Why Your Copic Markers Bleed and What to Do About It

Why are my Copic markers bleeding? Copic markers are marketed as the most versatile, long-lasting, alcohol-based, high-quality art markers in the market. Oh, and they are really good, alright—the quick-drying alcohol results in smooth art with vibrant color.

Still, some Copic markers tend to bleed. The reason being that although the alcohol is quick-drying and doesn't damage paper, in most cases, it moves through it. The alcohol carries with it the ink, spreading color further than the artist might have intended. It's always good to use the right kind of paper with your Copic markers.


  • Air Pressure
  • Overfilling
  • Storage Position
  • Over Blending
  • Poor Quality Alcohol
  • There is an issue with the nibs; they are either too old or not seated properly.

Here is a Thorough Look at These Issues:

Copic markers are alcohol-based markers for creating different types of artwork. They are designed for use on dedicated smooth paper to avoid fraying the marker tips.

Why Your Copic Markers Bleed and What to Do About It
Why Your Copic Markers Bleed and What to Do About It

The alcohol in the marker contains ink. It is dyed, dispersed through the alcohol, and has a unique scent due to its chemicals. The alcohol is fast-evaporating and dries consistently, producing smooth, vibrant colors that blend stunningly, resulting in realistic artwork.

Copic markers work on different types of paper, allowing artists to color over a particular section several times without ruining the paper. But you must use the right kind of paper or card, specially designed for alcohol-based markers.

When it comes to coloring paper, a lot of factors determine how far the ink travels. Fiber and paper density control how far ink spreads. The paper thickness, humidity, and amount of ink laid downplay a significant role.

Most artists recommend the following types of paper:

However ‘Bleed Proof’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Resistant to Bleed- Through

Copy markers will bleed through virtually any paper, especially thin copy papers and 70gsm or even 80gsm marker papers. The alcohol tends to saturate the whole paper. Even some papers marketed as bleed proof too don't stop the alcohol from bleeding downwards. Bleedproof' means that the paper prevents alcohol from bleeding to the sides only but doesn't keep it from bleeding downwards.

If you're expecting to use both sides of the paper, then ‘bleed proof' is not the criteria to use; rather, look for papers that are “resistant to bleed through.” Most of these start somewhere around 220gsm.

Bleedproof papers don't feather. They are designed to keep the ink from seeping and bleeding along the sides. But this won't stop the ink from passing through downwards. To prevent bleed-through, use a back boarding underneath your favorite Bleedproof' paper—usually, a porous material.

The reason being that a porous material allows colors to absorb through the paper perfectly by pulling the bleed through so it doesn't spread outwards. But if you know better than to use thin paper and your Copic marker is still bleeding, then the paper type is definitely not the issue; rather, the marker itself is.


A lot of factors could be causing this behavior. If you don't act quickly, the ink may drop and bleed onto the paper, ruining a piece of work you've worked hard to produce. Let's break down the possible causes and how to fix the problem so you can get back to precise, professional coloring shading. Possible causes for this unusual behavior include air pressure, old nibbles, and overfilling.

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High Internal Pressure

Heat is a marker pen's main enemy. The alcohol in the marker evaporates easily with minimal heat. This results in air bubbles that increase the ink's internal pressure towards the nib of the art marker. Heat also liquefies the ink more, making it runny.

If you don't move to stop the pool from growing, the ink may drop on the paper resulting in a splotch. Experts advise turning the marker upside down so the ink settles back inside the pen.

Opening both sides of the pen to release excess pressure is also another possible solution to the problem. Reducing the ink's air pressure should reduce the rate at which it flows downwards to the marker's tip. Take the caps off, allow it a moment before closing. But you don't have to keep both sides closed while coloring.


Some Copic markers arrive overfilled; others are overfilled during a refill. An overfilled Copic pen is surely going to leak and bleed through your favorite pad/paper.

Copic markers provide much convenience to the artist because they are refillable. However, care is needed to avoid overfilling as this would result in a lot of pressure making the ink to accumulate in the nib.

An overfilled pen is also likely to splatter when you try to take the cap off. This results in spots all over your favorite artwork; if you are creative, you can hide some spots, but others aren't very easy to hide.

If you buy an overfilled Copic or accidentally overfill it yourself, the only solution is to allow the excess ink to drip on some paper towel or tissue before you start coloring. This will reduce the internal pressure, reducing the pool of ink in the nib.

Clogged Airway

Copic markers are responsive. The alcohol vaporizes and starts flowing in response to your body temperature. However, if your Copic marker's airway is completely blocked, this flow is blocked, and in turn, pressure builds up inside the pen. When this happens, the ink tends to drip off from the nib.

Removing the cap from the other side of the marker should fix the issue. This relieves the internal pressure. But it won't fix the clogged airway problem. Remove the nib, clean the slot, and unclog the airway.

Keep an Eye on The Nibs

Copic markers are designed for use on smooth surfaces; otherwise, the nibs wear off quickly. Luckily, you can switch out old nibs for new ones easily. If you notice your marker is bleeding so much ink, the nibs could be the issue too. They may be frayed or not seated properly in pen.

Start by fixing the latter. Check if the nib is seated all the way in the marker pen. If the nib is attached correctly, but there is still leakage, then move to replace the nib. Carefully detach it from the marker and attach a new one, making sure to seat it all the way in.


The way you store your Copic marker matters too. If you store it vertically, then the fluid is going to flow downwards due to gravity. With time, the ink will pool in the nibble, and when you pick up the pen, it's going to bleed all over the paper. On the other hand, keeping the pen in a horizontal position keeps the fluid from flowing. Experts recommend this storage style.

Avoid Dropping Or Shaking the Copic Marker

Shaking or dropping the Copic marker result in centrifugal forces that may cause the pen to leak from the inside. This leakage may clog the airway, resulting in excess internal pressure.

To avoid this mishap, avoid dropping or shaking your Copic marker. In case of serious leakage, keep the pen upside down such that the brush side is up. This will allow the fluid to settle back from the tip.

The Wrong Type of Ink

Copic markers should be used with alcohol-based inks, and while at it, select the highest quality. Inferior alcohol-based inks tend to be runny, carrying the ink with them farther than intended.

Don't make the mistake of switching out alcohol-based ink for oil-based ink. Oil-based will bleed when used in Copic Markers [https://copic.jp/en/support/supportf2-2/].

Avoid Over Blending

Coloring using marker pens is a skill. Sometimes the problem is not with the pen. If you put excess ink on the spot on the paper, some of the ink will seep and bleed onto the outlines or through the paper. Consequently, the artwork lacks dimensionality and vibrancy. Excess ink also leaves behind a sticky mess when it evaporates from the paper. The solution is to learn how to color and avoid using excess ink.

Wrapping Up

If the ink is seeping and bleeding all over your artwork or through the paper, various factors could be to blame. Sometimes it's because your paper is not thick enough; other times, it's because the pen itself is problematic, and in rare cases, it could be because you are over blending.

If the issue is with your marker pen, try the above fixes, and if the problem persists, reach out to the seller for help. All Copic marker pens carry a 3-year warranty. You can send the faulty marker back for fixing or replacement.

Okay, art professionals and students, what other ways do you use to fix bleeding Copic markers? Feel free to leave a comment. Your suggestions are welcome.


Ian Walsh is the creator and author of improvedrawing.com and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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