Are Copic Markers Lightfast? No, almost all brands of illustration markers are fugitive dyes that fade in UV light.

Are Copic Markers Lightfast? No, they are fugitive (fade over time) dye based alcohol inks meant for print replication (scan and print product design, illustration and website displayed art). The fact that these types of colors always fade with UV (natural sunlight, not indoor light) is not a problem for short duration crafts such as Christmas cards.

These fine particle dyes (not to be confused with thick particle pigments used in paints) are capable of flowing through marker fiber without clogging the tips. Being alcohol based instead of water to keep them hydrated allows for smoother blending when layering. This is a similar type of alcohol marker as brands like Prismacolor Premier, Spectrum Noir, Arteza Everblend, Ohuhu etc. Winsor and Newton makes two types of markers, a water based lightfast pigment marker and their "pro marker" which are like these (alcohol based dye). If Sharpie and Bic permanent markers had brush tips, this is the same type of ink. Be aware that they bleed through the back of thin papers.

copic marker ciao vs sketch thin body handle

There are a variety of replaceable tips available for copic markers. The default is one chisel broad end and one pointed round brush end. The brush is very soft and ideal for smooth blending. These markers can be refilled, are airtight and made to last a lifetime. No more disposable markers. They come in a huge variety of colors. The larger sketch marker comes in 358+ colors, the thinner and more affordable ciao version is available in 180+ colors.

Copic marker color chart hand painted drawn

Because these colors are fugitive, you may think that you can just keep them indoors, in sketchbooks or generally in shade and they will not fade. Unfortunately in addition to not being lightfast some dyes are also unstable. Some colors, particularly violets will start to fade even in indoor lighting within 1 week.

copic marker fading problem color changing bv00 bv000 bv0000 bv00000

Overall, aside from the BV (Blue-Violet) range, they can remain unchanged when not exposed to sunlight for many years. Once exposed to sunlight they start to disappear within 2 weeks to 3 months.

Why use them then? Convenience and beginner friendly smooth blending. No color mixing involved like watercolor painting. Works well on cardstock.

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Can be used on watercolor paper, but you will use up more ink due to the absorbent paper. Use Memento brand rubber stamp ink pads for card making, as many other brands of ink will have the image smear/smudge once alcohol-based markers touch them.

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In general once you have your deepest value color down on paper, you color over it with a lighter value color to blend it out. This is the easiest to do with similar colors (red, pink, pastel pink). Blending two very different colors is more difficult and is usually better approached by finding a middle-value marker in between (typically creating gradients with a minimum of 3 markers). 

You can find Copic markers and other brand alternatives that perform similarly on Amazon below. I believe that Copic is the highest quality of them all, but also is a considerable investment for hobbyists. If you are a professional illustrator and alcohol based markers are your chosen medium, you will find these to be the most durable, long lasting, air tight (mine still work after being on and off used for over 10 years!!!) and have the largest catalog. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you :)

 

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