Welcome! Last week someone asked what paper I had used on my calla lilies, so I decided to experiment a bit with papers this week. As a preface, what you really need to know about Copic markers and paper is explained clearly here on Marianne Walker's blog. You can test any paper for both ink and marker compatibility.
I have been sketching mostly in my Copic Sketchbooks, although I really need a larger format sketchbook than the two that I currently own--a 5" x 12", and a 5" x 7". I think a 7" x 10" sketch book would work best for me since I really do like white space around my image. What size would work best for you? That I don't know. But the best one is the one that you will actually carry and USE. Perhaps a 5" x 7" would be perfect for you if you don't like to haul around larger books. Just pick one!
The next part is plain old confession: I've colored only ONE image in my sketchbook, though I've colored several images recently. There is this little voice in my head that says, "What if I mess it up after I spent so long drawing it? I'd better make a copy and color the copy instead!" (You would never do this, right?)
Today I have a hydrangea that I sketched on a Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Vellum pad. This was not a pad formulated for markers, but for dry media such as pencil, charcoal and pastel. It worked great with both pencil and my gray Multiliner. The sketch above is in pencil, then inked over in my favorite, the Copic 0.3 Gray Multiliner. This was right before I erased the pencil underdrawing. I took the hydrangea photograph in the top left corner with my phone, and it was not as clear in some areas as it would have been with my good camera. Still, it was workable, with a little imagination. (Picture was taken with permission of the nice ladies at the Garden Place in Norway, Michigan.)
Here it is after I erased the pencil lines. Once I started coloring, I found some errors, but that is the nature of the beast. Nobody else will generally see the photograph, and nobody else will look as closely at a photograph as the person coloring the image! So don't let imperfection stop you. If you wait to get perfect, trust me, you'll never accomplish a thing.
Now for the paper part. True to form, I scanned my image before starting to color on the Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Vellum pad that I had originally sketched it on. When I scanned it, I printed it onto two different papers, a Borden and Riley #234 Paris Bleedproof Paper for Pens, and a sheet of X-Press-It Blender Card--more about those two later.
As soon as I had a scan tucked away safely on my backed-up hard drive,(yes, I'm cautious), I started coloring the original image drawn on Strathmore Bristol Vellum. As expected, it feathered a bit--not the fault of the paper since it is marketed for DRY media, and worked perfectly for that. Also, the Bristol had a cream tint--not bad, but you should be aware that when you start with anything a little less bright than a true white, you lose a degree of potential highlights. You can't get any whiter than the paper you start with, unless you add an opaque paint afterward. Still, I don't dislike the effect that the bristol surface gave me. It is a bit more painterly, a bit softer; but as long as you don't over-saturate the outer edges where a feathered edge would distract, and as long as you don't require a hard edge, it could work.
Please Note: I used basically the same Copic markers for each paper, so color differences can be attributed to the paper or the white balance of my editing, though I tried to keep that part consistent.
The Borden and Riley was a very good marker paper--smooth surface, whiter than the bristol, and non-feathering as you can see from the sample above. (Keep in mind that this is about a 2-1/2" square of paper, hugely magnified, especially if you click on it.) It is thinner than both the Bristol and the X-Press It Blender Card. That means that it does not absorb as much ink in order to blend. While I love those qualities of a good marker paper, the one thing that was a bit of a drawback for the way I usually work is that a colorless blender will not do much to the surface once the ink is dry. That means that you have to finish an area when you start it. You won't be able to come back two hours later and easily push in a few more highlights.
Finally, the X-Press It Blender Card: artists don't generally color on cardstock, but it is another great surface--about the same whiteness as the marker pad, but thicker/heavier in weight. While it takes more ink to saturate the surface and blend than a marker pad takes, it also stays wet for longer giving more wet blending time. With the X-Press It Blender Card, you can always go back with the colorless blender and still push ink around on the surface. On the other hand, when the ink was dry, the image was definitely lighter in value than on the other two surfaces. I will have to go back and darken both shading and shadows in some areas.
Finally, I pulled a piece out of my Copic Sketchbook--the only one that I had both sketched and colored directly in my Copic Sketchbook so that you could see how it works as well. These apples were some that I sketched in Phoenix while sitting in a lobby waiting for check-in time at the hotel last month. The original photograph was one of those huge ones that they hang over the breakfast bar--just wanted to be clear about that so I am not taking credit for someone else's photo! I sketched minimally in pencil here, then used my 0.3 Copic Gray Multiliner to get the main lines reinforced before erasing the pencil and coloring with the markers listed here. (I erase pencil because pencil discolors the marker tips.)
Back to the Copic Sketchbook paper: the weight of the paper was similar to the weight of the Borden and Riley marker pad. The whiteness of the paper was good, a slightly warmer white than the Borden and Riley Marker pad or the X-Press It Blender Card, but still a nice, crisp white. As you can see from the edges, feathering was not a problem, and I was able to easily get good darks, even using red markers, which can sometimes be a challenge to work with. I was also able to go back with my Colorless Blender and push in the highlights that I needed for those speckles on the apple. My conclusion: I really need to grow some confidence and go ahead and color directly in my sketchbook more often. . . as soon as I get a BIGGER one! ;-)
I'm not finished with my hydrangea, but I was far enough along to get a post together for this week. (The piece above is on X-Press It Blender Card, by the way.) I will finish them and post them when I get a chance. This is a busy week since I am headed to Minneapolis for most of next week. Thank you for taking the time to stop by--I hope you will pull out a sketch pad and sketch this week!