Tools of the trade

There’s an old saying that goes along the lines of “you need the right tool for the job”, which was no doubt coined by a hard grafting craftsman in the dark ages who had a penchant for wearing togas and sandles.

I’ve been procrastinating about this recently as I’ve been having thoughts of updating the tools and materials that I’m using to create my art, which typically means that I’ve been throwing myself into the acts of reading a lot of blog posts and reviews of different types of fineliners, brush pens and markers. Although I’ve amassed a collection of half-decent pens (Faber-Castell ‘PITT’ brush pens, Stabilo Point 88’s and Sharpie markers mainly), I reckoned that in order to properly do the things I wanted to do, I was going to have to spend some cash and get the right gear.


One thing became clear when I was reading the reviews that I was working my way through; there was an almost unanimous agreement in just about every single one of them, with only a few exceptions: Copic markers were apparently a cut above the rest. It was an easy decision to make in that case – those were definitely the pens that I wanted to get.

…But then I saw how much they cost.

There’s no point in denying it – I had a bit of a crisis while I was looking at sets of 72 Copic ‘Ciao’ markers.

With the cost of these sets averaging at around £200 – I was wondering how I could possibly justify spending that much on them, trying to find some angle which would cause the scales of judgement in my brain to tip towards into the ‘yeah, ok’ side of things rather than the ‘f**k no’ one.

The simple answer is that I couldn’t in all good conscience justify that cost but after looking at the alternatives, I made a pact with myself; if I was serious and committed to doing my art properly in the view of it becoming something that people were going to buy, I was going to have to get the Copics. It almost felt as if I had no choice.

To be fair, their seemingly exorbitant cost does have some justification in itself; they’re refillable for starters, come in a dizzying array of colours and it’s apparently a simple job to replace the nibs on them. Going from the ‘how to’ videos I’d been watching, it was also possible to blend the alcohol-based inks in them together, creating all sorts of interesting colouring and shading opportunities. Most importantly however, I noticed that it was possible to purchase them in smaller, bite-sized sets as well as buy them individually, which in a round-about way suddenly made acquiring them a far less painful proposition than I originally thought.

This month, I purchased my first small set of them, which consists of five grey-scale pens and a 0.05mm Multiliner. After a short play with them, I was pleased to find that the Copic Ciao’s are every bit as good as everyone says they are. It’ll definitely take some practise to get a hang of the colour blending thing, but I’ve seen some artists do astounding things with these pens, so I’m looking forward to playing with them some more.

Until I build up that set of Copic pens however, I’m going to stick with my Faber-Castell PITT pens, Sharpie’s and Stabilo 88’s which will serve me nicely – and now that I’m (mostly) finished setting this little site of mine up, I guess I’ll get back to the scribbling…

But before I go, I should also mention the snazzy storage bag I got for my set of pens, it’s a ‘Sensebag’, which has the space for 72 markers, that can be seen at the top of the picture in this post. Rather surprisingly, I’ve nearly filled it up already with my current collection of pens so I’ll no doubt need to purchase another one at my collection of those Copic ones increases. If you’re reading this and pondering over a good way to store your own markers, ponder no more.