Most people I know don't know too much about Copic markers. So here's a little back-story for you to start with. Back in 1987, Copic was introduced and was a good replacement for the Speedry markers. The Speedry markers are also produced by the same Japanese company called the Too Corporation. These were marketed to art designers in Japan but gained traction in 1969 with an American joint venture with Magic Marker.
While these alcohol inks enjoyed industrial usage for professional artists, Manga's explosion in the 90s soon grew. This allowed the Copic marker to be marketed as a creative artist tool. The catchy name and vivid colors produced by the Too Corporation soon expanded their color line. Now they offer 358 specialized colors specifically for artists and designers.
Is Mixed Media Paper Good for Copic Markers?
Using any kind of mixed media paper is especially bad for Copic markers. It's really similar to watercolor paper but has a tighter texture surface. Since all the Copic markers are alcohol-based, the ink soaks into the paper as quickly as watercolor paper. This makes it, so you have less time to work the ink on the paper. Another bad thing about mixed media paper is that it's terrible for markers and can't support lots of detail.
So, any Copic marker soaks into mixed media paper way too fast and sucks up a lot of your ink. It makes it impossible to maintain sharp lines and light shadows using Copic markers. You'll see too much color bleeding and muddied colors due to the dense nature of mixed media paper. This is the reason why artists like using it for watercolors instead of alcohol-based inks.
For this reason, the worst thing you want to avoid is using paper that is subject to being a sponge. Copic inks need a paper that is smooth so the alcohol can be worked on the surface. The less time it takes for the ink to soak in, the better your paper will be.
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What Paper Works Best With Copic Markers?
The best paper that you'll have the best success with is smooth paper. There are many kinds of smooth paper, but the kinds you want are designed for blending. The surface of the paper is noticeably smoother to the touch and has no texture whatsoever. You'll find names such as Smooth pad from Bristol or Bleedproof Marker paper from Winsor & Newton. It needs to specify that this paper is meant for alcohol markers and inks.
If it also says it's bleed proof, then you're in business. Another bonus is finding blending card paper. Having smooth hard-pressed paper doesn't allow the paper to have little pills forming. This is a bad sign of a cheap quality paper that can ruin a Copic drawing all too quickly. With a tighter surface tension, smooth paper allows for seamless blending that won't ruin previous layers.
You'll also feel a difference when using smooth paper as the Copic marker glides across the surface. If you can get your hands on card stock, the surface for drawing is another excellent choice. I like to use the card stock that comes with certain packaging items. It's just ordinary smooth paper that helps keep a product inside a package a bit more rigid. You see a lot in cheap card stock backing paper at the dollar store.
Qualities of Mixed Media Paper
The process of how mixed media paper is made is pretty impressive. Like most paper, it's formed in large sheets and then goes through various pressings to compact the surface. Just like watercolor paper is made, mixed media paper is pressed further to reduce the texture. Even though the mixed media is run through a hot press roller rather than a cold press, it looks smoother.
But don't let the papermaking process fool you since paper that looks smooth can still be highly absorbent. Paper that's made like this is really just a watercolor paper that has a highly compressed fiber. This is fine for watercolor and blending, but not for alcohol that will soak up the ink as water does. Some of the better uses for mixed media paper is with pencils and pens.
The texture makes this paper suitable for shading using colored pencils. It gives a sound bite. But with alcohol colors being used, it bleeds into all the nooks and crannies inside the paper's fiber. Unless you can find mixed media paper that's very smooth, it doesn't have any redeeming qualities for alcohol inks.
Will Watercolor Paper Absorb Copic Markers?
You better believe it will and bleeds everywhere throughout the paper itself. But if that's your intention, you can forget having any sharp lines that are crisp and clean. Watercolor paper is heavily textured, and it great for watercolor only. As the water is absorbed, it can be blended and spread over the paper. This is why watercolor tends to look soft and pastel-like. Your Copic pens will end up bleeding with uneven splotches or blooms outside a drawn line.
This is because the fiber is sucking in the alcohol ink into dry spots inside the paper. It won't take too long before your picture has blotchy spots where it bled-through. Another bad thing about watercolor paper is that you'll run out of ink a lot faster. This isn't cost-effective if you're using Copic markers. These pens are very pricy, and a refill ink vile is no cheap item either. I wouldn't recommend this amount of waste for your art project.
Perhaps you decide to prime watercolor paper with gesso or something that can add a protective layer onto its' surface. This might help with bleeding issues, but it isn't a good idea since this is a waste of time and materials.
Can You Use Copic Markers On Printer Paper?
This all comes down to what kind of printer paper you are using. The printer paper may look smooth but might be a cheap brand. What ends up happening with cheap printer paper is bleeding issues. You don't want to have too-thin paper, so it must be an excellent thick printer paper instead. Something closer to business card printing paper. Even the cheaper ones they sell at office supply stores would be a better choice.
The thicker kind of paper used for printing business cards is a perfect choice for Copic markers. This is especially the point when the surface is smooth and not textured at all. The alcohol can't soak into the paper so quickly, and you'll have a perfect blending time. When you have large areas like faces that need to have an even coating, you can work the ink around.
I really don't recommend regular printer paper since it can be too thin ad may bleed too easily. The best thing to do is to check on the thickness and smoothness of the printer paper first. The next step is to do an ink test to see how well it works. If it does work out well for you, then use that paper if it works well.
Is Cardstock Good for Copic Markers?
Cardstock is excellent since this is a nice thick paper that often has a smooth surface for alcohol pens. This also makes an excellent paper that is suitable for framing. This type of paper is not going to bend or warp like some thinner paper might. It's also suitable for being very sturdy so that your finished pieces have more thickness and worth. Cardstock often adds value to your art collection and makes commissioned pieces seem more valuable.
Because it's cardstock, you'll need to find the smoothness that works to your advantage. This surface should be smooth with no texture that can be felt. It may also appear glossy, depending on how fine the paper is. You'll want at least and 80 Lb cardstock weight as a good starting number. This thickness should feel like a postcard or a very professional business card, springy paper.
Depending on your style, you might want to mount the card stock onto the foam core to give your art more appeal. Finding a good cardstock is no further away than the internet or online shop. You might find better deals buying card stock by the ream rather than single pieces sold at the art store. The art supply stores charge way too much than if you bought your paper in bulk.
If you've spent enough money on Copic pens, you want to know what paper is the best. If you are unsure if mixed media paper is suitable for Copic markers, just try it yourself. You'll be disappointed and angry at how fast it sucked up your expensive Copic ink. Stick to using smooth paper or glossy card stock instead. These will make your alcohol ink artwork to higher performance and last longer in return.