(page last updated 11/30/2017

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.

To join the Facebook group, Please email info@vanillaarts.com with the email address you use on Facebook. You will be added to the group via an invite to that address. You must check your notifications to accept.

If you use different names at Facebook and Teachable, I'll need help identifying you because there's no way I'll know that Elizabeth Windsor on Facebook is HotMarkerMomma@kensingtonpalace.uk

Please email me at info@vanillaarts.com to let me know both of your names and that will help my admin team connect the dots.

Please do not friend or private message me on Facebook. I haven't used my personal page in years and have no plans to start sending updates about what I ate for breakfast or what my latest political gripe is. I try to keep my business and personal arenas separate on social media. Thank you for being considerate of that.


Need help?

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

There are a few areas on the course pages that accept comments. 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. 

Failing all that:

And by the way, no question is stupid. In fact, it's usually my fault when a student has a silly 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 most used Copic markers for this class. This will help you get started right away. The two E markers shown are optional but you'll likely want them for the starter project. 

Click for the complete list of markers and colored pencils that I use in demonstration videos each week. It looks more intimidating than it really is because I use many of the same markers every week. By getting to know these markers well, you'll increase your confidence and blending skills!

But we can't color purple items with green markers and so a few lessons call for extra markers. In each case, you can make substitutions. I'll provide suggestions the week before the lesson launches and you can email me for further help at any time!

Frequently used colored pencils:

Foundations Pencil Palette | VanillaArts.com

I recommend an artist grade colored pencil. Prismacolor Premier is a reasonably priced artist grade pencil that is easy to find. Beginners do not need expensive niche pencils. Use them if you have them but don't rush out to spend a fortune on Luminance or Polychromos.

Warning: Wax based pencils work better on our X-Press It Blending Card. As lovely as Polychromos pencils are, I do not recommend them for use in this class.

I will be using Prismacolor Premier exclusively in this class. The swatches above correspond to:

  • 938 White

  • 931 Dark Purple

  • 928 Blush Pink

  • 901 Indigo

Copic Marker Styles:

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 are designed for artistic coloring.

If you have a bullet nib (found on the classic 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 or to replace the bullet nib with a Copic made brush nib ("Super Brush Nibs" are for Sketch markers, "Copic Brush Nibs" are the replacement part for bullet nibs on Classic style Copics.)


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 is a really important reason why this is my go-to cardstock and we will discuss it in Lab #1.

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.

This is 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. 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 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. Even if you have the kind with a brush nib, they're very stingy with the ink disbursement. You can certainly use other marker brands but I have little patience when folks complain that they're not getting the Copic look out of their Crayola markers.

  • Paper matters. Paper matters. Paper matters. We'll deal more with this in Lab #1 but for now, just get the X-Press It Blending Card and you can 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 are 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 really ask is that you use an artist grade pencil, one that was formulated for professional use. If a school can purchase your brand of pencils in bulk for classroom purposes, it is NOT an artist grade pencil. We aren't using a lot of colored pencils in this class but when we do, you will find it worth it to own a good brand.

  • 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. By the way, I don't have any magical substitution charts. If you're using something other than Prismacolor Premier, you'll need to find your own substitutions... and I'm warning you, most internet charts lie.