Swatching Fineliners for use with Copic Alcohol Marker – What Fineliners Work?
I’ve been getting ready for ICAD, and one of the things I always have to think through is “what” I will draw with. It’s not an obvious answer. In different years, I have used fineliners, fountain pen with black ink, fountain pen with colored inks (like I do in my illustrated journal), and ballpoint. And in some years, I have “also” used alcohol markers like Copic.
Before deciding what I was going to do this year for my “summer art series on index cards,” I put together Episode 445, my own updated ICAD retrospective, a list of possible series, and a video flip-through (of years 2013-2020).
Doing the flip-through really swayed my thinking for this year. I decided, ultimately, I couldn’t resist doing something with Copic. The summer Copic work always ends up bright, colorful, and gets good response, which, admittedly, I need. Plus, since Copic does not work in my sketchbook, the index card shift is a really good and timebound opportunity to work with the markers.
Having decided to use Copic again, I had to solve what I would use for the drawing. While the “color” is what people tend to notice, the drawing part is most important to me. I love the black-and-white portraits, even without color. So it’s critical that I find a solution for a pen I like to draw with, one fine enough to give me lots of detail, and one that won’t feather, bleed, smear, lift, or muddy the alcohol markers.
Every time I plan to use Copic, I do testing like this. It’s a really important question and consideration if you will be drawing and then using Copic on top of your black ink lines. It’s also very important to test on the medium you will be using. Copic and Micron might react differently in my sketchbook, for example, than on index card. And they might react differently on thin office supply index card compared to the thicker cards I am using.
You always need to test!
My choices were pretty much Micron (which I used in 2020), Uni Pin (because I have a few), or fountain pen (because I’m always game for that even though I can’t get as much detail with an EF nib as I can with Micron). But I gathered some other black fineliners from my pen bags, and I put them to the test.
When it comes to alcohol markers, my experience is that yellow gives me the most trouble with my ink. If the ink lifts or bleeds, you immediately see it in the yellow. The color gets “dingy” or “muddy.”
I tested in this video with a light purple and a yellow. Surprisingly, most of what I tested worked okay.
Fineliners and Other Pens Tested
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- Micron pens .01
- Micron assorted
- Copic markers
- Ouhu alcohol markers (not tested, but I might try a set of these to supplement colors I am running out of)
- Copic Multiliner
- Pentel Fude Touch Sign (I use these for graphic novel work and fill-in on index cards)
- Thick white index cards
Learning Video Editing and Making YouTube Videos After 50
Note: in terms of video creation and my YouTube After 50 series, this video, again, was a challenge. I worked all the way through the video, painstakingly getting timing matched up to allow some sped-up sections of swatching and match back up to audio. Because even this free editor really taxes my system, it takes hours working on this. Sometimes I have to close and open the software every few seconds to be able to get the video to play while I edit.
After many hours of editing (over more than one day), I went to try and watch a final run-through before saving it, and over and over again there were places where parts of the video were showing up again. This happened while editing a video a few videos back, and I thought it was related to some errors in how the speed settings work. I thought I knew what had happened and was avoiding it. At this point, I don’t know what caused the problem. But it felt almost like starting over. I worked through things again, though probably with much less precision than the first time.
After I saved (which took over 2.5 hours) and watched through, I saw that there was still a place where the same issue happened again. Artifacts from earlier in the video kept popping back up, especially in places where I had made cuts or altered the speed of sections. These problems don’t show when editing or previewing, so it’s hard to realize they are happening. It’s hard for me to do, but I left it.
I still learned something. This one had the most combinations of sped-up sections balanced against sections where I was talking. With each one, I’m learning.
Index Cards, Plastic Boxes, and Indispensible Clipboard
- Manilla “tabbed” index cards (4×6)
- Thick white index cards (4×6)
- Plastic boxes (4×6)
- Clipboard with storage (a favorite tool)
- For more discussion of tools I’ve used and recommend for doing index card art, see Thinking about Index-Card-a-Day / ICAD 2021.