Review – Copic Ciao Markers

Copic Markers are a professional artist’s staple and set quite a high bar in terms of how a marker performs. I personally don’t have the skill to utilize them effectively, but I have seen the wondrous products of many who swear by them. Getting to that level takes practice, and while one can learn with other markers, it’s never too soon to get attuned to the markers you intend to be using for a long time. That’s where the high price-point of Copic markers really starts to become a problem. To build up a library of the markers would cost hundreds of dollars, and when starting out one doesn’t know what tints and shades they need or prefer (the markers are refillable, thankfully, but that doesn’t change the upfront cost, just the upkeep). There is a budget option, the Copic Ciao, which at $4 are a dollar and change less expensive than their bigger brothers, but that price is still up there. Are they worth it?

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The markers are roughly cylindrical with a ⅜” diameter. There is the smallest of bulges in the center for the purposes (I assume) of aiding grip and disincentivising rolling. On either end there is an inch-and-a-quarter long color-coded cap with a quarter-inch step down on the end that allows either cap to be posted on the other. Near the base of each of these caps there is a small nub that makes it easier to remove and also helps prevent the marker from rolling. Each tip has a butte-esque taper leading from the body to the felt “brush”. The chisel tip is molded in the same plastic as the body, while the brush tip (the one you’ll most often be using) is a darker plastic that extends to an easily visible band underneath the cap. Which ends are which, what color the ink is (both descriptive and in code), and every other needed piece of information is nicely printed on the sides, and it appears underneath a shiny finish to prevent wearing with use (after all, these markers can be refilled).

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I’m not an expert when it comes to actually using these (or any) markers, but a quick search online of what people are able to create speaks for itself. What I can say is that the tips are well-made and hard-wearing (and they’re also replaceable, decreasing future expense). The chisel is sturdy and unyielding while the brush easily bends to create lines ranging from 1/32 to ¼ inch. The ink is alcohol-based and goes right through absorbent papers, feathering and drying quite quickly. It’ll still bleed through fairly heavy and high quality papers, but it doesn’t dry as quickly, allowing it to be blended more easily either with other colors or the colorless blender (which, as far as I can tell, just contains alcohol). Once down, the ink is essentially impervious to water and alcohol-based attacks, but they are sensitive to sunlight (as per their website) and, being solvent-based, aren’t the most “archival quality” things in the world.

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In my opinion, even forgoing the financial difference, the size and shape of these smaller Ciao markers is just more comfortable and easier to use. And they allow an artist to build up a collection of various colors in a much more consolidated space if they are willing to lose the color labels on the end. But they’re still expensive, and getting them won’t make you a better artist or a blending magician (as I can attest to). If you’re unsure if you want them or can utilize them I’d recommend starting out with only a few (greys would work best in this scenario) and getting more as you need them or improve your skills (the sets are quite expensive, especially if you end up not using them). But the bodies will last forever and the refills/replacement(s) (felt tips) are fairly easily available and extend the life of the marker significantly. This is a fine (and for some superior) version of a marker that is trusted by professional illustrators around the world.

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Review – PaperMate Flair Colors – Maroon, Brown, Caramel, and Grey

And now it is time for the final part of my look at the 20 colors of the Papermate Flair pen. This section only has 4 pens, and it’s special because I couldn’t find names for these colors from any official source. So the 4 names presented here are just what I think most represent the colors. Let’s get started and wrap this up.

Papermate flair colors part 4

Maroon – I love a good maroon shade, and this one does not disappoint. It’s easy enough to tell, even amongst other dark colors, what it is, and the tone is nice to look at. It might not be the most natural maroon I’ve seen, but it’s quite good, and sometimes it may even be work compliant. It doesn’t smear much but it’s not the best at resisting water, either.

Brown – The brown is a nice dark, UPS, brown. It doesn’t quite look like dirt, more like bark, and it barely smears. It’s easy on the eyes, blends in with dark colors, and could work in some office settings.

Caramel (error in image where this is labeled as Sepia and Micron Colors are switched) – Caramel is the color I’ve had the hardest time naming. I just don’t really get this light brown. It looks fairly standards, but it’s a bit off from the browns in Micron, Crayola, Pilot, and other such brands. It looks all right, but not the most natural, and most workspaces wouldn’t appreciate it. Although smearing is next to none.

Grey – And the final color is also one of the most boring. Grey is a color I love that isn’t featured in many color sets. And that’s because there isn’t much use for it. In nature I can only think of fog, and in an office only if you convince them it’s just your black pen running out. That being said, it’s a nice dark, even grey with very minimal smudging and feathering.

And there we are, the 20 current colors of the Papermate Flair. I do like them, and even some of the more garish colors are better in these sets than others. There’s a good mix of water resistance, workspace appropriateness, and personality in there. And I would recommend the set if you like tones of colors and like the Flair. But it’s a bit expensive and maybe one should consider the smaller sets if they want specific colors.

Review – Sheaffer Calligraphy Maxi Kit Part 3 – Ink – Blue, Black, Purple, and Turquoise

Now onto the Sheaffer inks in the Sheaffer Calligraphy set, which I will do in batches as I get around to trying them out. I’ll be starting off with black, purple, blue, and turquoise.

Surprisingly Accurate Photo

Surprisingly Accurate Photo

First black, which is a plain black, really there is nothing special. It’s a cool black that is very dark, but is not as saturated as one would want a black to be most of the time. For calligraphy and drawing it is good for the most part (being non-waterproof) but I wouldn’t go painting a picture with it.

Second purple, a color that has no place in a calligraphy set (something that can be said about every color that isn’t black, in my opinion). The purple is a nice deep purple with lots of shading in wider lines, though the shading doesn’t offer a great amount of variation. I personally wouldn’t use this for calligraphy and would have a hard time finding a use for it. But it is very pleasant.

The blue, Sheaffer blue, like all pen maker blues is very simple: a dark blue without much shading that does well with writing and okay with calligraphy. It is a fairly standard blue, non-waterproof and it almost looks like a ballpoint pen. Like I said, though, it is a bit darker than some others, so you might want to look into it if you want a darker blue.

Finally turquoise, which again I don’t understand being in this set. It is a very bright, nice color. It has some shading (which I’m not too fond of) but overall is fairly bland. A nice sky or Caribbean sea color, but not one for calligraphy but for daily writing in my opinion. You wouldn’t want to color a turquoise rock with it either.

That’s it for this time, It may take a few weeks, but I’ll look at the rest of the colors sometime in the future.