Friday, September 7, 2012

Spectrum Noir vs Copic Markers

First of all, I'll be honest with you, I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to artist quality anything. I like to buy the best to achieve the best results. That's why I bought copics and that's why I liked them even before I even tried them, because they were good quality. My opinion of them has not changed. Along with quality comes the price. 

I've been hearing more and more about Spectrum Noir markers. So I ordered 4 sets to try them out. I have run out of the nice smooth paper one needs for coloring with alcohol markers so I'm using 110 lb Robert Bateman artist quality paper, nice and smooth but I still get some bleeding (not smooth enough) So ignore the bleeds until I get the right paper.

I started with stamping some Tildas with Memento Tuxedo black ink. Now, because of the limited palette I have of Spectrums, I can't do a complete comparison, but it will be close enough. I started out with the greens. One of my markers was dry, right out of the box. The markers are stiffer to pull off the caps than the Copics. I don't really mind that because I always like to check and make sure the marker caps are on tightly anyways. So I started to lay down the color and blend. I liked the firm tip of the Spectrums and I found that the color blended easier than the Copics. I was pretty surprised at that. The brush tip from the Copic markers took me a long time to master...well I haven't used my Copics all summer and so it was like starting from square one again. The Copics took longer to blend the colors. Both markers bled over the lines with this paper, one as bad as the other.

I have the non refillable Copics. I bought them because they were in a set and I had a descent variety to try them out. The refillable Copics are more expensive. What intrigued me about the Spectrums was that they were refillable and much less expensive than the Copics. I had to try them. Do the Spectrums deliver like the Copics? I think they just might, with some practice and and the right paper. Are they a descent alternative to Copics? I think they are. 

I just ordered more Spectrums on sale so that I had more to play with and test drive.

The Tilda on the left was colored with the Spectrums. I was pleased with the skin colors. I had no pinks to put blush on her face. My brown palette is on it's way so I could not color her hair. One of the green markers that I wanted to use was dry so I only had two colors  to blend with instead of three like I did with the Tilda on the right. Once I get the right paper, the blending should go a lot better.

So, my verdict is that I'm still a snob and the jury is out until I get the right paper that should be here at the end of next week. The Spectrums are definitely still not out of the race. Remember, I'm not an expert and I need to practice but once I get some practice again, I think the Spectrums might be a cheaper alternative. It's almost like comparing ginger ale to champagne....

The question really should be, once you have the right paper and some practice, will you be able to tell the difference?

I can't wait for my paper to arrive to test drive the question!


  1. Thanks for the detailed review. I don't have a big collection of copics, so the little colouring that I done has been with coloured pencil. I intrigued by a more cost effective alternative to a quality marker.

  2. Custom Crops has select sets on sale for $7.07 instead of $11.99 right now.

    I have colored pencils too and want to get better at those!

  3. Hope you will post your next comparison. I just can't afford to buy Copics and was looking at the Spectrums as an alternative, as you say much cheaper :-)