique coloring images. We won't be doing any collages in class but I highly recommend that you save the PNG format even if you aren't currently using this format. PNGs can be enlarged without degrading the image which is another bonus. Place a .png file into any document as you would a .jpg photo, resize and print as desired.
  • JPG - this is the digi saved as if it were a photograph. JPG stamps always have a rectangular white background which makes them hard to collage with. You can resize a JPG but they do pixelate (get fuzzy or boxy) if enlarged too much. People are often more comfortable with .jpg files because we use them for photographs, so I provide this version but I encourage you to use the .png instead.
  • PDF- I provide a .pdf version, labeled as "easy print". The pdf usually has several stamps on the page and they're sized exactly as I use in each video. PDFs print at 8.5 x 11 inches, one single sheet of paper.

Printing Instructions - Please research "print a digital stamp" on the internet for which program works best for your computer and your computer skills. There are many free programs, you do not have to purchase special software unless you want to. I use Adobe Illustrator which is expensive and has a steep learning curve but works like a dream. Because I have this granddaddy of all programs, I am not very familiar with what else is available right now and how those programs work. Most of my students report using Word documents but I can only talk you through the most rudimentary way to use it for digital images.

Printer vs. Cardstock - Not all printers can handle thicker cardstock. Make a few test runs to insure that your printer can pickup, feed, and print on X-Press It Blending Card. If the card jams, if it doesn't feed correctly, or if the ink is smeared, you have an incompatible machine. Stop and source a different printer. Printing at a friends house or at a copy shop are alternatives to buying a new machine. If going to a copy shop, take your blending card with them (shops do not carry X-Press It) and ask for black & white laser copies.

Printer ink? Test your machine to insure it's Copic safe. We will cover this in a dedicated lesson but the easiest way to test is to print a digi and run a marker over it. If it bleeds or if the ink transfers to the Copic nib, STOP. Bleeding or transfer means it is not safe. Stop and find a safe printer.

Laser printers (both black & white or color versions) are always Copic safe. Laser printers use toner instead of ink and the printer uses heat to bond the toner pigment particles to the paper. That permanent heat-setting is what makes a laser printer Copic friendly.

Ink Jet printers vary by manufacturer and by the ink cartridges they use. Some are Copic friendly but most are not. HP printers usually are safe for alcohol markers, I own a Photosmart 6520 which uses ink #564 and it is safe. There are newer models but every Photosmart I've owned (going on 5 now) has been Copic safe.

THERE IS NO WAY TO MAKE AN UNSAFE PRINTER INK SAFE. Heat setting is a myth. Sprays are a myth. Powder pouches are a myth. There is no method to magically or chemically change an ink from unsafe to safe. The only solution is to find a printer that uses safe ink.


how picky am i about supplies?

Great question! In my experience, I see two distinct groups of beginner marker students:

  • "I own nothing, not even a pencil. And I won't purchase a single thing until you hold a gun to my head..."
  • "I own 1,400 markers plus every colored pencil ever made. And if you mention a product, even in passing, I'll rush out and buy the entire lineup."

Relax. I can work with both types of students.

This class has a minimal palette and a nominal amount of other supplies, perfect if you're starting out from ground zero. The products I've chosen are some of my most used supplies and your investment will not be wasted. If your budget is the primary constraint, do not feel as if you have to rush out and purchase everything at once. Remember, you have lifetime access to this class and you can always hold off on the next lesson until you have the necessary materials.

As for you supply-aholics, feel free to experiment! You've got it, so you might as well learn to use it. I tend to be a supply ho myself and over the years, I've experimented with just about everything. Use the Facebook group to ask "can I use this instead?" type questions because we all learn when someone blazes a new trail.

Substitutions? Absolutely! There is some stuff I'm pretty firm about (i.e. don't use cheapo paper unless you want cheapo results) but for the most part, I encourage you to experiment and make do with what you have on hand.


  • I don't know jack-squat about most other marker brands. Two minutes with a Spectrum Noir set was enough to teach me that they were not as good as Copics. I don't care how much money you saved or about the great results your best friend Sally gets with them. They don't have a brush nib and they're stingy with the ink disbursement. You can certainly use other marker brands but I have little patience when folks complain that they aren't getting the Copic look out of their Crayola markers.
  • Paper matters. Paper matters. Paper matters. We'll deal more with this in a dedicated lesson but for now, just get the X-Press It Blending Card and you'll thank me later.
  • If I call for an N Gray and you decide to substitute an RV marker, you don't get to complain when your elephant turns out purple.

Easy Alternatives-

  • Gray Copics- You can live your entire life without owning anything other than a set of N Grays. And you don't need every single N they make. Buy just the evens or just the odds. If I call for an even and you own the odds, step down one number (i.e. use N3 instead of N4).
  • Other Copics- There are countless ways to get similar effects with Copics. I'm more concerned that you have two light blues that blend well together than about which blue combo you're using. Although the markers for this class happen to be sequential (R24, R27, and R29 are all adjacent on the Copic spectrum), in real life I rarely look at the numbers on the Copic caps. Email me at Amy@vanillaarts.com if you want advice on specific substitutions but for the most part, if it looks similar and if they blend, go for it!

By the way, if you're missing one marker from a recommended blend, it's often easier to substitute a whole new blending combination than to switch out just one marker. Remember, colors may be similar and yet have different blending characteristics. We'll deal with this more in a dedicated lesson.

  • Colored Pencil Brands- All I ask is that you use an artist grade pencil. Prismacolor, Luminance, Polychromos, Lyra, Rembrandt are all formulated for professional use. If a school can purchase your brand of pencils in bulk for classroom purposes, it is not, Not, NOT an artist grade pencil. We are not using a lot of colored pencil in this class but when we do, you will find it worth it to own one of the above brands.
  • Colored Pencil Colors- White is white but there are a million variations on "soft blush pink". Find a similar color to the swatch provided and you'll be fine.