Best Copic Alternatives in 2021

If you’ve ever used Copic markers, you know just how good they are. And if you’ve ever purchased Copics, you know just how expensive they are. So it’s perfectly natural that so many artists want to find the quality of Copic markers at a lower price,

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Table of Contents

It’s common to hear questions like:

  • What are the best Copic marker alternatives?
  • Are any alcohol markers as good as Copic markers?
  • What’s the best cheap alcohol-based marker?
  • What’s the best alcohol-based marker on the market today?

So let’s get into it, and see if we can answer some of these questions and find the best alcohol-based markers for every budget, and the best Copic alternatives, in this buyer’s guide to the best alternative to Copics in 2021.

What Makes Copic Markers So Good?

If we’re really being all honest and upfront and stuff, the answers to a couple of the above questions are quite simple:

  • Are any markers as good as Copic? :: Really, no
  • What’s the best alcohol-based marker on the market today? :: Copic

Of course this is a buyer’s guide to the best alternatives to Copic markers, so we can’t just leave it at that, can we? And we will see that there are in fact a few really great markers from other companies. But to give you the best and most complete information before you buy, and to make some of the comparisons below make more sense, let’s talk about why Copic are such great markers.

  • Best Nibs – Copic tips (both dual tip – chisel tip and brush tip) are a study in quality, expressivity and precision. The materials are so great, and the various shapes available are so perfect that you can count on real control and a wonderfully instinctive flow that fully facilitates your vision and work.
  • Best Colors – Copic’s colors are simply more vivid, more consistent, have better saturation and pop more on the page.
  • Widest Selection – and Copic offers the widest selection of colors — up to 368 for the Copic Sketch — as well as a big and smart selection of marker styles and interchangeable dual tips
  • Superb Ink and Control – part of the superiority of Copic colors is the quality of the ink itself, which not just looks good but goes onto the paper with real flow, consistency and control, sets predictably and stays looking great for years and years.
  • Last for Years – each individual nib can last for years, and they are all replaceable nibs anyway, and all Copic markers are refillable with surprisingly affordable refillable ink.
  • Blender – in addition to having the most blendable and expressive markers on the market today, Copic also offers the best blender – a colorless marker with the same dual tips, designed for easy and highly precise gradations, color blends and transitions.

Now most people would never question that Copic markers are the best, and are only looking for other options because of price. But the last item above raises an important point that we should state as clearly as possible before moving on with alternatives: Because you can refill Copic markers with refillable ink and replace their nibs, they can last almost forever, and given the quality, expressivity and control they give you, and what they can do for your art, they end up being an incredibly good value – expensive upfront, for sure, but cheap in the long run.

So let’s look at some basic sets of the most popular Copic markers — the Copic Sketch:

  1. Copic Markers 12-Piece Sketch Marker Set
  2. Copic Markers 12-Piece Sketch Marker Set

    The perfect starter set. Includes Black, Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue, Ultramarine, Light Blue, Forest Green, Yellow Green, Lemon Yellow, Chrome Orange, Vermilion, Pink, and Violet.

    

    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. Copic Markers 12-Piece Sketch Set, Cool Gray
  4. Copic Markers 12-Piece Sketch Set, Cool Gray

    A great way to experience the Copic advantage. Includes C00, C0, C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, C7, C8, C9, C10.

    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. Copic Markers 12-Piece Sketch Set, Warm Gray
  6. Copic Markers 12-Piece Sketch Set, Warm Gray

    A great way to experience the Copic advantage. Includes W00, W0, W1, W2, W3, W4, W5, W6, W7, W8, W9, W10.

    Buy Now on Amazon
  7. Copic Markers 36-Piece Sketch Basic Set
  8. Copic Markers 36-Piece Sketch Basic Set

    An amazing selection of colors for a smaller set

    

    Buy Now on Amazon
  9. Copic Marker 72-Piece Sketch Set
  10. Copic Marker 72-Piece Sketch Set

    A wide selection of colors for full expressive possibilities, perfect for the working commercial artist or serious fine artist 


    Buy Now on Amazon
  11. Copic Sketch Marker: Blender
  12. Copic Sketch Marker: Blender

    A colorless pen designed for blending and color transitions - a brilliant and indispensable tool!

    Buy Now on Amazon
  13. Copic Markers 6-Piece Blending Sketch Set
  14. Copic Markers 6-Piece Blending Sketch Set

    Taking the blending process to a much higher level, with a colorless marker and four light shades, as well as a fine tip black detail pen

    Buy Now on Amazon

Are There Any Best Copic Marker Alternatives?

I have to laugh when I look at some of the online buyer’s guides for best Copic alternatives. I mean, they list sometimes twenty or more different brands and set of markers, to the point that I wouldn’t call it a list of Copic alternatives so much as a list of every single art marker ever made.

Of course, I don’t judge or blame the writers of these blogs and articles at all – it’s really not so easy to find other markers out there which inspire and satisfy if you’ve used Copic markers a lot, and so I can understand that a lot of writers resort to just giving as many choices as possible, in the hopes that one of them will click with any particular artist.

But if we focus our criteria and clarify a bit exactly what we want from alternative markers, we will find that there really are a few great options, which may not reach the stellar heights of the Copic, but which in their own way are wonderful pens and great expressive tools for any artist.

How Can You Find the Best Markers?

So here I want to do something a little different. With it given that Copic is the best, I would like to ask five very specific questions:

  • What is the best alternative to Copic markers overall?
  • What are the highest quality alternative to Copic markers?
  • What are the most useful / most expressive Copic marker alternatives?
  • What are the best value Copic markers alternatives?
  • What are the best cheap markers on the market today?

And as much as I, and countless other working commercial and fine artists, rave on and on about Copic markers, the fact is that there are actually many other extremely good alcohol markers out there, for any artist, any type of work and any budget. 

So let’s dive into the rest of the art marker world and find the best of the best markers available today, and talk a little about what makes each of these alternatives special.

Along the way I will offer recommendations for a specific art paper which is the best match for that particular art marker, and at the end of the article, in my Final Thoughts section, I will get a little more into what marker paper is, why it’s different and why it’s so important, answering a few basic questions:

  • Can you use any kind of paper for alcohol markers?
  • Do you need special paper for alcohol markers?
  • What’s the best paper for copic markers?
  • Who makes the best paper for alcohol markers?

But for now, let’s get started with the buyer’s guide — on your marker, get set, go!

Overview: Best Copic Alternatives in 2021

  1. Arteza Complete Alcohol Markers Bundle 192 Colors
  2. Arteza Complete Alcohol Markers Bundle 192 Colors

    Drawing Art Supplies for Artist, Hobby Painters & Beginners


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. 48 Piece PrismaColor Alcohol Art Markers
  4. 48 Piece PrismaColor Alcohol Art Markers

    Premier Double-Ended Art Markers, Fine and Brush Tip, 48-Count with Carrying Case


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. 60 Piece Ohuhu Alcohol Based Double Tipped Art Markers
  6. 60 Piece Ohuhu Alcohol Based Double Tipped Art Markers

    Alcohol Based Double Tipped Art Marker Set for Kids, Adults Coloring Illustrations, 60 Unique Colors + 1 Colorless Alcohol Marker Blender + 1 Marker Case, Chisel & Fine Dual Tips


    Buy Now on Amazon

The Best Overall Alternative to Copic Markers

Copic Ciao Alcohol Based Markers

See how I am? Right off the bat I’m cheating! I’m recommending, for the best alternative to Copic markers, Copic markers.

But you’ve got to understand that the Copic Ciao series of markers, while about a third less expensive (being quite cheap copic markers), offer almost everything that the more expensive Sketch and Classic series have – the same incredible ink, the same two high quality dual tips – chisel tip and brush tip — and the same ability to use refillable ink and interchange dual tip, making these super high quality marker pens last even longer and adding to your flexibility with different nib options.

The only important differences are that the Ciao series are smaller, meaning you have to refill them more often, they have round barrels, which can more easily roll off of a tilted work table, and they have a smaller selection of colors (still, though, 180 total!). And the Ciao markers are not compatible with the cool Copic airbrush system, which allows you to slide a Copic Classic or Sketch pen into a handle with a compressed air bottle and lay down some serious color.

A perfect alternative to the more expensive Classic and Sketch series, the cheap Copic Ciao alcohol based markers offer the same quality, expressive range and control, and are significantly less expensive.

Best Art Paper for Copic Ciao Markers:

The Highest Quality Alternative to Copic Markers

ShinHan Touch Twin Brush Markers

ShinHan markers are probably the only brand that at least some serious working artists would consider to be as good as, or even better than, Copic.

To me the colors are perhaps not quite as vivid, and don’t seem to have the same impact on the page, but if there is a difference in this regard it’s pretty minor, and it has to be said that ShinHan colors are beautiful and premium quality. In terms of flow and control I would say that they are the equal to Copic, or at least very close, and definitely more than enough for any artist on any level.

ShinHan Touch twin brush markers also have interchangeable tips (dual tips – chisel tip & brush tip) and are refillable, and they also offer a really effective and handy colorless blender pen. They don’t have quite as broad a color selection as Copic, but still an impressive 204 different shades.

If you have already used Copic markers, especially over time, the ShinHan may seem like a very slight step down. But if you haven’t, you will find the ShinHan to be absolutely superb fine markers, with incredible control and flow, beautiful colors and a really useful overall system. And some artists even prefer them! 

The ShinHan Touch Twin are a perfect choice, then, for the best high quality alternative to Copic alcohol markers in 2021.

Best Art Paper for ShiHan Touch Twin Markers:

The Most Useful / Most Expressive Alternatives to Copic Markers

Arteza Complete Alcohol Markers Bundle

Arteza Complete Alcohol Markers Bundle 192 Colors

Drawing Art Supplies for Artist, Hobby Painters & Beginners


For a little more than a 36 color set of Copic Sketch markers, you can get a 192 color set of the excellent Arteza double ended alcohol based markers. 

Are they as good as Copic, or for that matter as ShinHan (just above) or PrismaColor (just below)? No, but for the almost absurdly low price they are in fact amazingly good quality, with bold, blendable colors that show really well on paper, great feeling bodies and great feeling dual tip. And Arteza markers will last a long time – both the nibs and the ink. For the money they’re actually pretty hard to find any fault with.

So why do I call them the “most useful / most expressive” alternatives to Copic pens? Simple – with an affordable set of excellent pens that includes 120 basic colors and shades, 36 flesh tones and 36 subtle grey scale pens, you can explore techniques, styles and ideas, as well as your creativity, in a way that smaller and more expensive set of markers don’t really allow for. Other even cheaper set of markerss offer this same kind of range, perhaps, but they just aren’t as good, and there is something about having the results look so brilliant and beautiful — like they will with the Arteza alcohol markers — which builds confidence, clarifies learning and improves technique and encourages even more exploration.

If you are an old hand at markers, you can get this big set of markersand freely find and reach new levels of creativity and technique, playing and playing without worrying about cost or waste. And even if you are a newbie — to markers or to art in general — this is one of the very best ways to just go crazy, learn and grow. The Arteza alcohol markers are good enough for commercial or fine art, and good enough to make any of your work look wonderful. They are my choice for the most useful and the most creative alternative to Coptic markers, and are an absolutely phenomenal value.

Best Art Paper for the Azteca Complete Markers Bundle:

Bachmore Premium Bleedproof Marker Paper Pad

9"X12"- Premium White 80lb/120g, 60 Sheets Semi Translucent for Pen, Pencil or Marker, Fold Over,Copic Paper


Best Value Alternatives to Copic Markers

PrismaColor Premier Double Ended Markers

  1. 24 Piece PrismaColor Alcohol Art Markers
  2. 24 Piece PrismaColor Alcohol Art Markers

    Premier Double-Ended Art Markers, Fine and Brush Tip, 24-Count with Carrying Case

    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. 48 Piece PrismaColor Alcohol Art Markers
  4. 48 Piece PrismaColor Alcohol Art Markers

    Premier Double-Ended Art Markers, Fine and Brush Tip, 48-Count with Carrying Case


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. 72 Piece PrismaColor Alcohol Art Markers
  6. 72 Piece PrismaColor Alcohol Art Markers

    Premier Double-Ended Art Markers, Fine and Chisel Tip, 72-Count


    Buy Now on Amazon
  7. PrismaColor Premier Colorless Blender Marker
  8. PrismaColor Premier Colorless Blender Marker

    Premier Colorless Blender Marker 2-Markers, Non-Toxic Ink



    Buy Now on Amazon

But perhaps even a better value than the Arteza, the PrismaColor Premier Double ended markers offer a feeling when you’re drawing that’s very similar to the Copic experience – perhaps not the same ultra-high level of expression or flow, but pretty close, and for around half the price.

The colors offered (200 total) are vibrant and rich, perhaps even more bright and bold than Copic’s colors, if not quite as subtle and without quite the same consistency or the same blendability. PrismaColor markers have two different tips – one chisel tip and one fine tip – so they’re really versatile as well.

PrismaColor Premier alcohol markers are not refillable, and they don’t have replaceable nibs, but individual pens are available at a reasonable price, allowing you to easily replace the most-used markers and to expand the color selection from your original set.

Like the ShinHan markers above, if you’ve never used Copic markers you will find the PrismaColor Premier markers to be incredible – expressive, precise, beautifully controllable and blendable, great feeling and with bold, beautiful colors, and you absolutely won’t feel like you’re missing a thing – quite the contrary. And for about half the price, these are a real value, much better than any less expensive markers I’ve ever used.

Highly recommended, and for sure the best value alternative to Copic markers in 2021.

Best Art Paper for PrismaColor Markers:

Canson Artist Series Vidalon Vellum Paper Pad

Translucent and Acid Free for Pencil, Ink and Markers, Fold Over, 55 Pound, Various Sizes, 50 Sheets



The Best Cheap Alcohol Based Markers on the Market Today

— & — 

The Best Ultra-Budget Alternative to Copic Markers

Ohuhu Double Tipped Markers

  1. 48 Piece Ohuhu Alcohol Based Double Tipped Art Markers
  2. 48 Piece Ohuhu Alcohol Based Double Tipped Art Markers

    Double Tipped Brush & Chisel Sketch Markers for Artist, Coloring Art Markers for Kids, Adults Coloring Book, 48 Unique Colors + 1 Alcohol Marker Blender + Marker Case


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. 60 Piece Ohuhu Alcohol Based Double Tipped Art Markers
  4. 60 Piece Ohuhu Alcohol Based Double Tipped Art Markers

    Alcohol Based Double Tipped Art Marker Set for Kids, Adults Coloring Illustrations, 60 Unique Colors + 1 Colorless Alcohol Marker Blender + 1 Marker Case, Chisel & Fine Dual Tips


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. 80 Piece Ohuhu Alcohol Based Double Tipped Art Markers
  6. 80 Piece Ohuhu Alcohol Based Double Tipped Art Markers

    Double Tipped Alcohol Based Permanent Art Marker Set for Kids Adults' Coloring Book Illustration, 80 Unique Colors + 1 Colorless Blender + 1 Marker Case, Chisel & Fine


    Buy Now on Amazon

There are some insanely cheap marker sets out there, many that are lots less than the Ohuhu alcohol brush markers, but there isn’t a single set I’ve ever tried that didn’t also look and feel cheap.

Not so with the Ohuhu double ended markers, which are probably the lowest priced professional quality markers on the market today. With rich and true colors, great flow onto paper, strong and expressive pen tips and a wonderful feeling in the hand, these are good enough for even the most demanding artist — or client! — and at a very low price. 

The Ohuhu markers are not refillable, like the Copic or ShinHan, and their tips cannot be replaced, but they do seem to last a long time. Unfortunately, they also won’t offer the huge range of colors that some of the more premium markers have.

But what the Ohuhu markers do offer are beautiful colors and real usability, allowing you to express what your artistic vision sees, to push yourself and your technique, to create commercial and fine art, illustrations, manga, doodles — whatever your thing happens to be — at a very high level, and for a very low price. Two great tips, a nice feel in the hand, and more colors for less money.

You may not be able to afford purchasing Copic markers, but you also may not be able to “afford” using a cheaper, low quality marker. The surprisingly superb Ohuhu markers are a perfect compromise, and the best cheap alcohol markers available.

Best Art Paper for Ohuhu Double Tipped Markers:

Ohuhu Spiral-Bound Acid Free Heavyweight Marker Paper

7.6" ×10" Large Paper Size, 120LB/200GSM Heavy Smooth Drawing Papers, 60 Sheets/120 Pages, Spiral Bound Sketch Book, Specially for Alcohol Markers


Bonus: What is the Best Paper for Copic Markers?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this buyer’s guide for the best alternatives to Copic art markers, here we want to answer a few basic questions:

  • Can you use any kind of paper for alcohol markers?
  • Do you need a special paper for Copic markers?
  • What’s the best paper to use with Copic markers?
  • Who makes the best paper for Copic markers?

Most normal papers, and even some very heavy, thick, premium quality art papers, can provide awful results with alcohol-based markers, potentially ruining your work, your work surface and your entire pad of paper. I myself, being a brilliant and highly experienced professional artist, would not know this from personal experience, of course…

But anyway, to get the best results you should use the best paper, optimized for use with alcohol art markers. You will get much sharper detail, much more brilliant colors that show truer and set more consistently and solidly, you will avoid warped paper, blurred or bleeding images and colors, unwanted blends and color shifts, and have an overall much more successful and productive — and much less frustrating — experience.

The best paper for alcohol art markers will have a smooth surface for optimal blending and fading, and will not fray or damage the pens’ nibs. It will also be designed, in composition, thickness and density, to pull the ink through, rather than let it set or absorb horizontally, again avoiding bleeding, unwanted color mixes and fading, and warped, pilled paper.

I also think that, even if you are using the very best paper for alcohol-based pens, it’s a great idea to use just a single sheet at a time and to place something absorbent underneath – to better facilitate the vertical pull of the ink and make everything even sharper, neater and cleaner.

And so here are my top recommendations for paper to use with any of the markers I’ve recommended, listed here from most to least expensive — and, perhaps not surprisingly, also in order of quality (though they are all great products and will work beautifully with any of the markers above).

The Best Paper for Alcohol-Based Art Markers

Arches Hot Press Watercolor Paper — designed for watercolor paints, this hot pressed paper is superb quality and offers just the right interaction with liquid to make it just as good for alcohol markers, really allowing you to get the most out of their blending and fading capabilities. Acid free, strong and with a beautiful smooth finish, this is fine art quality paper at a reasonable price.

Ohuhu Spiral-Bound Acid Free Heavyweight Marker Paper

7.6" ×10" Large Paper Size, 120LB/200GSM Heavy Smooth Drawing Papers, 60 Sheets/120 Pages, Spiral Bound Sketch Book, Specially for Alcohol Markers


Ohuhu Spiral-Bound Acid Free Heavyweight Marker Paper — designed specially for alcohol-based markers, the Ohuhu acid free paper has an ideal finish and handles the wet blending and fading process of art markers perfectly.

Canson Artist Series Vidalon Vellum Paper Pad

Translucent and Acid Free for Pencil, Ink and Markers, Fold Over, 55 Pound, Various Sizes, 50 Sheets



Canson Artist Series Vidalon Vellum Paper Pad – equally excellent for pens, pencils and markers, the strong, acid-free Canson Vidalon vellum offers a perfect smooth and durable surface, good and predictable moisture draw and an ideally neutral color.

Bachmore Premium Bleedproof Marker Paper Pad

9"X12"- Premium White 80lb/120g, 60 Sheets Semi Translucent for Pen, Pencil or Marker, Fold Over,Copic Paper


Bachmore Premium Bleedproof Marker Paper Pad — this super-affordable Bachmore paper won’t offer the same final image quality as Arches or Ohuhu, but is incredible for the money, and is great for practicing and for finished artwork. Perfect for art students and beginners and a perfect match for budget marker sets.

Thanks so much for reading this latest article – Best Copic Marker Alternative 2021: Is Anything Even Close? – and please visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for tons of other inspiring ideas, resources, articles, buyer’s guides and a lot more!

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