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What Pens to Use with Copic Markers

Brandi York | May 8, 2017

One commonly asked question I get is what pens work well with Copic markers? People get attached to a particular pen (I know I'm guilty of this as well), so it's not surprising when people don't want to give up their favorite inking pen. But not all inks are created the same. So I've set out to test some of the more common (and some uncommon) pens to see how they hold up to Copic markers.


Paper Used: Copic Sketchbook

Pens Tested:

  • Copic Multiliner SP 0.2
  • Faber-Castell PITT artist pen XS
  • Marvy Le Pen
  • Marvy Le Pen Permanent (alcohol based)
  • Prismacolor Premier 01
  • Pentel Artist Slicci 0.25
  • Pentel Artist Stylo
  • Sakura Pigma Micron 01
  • Sharpie Extra Fine Point

On each test, I heavily saturated the color (Y08) to try to get as even a tone as I could. 

Copic Multiliner SP 0.2 



The Copic Multiliners are specifically designed to work with Copics on just about any surface, once dry. I always add in "once dry" because different surfaces and papers will have different dry times, depending on the thickness of the paper and even what the humidity is in the air. 

Copic Multiliners - Copic proof.

Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen XS


Faber-Castell PITT pens don't hold up especially well. On the straight lines test, there is a bit of smearing, particularly where the pen rested longer on the paper at the ends of the line. There's also a slight discoloration to the overall color of the marker from the pen.


On the hatch test, even after four hours of drying, the smeared heavily, discoloring the tip of the marker as well. 

Faber-Castell PITT artist pens - not Copic proof.

Marvy Le Pen



The Marvy Le Pen stood up very well with Copic markers, the lines staying consistent without smearing and the black staying strong.

Le Pen - Copic proof.

Marvy Le Pen Permanent


Le Pen Permanent is an alcohol based pen. As a result, on the line test, there was some definite bleeding happening, though it was more of a delayed reaction than an instant smearing.


On the hatch test, it was harder to see the bleed, but on close inspection, the color faded from the darker black of the text. While it's still not smearing, the ink is not holding up to Copics.

Le Pen Permanent - not Copic proof.

Prismacolor Premier 01


On the straight line test, the Prismacolor Premier pen seemed to hold up with no smearing or discoloration.


However, on the hatch test, even after four hours of dry time, the heavier application of ink smeared, discoloring the tip of the marker as well as the paper.

Prismacolor Premier - small, thin lines are Copic proof; heavier lines are not. 

Pentel Artist Slicci 0.25


At first glance, it appears that the Slicci gel might be Copic proof, but looking more closely at the lines, they have faded and show a bit of bleeding, albeit minor.


With the heavier hatching application, though, they bleed is a bit more apparent, with a bit of darkening and smearing where the ink is heaviest. 

Pentel Artist Slicci - not Copic proof

Pentel Artist Stylo



The Pentel Stylo holds strong under a heavy application of Copic marker ink, even with the hatching. The lines are not especially heavy, making some areas look as though they've faded, but in fact, it's just the ink coloring the paper beneath.

Pentel Artist Stylo - Copic Proof

Sakura Pigma Micron 01


A definite favorite of many artists, the lighter lines of the Micron holds up to Copics.


However, the heavier application of ink smeared when the Copic was applied.

Sakura Pigma Micron - not Copic proof

Sharpie Extra Fine



In both instances of the use of the Sharpie, the pen bled. Sharpies are also alcohol based, so naturally, Copics will reactivate the ink when applied. In both instances, the ink bled and faded; on the hatching, the ink also smeared.

Sharpie Extra Fine - not Copic proof.

There are many different inking pens out there, and none of the above is to say you cannot use the pens that are not Copic proof in your work. If you do wish to continue using a pen that does not hold up well, use the pen after coloring with Copics, rather than before. You can still use your favorite pen without worrying about bleeding or smearing.


Topics: Copic

Brandi York
Brandi York on May 8, 2017

Once upon a time, in a far away land, there was a young girl who grew up down the street from Disneyland. From 1992, and her first viewing of Beauty and the Beast, she began her long road as a portraiture artist and the life of a geek. More than 20 years and thousands of portraits later, Brandi's work has become a strange collection of fine art landscapes and florals, with the occasional en plein air piece, mixed with the geekier side of pop culture.