So, the newest thing in the paper crafting world are Copic markers. They've been around for years, but illustrators kept them a secret. Being the premiere tool, they command a premiere price, and so I decided to skip the trend and stick to colored pencils and acrylic paint.
However, I had the opportunity to place with the markers last weekend and I now understand WHY they are are preferred marker for artists. Copics are an alcohol based ink, so the colors are vibrant and pure. The color lays down smoothly, and they blend beautifully without damaging the paper. Copic does offer a smaller version of its Sketch marker called the Ciao. It was designed for the smaller hands of young artists, but being smaller, they have a lower price point. I left the retreat with nine markers in earthy hues and a blender pen.
Upon returning home I decided I really needed something in the yellow family. I did a quick search of local stores and found that I could get the Sketch markers, but not the Ciao. I decided to see if there were any other alcohol based markers that would mimic the Copics at a lower price. I took my coupon for Dick Blick's and went exploring. I played with their brand as well as a Tria marker and then I saw Pantone Universe markers. These, too, are alcohol based, lay down a smooth layer of ink, and blend well. The colors are from the original Pantone colors, so they are consistent and predictable. The best part is the price--almost half the cost of Copic.
My next project was to compare the Copics and the Pantone on paper. I chose an image with lots of coloring and blending space. Anything in yellow is Pantone, while the blue and green are Copic. The brown is both Copic and Pantone. The top flower is Copic and the bottom flower is Tombow, a dye based marker than has now been bundled for donation.
The difference in using the markers is negligible. The Copic lays down ink more smoothly and the Ciao marker is easier to hold. The Pantone Universe markers don't roll around and they have both a brush tip and a fine tip, which is nice for detail work. Copics are refillable, while Pantone Universe are not. Both markers blend beautifully--even with each other.
The biggest difference between the two is not related to the markers themselves, but to the information available on them. Copic's numbering system is logical and readily available. Y is yellow, YG is yellow-green, and so on. There are You Tube videos and written tutorials on using the Copics. Any information about Copics is a mouse click and a Google search away. Pantone Universe markers, on the other hand, are virtually impossibleto research. I never did find an explanation of the number system (18-1022 means what, exactly?) There are sites selling the pens, but very little actual information about the product itself. This makes me nervous about the longevity of the product as well as for customer service after the purchase.
So, after much internal debate, I think I will choose to have fewer pens at a higher price point rather than invest in a product about which I know little. Of course, if I need a color quickly, I know that the Pantone Universe markers are a good product, as least for the short term, so I will use them to supplement where needed.