Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Copics, Humidity, & Watercolors

I get lots of questions all the time, and sometimes I feel a that a question is worth sharing because someone else might be encountering the same thing, especially in the hot, humid summertime. I am so glad I'm not in Chicago anymore for CHA, since I just don't know how to deal with the humidity, especially if it messes with my coloring.

Q. My stamping area is high humidity and I keep having problems with inks bleeding that other people say should work great. I'm using the right paper and ink combo, so what's wrong?
Q. Hey! that happens sometimes to me as well! I live in a humid area and I want to stamp and color but on some days the markers work better than others.

A. I didn't think humidity would be a problem with Copic markers since they are alcohol, not water based, until I experimented to help these people. So I took some cardstock and I dampened a stamped picture with water before coloring it, to the point that it was wet. My oh my! The Copics sure hated that. The lines bled, it wouldn't color evenly, and when I tried to color in small circles to evenly coat the paper it pilled up. Bleagh! Copic markers shouldn't make the paper pill!

It's hard to see, but on this example the top snail is normal. The middle snail is just damp (it was starting to act up). The bottom snail was really wet and really bad (dark areas are where the paper was pilling)

To solve the problem here's the trick- dry out your paper. Use a heat gun, use a dry clothes iron, but you need to get the water out of the paper or it just won't work. Maybe bake your paper- nothing that will scorch the paper, just heat it up so all moisture leaves the paper before you color it. Then store that paper in an air-tight package so it doesn't get wet again. After you've colored with Copic markers you can do what you want with the paper. Go dunk it in the river or something, since at that point the marker won't get messed up. A lot of artists use the marker for fine detail areas then do watercolor washes for the background- the water won't ruin your marker areas AFTER they've been colored.

During one of my classes I proved this point by pouring a glass of water over something I had colored with Copics. The colored area didn't change at all. Copic Multiliners aren't going to be messed up either when you watercolor over them.

Image: Vintage Garden Chair by Lockhart Stamps Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black Paper: Neenah Classic Crest Other: ground line and bushes drawn with 0.1 mm Multiliner, Watercolors on ground & background


Nicole said...

WOW!!!!!!!! I never knew that I could dunk my drawing in the river and not have it mess up! HA! Hey with four kids, ANYTHING could happen!

Thanks, Marianne! GREAT INFO!

Janet said...

Watercolored backgrounds? Who knew? I've been coloring them in with my Copics and have had a hard time getting around the edges. Guess what I'll be trying tonight? Thank you again for another great tip!

Lilly's mind said...

I'm in love with these markers! Where can I buy them?? tell me pleeeeease!!!(I'm from Portugal...)

Sandy Knecht said...

That's really good to know. If it's humid in your home and your coloring isn't working, don't beat yourself up over it. Now we know how to fix it. Thanks for today's tips.

Marci Pie said...

Great to know about the water. Since your talking about weather or climate, I noticed that when I left my markers in the car and went to color the ink really flowed out and my image was messed up. Do you have any suggestions? At lunch time I go to my car to listen to the radio and eat lunch.I would like to color also but the ink is too warm.I didn't want to drag my colors inside.

Marci from LA

marianne walker said...


The heat is altering the pressure inside the markers. THese markers are super air-tight and if they were used in a different temp or air pressure then the next time you use them their internal pressure is off. Before you color, just take the cap off both sides and you should have no problems.


Jennifer Love said...

Get OUT...the humidity works against me with my alcohol markers? I know why I color some hot messes sometimes. hehe

Oh and your coloring of that chair puts my sad little colorings of the same chair to pure SHAME! LOL Beautiful work. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, never knew this. Was awesome to meet you in Chicago, but forgot to get you to sign the tutorial (I was serious, lol).

Thanks for all the awesome information......


huntla1 said...

Gosh Marianne, I am so glad to read this. It helps me know that I am not crazy. I was pretty certain that the temp or humidity or something was impacting the performance because I too would read about a certain ink that worked perfectly for one person, I would try it and it was disasterous. Paper pilling, I have experienced it even with good paper (ie papertrey.) Then there is the bleeding, I have seen that too, with some colors worse than others, but I have seen it. But until now, what was weird is that it wouldn't always be that way. I can actually put a reason to it. Thank you! Maybe if I know it is more humid, I will just use my heat gun to zap the paper a bit!