All those who are interested in coloring, be it a hobby or a profession, can agree that blending brings magic to coloring and creativity to art.
For most of us, such a skill doesn’t come naturally when we pick up a marker but rather through continuous practice. In this article, I’ll be giving you all the fundamental knowledge that I had gathered and helped me up my blending game.
First things first, you need to know how to "crack the code", that is how to read Copic markers’ labels. Although they seem confusing at first, the labels are pretty simple once you get the hang of it.
Each marker has a label consisting of one letter and two numbers. The letter represents the color family, for example, “G” is the green color family while “Y” is the yellow color family. Two letters can be used in some cases as “RV” which is red-violet or “BG” that is blue-green.
For the numbers, the first number is an indication of the degree of saturation, intensity, and purity. The highest saturation is zero, which decreases as the number goes up and reaches the lowest intensity at number 9. Then comes the second number that indicates how light or dark the color is. This ranges from 000- the lightest shade to 9- the darkest shade.
When using Copic markers, you should know that it’s absolutely normal for the ink to bleed through your paper. That is due to it being permanent which can stain your work area.
To avoid such a thing, use a few pieces of scrap paper and place them under your main art or design.
Don't forget to check our review on sketchbooks for Copic markers here.
Now that everything is set, you should decide on the right type of movement to use for different blending situations. There are two major approaches by which you can apply your ink.
Here you use strokes of different lengths and the color at the beginning of the stroke will be darker than that at its tip. This can help you cover large areas and is a great way to minimize ink usage,
Here is a video illustrating the technique:
This is ideal for even color distribution, fine detailing and buffing out sharp edges of color.
Depending on the number of markers you are using, you can choose which method to go to.
Here, you depend solely on how many layers of color you apply. The more layers, the darker the color outcome. It’s a simple basic method, perfect for testing the waters of blending.
In case of using two or more markers, it is key to know that the lighter shade will fade out the darker one. So, always use the lighter color to blend.
Another important thing to note is to always go in with the lightest shade to fill in and saturate the entire area to be colored. This is to create a base that is going to make blending significantly smoother.
For this method, you should choose two markers of the same color family as they will complement one another nicely. Start by applying the lighter color as your base.
Next, go in with the darker color using less pressure as you near the end of each stroke.
Now while still wet, use small circular motions with the lighter shade to buff out the harsh line where the dark color ends. Repeat till satisfied with the result.
This method requires you to really apply your knowledge of the markers’ labels, as you will be picking three color shades of the same color family, paying attention to the second number previously mentioned to indicate how light or dark the color is.
Make sure to remember to create that base using the lightest color to make the process easier and add a vivid undertone. After that, take the intermediate color and start filling in the areas you wish to darken. Don’t cover the lightest shade completely, remember you can turn it into highlights. Now to add your shadows, go in with the darkest color flicking your marker to let some of the medium and light shades shine through. This creates depth and prevents you from over-darkening.
Now is finally the time to blend. Taking the medium color, use small circular or sweep-like movements to blend the darkest shade into the medium one at the area they both meet.
Be careful not to go too far into the medium shaded part nor go over all of the dark section, you want to avoid unnecessary fading.
Repeat the same technique and blend the light and medium colors using the lightest Copic marker.
This, as the name suggests, is a totally colorless marker. But the most important feature is that it can actually remove ink, thus helping you to blend or erase colors, highlight, fix mistakes, and add fun textures to your art such as dots or stripes.
You can use it in circular motions to create a base and then go in with the dark color and add your desired shadowing. Once that’s done and while still damp, use the light shade to blend it out and color the remaining portion.
An alternate method is to actually start out with the darkest shade on your area of choice, then use the colorless blender to fade it out where you will see it getting lighter. Follow that with taking the light shade and blend out the part of your liking.
Don’t rush the blending. Take your time with the process and give the ink time to dry out a bit before deciding to make it lighter or darker. An area may seem too dark but lightens once you let it dry. You don’t want to end up over-saturating or over-blending.
When going in to further darken a spot, it is best to use the flicking motion to blend it easier and keep away from mistakes.
Blending may seem intimidating to get into, especially using permanent markers, but now that you have all the basic information you need, don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and tones. Remember, this is you expressing yourself. Blend away.