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Frequently Asked Questions

Marker Questions | Copic Color System Questions | Various Ink Refill Questions
Inking Pen Questions | Multiliner Questions | Multiliner SP Questions
FO1 Drawing Pen Questions | Airbrushing Questions | Troubleshooting & Clean-Up Questions

Marker Questions


Q: What’s the difference between markers?

The basic chart below gives you a quick comparison between marker types. For more specific information you can go to the info pages for each type

Comparison Chart

Q: What makes Copic markers so unique?

Copic markers are the first marker created entirely with the designer in mind. The ink formula and colors haven’t changed since they were first designed over 25 years ago. They are low-odor, so they won’t overwhelm you when using them in small rooms. Body markings are embossed onto the pen so they won’t rub off. Copic markers are environmentally friendly- you never throw them away, you just keep refilling them and replacing the tips. Markers can be airbrushed with and are blendable.

Q: Why is alcohol based different than water based?

When water-based markers are layered and blended they tear up the surface of most papers. Alcohol inks do not harm the paper surface. They can be layered and blended on surfaces other than paper as well. Alcohol inks are waterproof and will not wash away.

Q: Are they acid free?

Copic markers are filled with a dye suspended in alcohol and they become acid-free as soon as the alcohol evaporates.

Q: Are the markers Environmentally friendly? Animal by-products?

Copic markers are refillable, with replaceable tips. Refill ink bottles are recyclable. Markers are actually filled with Ethanol, a form of alcohol that can be manufactured from plants. No animal products of any kind are used in either Copic markers or inking pens.

Q: What do you mean by Shelf Life?

Copic Markers and inking pens will not dry out if they are not used and the caps are securely closed. This is guaranteed for at least 3 years.

Q: Should I store my markers Horizontally or Vertically?

Copic markers will work fine when they are stored either direction.

Q: Will it hurt my markers if they get too hot or too cold?

No. If you leave them in your car during a snowstorm or in the middle of a heatwave they will not suffer. Copic markers have completely air-tight caps. They can be submerged in water or left in the sun and they will not dry out as long as the caps are sealed.

Q: Can I fly with my markers?

Yes. They should not get confiscated by security if you wish to carry them on. If you decide to draw with your markers during the flight this will adjust the air pressure inside the marker. To keep your marker from blobbing on your paper, when you land pull the caps off both ends. This equalizes the air pressure inside. If you don’t open them during the flight then they shouldn’t cause a problem.

Q: Do they fade?

Copic markers are dye-based. When exposed to UV rays they will fade over time. Regular indoor lighting won’t fade them for a while, but long exposure will be harmful. Bright lights, or direct sunlight will speed up fading. Protecting you artwork with a UV coated glass or protective sheet will cut out the harmful light.

Q: What surfaces do they work on?

Alcohol inks are permanent on many surfaces – paper, leather, wood, fabrics, plastic, faux fur, and more. On glossy surfaces, such as glazed ceramic and glass the ink can be scratched off, so use a sealant to protect the surface. Make sure that the sealant does NOT contain alcohol, ethanol, or any other form of alcohol as these will ruin your coloring.

Q: Can you use them on fabrics?

A lot of quilters use the markers on wallhangings with great response. We don’t recommend wearables, since the markers are alcohol based dye, a drink spilled on them might interact with your pattern, and some colors will bleed when washed- we are still testing mordants to prevent the deep reds/browns from bleeding.

The dye will fade at about the same rate as other fabrics, so treat with the same care you would other fiber arts- keep out of harsh lights, etc.

Q: What other media can you use Copic markers with?

Copic markers are used most commonly with colored pencil and watercolors. We suggest doing your marker work first and adding other media after the marker is dry. If you use colored pencil, acrylics, guache, or white-out and go over it with your markers it may discolor the tip. To avoid a permanently discolored tip, immediately scribble quickly on a separate piece of paper or tissue to clean the tip. Even if your tip is discolored it will still give you a clear ink flow.

Q: Can I use Copic markers with other alcohol based markers?

Using two different marker types together will not harm the Copic markers, but you will not be able to get a smooth blend between Copic inks and other brands. Be careful not to discolor your marker tips with other marker inks.

Q: Can you cross-contaminate markers?

Copic marker inks will not ruin other Copic markers. You can color directly onto other Copic marker tips and it will not discolor or ruin your marker. This is actually a good way to produce a nice color blend.

Q: How long does the marker last?

This depends on what surface you are coloring on. Softer, more absorbent papers will suck your marker dry sooner than dense, tightly woven papers. Copic Original markers also hold more ink to begin with than Sketch or Ciao, so they will last longer before they need to be refilled. Also, the more you layer a color in one spot, the denser the color gets in that area so it won’t cover as many sheets.

Copic Color System Questions


Q: What do the letters on my marker mean?

The Letters on your marker tell you what color family they belong to: [B- Blue] [BG- Blue Green] [BV- Blue Violet] [G- Green] [YG- Yellow Green] [Y- Yellow] [YR- Yellow Red] [R- Red] [RV- Red Violet] [V- Violet] [E- Earth] [C- Cool Gray] [N- Neutral Gray] [T- Toner Gray] [W- Warm Gray]

Q: What do the numbers mean?

The numbers explain the qualities of light, dark, and gray colors in that marker.

If we look at any marker, the first number stands for the Saturation, or how vibrant the color is. 0′s will be very vibrant, while 9′s will be more dull or gray.

The last digit tells you how light the marker is within that saturation group.

For example, a BG01 will be light and make a nice bright highlight color. BG05 is a vibrant mid-tone, or middle color. BG09 would be a strong shadow that matches that color group. If you substitute a BG99 for your shadow, it will add a lot of gray for that color blend and may look out of place.

Download Color Wheel

Q: How do I pick colors that will blend well with each other?

To pick colors that feel natural when blended together in one color family, choose colors that have the same letter and first number, then keep 2-3 digits between the last digit. Start with the lightest color and gradually add in your darker tones.

For blends across color families, try to choose colors that have similar numbers but different letters. It helps if these are color families near each other on a color wheel (like a B and a BG or G). It is hard to get even blends between intense colors that are opposite each other on a color wheel (like Y and RV) It is easiest to get blends across very different color families when you use pale colors.

Q: What’s the difference between 100 and 110?

The 100 is a “true”, deep blue black, the 110 is a slightly neutral gray black- it comes down to what pigments were used to make up each color. The 110 would be equivalent to a T11, if such a number existed on our color chart. The two blacks may not look different on your paper, but on some papers they do.

Q: What’s the difference between grays?

Cool Grays are bluish, or cool. Neutral Grays have no tone, warm or cool. Toner Grays are slightly warmer, or brown than neutral. Warm Grays are browner than any of the other grays.

Q: How do I get a custom colored marker?

We suggest you mix Copic Various Inks in an empty ink bottle until you get the color you need, then fill an empty marker. Carefully follow the directions for refilling

Various Ink Refill Questions


Q: How do I refill?

There are a couple ways to refill. Always work over a protected surface or paper plate. The most direct method is to carefully “drip & dab” ink straight from the dropper onto the dry nibs. 30-40 drops will recharge your marker for a while. On wide markers there is a built-in notch at the base of the nib that the ink dropper fits into for refilling.

(insert pictures from brochure)
For Sketch & Ciao markers you can also remove the tip from your marker and using the booster needle, apply ink directly into the barrel of the pen. Do not remove the brush nib for refilling. For Copic markers you can insert the needle between the chisel nib and the body of the marker.

For Sketch & Ciao markers you can also remove the tip from your marker and using the booster needle, apply ink directly into the barrel of the pen. Do not remove the brush nib for refilling. For Copic markers you can insert the needle between the chisel nib and the body of the marker.

For complete directions, please download this sheet on refilling.

Q: How many refills per bottle?

It depends on your marker type. A regular Various Ink bottle holds 25cc’s of ink. Wide markers require 4-5 cc’s , or 5-7 refills per bottle.
Copic Original markers use 3-4 cc’s, or 8-10 refills per bottle. Sketch markers use 2-3 cc’s, or 10-12 refills per bottle. Ciao markers use 2 cc’s, or 12 refills per bottle.

Be careful not to overfill your marker. It is best to add only 2 cc’s at any time, then you won’t run the risk of wasting ink.

Q: Can you get ink in larger bottles?

The only ink that comes in a larger bottle is the Colorless Blender. It has 200cc’s of ink. If it is hard for you to accurately refill from this bottle, we suggest buying an empty ink bottle and filling it from the larger bottle.

Q: What if I overfilled my marker? How can I tell?

After you fill your marker, let it sit for a few minutes. This helps the ink to evenly distribute throughout the body of the marker. An overfilled marker will blob on your paper or drip onto your work. You can either touch a tissue to the marker tip and suck up excess ink, or you can pull the caps off both ends and draw with it for a while. Either way, you need to remove some of the excess ink.

Q: How do I clean my booster needle?

Rinse your booster needle after each color with a little bit of rubbing alcohol. You can put some alcohol in a small cup and swish the needle in the alcohol until the needle base looks clean. Always replace the protective sleeve when you are done using the booster.

Inking Pen Questions


Q: What are Multiliners?

Multiliner is the name for Copic inking pens. Multi-liner refers to the many line widths Copic inking pens are available in.

Q: What’s the difference between inking pens?

Regular Multiliners are disposable and come in 9 sizes. Multiliner SP pens are refillable with replaceable tips and are available in 10 sizes. These have similar inks.

F01 Drawing pens are a disposable fountain pen. These are not waterproof, and are only available in one size.

Links to multiliners, sp’s, and F01

Q: Are the multiliners Archival & Acid Free?

Yes. They are water based pigment pens that will not fade or harm your papers.

Q: Are they waterproof?

Multiliners and Multiliner SP pens are waterproof on most papers. Test them before using them on coated or glossy papers. F01 Drawing pens are not guaranteed waterproof.

Q: What does Copic-Proof mean?

Multiliners will not bleed when you color over them with Copic Markers if the pen line has dried completely. Test the line before coloring over them on coated or glossy papers.

Q: What’s the shelf-life?

Multiliners have a guaranteed 3 year shelf life if the cap is securely on the pen.

Q: What is the closest marker color to a multiliner?

Multiliner ink is a slightly warm black, so a W10 is very close, though it’s not quite dark enough.

Multiliner Questions


Q: Are they recyclable?


Multiliner SP Questions


Q: How do you replace cartridges and nibs?

Cartridges and nibs can be removed by pulling them straight out from the body. You can use the SP Nib Changer to help get leverage, since the cartridges are tight in the pen body. Link to nib changing directions.

Q: Which size cartridge should I get?

For pen sizes 0.03, 0.05, and 0.1 mm use Ink Cartridge A. For all other sizes use Ink Cartridge B.

FO1 Drawing Pen Questions


Q: What paper is best for this pen?

This disposable fountain pen works best on smooth papers with short fibers. This keeps the pen tip from clogging and picking up stray fibers.

Q: Can I vary line width?

Yes. Just give it a little pressure and more ink will flow. Be careful not to push too hard or it will damage your paper.

Q: The pen doesn’t seem to work?

This is can be a tricky pen to use. Try holding the pen at a 45 degree angle in relation to the paper. Keep the metal point facing up. Apply firm, steady pressure. Pull when your stroke rather than pushing the pen out or drawing to the sides. This pen will not work if you hold it straight up or if you draw with the metal facing down. It also will not work well if the nib is clogged with paper fibers or the ink flow to the tip has been broken.

Airbrushing Questions


Q: What does ABS mean?

ABS stands for Airbrushing System. This is the system for getting an airbrush effect with Copic Original or Sketch markers.

Q: Which Airbrushing set should I get?

It depends on how you will be using it. If you just want to try airbrushing or you need a really portable

Q: How do I set up the ABS kits?

Download these files to help you set up your specific airbrush system.

Links to products: ABS-1, ABS-2, ABS-3

Q: How long do aircans last?

Aircan D60 lasts 7-8 minutes. Aircan 80 lasts 20 minutes. Aircan 180 lasts 45 minutes.

Q: Why does the Aircan D-60 hold less air than the other cans?

The Aircan D60 has a built-in regulator that allows it to be used directly in the air grip. The other size aircans need an Air Adaptor to regulate the air pressure.

Q: I bought an ABS 2, how can I use larger aircans or a compressor?

You just need to purchase an Air Adaptor and the special Air Hose 1/4 to 1/8. Then you can use it with the larger aircans. We also suggest you get an aircan holder so your aircan doesn’t tip over while in use and possibly cause condensation to blow onto your project.

Q: Can I use any other brand of aircan?

No. Copic aircans have a special extended stem that only fits in our system.

Q: I have my own compressor, can I use your airbrush?

Yes. If you already own a compressor, and you can set the pressure between 40-60 psi, then use the ABS 3 set. You’ll need to get a little adaptor fitting to match your air compressor to our 1/8 inch hose fitting. This is a standard Iwata or Sparmax1/8 inch compressor fitting. You can find a matching fitting for your system at

Download the directions for setting up the ABS 3.

Q: Will the ABS dry out my marker faster?

No. The Copic ABS system blows air across the tip of the marker, spraying the dye suspended in alcohol onto your surface. This dye is dry instantly because the alcohol has evaporated in that time. The dye particles are very small and they sit on the surface of whatever you are spraying. When you touch a marker to paper, the paper sucks up more dye than it needs, so you end up using less ink for covering a larger area (this does depend on how densely you spray as well). As you are airbrushing, sometimes the tip of the marker will seem dry, especially on used markers. This is OK. Just wait a moment and the marker will go juicy again.

Q: When I disconnect my airhose I hear air escape. Is this OK?

Yes. If you’re following the directions from the package, and you hear air escape it’s normal. This is just the extra air from the hose escaping- it is NOT air leaking from your can. If you want to use even that small amount of leftover air, partially unscrew the bolt on top of the can- this disengages the aircan. Then, spray your last couple bursts until the hose and adaptor have used up all their air. This way you won’t waste any air.

Q: Can I leave my ABS-1 hooked up for a long time? When should I take it apart?

It’s OK to leave them set-up if they won’t be possibly knocked over or accidentally turned on. Make sure all the fittings are snugly screwed before leaving it for any length of time. If you will be traveling with your ABS-1, then disconnect it and replace the protective cap on the aircan. You can leave the air grip and air adaptor hooked up at all times. If you have an ABS-2, then don’t worry about disconnecting it, unless you think the button on the air grip would get pushed.

Q: Can I fly with my Airbrush system?

Yes. Put it in your checked baggage, not your carry-on.

Q: Will my Copic ABS work with other markers?

No. They don’t fit correctly in the air grip.

Q: Can I airbrush on fabrics?

We don’t suggest airbrushing wearable fabrics, since the dye particles sit on top of the fabric fibers and washes out easily. The airbrush system is very popular however, for airbrushing teddy-bears and wigs (hairspray the wig before coloring it, since the alcohol in hairspray will interact with the dye).

Q: Is this safe to use on people?

Although the markers are non-toxic, we do not recommend it. Also avoid spraying on animals.

Q: Can I airbrush on black surfaces?

The Copic airbrush system is not like a traditional airbrush, since Copic markers are transparent. They will not show up if you use them on a black surface.

Q: Is this a double action airbrush system?

No. You adjust the spray pattern by pushing harder or lighter on the trigger. You adjust the spray area by holding the air grip farther from the surface.

Troubleshooting the ABS System

Q: Inconsistent spray or Splattering

Uneven spray could be caused by a few things: First, check that all your fittings are nice and tight and that your Air Adaptor isn’t punctured. If you are using aircans, check that the can hasn’t tipped over, is empty, or that it isn’t too cold. If you are using a compressor, make sure there is no moisture trapped in the line and that you are working with an air pressure between 40-60 psi.

Next, make sure that your marker is inserted correctly (if the broad nib is in upside down then your spray could look odd. If the marker is old, it may need refilling before you can airbrush evenly. Sketch markers will give a splattery look sometimes if you use the brush end as well.

Q: Aircan gets cold

This is normal. If you are using the can for a long time and the spray gets inconsistent but it feels like there’s still plenty of air in the can, then let your can warm up a bit before continuing. This is usually only a problem on the Aircan 80′s.

Q: What if there is no ink, but air is working?

If the air is flowing correctly from the nozzle of the air grip then check these things:

Make sure the marker is inserted correctly, with the chisel point up in the grip.

If you are using Sketch markers check that the marker tip is straight up and down. Sometimes the med. Broad nib is not inserted all the way. Gently push on the marker tip to make sure the base of the tip is flush with the plastic edge of the marker body.

If your marker is old or has been used a lot, it might need more ink. Also, the tip might be worn or frayed. You should replace the tip to get the best spray.

The fine point on a Copic Marker will not work, but either end works on a Sketch.

If you are using a compressor, make sure the pressure is correct. Too little will not spray and too much will blow out the system.

Q: Leaking air?

Tighten all fixtures. Replace any worn hoses or fittings. If you are using your own compressor, make sure the fitting is the correct size.

Note: Keep the airbrush system away from open flame.

Troubleshooting Clean-Up Questions


Q: How do you clean marker ink (from tables, fabric, hands)?

Use a little colorless blender, rubbing alcohol, or hand-sanitizer.

Q: How do you clean dirty markers or airbrush?

If you have ink on the body of your marker, inside the caps or around your ABS Airgrip you can clean them by using waterless hand cleaner and a paper towel. Keeping the inside of your caps clean helps keep the ink from spreading everywhere else.

Q: Dirty/discolored Nibs?

If you go over another Copic color and it gets on your nib, it won’t harm the nib in any way. If you are coloring over something else (paint, colored pencils, stamp ink) and it gets on your nib, quickly clean the nib by scribbling on scratch paper or a tissue. If you have dirty nibs you should replace them, although the marker will still give you a clear ink flow.

Q: My pen line is bleeding when I color over it with Copic markers

If you are using a Copic inking pen then you should check your paper and make sure that the ink line is completely dry before coloring, or be extra careful when working on glossy paper or coated papers (like special marker papers).

If you are not using Copic inking pens, check that the pen you are using is pigment, not oil-based, and is waterproof. Again, let the ink line dry completely before coloring over it. Try to avoid going over large black areas with your markers- even pens that usually work might bleed.

If it still bleeds, photocopy your line work before coloring it.

Q: I left the cap off my marker, what do I do now?

If the cap’s only been off for a day or two, then put the cap back on and let it sit for a few days. Most of the time the marker re-charges.

If the cap has been left off for a week or so you may need to replace the nib (the dye will have dried and clogged the marker fibers). You can try soaking the nibs in blender or rubbing alcohol overnight to clean out the pores. If this doesn’t work, then replace the nib and let it sit for a while, you may need to refill the marker if the nibs don’t have ink after sitting for an hour.

Q: My marker doesn’t work.

It’s either out of ink or the cap has been left off (see previous question). Try refilling it.

Q: My inking pen doesn’t work.

If the cap has been on then check that the tip isn’t broken or split. If the cap has been left off, then you’ll need to replace the tip if it’s a multiliner SP or replace the whole pen if it’s a regular multiliner.

If the pen was dropped hard, or shaken and it is leaking then you’ll need to replace the ink and possibly the tip on a Multiliner SP. You’ll have to replace the whole pen if you have a regular multiliner.

Q: My marker seems to dry up quickly.

You might want to use different paper. Softer papers, like watercolor paper or newsprint will suck your marker dry faster. Fabrics also suck a lot of ink out of your markers. You’ll just have to refill more often if you prefer these surfaces.

Q: My marker “blobbed” on my artwork.

Usually this is caused by an overfilled marker (see I overfilled my marker)or one that a pressure problem, like from flying. (see Can I fly with my Markers?)

It is really hard to clean up blobbed ink from a piece of paper. The colorless blender might get the spot to lighten a little bit. Don’t use white out to hide the mistake, unless it’s an area that will stay white. You cannot color over white-out with Copic Markers.

Q: My marker bleeds through the paper.

This is normal. Copic markers will bleed through the back of most papers, except glossy or coated marker papers. Avoid soft papers, like newsprint or regular copier paper, since these papers will also bleed out the sides of your line work. Always work over scratch paper.

Q: My artwork looks streaky.

If you have a new marker, then you should slow down when you color and color in circles to avoid leaving streaks and lines. If your marker is older, then it might need to be refilled. Also check your paper- thicker papers like watercolor paper sometimes take longer to absorb the ink, so you need to slow down to get even coverage.