First a confession: I’m a Promarkers girl rather than Copics, but the two are similar enough that I could still get a lot from this book. About the only thing that wasn’t transferable were the colour codes in the examples – and that is a little bit of a shame, as there are loads of great examples of colours that either go well together (including gradients) or contrast nicely. There are also several examples throughout of finished pieces and step-by-step walk throughs to achieving them.
Copics (like Promarkers) are alcohol ink pens available in a huge range of colours. I love the intensity you can get, but also subtlety and shading. However, after many years of not using them, I’d grown quite rusty. My first experiment came with a panic: is it dark to light when you’re shading, or light to dark?! (top tip: it’s the former ;)).
This book contains material for complete beginners through to more seasoned amateurs. It covers all the basic techniques, from choosing papers and nibs, blending and mixing colours, basic colour theory – which I thought I was well versed in, but the comparison of RBG and CMYK taught me something new! – and shading. There’s also a really good explanation of how to ‘read’ the Copic colour codes: letter family, intensity, then value.
I really wasn’t expecting to find tips about digital art, but there’s a fair bit throughout the book. I suppose this is the modern age: while a work might start on paper, digitising it makes a lot of sense! Or conversely, starting with a digital image – scans of your own drawings or otherwise – and printing those to colour. Definitely an added benefit to the book.
Once the basics are out of the way, we get specific tips for colouring skin, hair, clothing/material, backgrounds, nature, and more. Skin tones always seem challenging, so that was particularly useful, as were the tips for colouring liquids and more translucent materials.
The book finishes with sections on correcting mistakes, growing your skill level, and some Q&As.
Overall, I thought this book did a good job in covering the basics and moving on to some more exciting tips and walk-throughs. It’s quite daunting picking up a new medium, like alcohol ink pens, and sometimes the techniques go counter to things you may have learned with other media. So it’s really useful having a guide like this, particularly when it breaks things down step by step.
Not all of the material felt completely relevant to me, but there was more than enough here to make it worthwhile, and among all the things covered there’s bound to be something for every artist.
NetGalley eARC: 146 pages / 4 chapters
First published: June 2021
Read July 2021
My rating: 8/10