Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Copic vs. Letraset

I think I'm getting it: this marker blending thing.  I volunteered to donate some cards for a Donkey Sanctuary outside of Guelph, Ontario, Canada that has a shop.  I'm using Meljen's Designs Sweet Little Donkey digital stamp freebie (with proper copyright on the back!).  I'm going to make just a small handful of 5.  The plan was to make 2 grey and 2 brown donkeys.  Whichever one I liked better, the fifth one would be that colour.

Enter: the marker experiment.

So, I have these old Letraset markers from my highschool days when I wanted to be a comic booker writer and dabbled in drawings of that nature.  I *think* mine are the Letraset Tria markers.  Mind you, I bought them probably 15 years ago and they have sat idle for about 12.  The ultra fine nib on some have dried up.  I stored them on their sides though, so if I kept them with that point down for a while, they might moisten up again.

These are neat because they have 3 tips on them.  That ultra-fine tip is sure handy.  When you need to refill, you keep your tips and change the cartridge (the barrel of the marker).  No fuss, no mess.  I've been hearing a lot about these "Promarkers" and the "Passion for Promarkers" challenge (which I heard about through this design team member's blog: My Little Space on the WWW).

Well, shiver me timbers, I had NO idea that these are the SAME kind of markers I've had in disuse for over a decade!  I always called my markers the "Pantone" markers because the sticker says that.  Then I noticed that it also says, in a smaller font, Letraset.  So, after my little experiment (we're getting to that part!), I went to the Letraset site and what do I find amongst their product line-up?  Promarkers!  I kind of felt like I'd won some crafter's lottery having chosen to cart these with me all these years instead of tossing them.  Woohoo!  I have a decent number of them in an old Kettle Creek purse (the canvas one that looks like a mini duffle bag.  Anyone remember those??)

I also have a handful of Copic Sketch Markers.  These are all the rage right now in the stamping world.  I saw the samples in the local scrapbook stores and decided I would give them a whirl.  I didn't want to buy a whole bunch, because they are costly and what if I didn't like them?  So I bought colours I thought were the most used.  Well... that doesn't make for blending very well if I don't have a whole mittful of colour families.  What was I thinking buying colours on a sporadic basis?

Lo and behold, the smell is reminiscent of my Panto.. Letrasets.  That's when I dug out my old markers - to try blending them with copics.  It actually worked not bad!  Yippee!  So my silly random copic purchases weren't totally useless!

I haven't had to do it yet, but the Sketch markers refill with an ink bottle.  So, you keep your whole marker and just pour more ink in.  (There are actually 3 ways to get the ink in it.)  Sounds messy to me, but we'll see when I get there.

The Experiment
Okay, back to the Sweet Little Donkey.  I happen to have only 1 grey Copic.  So, I dug through my purse of Letrasets and find that I have whole family of greys in them.  So, I coloured the grey donkey with Letrasets.  I have since purchased enough brown Copics to do some blending.  So, I did the brown donkey all in Copics.  Here are the results.

The grey Donkey started out all filled in with light grey.  Then I added a darker shade where I wanted shadow.

Then I coloured over him entirely with the light grey again, even where I put the shadow.  I think it blended pretty nicely.  (Much better than I ever blended it back in highschool.  According to my old sketchbook, I obviously didn't "get it" then.)
Then I coloured his mane and tail tuft.  His hooves are the darkest grey.
These are the colours I used: From the "Cool Gray" family, I used 3-T, 6-T, and 8-T.  The hooves were 432-T and the pink is 169-T.
And here it is on a card.  I like the colours of dark brown and light green.  It makes me think of mint chocolate.  MmmmMmmMm.  (The sentiment is from Stampin' Up!)

The brown donkey started out the same.  I first coloured it all with the lightest brown.  Then I filled in some shadow areas.
Then I went back over it with the lightest brown again.  With the Copic, I could see the blending happening.  The darker colour actually changed the more I went over it.
It turned out pretty nice too after I coloured the mane and tail tuft with a darker brown and the hooves with the darkest brown.
These are the colours I used: E33, EE37, E29, E49 and the pink is YR00.

Here it is on a finished card.

The Conclusion
I have to say, it was definitely harder to control the Copics.  I had trouble staying in the lines with the brush tip.  I wish my type of Copic (the Sketch Markers) could have the fine and super fine nibs, but it appears those are only available for the original Copic barrels.

In the end, though, I felt the Copics blended better.  Mind you, I'm not sure how 12 years of disuse affected my Letrasets, if it does at all.  The Letrasets gave a crisper, smoother finish and you can clearly see where the darker shade fades to the lighter.  The Copics moved seemlessly from one colour to the next, however, it's not as crisp a finish.  It shows like a "mixture" of tones on the paper rather than the crisp tones that the Letrasets gave.  I do like the mixture effect for the donkey though!

If I had to describe them, I'd say the crisp blending by the Letrasets brings the comic book and cartoon look to mind, whereas the melded blending by the Copics looks more like painting.

I am by NO MEANS an expert colour-er or expert blender.  I am pretty much a novice with both sets of markers.  Personally, I think BOTH have great blendability.  I would be happy to spend my money on either set.  Copics are hot right now, so seem more readily available (at least in my area), but I'm still going to hold tight to my Letrasets!  The longevity is amazing and the result is equal in quality to the Copics, although the two produce a slightly different end look.

Which one do you like better?


  1. I really like both of them.
    I am thinking of starting to colour in some images, but I have nothing to colour with except my kids pencil crayons, crayola markers or Sharpies.

  2. Great post!! After reading your tutorial, I may have to put down my colored pencils for a minute and test out some markers! The blending looks fantastic.

  3. Strange, your page shows up having a red hue to it, what color is the primary color on your site?

  4. The background colour is brown / red-brown.

  5. I'm not that a lot of a on-line reader to be honest but your internet sites actually nice, maintain it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later.

  6. I just found 72 colours of the Pantone letraset markers from 7 or so years ago. And sure enough they are still working okay. I purchased a few copics just to try them out as well. I never thought to put the two sets together. I love the tips of the copics but I don't want to spend a great deal of money on them. I am trying to blend the old letrasets but they don't blend as well as the copics. Maybe the age of the letrasets. Not sure. But love the thought of being able to add with a refill to my many, many colours. Will have to look into that.

  7. Both the letraset and copic markers have blender pens that make the blends smoother. I have been contemplating buying the ProMarkers from letraset for a while, since my Faber-Castells have been ok for small spaces but it gets ugly for larger areas.


Thank-you for sharing your thoughts.