I hope each of you had a great weekend. Sorry you haven't seen much of me in the last week - I have been out with the flu and am only now touching my computer again. I wanted to bring up something that many people have done, but you might want a bit more info before you try it yourself. Now is a good time to review my posts on refilling markers 1, 2, 3, 4, if you have never refilled before.
Filling Empty Markers
Copic Original, Sketch, and Wide markers all can be purchased empty. You then have the freedom of filling them with whatever THIN ink that you wish. Mix your own custom colors, fill it with invisible ink, or whatever you want, as long as it is a thin liquid that is not opaque (like paint). Thick liquids or paint will clog the felt pores on the tips and won't flow correctly
The same rules apply to filling empty markers as when you are refilling, the only difference is that empty markers will take about 1 cc more of ink for the initial filling.
The best way to mix your own custom Copic ink colors is to use an empty various ink bottle. The dropper tip pops off and you can pour ink in to the desired ratio. I strongly suggest that you test the color as you mix with a cotton swab to make sure it is the color you want. Then mix up a large enough batch that it will last a while. Write on the bottle what your recipe was so you can mix it again if you ever need to.
If you don't have an empty ink bottle you can use a syringe. This is a good, accurate way to refill if you are doing a large batch of all the same color or you want more accuracy when filling dark colors and it's too hard to see the ink level inside the bottle. Just store your remaining ink in an airtight container until you need it again.
Why would you want a custom marker?
Some people just don't understand why you would need to mix custom colors if you have 322 colors to choose from. However, the more you use Copic markers the more you will find gaps in the color range that you NEED a color for and there just isn't the perfect match. This is the case with some of our design team members-
In fact, I had no idea that Debbie Olson just posted this photo yesterday on her blog. It shows exactly how and why she has filled custom markers. Click here to see what she made with these colors. Thank you Debbie for explaining this so clearly.
You'll note that she has one marker she filled empty (pale yellow), the custom blue marker is just a colorless blender that as it started going empty she added her custom blue. I know that Debbie uses these colors all the time in her work. Sharon Harnist is also kind enough to show her custom YR31 that she uses all the time also. I know a lot of other designers use the custom colors, but many of them don't list exactly which Copic Colors they use on each piece (Lori Craig is one of these - I KNOW you use the custom pale markers but you never list marker colors used!)
Filling with things other than Copic Inks
Besides custom colors for pale backgrounds I hear of lots of different uses for empty markers. One company fills them with narcotics and explosive residues to calibrate their Airport x-ray machines. I already mentioned invisible ink. Some people have filled them with food coloring (eat at your own risk, as Copic does not endorse this) or with India ink. Think of any inks you have around your workstation that you wish came in a brush tipped marker and fill your Sketch with those. Water-based inks work great though they won't blend on paper like the alcohol based Copics will. Also, think of what inks you have that you WISH you could airbrush with. By filling an empty Sketch marker with those inks you now have that capability.
Again I must warn you that whatever unusual substance you fill it with is at your own risk. Copic is not responsible if you fill a marker with something other than Copic inks and it ruins your marker permanently. That being said, many inks will work beautifully when put inside an empty Copic marker. Also, Avoid filling a marker that has already been used with Copic inks with something that might not be compatable.
I hope I have given you some ideas today. Here is a handout I made years ago on filling empty markers that you should find useful. Have a great week!