Copic Marker: Understanding gray.

Very few people have posted about Copic’s grey’s, so I wanted to take the opportunity to share what I know. Hopefully it’ll help you out when deciding what colors to buy, and which ones you’d be most likely to use.

So here are my grays…

On top, cool gray, and on the bottom, neutral gray.

Toner gray on top… warm gray on bottom.

If you look at the variety of gray’s, you’ll see they are all very different. The cool gray has a slight blue tint to it, while the neutral is actually neutral. The Toner gray appears to have a brown tint and the warm gray is slightly more brown than the toner. You’ll want to keep this in mind when layering colors on top of grays. The tint in the gray will alter the color when putting down the layer of color.

Because colors can be layered and made darker, some people prefer to purchase every other marker in each color family. I wanted to test this theory…

I used: N3, N4, N5, and N6

I stamped the little monkey, and colored each one with only ONE color. The color I used is written to the left of each monkey, near the neck.

For the head, I colored it solid. As I would normally color any object. I used the “flick feathering” method for the belly, just to see the darker/lighter color. On the left leg, I colored one even layer of ink. On the right leg, I colored one even layer, than applied another even layer to achieve a darker color using the same marker.

In looking at the colored images above, I’d say buying every other marker in the gray color families would be okay. You may have to work a little bit to achieve the gray you want… but, it’s totally possible, and could save you at least $40 per color family when buying markers at $6.50 each.

Now, another question I’ve often heard is… “what gray should I use?” There are four different gray families; cool, neutral, toner and warm.

Warm grays should be used with warm colors. Cool grays should be used with cool colors. This color wheel should help determine what colors fall in which category.

I hope that clears up some questions about using grays. Grays can be difficult to work with, especially if you’re not familiar with them. Here are some of the first images I colored when I first started using grays.

In the above image I used Toner Grays (T7 and darker) on the little boy, and I used Warm gray on the little girl, W5 and lighter. You can see on the boy, it’s extremely over saturated and the colors are bleeding outside of the ‘lines’, and it looks a bit flat. Starting with colors that are lighter can help with the saturation. Had I of started with T3 or T4 and built the color up, I would have been okay. Or, starting with my darkest color first- T5 or T6… followed by, T4 or T3.

In the image above, I colored the truck red, and red is a warm color. So I used W6 as the foundation, and colored red over top of that. I only ‘flicked’ the W6 in the areas I wanted to be darker, you can see how that turned out…

So where does that leave Toner and Neutral gray? Depending on what you’re doing, I like to use the toner for shadowing. It allows me to add the Toner on top of the color with out distorting the color too much. I also really like it to color black hair. I like to use the Neutral to color shoes. Haha. Seems silly to spend X amount of money on markers just to color shoes!

I hope that helps! Please feel free to ask questions, or leave comments to let me know how this helped!

Thanks for reading! xo


8 thoughts on “Copic Marker: Understanding gray.

  1. Thanks for the informative post, and your pictures tell the story well. Love how you tested out the markers too. When do you use the neutral or toner grays? Do we really need those?

  2. What paper do you suggest I use with Copics? I have one kind that bleeds some, so tried another and it bleeds something horrible…. I stamp on white, color and cut out… but am battling the bleed. Help!!

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