Real Alternatives to Copic Markers – Can Anyone Challenge the King?

Alternatives to Copic Markers Feature

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While Copics may be the king of the hill when it comes to alcohol markers, they do this at a price. If you are in search of some great markers but Copic prices are out of your reach (or you’re just looking for a better deal), then you’ll love our rundown of alternatives to copic markers. These are not just some cheap alcohol markers. These are markers that are really capable in their own right while coming in at a more comfortable price point.

In a hurry? Here are our favorites

Why Shop for Copic Alternatives?

Copics are the king when it comes to alcohol markers, and for good reason. They are in the eyes of many the best markers you can get. So why would anyone be looking for alternatives to Copic markers?

To put it simply, price. Copic knows their product is great and that they are viewed as the market leader, so they have the license to set the price that they want – and that price tends to be on the high side. This means that these markers have become a luxury marker, or gift request for many budding artists. But it also means that they are simply out of reach for some. 

This is a shame as we don’t want anyone not doing art due to being priced out. That’s why we’ve put together this article. We’ve found markers that can compete with Copics where it really matters, in their use. These are not just some cheap alcohol markers, but real products from real brands that have put an emphasis on value so that anyone can start their journey as an artist using their products.

What to Look for When Buying Copic Alternatives?

We’ll go into more detail in our buyers guide, but the general rule for what makes a marker great are the same regardless of the brand.

We are looking for Copic alternatives that offer; a wide range of colors, are preferably refillable, have whatever nib size and shape you need, and last but not least, draw and blend in a desirable manner. If we can check off all these points and save a little money in the process, we’ll be very happy. And so will your bank balance.

Alternatives to Copic Markers

Now it’s time to give you some choices. There is a huge range of markers that fit the bill, so we hope that you find something that works for you. As we said, this isn’t just a list of random cheap alcohol markers, but more a range of more value oriented products. Less bells and whistles (and that well-known brand name), but ultimately a marker that behaves just as well as a copic in use.

Blick Studio Brush Markers

Blick Studio Brush Markers - Assorted Colors, Set of 24

This is probably the most directly comparable line to what is offered by copic. The Blick studio brush markers are somewhat a marvel of a product. Offering markers that are almost indistinguishable to copics in every meaningful way but at the fraction of the price. Honestly, if we covered the label even an experienced copic user may not notice the difference.

We’ve put this marker first, not just because they are produced by our favorite American art supplier (which they are by the way). But because of the strength of their whole marker ecosystem. Not only are the markers top class, but they also offer ink refills and replacement nibs. It’s really the full package, a series well worth looking into.

The studio brush markers themselves produce lovely and vibrant tones, while also lending themselves well to blending. WIth an ergonomic flat barrel marker (not dissimilar to the well known copic shape), these also markers have a chisel tip at one end and a brush tip on the other. Blick also offers a colorless blender pen, which is a nice touch.

All in all the  Blick studio brush markers are probably the best alternative to copic markers. Sharing many of the Copics’ design cues – these markers are also fantastic to use and have a robust ecosystem around them. All at a fraction the cost of their “name brand” competitor.

Winsor & Newton Promarkers

Winsor & Newton ProMarkers - Arts & Illustration, Set of 24

Now alternative to Copic doesn’t need to mean no-name. Winsor & Newton the art equipment juggernaut also brings some of their expertise to the marker space. They do this with their ProMarkers. Even with the “pro” monicore they come in at less than half the price of copic, so they get a nice check next to value. But how do they do in use?

Good question, they work great! They lay down a pleasant and vibrant color in an even manner. The ink is really a stand out character of this marker, far beyond what you would expect for so relatively cheap alcohol markers. They also blend easily affording the artist great control.

The markers are a double ended design with a broad chisel on one end and a bullet nib on the other. There is also a clear guide of the pen color on the pen casing which saves you a little time in finding the color you need. The is a large range of colors to choose from, to be bought individually or in sets, whatever you prefer. It’s a bit of a shame that there are no spare nibs or refills available for these pens, this would be a welcome addition to these markers in the future.

The ProMarkers from Winsor & Newton is another example of affordable not having to mean bad. These are some highly capable markers that would serve any illustrator well, regardless of ability.

Prismacolor Premier Double-Ended Art Markers

Prismacolor Premier Double-Ended Art Marker Set - Portrait Colors, Set of 24

The Prismacolor Premier Double-Ended Art Markers are the markers that act as the most direct competition to Copic. And are therefore viewed as the only real challenger to the throne by some.

Being a direct competitor on the high end means that the price of these markers is markedly higher than some of the other series that we have discussed so far. But that extra money gets you into a top tier series of markers.

The premier double-ended art markers are double tipped markers as the name would suggest. With the two ends giving you extra versatility. They also draw on the same ink well guaranteeing perfect color matching. They are also a cut above the  rest with a fantastically even flow, allowing for great and even coverage. Colors are pleasant and well saturated.

The premier double-ended art markers  are a well like line of markers, with a devoted following that use them as their go to pen. It may well be the marker for you.

Le Plume II Dual-Tipped Markers

Le Plume II Dual-Tipped Marker - Basic Colors, Set of 12

Lastly, we have some markers from Le Plume II. The Le Plume II Dual-Tipped Markers are a very budget friendly set of markers. These are very much budget oriented markers so the choice is somewhat limited. There are three different sets of 12 markers to choose between. They also have a handy blender tool available.

The set we would go for is the basic colors -set of 12. This will give you a nice range of colors to start; Magenta, Bottle Green, Silver Gray, Pale Violet, Manganese Blue, Cream Yellow, Brilliant Yellow, Crimson Lake, Pale Pink, Leaf Green, Salvia Blue, and Mocha. 

These markers are actually water based. This allows you to use more watercolor type techniques when using the brush marker or the fine nib on each end of the markers.

As we said, Le Plume II Dual-Tipped Markers are somewhat a different choice for those looking for markers. Cheap markers of a slightly different style, may well be a nice entry point into the art world for those on a particularly tight budget.

Buyer’s guide – Finding the Best Alternatives to Copic Markers

We actually already did a really detailed breakdown of what to look for in great alcohol markers. So if you are looking for a deep dive into color, blending, paper and a whole bunch of other FAQs head over there.

This is going to be a little more concise look at what is important when you are buying alcohol markers, be they from Copic or any other brand.

Color Range

First comes color. You really want a series of markers that has a wide range of colors available. This isn’t watercolor or acrylic painting afterall, there is not the same opportunity to mix the colors that you have available to you (though you can of course blend). The best series of markers have a large and preferably growing range of colors available. You won’t be getting them all at once, unless you really want to, but it’s just nice to know that you won’t get a shock down the line if you want to increase or shift the color palette that you use.

Refillable Markers

Having a refillable marker is a real game-changer. Refills that are easily bought make your life so much easier, with your not needing to repurchase your most used colors. This is a great cost saving measure, as well as being better for the environment by cutting down on unnecessary waste. It’s win-win.

Marker Tip Shapes

Marker tips or “nibs” come in various shapes and sizes. It goes without saying that you want a marker that has the type of tip you want, in a size that is workable for the kind of art you want to make. This is another area where a large diversity of choice can be an advantage down the line if you wish to stick with the same series of markers.

Marker tips are another part of the marker that is prone to wear over time. This is an area where some alternatives to Copic just don’t really match the power house. If you can find a series that has replaceable nibs, you will be able to greatly increase the lifespan of your markers.

The main two types of alcohol markers come with either a chisel tip or a bullet tip. These shapes lend themselves to slightly different different use cases. 

Chisel tips: (imagine the tip of a highlighter) is very versatile in that you can use the different surface of the tip to create different strokes on the page. 

Bullet tips: are a simple bullet shape and are intended for finer detail and more intricate or diverse strokes that are not possible with the chisel tip. 

Double-ended markers: Double markers bring the best of both. Most common with a chisel on one end and a bullet on the other, this removes the need to choose at purchase. It also ensures that your colors match perfectly (as opposed to moving between two pens) as these tips will both draw from the same pool of ink.

Brush tips: last but not least is the brush tip. This a is a long flexible tip more like the “round” paint brush than its marker tip cousins. In the hands of a skilled artist it can be used for beautiful flowing strokes and unique washes.

Blending

Blending is a hugely important technique in the use of markers. Poor blending ability is often the area that makes cheap alcohol markers fall short. We definitely want a marker that blends well. Helping the artist to create beautiful gradients, and more realistic colors and composition. Quality blending is something you need in your Copic alternatives.


Conclusion

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our look at alternatives to Copic markers. The Copic brand is great and they make some fantastic alcohol markers (they are some of our favorites). That doesn’t mean, however, that they are the only game in town. There is a wealth of alternatives out there. These aren’t just some cheap alcohol markers made to entertain children, but real quality markers that can be used by artists and illustrators at all levels.

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