Palette Blending with Copic Marker

by Lori Craig

Palette (and/or tip-to-tip) blending with alcohol markers is a great solution to working with a limited color range of markers or when working within the confines of smaller line art where there may not be room for more traditional blending methods. We show both methods in this fun tutorial.


  • Alcohol markers (Copic Markers used here)

  • Image to color (Prairie Cheer by Power Poppy used here)

  • Alcohol friendly blending cardstock (XPress It Blending Card used here)

  • Alcohol friendly stamping ink (Tsukineko Memento Espresso Truffle used here)

  • Scrap paper

  • Small piece of acrylic or plastic (ie - old packaging, CD case, acrylic block)


  1. Step 1

    Palette or tip-to-tip blending is an excellent choice for blending colors of different hue in a small space, like flower petals. Here I am creating red flower petals up near the base of the flower that soften to a butter yellow at the tips. First I will show you tip-to-tip and then palette blending below. The methods are very similar.

    I am working with Copic Marker YR31 and R37. ALWAYS use the lightest color value as your paintbrush, in this case the pale yellow - YR31. Holding the lighter marker as a paintbrush, gently lift the darker color from the red marker. Be careful not to overload your brush with the darker value.

  2. Step 2

    The idea is to pick up a little bit of the red that will allow you to add red where your marker first touches the paper near the flower center and smooth out to the butter yellow color as you brush across the paper toward the ends of the petals. Always put your brush to the paper where you want the darkest color/strongest intensity and work out to the softer colored areas.

  3. Step 3

    Work small areas at one time. Here I am working on 1-2 petals at a time, adding red to the centers and flicking (or brushing) out to the edge of each petal.

    Clean your lighter brush (yellow here) between pick-ups of additional color (red here) on scrap paper off to the side. I do this between steps to keep my lighter brush as pure as possible. Remember, your goal is a small punch of red that fades to yellow, not turning the yellow nib completely orange.

  4. Step 4

    Some people prefer a traditional palette approach to this blending method. Using a palette is very similar to tip-to-tip in pickup and application to paper, but the darker valued ink is scribbled to a non-porous surface and lifted from the "palette" instead of another marker.

  5. Notice the little bits of red on the yellow marker tip.

  6. Step 5

    As I work my way around the flower image, notice that you can see exactly how much ink is lifted from the palette. If people prefer the palette over tip-to-tip, this is generally the reason. There can be a feeling of greater control to loading the brush.

    You cannot hurt the nib/tip or ink quality of the Copic Marker by combining different hues on the nib, but it is still a good habit to clean the nib frequently to maintain pure color, especially when you are finished with the specific colors you are using before putting them away.

  7. Step 6

    This technique also works well to blend markers of the same hue but with a large gap between value - especially in small or elongated places. Notice here I am using the darker value YG99 scribbled on my acetate for a palette and the lighter value YG91 as my paintbrush.

    Remember, the lightest color is always your paintbrush.

  8. By palette (or tip-to-tip) blending, you can get a darker shading in areas of the leaves and stem under the petals and brush out to a lighter green color.

  9. Step 7

    Use your colored image to complete a card or other project.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Palette Blending with Copic Marker. 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.

Thanks so much, I had forgotten about this blending technique and I appreciate the reminder!!
Karen Wallace  |  Wed Oct 26, 2016 at 3:21 AM
Love this tutorial. With the emphasis on adult coloring as a recreational activity, this video is a great tool that uses a "no fear" approach by demonstrating two user friendly techniques which can be quickly and easily mastered. Thank you so much!
Debbie Taggart  |  Wed Oct 26, 2016 at 5:12 AM
Love your tutorial and card, what die did you use for the tag?
Sherry Timko  |  Wed Oct 26, 2016 at 6:02 AM
Thank you for the kind words, ladies! Sherry - the die is a Build a Tag 4 from Taylored Expressions! I use that die set all of the of the time! smile
lori  |  Wed Oct 26, 2016 at 6:15 AM
Thank you so much, I had forgotten to use this technique...Great reminder!!! Great instruction too!
Robin clendenning  |  Wed Oct 26, 2016 at 8:25 AM
Just loving this tutorial!! Definitely feeling inspired to try it.
The card is absolutely stunning as well!!
Rosella Sawatzky  |  Wed Oct 26, 2016 at 10:55 AM
I'm looking forward to trying this technique. Excellent instructions. Thank you.
Amanda Blake  |  Wed Oct 26, 2016 at 1:41 PM
Could you not use regular cardstock for these types of projects? If not where would one purchase alcohol ink friendly cardstock?
Karen Clark  |  Wed Oct 26, 2016 at 3:16 PM
Hi Karen ~ Good question! Yes - I would say in almost any medium there is a type of surface that is best suited to the medium (i.e. watercolor, acrylic, chalks, stamping dye based ink, alcohol ink, etc.) There are many different brands for each of these, and I think it ends up being personal preference when you get down to it. For Copic Marker, I want a paper that holds the ink where I've laid it down without feathering or bleeding outside of my line art or stamp lines, and I want a smooth finish in the paper that allows for smooth blending. Every piece/brand of paper is milled differently, made up of different materials and used by different artists - so it is important to test a few things and determine what works best for YOU! Alcohol-friendly papers I could recommend trying are: XPress It Blending Card or Neenah Classic Crest Solar White. Both of these get good reviews from color lovers, and both should be fairly easy to find with a quick internet search! My main recommendation would be to pick one and practice on that paper - when you change the paper and replace that variable with something else, you may get dramatically different results - like whether or not I remember cinnamon in the breakfast rolls or decide to try cayenne pepper! They may look the same but th reaction to each will be vastly different!
Lori  |  Wed Oct 26, 2016 at 5:34 PM
Wow--what a great technique! I don't use my Copics much, but I want to try this as I love the look of your flower!
Greta H  |  Thu Oct 27, 2016 at 8:14 AM
Lori, this was a wonderful tutorial and fabulous video! What a gorgeous card in the end too with the sweet tag! I sometimes forget to do tip to tip or palette blending. It really helps...and you've shown it well! Thanks and hugs! xoxo
Cheryl Scrivens  |  Thu Oct 27, 2016 at 3:18 PM
Thanks for a great review, Lori. I took Copic certification classes several years ago, but I somehow often forget about the tip-to-tip technique, and it works so well with my Lockhart stamps with those small details in the images!
claudia zimmerman  |  Fri Oct 28, 2016 at 7:06 AM
Thank you for all of the comment and feedback, ladies! Claudia - this technique is PERFECT for Lockhart stamps! smile
lori  |  Sat Oct 29, 2016 at 6:36 AM
I bought two reams of Nemah cardstock to use with alcohol markets and it bleeds. The X-Press It is the only way to go I found the best prices on eBay and Amazon.
Mary Hollaway  |  Tue Nov 1, 2016 at 7:07 AM

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