Alcohol markers with pencils

by Beate Johns

Use alcohol based markers and colored pencils to color your image.


  • Stamps (Flourishes Peaches and Cherries used here)
  • Cardstock (Neenah Solar White used here)
  • Ink, (Black Soot Distress Ink used here)
  • Alcohol based markers (Copic used here)
  • Prismacolor™ Pencils, or other wax-based pencils
  • Gamsol, or other artist-grade odorless mineral spirits
  • Blending stumps


  1. Step 1

    Stamp your image on your cardstock.

    When working with Copic™ or other markers always test the ink and paper first to make sure the ink doesn't run and the paper doesn't make the markers bleed outside the image.

  2. Step 2

    Color your image with your alcohol based markers.

    No need to add shading, because that will be done with pencils. Think of this step as adding a base coat.

    When coloring with Copic™ markers, always place a clean piece of scrap paper under the cardstock.

  3. Step 3

    Apply a light amount color with a pencil to the edge of the image where you want it to look shaded.

  4. Step 4

    If you have Gamsol in a dauber bottle, turn it upside down to moisten the sponge top and set it upright. Dip the blending stump into the dauber to pick up mineral spirits on the tip of the blender.

  5. Step 5

    Blend the color with the side of the stump. Start on the edge of the image, pulling the color towards the center of the image in a small circular motion.

  6. Step 6

    For more depth, add a slightly darker pencil color on the edge of the image.

  7. Blend the pencil again with Gamsol and blending stump.

  8. Step 7

    To add more contrast, add a layer of pencil in a color that is lighter than the marker base color to the lightest spots. Again blend with blending stump and Gamsol.

    You can clean blending stumps by sanding them slightly with a sanding block or nail file.

  9. Step 8

    Color the rest of the image in the same way, using one or several pencil colors.

  10. Important:
    Once the image has been colored with Prismacolor™ pencils, don't go over the colored image with markers again. The wax in the pencils might damage the marker nib.

  11. Step 9

    Finish your project.



    Different looks
    Try different colored pencil types or leave off the gamsol blending for a different look.

Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Alcohol markers with pencils. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

Allowing the copic markers to dry, could you use watercolor pencils and blend with water?
hope mitchell  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 6:11 AM
Gorgeous Beate. Thank you.
Lisa Lara  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 6:24 AM
May I know where to buy the bottle with the dauber cap. I have a big can of gamsol which I would like to put into smaller containers. thank you.
Marian  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 6:26 AM
This is a great tutorial, and your coloring is beautiful! Thank you.
toodlesyall  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 6:34 AM
great tutorial - I was doing the same thing for a long time - mostly because I don't have enough Copics for shading smile
Alica  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 6:35 AM
Wow! What a wonderful tutorial and technique. I never thought of using the Copic markers and pencils TOGETHER! The pencils give such a rich, warm depth. Thank you for your time and inspiration!
Kathy  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 6:39 AM
what size copics do you prefer or get the most bang for your buck? I'm considering some.................. love what you can do wink
Molli  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 6:48 AM
Hi, great look for coloring! What weight Neenah paper did you use for this project? Thank you.
Gail  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 7:10 AM
Yes, you can use watercolor pencils with copics. But if you are using watercolor paper, beware that it will take a lot of ink out of your marker. Also, watercolor paper is very soft, the ink might feather out of your lines.

I bought my bottle a long time ago from Inky Attics. Gina K. Designs sells empty dauber bottles.

I prefer Copic Sketch Markers. They come in 334 colors, have the Super Brush tip I like and fit in the airbrush systems. Plus you can purchase empty markers and mix your own color. Can you tell I love these markers? LOL

I used Classic Crest Solar White cardstock that weighs 80lbs.

Hugs and smiles
Beate  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 7:19 AM
Thanks for the info Beate!
marian  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 7:46 AM
Thank you so much for this tutorial! Just yesterday I was following a couple of blogs where gals used this technique and I had so many questions. I was planning on sending some e-mails today, but now you have answered all of my questions and I don't have to bug anyone for answers. Thanks!!
annie*  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 8:15 AM
I love your videos. I have learned so much for them and then I have so much fun trying new techniques. Thank you for sharing your talents.
Kathleen  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 8:39 AM
Hello Beate,

It's ironic that just recently my friend and I had a discussion about this technique and had lots of unanswered questions which I'm hoping you could help.

1) I know that Gamsol is a mineral spirit, but what does it actually do to the artwork?

2) Aside from Gamsol, will a product like Goo Be Gone do the same thing?

3) Where can one purchase the stump and the dauber bottle?

Thanks so much for your beautiful card and tutorial and for your input on the answered questions.

Bernadine  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 9:14 AM
Hi Bernadine,

1.) Gamsol blends the pencil color. You can find a tutorial on just the pencils with gamsol under Gamsol magic here in the resource section.

2.) A lot of people people use baby oil and some use Goo Goneinstead of Gamsol. I haven't tried that. You can find a lot more information and variations in our Prismacolor chatter forum thread.

3.) There are a lot of places you can purchase the stumps and the dauber bottle. In an earlier reply I mentioned that I purchased my dauber gottle with gamsol from Inky Antics and that Gina K sells it as well. She also sells the Blending stumps.
You can find blending stumps in most Art and craft stores.

Hugs and smiles
beate  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 9:37 AM
Hello Beate, love your work. I was wondering what other markers are alcohol based if you don't have the original packaging to tell you. Thanks.
Margaret  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 10:10 AM
I only use Copic Markers because they are refillable and you can change their nibs out if they get messed up.
Prismacolor also has Alcohol based markers. Sharpies are alcohol based as well.
beate  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 10:35 AM
This looks fantastic, Beate. Can't wait to try it when I get home from work this evening.
Lorie McMullen (MelodyGal)  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 10:58 AM
I would never have thought to use the copics with the pencils and gamsol. I recently purchased the pencils and gamsol and then later on, got my first set of Copics. I like the idea of using both! Thanks for the great tutorial!
Barbara  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 11:12 AM
The coloring is great, but can't you get that same look using all Copic markers? I'm sorry, but I miss the point of this technique. Maybe someone can enlighten me?
Maggie  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 1:33 PM
Yes, you can achieve shading like that with just Copic Markers. But combining Copic Markers with colored pencils just gives you a different look. Plus it's a nice technique for people that already have the pencils, but just a few markers.

Hugs and smiles
Beate  |  Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 2:13 PM

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