Play Favorites – Create Your Own Copic Marker Set

life she loved lori craig IMG_5907

We have just returned home from an extended family weekend and seeing an incredible, history-making baseball game at the KC Royals stadium on Saturday! Summer on-the-go also means I need my favorite Copic Markers in a grab and go pouch – small, easily portable and yet still representative of the rainbow!

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked as I travel and teach is “what set of markers should I buy?” Or, the close cousin question, “what colors do I buy first!?” And, that internet friends is as personal as, “do you want mayo, mustard or ketchup on your Sonic #1 cheeseburger!”

There is a lot of thought that goes into pre-selected Copic Marker sets that either Imagination International (your North American distributor of Copic Marker) or some of your favorite retailers have created, but sets aren’t the be-all-end-all for many of us!

Today, I’m going to give you a peek at how I’ve selected my personal favorite ala carte colors for a travel pouch of markers that I keep ready to roll all of the time. (colored pencil image – When Your Heart Speaks – Taylored Expressions)

traveling colors lori craigIMG_5893

If I’m traveling to teach, I have specific teaching sets that I use. The colors in these sets are put together around specific images that we use to teach specific concepts in our classes, so they are heavy on shades of green and earthtones, more limited in vibrant pinks, blue greens and yellows… they are great for teaching, but not my own personal style. And, that is the problem with almost any pre-made set – you won’t love 100% of the colors represented – and with a tool like Copic, you should have the colors you LOVE first!

If I’m coloring for pleasure, I am usually doodling on a sketch pad with a Multi-liner or coloring cute and whimsy, so break it down to a simple ROYGBIV and my favorite hues. My travel set is not a collection of or representative of anything other than my favorite colors – which is how I suggest people start building their own collections:

FAVORITE COLORS that you’ll use on the type of images you love. 

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I use a 36-piece wallet because it’s small enough to tuck into my purse. (To use at home, these 36-piece empty cases work great! They are inexpensive and stand upright.) 36 colors represent about 10% of the Copic color line, so I have to be selective and there is only room for colors I really love. (And, I switch this up from time to time!)

When I say my favorites – I mean just that – my own personal favorites. I have a small selection of greens and browns for flower stems and nature, and then some more vibrant pinks, coral reds, yellows and lots of blue/greens.  You might notice that my ROYGBIV is absent of any V. I reach for violet very rarely, so there isn’t real estate in my pouch for purple. Sad to some of you, but true for me.

I started this collection by taking a look at colors I am drawn to across the rainbow. It is very helpful to see these colors in person, so a trip to a paper crafting or  fine art store that carries the Copic line may be helpful so that you can see the hues in true, natural light.


RV55 • R35 • Y35 • YG17 • G43 • BG45 • BG72 • B34

Notice that most of these colors end in a 4 or 5 – the last number indicates the value – how light or dark the shade is on paper. These are bright and vibrant colors, but unless I am coloring flat images – no shading, no contrast, no depth or dimension – I need shading options. For each of these colors I looked to the Copic Color Chart for a natural blending partner. A natural blending partner will share the same first letter (hue) and the same first number (saturation… or gray) – but the last number (value – how light or dark) will change. Look one or two colors in either direction of your favorite for natural blending partners.

In many places around my favorites I have room to include a lighter and darker shade in my kit, but in some places I only have room for one blending partner (G43, for example) and in that case I recommend that you more often lean to the lighter blending partner (G40). There are multiple ways to create darker shading with gray or another color family. In this set, I could use BG75 or maybe one of the E30s to shade G43 using a few different blending methods.  (We teach this concept in depth in our Intermediate Certification class.)

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If you are counting markers in my favorite set, you’ll see this bottom row (pictured above) of colors makes for more than 36-colors in my wallet. I don’t take up room in my wallet for a simple skin color combination, two light grays or a colorless blender. I rarely color people on-the-go, so I do not need a lot of skin tone options. These seven markers are tucked into the zippered pocket on the back pouch of my Copic wallet so that I have them when I need them, but they do not take up precious slots.

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You may have noticed this tacky label for a BG71 color in my favorites – and it may or may not have occurred to you that Copic does not make a BG71 color.


The BG72/BG75 color combination has always been a favorite of mine, and long before BG70 was introduced a few years ago, I needed a lighter shade that would allow me to blend from BG72 toward highlight.


Using Various Refill for BG72 and BG000 – I created my own custom color that I called BG71 in an empty Various Refill container and adding to an Empty Sketch Marker. I have several colors that I’ve created for my own personal preference, and I suggest mixing those colors in the refill bottle and then filling the empty marker – this keeps your color formula consistent in the barrel of the marker as you refill. This is how I’ve ended up with BG71 in my favorite 36!

traveling colors lori craig IMG_5909

After you’ve created your own personal kits – keep a filled in color chart and the Copic color chart handy so that you can be intentional about where you add colors when the opportunity arises. Empty Copic color charts and the complete Copic color chart and wheel are available as free download resources!

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I hope this gives you some confidence to look at building your own set or collection:

  • Look for colors you love and build with balance.
  • Add blending partners (same hue and first number) to your favorites – leaning toward a lighter partner if you can’t add both light and dark.
  • Keep a blank color chart and a color wheel handy to look at how you would change your look and add new colors intentionally.

I have a busy week ahead, and I’m wrapping up our Copic certification classes for the year in Des Moines this weekend! After this weekend, I’ll move to teaching workshops for the rest of 2016. Come and see me!

One response to “Play Favorites – Create Your Own Copic Marker Set

  1. Thank you for giving such great advice! It was VERY helpful!

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