Welcome! Tonight I have an unusual post, addressing a question that I'm asked regularly by blog readers, as well as in almost every Copic Standard Certification: "I think I want to try Copic markers, but where do I begin my collection?"
Some people begin a collection by choosing a pre-packaged set of markers, and then adding a second, complementary set later. There is nothing wrong with that method, but I have to tell you that I've never, ever ordered a pre-made set. . . Color is a personal choice for me, like music is. You know how you have an absolute favorite playlist, and your friend inexplicably doesn't share your good taste in music? Well, color can be that way too!
(These are the suggestions that you've probably heard already, but that I would be remiss not to mention!)
- Rather than choosing a random variety of colors, try to choose colors in sets of three markers that will work well together--a light value, a mid-tone, and a dark value. Generally, that means that you are safest choosing colors that are in the same blending family, such as R20's--your choice of three of these: R20/21/22/24/27/29. Do you HAVE to stick to color families? No, you certainly don't. In real life, shadows are not as saturated/intense as mid-tones, so choosing your shadow tone from a less saturated color family is often a good idea. However, sticking with color families is certainly always a good and safe choice--especially when you are beginning!
- Consider what you color most. Are you coloring landscapes? Think in terms of colors that you might see in nature. Are you making kid-birthday-cards at this stage of life? Perhaps bright/saturated/intense colors would be a great starting place for you.
- Choose colors that you love, and then build your value triad around those. If you adore R37 or R39, then pick a lighter marker or two to go with that one. Is aqua your favorite color? Then don't ignore those Blue-Green families! If you love a color, choose it, and forget about "the rules," because if you love it, you will probably use it.
When I started my own Copic collection, I automatically thought in terms of a color wheel. I wanted to be sure that I had primary and secondary colors first, and then I planned to start adding in my favorite tertiary colors after that. Just in case you're interested, here's my oversimplification of [additive] color. . .
[Skip the next section if you're easily bored and don't need a quick color review!]
Primary colors are the basic colors from which you can mix other colors: Yellow, Blue, Red.
Secondary colors occur when two primary colors are mixed: Yellow + Blue = Green, Blue + Red =Violet, and Red + Yellow = Orange.
Tertiary colors are a mixture of a primary color and the secondary color that is next to it.
So, Yellow (primary) + Green (one of its two secondary neighbors) = Yellow-Green (a tertiary color).
Green (secondary) + Blue (primary) = Blue-Green, another tertiary color. [The first named color is always the primary, so it's Blue-Green, not Green-Blue.]
Blue (primary) + Violet (secondary) = Blue-Violet (tertiary).
Violet (secondary) + Red (primary) = Red-Violet (tertiary).
Red (primary) + Orange (secondary) = Red-Orange (tertiary).
Orange (secondary) + Yellow (primary) = Yellow-Orange (tertiary).
If you've kept track, we have twelve colors so far--three primaries, three secondaries, and six tertiaries. How does this relate to Copic choices? When I picked my Copic markers, I wanted to be able to cover all of my color bases, because I really wasn't sure what I would be coloring. I enjoy sketching and coloring nature, which would suggest more earthy, natural colors. But I also enjoy coloring whimsical images, which beg for more saturated/intense/bright colors. See the dilemma? I. Needed. Wanted. It. ALL. . . (Who doesn't?)
Recently I was scrounging through paper bits that I'd kept over the years, and I found the color scratch sheets above, a reminder of a time when someone had asked me what Copic markers I would consider essential in a limited palette. Ugh! I really wanted a blending set or two from each Copic family, but I was trying to limit myself to around fifty colors. WHAT? No WARM Grays? Whatever was I thinking??? And notice how few skin tones I had in that collection? Clearly I wasn't coloring many people yet, because skin tones weren't of great concern to me then.
I'm getting really long-winded here, so I think I'll wind up tonight's post by showing you an old picture (2013-2014) of my first traveling marker set. By that, I mean the seventy-two markers that I wanted to make sure I had with me if I had to travel somewhere to demo Copic markers and couldn't take all 358 of them! By this time, I had added in some warm grays, some muted purples, and more skin tones, as compared to my planning scratch sheets above. But almost all of the colors that I had originally decided I "needed" ended up in the 72-piece set. If I picked a new 72-piece traveling Copic marker set today, I am sure that some of these would change.
Would your favorite 72-piece Copic set look exactly like mine? Probably not. But that's okay. I know that color is a personal choice, and I promise not to hold it against you. ;-)
Tomorrow I want to talk about rainbows and Copics. No unicorns though. . . Thanks for visiting!
Part 2 of Choosing Copic Marker Colors is HERE, along with a downloadable chart containing all swatches an explanations.