Get Smoother Colors Quicker and Easier [VIDEO]

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is, “How do you get your colors to look so smooth?” followed by the statement, “Mine always come out streaky and uneven!”

Unfortunately, my answer to the question is, “I don’t.”

Honestly, my color only looks smooth because of how many layers I use in every area of each drawing, and even then I’ll break up large smooth areas with textures and highlights. You would be hard pressed to find a single area of smooth even color in any of my drawings.

But, just because I personally don’t go for large areas of flat smooth color, it doesn’t invalidate the root of the question, so I set out to find the answer. In today’s tutorial I’m going to show you what I learned.

The materials I’ve used in this video are:

  • 100 lb smooth bristol board
  • Copic Various Ink refill E00
  • Copic Various Ink refill Y11
  • A mixed green composed of 1 drop Copic Various Ink refill B05 and 20 drops of Copic Various Ink refill Y11
  • 0 Colorless Blending Fluid
  • Cheap paint brushes

Ok, go on now and watch the video, then let me know what you think in the comments below!

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  1. This one is great! Makes me want to just get the refills and “paint” with them lol
    Great video!

  2. Loved this video!! I have been painting in oils for years and I am so impressed with these copic markers! My questions to you is do they work good on canvases, after watching your video I am thinking first if I paint the ink on like you did with this picture…then use markers it should work? Thanks for any advice.

    • Hi Lori, I started out as an oil painter also but haven’t picked up a brush since I figured out how to use Copics. I’ve often considered the very question you’ve asked and imagined how beautiful an underpainting of Copic markers covered in successive layers of transparent glazes would be.

      I’ve actually done a little experimentation in this area, and there are some challenges to be overcome. The Copic ink needs an absorbent ground, which is not available to it with either oil or acrylic primers. The Copic ink works really well on smooth, untreated canvas, but then the acids in the oil paint layers above would attack and deteriorate the unprotected canvas.

      So at this time, I’ve yet to overcome the technical challenges to bring these two awesome materials together in a way that would produce a lasting, stable work of art, but if you’re just planning on using Copic markers on unprimed canvas, that should work just fine πŸ™‚

      • Go ahead and draw on your Bristol board and color away with copic ink. When your ready to paint, either using poly, shellac, or matte medium go ahead and coat appropriately and then paint away.

        You could also use something like a copal picture varnish (worked for Parrish and For the sake of discussion not worried about archival qualities).

        For a stronger support, mount your paper or board to msg of another hard support use PVA adhesive or matte medium.

        If you need a smooth painting surface break out the fine grit and go to town in between coats. The possibilities seem endless when incorporating oil paint into the workflow.

      • As far as canvas, why not just use an unpigmented acrylic ground. Acrylic gesso is, at least to my understanding, made opaque and white by the addition of zinc and titantium pigments. I’m sure someone somewhere sells a clear ground. Just use some PVA size on the raw canvas before hitting it with the clear ground. Best of luck.

  3. Oh wow! I’ve never thought of doing that before. Thanks for the tip.

  4. I had no clue you could make custom colors.Holy crap this was such a much faster base coat with brush.Thanks for this tip.I’m a true newbie of Copic.I will be watching a lot.I just started collecting the three colors of each to learn.

    • You’re welcome, Valerie! Technically you can custom mix any color you want! If you haven’t downloaded my free guide “Jailbreaking the Copic Color System”, you really should. I go through custom mixing fairly extensively there.

  5. Loved this tutorial. I’m definitely going to try it on my next large project. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I purchased an ink refill instead of a copic marker and wanted to use the color in a picture so I used a paintbrush with it, I did find the brush became very sticky after I used the ink, I take it using the Colorless blending fluid cleans the brush from the stickyness?

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