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Copic Ink; Painting Medium

10 - 15 - 2023

#copic ink

#intermediate

#tutorial

Copic Ink Series: How to utilize all the features of Copic Ink

Today’s Feature:
How to Use Copic Ink as a Paint Medium

 
 
Hello Copic readers! In our previous blog, we showed you how to use Copic Ink for what it's most commonly known for: a marker refill. In today’s blog, however, we’ll be showing you how you can use it as a painting medium! With that being said, let’s get started by listing all of the different types of materials you’ll be needing.
 
 
When it comes to coloring with Copic, all you need (at bare minimum) is a sheet of paper, a hard surface to color on, and your markers. That’s it! But, when it comes to painting (especially with alcohol inks), you’ll need A LOT more desk space and materials. Some of the most common materials include:
  • A glass pane or sheets of cardboard to work on - glass is the easiest to clean and reuse, but if you don’t have glass, cardboard works great!
  • Yupo paper, or another type of synthetic paper
  • Copic Ink colors - 358 to choose from!
  • A hairdryer - using it on the cool setting so it doesn’t add too much heat to the paper and buckle/warp it
  • 91% isopropyl alcohol - this is used like water to a watercolor painting; to dilute colors and more easily mix multiple colors together
  • Small (plastic) cup - to pour 91% isopropyl alcohol into for easier accessibility during the painting process
  • Eye-droppers - for applying the isopropyl alcohol to the Yupo paper
  • Q-Tips - for correcting mistakes at any time in the painting process, but these are especially helpful towards the end/finishing touches
  • Paper towels - for cleaning up any messes that happen
  • Gloves - Copic Ink is a dye-based ink and will stain your skin and clothes. So be sure to wear gloves and clothes that you wouldn’t mind getting stained!
  • A firm-bristled toothbrush - this is for really cool splatter effects, usually added towards the end of the painting process
 
 
Now that we’ve addressed all of the materials needed for alcohol ink paintings, let’s discuss 3 things you should know before you start:

1. The ink dries FAST!
  • If you want to move a lot of ink around your paper, then work quickly; adding some 91% isopropyl alcohol to the page right before you add your Copic Ink color, or right after
  • If you’re timid about moving quickly, no worries! Reactivate the ink with clear 91% isopropyl alcohol and push the ink around with your hair dryer

2. Be sure you have a good amount of DESK SPACE!
  • With a hair-dryer plugged in, and various ink bottles opened around your paper, it’s very easy to cause a spill if you’re working in a tight space (I’ve learned this the hard way!). So, be sure to clear off your desk before getting started!
  • Even though Copic markers don’t have a strong alcohol smell to them, pure alcohol ink in a concentrated bottle does. If you can, work by a window with it cracked open. Or, use a small desk fan to be sure you have a constant air-flow. Be sure to drink water and stay hydrated; that also helps!

3. Be prepared with ALL your materials (and plenty of paper towels) BEFORE you start! 
  • It’s easy to forget something, but the more you have ready before you start painting, the easier the art-making will be!
  • This means having paper towels nearby in case of a spill, having plastic gloves on and removing any jewelry, wearing “painting clothes,” and working in a well-ventilated area.

 
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a deeper look inside the process behind the timelapse video above. For that particular painting, I use 5 total colors (YG13, YG17, B29, B26, and B23), on a circular sheet of synthetic Yupo paper. I like to start my paintings with my darkest colors first, in one of the corners. For instance, I started in the lower right side of this piece and worked my way towards the middle, adding in blues and greens and 91% isopropyl alcohol as I went along to ensure the different colors would mix together.
 
 
Next, working quickly, I added green along the other edge of the dark blue, attempting to combine these 2 colors into a beautiful dark blue-green. In the screenshot above, I’m in the middle of using a heat gun, NOT a hair dryer; and after making this piece, I quickly learned why other alcohol ink artists don’t use a heat gun due to the high temperatures that cause the synthetic paper to warp and buckle. Using a hair dryer on a cool setting really makes all the difference!
 
 
At this point in the painting process, I’ve decided that I want to keep the upper left area white. That being said, I’m beginning to add another layer of dark blue. By adding more layers, you’ll get deeper, richer colors! However, synthetic paper can only handle so many layers of alcohol ink and heat applied to the page. After about 4 layers of ink and heat, the ink will no longer be able to slide around the paper as easily as it did in the previous 3 layers. What you will end up seeing are small bubbles within the ink on paper (quite literally, the ink is being baked onto the page at that point) and will have a very sticky, tacky texture to-the-touch. Avoid that by only applying about 3 layers of ink in one area!
 
 
Next up, I’m adding more layers of the green colors to the bottom left and the upper right/on either side of the large dark blue area. These second layers of green start to tie the colors and the piece together nicely!

*Notice here that I’m wearing plastic gloves while making this painting. Use these to avoid any splashes of ink that will stain your skin or clothes!
 
 
 
Now that I’ve added my 2-3 layers of alcohol ink, it’s time to “clean up” the edges of the piece! This is when having Q-Tips and a bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol come in handy! Dip one end of a Q-Tip into the pure alcohol solution and apply it to the edge of where the alcohol ink stops.

Above, I’m in the middle of turning my Q-Tip in small circular motions along the lower left edge. By using the precision of a Q-Tip, this technique functions like an eraser to a pencil drawing. If, however, you don't want to use a Q-Tip for this technique, you can also use the 0 Colorless Blender Copic marker and do the same thing! Just be sure to scribble the marker on a blank sheet of paper afterwards to get any of the ink stains off.
 
 
The next step is another “finishing touch” technique that I LOVE to use in all of my alcohol ink paintings: the splatter effect! To copy this technique, dip the bristles of a firm toothbrush into 91% isopropyl alcohol and tap it along the edge of the container to shake off any excess (you don’t want massive dots of pure alcohol splashing onto all your hard work!).

Then, aim the toothbrush bristles at the area on the painting that you want to have small highlights appear (I recommend the darker areas of your painting so that it stands out more). Once you’ve established your target, use your pointer finger and quickly flick the bristles in one swift motion over your piece. Voila!

Repeat this as many times as you see fit, but keep in mind the more splatters you add, the less they’ll stand out as a whole.
 
 
And there you have it! The final piece!
Before you go; let’s review a few tips:
  • Be sure to have space to work in a well-ventilated area on a clean desk
  • Have all of your materials out and ready-to-be-used before any ink hits the page
  • Use a hair dryer on cool, not a heat gun (to avoid paper buckling and ink baking from excessive heat)
  • Work on a glass panel or sheet of cardboard to avoid ink getting onto your desk and permanently staining it (I always use a glass panel for small works. Plus, they’re so easy to clean off afterwards with 91% isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel!)
 
 
And with that, we wrap up today’s blog on how to use Copic Ink as a painting medium! Stay tuned for our next blog, where we’ll be showing you how to apply these painting techniques to a monochromatic piece. Stay tuned!
 

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