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Copic Airbrush System

Reported by Julia Stainton

Airbrush. Cool word…at least I think so. I’ve always wanted to try airbrushing since taking art lessons from a graphic designer as a child. I never did get the opportunity, until last year when I purchased the Copic Airbrush System. I’d been very excited about coloring with Copic Markers, and the Copic Airbrush system is one of the reasons I chose the Sketch marker option when purchasing my markers. I’m all about flexibility and finding myriad uses for things, and I knew the Copic Airbrush system was right at the top of my wish list. After purchasing it, I can say that this is a tool I love and can’t wait to learn more about.

Most people have some idea of what an airbrush system is, but just in case you don’t, an airbrush system uses high-powered air to spray ink in a soft pattern over a surface. This gives a nice smooth graphic look that can be blended by going over the area. The Copic Airbrush System is a quality product that uses the markers that I love to use daily when coloring images. This professional quality system is expensive, but still affordable and will last. To use the Copic Airbrush, you can purchase cans of compressed air. To further increase its flexibility, this system is compatible with various air compressors, an option you may want to consider if you are planning on doing a lot of airbrushing.

The Copic Airbrush system is very easy to assemble and begin using. If you’re like me, you just want to get to it! Follow the included directions to easily put your airbrush together. Here’s a quick version:

  1. Screw the air adapter into the base of the air grip nozzle.
  2. Attach air hose to bottom of the air adapter and then screw other end into your air can.
  3. Make sure your air can is securely upright in the provided foam air can holder.
  4. Uncap your marker and insert the chisel tip end into the barrel.
  5. Make sure marker is straight and clips in.

If you’re a visual person, you can find a great instructional diagram online here. I love how quick and easy it is to change colors by simply snapping your markers in and out.

When getting started with this airbrush system, you’ll want to practice on scrap paper. Using the extremely cold compressed air can actually freeze the nib of your marker, so work in small bursts of spraying to allow the nib to warm back up. I hold my nozzle about 6-8 inches away from the area that I am spraying. The hand sprayer is easy and comfortable to use, and only sprays when you press down on the trigger. Ensure that you don’t move your air can and keep it perfectly upright when using. The amount of spraying you can do will depend on the size of your air can. The Air Can 80 should last for 15-20 minutes of spraying time and the Air Can 180 should last for 40-45 minutes of spraying time. When you take into consideration that you spray in short bursts of time, these cans should last you through quite a few projects.

I’ve run into few problems in learning how to use this airbrush system. One difficulty I did have was freezing the marker nib solid. The key to solving this problem is keeping that air can upright and using short bursts of spray time. If you find that the ink is not spraying properly, check to see that there is plenty of ink in your marker, and the nib is not dried out and inserted correctly.

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I am NOT an expert on the Copic Airbrush System. I don’t know everything about it but am giving you an overview of my experience with it. I’m hoping to keep learning about the capabilities and how to use this unique tool.

One technique that is very helpful to learn with airbrushing is masking. There are many things you can create a mask from if you look around and get creative. The easiest way to mask is to purchase a shape mask from a craft or scrapbooking store. These masks are lightly tacky and can be placed on your paper surface to mask it, and then easily be removed. To use these masks, carefully spray the areas around your mask with your airbrush and then remove. You’ll be left with areas of beautiful color around the area that you covered up. Heidi Swapp in particular sells beautiful foliage, flourish and nature masks that work well with airbrushing as well as other techniques. When airbrushing a background around a stamped image, you will also want to mask the image so that you don’t accidentally spray on it. Stamp your image again on a post-it note or other paper, trim it closely, cover the stamped area, and then spray. After removing the mask, color in your stamped image. Try masking with die-cuts, stencils, Nestability dies, chipboard, flowers…whatever you can think of.

There are so many exciting ways to use this tool for besides coloring paper. If you are someone who really has to have the matching accessories in EVERY color, this is for you! I had so much fun playing around with adding color to various products I have in my desk, with great results every time. You can spray color on fabric, paper flowers, fibers, ribbons, metal, plastic and acrylic for great custom looks. While you can do this to some extent by coloring directly with the Copic markers, the airbrush gives a fine smooth mist spray to give you a truly professional custom look. Simply purchase white flowers, and you can make any color of the rainbow providing you have the colored marker.

Pros:

  • Beautiful soft blended look…looks very professional!
  • You can use compressed air cans or compressor.
  • Extensive Copic color system available.
  • Kit comes complete with all you need.

Cons:

  • Must be used with the Copic Sketch or Copic Original markers.
  • While not over-priced for the quality of the system, it is a large initial investment to purchase the markers.
  • There is definitely a learning curve with this product.
  • Air cans will need replacing.

The Copic Airbrush system may be available from your local art supply store, if they carry other Copic products. It is more readily available online, and you can purchase it from online stores such as Ellen Hutson, Oregon Art Sales (shopping from the Copic site) and Dick Blick. The Copic Airbrush Starter Kit contains everything you need apart from the markers and retails at approx. $61.50 USD. I feel this is a great value for a tool that does so much, and will last for years to come. I am thrilled with my purchase, and give the Copic Airbrush Starter Kit a resounding 10 out of 10.

Do you need the Copic Airbrush System? If you do a lot of coloring, have the Copic markers and are looking to take it to the next level, then this product is for you. While I’ve shown examples of projects I’ve created that work with my stamping and papercrafting interests, this product can also be used in creating manga art, airbrushing models, and many other creative applications. I always believe in making an informed decision, so make sure you check out other sources for info on this fabulous product. Copic provides an online brochure full of information, and Ellen Hutson provides great tutorials and samples on her blog.

I love this fabulous way to expand my Copic markers for even more versatility, and exploring my own creativity. Do you have the Copic Airbrush system or are you thinking of getting one? We’d love to hear your thoughts too!

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5 Responses to Copic Airbrush System

  1. Dana (*danavee*) October 24, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    Last year, I convinced myself that I didn’t NEED a Copic airbrush system, that I was going to spend the money and get a real air compressor and traditional air brush, and just use that to airbrush with my markers… the verdict: HOT MESS!

    The Copic system is going on my wish list this year. Great review… thanks for the push!

  2. Julie Campbell October 24, 2008 at 8:40 pm #

    I really LOVE my Copic Airbrush System! 🙂 Thanks for the great tips! Superb projects, as always! 🙂

  3. SBL-Photoshop Masking November 10, 2008 at 4:40 am #

    Really a nice project!

  4. Anonymous December 18, 2009 at 1:14 pm #

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  5. Woodland Circus February 17, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    If you already have Ciaos, you can actually use them with the airbrush system…you just need some blu tack (stick tac etc). I found a tutorial here:

    tried it, and it works a treat, just a bit of a pain when changing colors.