Copic Markers for Fashion Illustration and Fashion Design

by Helena  - December 1, 2019

If you are interested in any kind of illustration and have been doing some research about the best markers for this type of art, you must have heard about Japanese Copic brand of markers. They are one of the highest quality markers on the market (some would say even the best) and are highly suitable for fashion illustration.

Personally, I don’t think you can’t produce high quality fashion sketches if you don’t use Copic's, but there are certainly some benefits of having them in your art collection. If you would like to know more, and how to build your collection without a big investment, please keep reading.

Types of copic Markers

There are three types of Copic markers available on the market, and they are easily distinguishable by their shape:

  • Classic - square shape; used mainly in architecture and graphic design.
  • Sketch - oval shape; ideal for illustration of any kind and it is the best choice.
  • Ciao - round shape; simpler design and lower quality ink than others, but more affordable. 

They are made in Japan and are top quality markers, each for their own purpose. The best thing about the markers is that they are refillable and nibs can be replaced, which makes them less expensive in the long run because you don't need to buy brand new markers all the time. Because of this, they also hold a great resale value.

Copic Sketch is definitely the most suitable for fashion illustration and design. They are available in 358 colors and have a medium broad nib and a super brush nib. The brush nib is wonderful for fashion illustration as it is very flexible, long lasting and spreads ink smoothly. They are the best in blending so it is easy to create fabric folds and different types of materials in fashion illustration and design.

copic sketch brush
copic colors

Copic Classic has a wide chisel nib on one side and a fine point nib on the other side. It can hold the most ink from all three types and it is available in 214 colors. This style is more appropriate for technical style art such as graphic design, comic art, calligraphy and scrapbooking as it allows you to color a wide area precisely as well as add some fine details.

copic classic brush
copic classic colors

Copic Ciao has a medium broad nib and a super brush nib and it represents a more economical version of the sketch marker. It is much more affordable and comes in 180 colors. Although it has the same type of nibs I find it a bit stiffer to use than sketch markers, but this type is also highly suitable for fashion illustration as a more budget friendly solution.

copic ciao brush
copic ciao colors

Advantages of Copic Markers for Fashion Illustration

I’ve tried many different kinds of markers and can say with certainty that Copic markers are of the highest quality and highly suitable for fashion illustration. There are some other markers that are also very good, highly pigmented and affordable, but Copic markers are on top.

Great Things That Copic Markers Offer

  • High quality ink and good durable shell.
  • Dry quickly and blend easily.
  • Very flexible and natural brush nib that can be used in many different techniques and styles.
  • Broad range of colors and shades (very suitable for fashion design and accurate representation of colors).
  • You can refill them which means that when you invest in them in the beginning, later on it will be much affordable to keep them using. Ink refill costs abut the same as one marker and you can refill Sketch markers up to 7 times (Ciao up to 9 and Classic up to 5).
  • If you decide you don’t want to use them anymore it is very easy to resell them.
  • Easy to store and there are many stands and storage boxes designed just for them.
  • You can buy them one by one on your own pace instead of buying large expensive sets.

Other than the price, there is nothing negative to say about these markers. However, you can start one by one with the colors you need instead of buying large expensive sets.

How To Start Building Your Own Collection of Copic Markers?

You have to be smart, research and plan ahead when you start introducing Copic's to your collection for fashion illustration and design.

1. Start With Skin Tones And Black

Black is essential color you can't go without. I like Copic black because it is saturated, but not glossy or greenish like some other brands, and yet it is easily buildable and you can add darker shade easily. With a black marker you can easily practice drawing different hairstyles and all black outfits and dresses.

copic black

Copic Sketch 100 Black (Amazon Link)

For the skin tones, decide which ones you will be using in your illustrations the most and then find three colors that represent it the best. For example, if you want to start with basic Caucasian models for your illustrations you can purchase these three colors.

  1. E00 Cotton Pearl - for the first layer or the base of the skin
  2. E11 Barely Beige - for the first darker shade
  3. E13 Light Suntan - for the darkest shade
Amazon Links
copic e00

Copic Sketch E00 Cotton Pearl

copic e11

Copic Sketch E11 Barely Beige

copic e13

Copic Sketch E13 Light Suntan

Another great option is "Portrait" set of 6 colors which is designed specifically for this purpose. In this set you will get E000 (Pale Fruit Pink), E00 (Cotton Pearl), E11 (Barely Beige), E15 (Dark Suntan), E18 (Copper) and E93 (Tea Rose).

Copic Sketch - Portrait

Even if you don’t want to build a collection of Copic's, I would still recommend to use them for skin coloring as they are really the best choice with the array of different shades and a great blending ability.

2. Add Grays

Next purchase should be focused on different shades of gray, which are great to practice fabric rendering and adding darker shade on particular color. As gray is such a complex and versatile color, Copic brand has 4 different types of gray:

  • Cool Gray (C)
  • Neutral Gray (N)
  • Toner Gray (T)
  • Warm Gray (W)
  • All together, there are more than 40 shades of gray - but of course, you are not going to need them all. I would recommend going with 3 cool and 3 warm shades, for example C3, C5 and C7 from cool range and W2, W4 and W7 from the warm range.

    Amazon Links
    copic c3

    Copic Sketch C3

    copic c5

    Copic Sketch C5

    copic c7

    Copic Sketch C7

    Copic Sketch W2

    Copic Sketch W4

    copic w7

    Copic Sketch W7

    Alternatively, "Sketching Gray" set is also a good option. It contains five Neutral grays (N0, N2, N4, N6, N8) plus a 0.5mm Multiliner Pen.

    Copic Sketch - Sketching Grays

    3. Add some Earth colors for hair and different skin tones

    When you are ready to start sketching different skin tones, hair styles and practice neutral colored garments, then you can purchase some colors from the Earth shades range (E).
    Here are some basic recommendations: E000 (skin tone), E15 (skin tone), E79 (hair), E49 (hair/skin), E53 (skin), E55 (skin).

    Amazon Links
    copic e000 pale fruit pink

    Copic Sketch E000 Pale Fruit Pink

    copic e15

    Copic Sketch E15 Earthenware/Dark Suntan

    copic e79

    Copic Sketch E79 Cashew

    copic e49

    Copic Sketch E49 Dark Bark

    copic e53

    Copic Sketch E53 Raw Silk

    copic e55

    Copic Sketch E55 Light Camel

    4. Choose Your First Colors And Buy 3 Shades Of Them

    When you have all the basic colors covered, then it is time to go for some fun colors. The best thing to do if you want to get the most out of the purchased colors is to make a list of your top three favorite designers and asses what colors they use the most.

    Choose 3 colors and use Copic Color Chart below to select lighter and darker shades of the same color (more detailed chart is also available on Copic website here).

    copic color chart

    My first colors were red, pink and blue and these were the markers I purchased:

    • R27, R29, R49
    • B21, B93, B97
    • R20, RV21, RV23

    Is it smart to buy a Copic Set Instead?

    Copic Sketch markers are available in various sets, making them a viable option for enthusiasts. If you're a beginner exploring coloring media, this may not be suitable for you.

    However, if you're already a fan of Copic's and certain about your choice, investing in a set is an option, provided your budget allows. Larger sets entail a higher upfront cost, but the per-marker price is $1-2 lower than individual purchases.

    Small Sets (6 Markers)

    Amazon Links

    Perfect Primaries

    Secondary Tones

    Earth Essentials

    Pale Pastels

    Floral Favorites 1

    Floral Favorites 2

    Large Sets (24, 36 & 72 markers)

     Copic Sketch Basic 24 Color Set

    Copic Sketch Basic 36 Color Set

    Copic Sketch Basic 72 Color Set

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