Book Review: Let’s Draw! Illustrating with Copics

Righty-o, here is the review of the copic book I was telling you guys about in a previous post. It’s called ‘Let’s Draw! Illustrating with Copics’. Sounds exciting, ne? Well, to tell you the truth, it’s not really. You’ll find out in my review. So firstly, here is a nice big scan of the cover. I found the cover intimidating to say the least; it is nicely drawn and coloured and maybe it will get your hopes up, in which after purchasing this book, you may become as professional as this.

It says it has featured ‘popular, favourite’ artists such as KAOPPE, Sourei, An, Souta, Ran Mutsuki. Ring a bell? No? I’m not surprised. Who are these people?!!!?

Hmm, this book came out quite a long time ago. But it’s relatively unknown in the UK.

The book begins with some information about copic markers themselves although this felt a bit like advertising to me. It even says in the contents page that it is a Copic Catalog section. You can do some research yourself on the internet to discover info about Copics, but to save you time and effort, I will tell you that:

  • There are various types of Copic markers, such as Copic (normal), Copic Ciao, Copic Sketch, and PHAT Copic (that’s what I call them anyway)
  • Copic Ciao has less colours than those in Copic Sketch/Normal Copic markers. That’s because Ciao is for beginners and generally easier to use. I have a few Sketch markers. Damn, they bled everywhere on the paper and because I’m so horrible at using them, they were generally a waste of money. What do I mean by ‘bleeding’?? Well, imagine a spill on a tissue. The water goes everywhere, making the tissue damp, right? Yes, that’s kinda like bleeding.

Anyhoo, since I am a spaz using Sketch, I like Ciao, cos the flow is easier to control (to some extent). I used Copic Ciao to do this, um… portrait:

It’s Reeve, whoohoo!

Yeah, pretty crappy, huh? That’s because Copics are HARD.

THEY ARE INSANELY HARD TO USE.

AND THEY’RE EXPENSIVE.

If you’re bad at using them (like I am), I think they waste your money, cos there’s so many colours. Let’s say you want to draw a white shirt. But nooooo white shirt’s aren’t just white. They’re grey, blue, light purple, and maybe even a little green, just to add some more depth. So how many Copics did I use just for a white shirt? About 5, or 6. To colour skin, I’ve used about 3-4. Hair, about the same.

So you need a lot of colours, which means you need a lot of Copic markers. And Copic markers cost about 2-3 bucks a pen, more if they’re Sketch, or Normal Copic.

Yeah, so…

But it does make me appreciate dA artists and manga artists even more (you know, those who can actually use the darned things, unlike me).

Okay, so how does one distinguish artwork that was done with Copics, and what was done with computer?? Here are some examples.

Copic:

Computer:

It’s not hard at all to know what’s been done by hand and what’s been done on the computer. Personally I find computer easier because everything’s already there and its easier to correct mistakes (and I make LOTS of mistakes).

Hmm, okay, so this is a BOOK REVIEW but somehow I have gotten distracted in posting these pretty pictures. Sorry. Ahem. So after the introduction to Copics and its vast assortment of colours, the next sections tell us how to actually use the darned pens. I’ve not been able to scan in every page, only some I find interesting, so here we go:

The artists who I don’t know then proceed to share with us their copic marker secrets.

Sorry the scan’s a little squint. It’s hard to bend this book. It’s pretty thin but its inflexible >o<

The scan above was KAOPPE’s colouring lessons for beginner. It was neat, for beginners. She (I am assuming she is female) also tells you the pros and cons of Copic markers and what manga paper and ink to use when using Copics. She also gives us plenty of tips which I learnt the hard way:

1. If you make a mistake, unfortunately you’ll have to start all over again.

2. Remember to get rid of pencil lines before you colour or they’ll show

3. Start with light colours, then dark

4. Always colour in the same direction

Then she teaches us how to do a gradient and what colours to buy, and how to take care of your Copics. Generally, this part was the most useful.

Other artists proceed to demonstrate trickier techniques, such as Copics and Watercolour + Any medium. In particular, here is a scan from Ran Mutsuki’s section; she introduced more inks, but I didn’t actually find her section helpful. However, I do like her art a lot. It’s very manga-ish.

Here is a scan from a section outlining how to use Copics and Watercolour. Personally, I am horrible at both so I tend to avoid using watercolour.

Overall, it is a very informative book. It is good for beginners, but you can really find all the information here on the internet or on DA, for free. I have missed out quite a lot of things, unfortunately, only because it’s hard to scan the book.

Despite the section for beginners, the next sections were quite an advanced step. The book provides a lot of techniques – but like the bento box book I have – the instructions are all terribly vague. It will tell you what to do and what not to do or what should be done/what should not be done. I find that a little discerning as drawing/art shouldn’t exactly have rules. You should be able to express yourself as much as you want 🙂

Nearer the end (it’s terribly thin, as thin as a magazine), the book will have more art from the artists, and then questions and answers from the artists themselves, like an FAQ. Most of the artists are lucky and received their Copics as gifts from people. They’ll also say they never really learnt how to use Copics, but rather, found their own way and unique style. Same goes for drawing, really, which is why manga is so diverse. Everyone has their own drawing style 🙂

BUUUUT the main gripe is the Copics. The reason why I find Copics difficult, and that no matter how many books or tutorials I may look at, will not seem to improve my colouring is because you need to get a good grip of drawing first. If you can draw something properly, the colour will fall into place. If not, then it will be hard to determine where the copic should be and what to do.

This is partially why I kinda gave up on Copics. I could draw a head properly, but I could not control the copic during colouring so it would ruin the picture. I moved onto computers instead!

Final Score: 4/5

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