Unless you are living in a stamper's cave, you have probably seen and read a LOT about Copic and other alcohol based markers (Prismacolor and Trio) in the past 2 months. These are professional grade markers used frequently in illustrations for Manga (Japanese Anime comics). They are designed primarily for drawing entire images -- not coloring in a stamped image. Used by a professional, they rock. But, to inject a note of reality -- it really helps to have talent when using a product (LOL) -- in other words, design team members are professionals. They are really good at what they do and whether they are using a Copic Marker or a #2 pencil, their work is fabulous. And I also try and remember that many design team members are getting these products free or at a greatly reduced cost. So I set out to see -- are Copic markers sufficiently better to be worth the price for ME -- the average non design team member stamper? I bought a few from my local art store, including the colorless blender. Luckily, I got them at 25% off the art store's regular price, but even at $4.50 a piece plus tax, that's a lot of stamping money. (Aside to my husband -- I owe it to my readers to investigate. This isn't stamping money, it is investigative journalism money, so get over it already...) I will be referring to this card I made with them as I discuss my experience (I purposely chose an image that had a larger piece to color -- in this case from Stampin Up's Summer by the Sea): Blending Ability: Look at the shirt and the pants. I used Copics on those and on the sand castle. Did I get a better result than if I had used water based markers, colored pencils, watercolor crayons, chalks, etc.? You decide: Here is a card I made a few months ago using watercolor paper and SU watercolor crayons and markers: Let me put it this way -- if you can blend and shade beautifully with the other mediums, you will blend and shade beautifully with the Copics. However, if -- like me -- you are blender/shading challenged, the Copics are easier than water based markers, etc. but I don't think that they are any easier than using watercolors -- at least for me. (Side note: If you look closely at the first card, you'll see that the Copic ink bled along the edges of the image. I stamped the image with Palette Noir ink onto Beckett's Expression #80 cardstock. Luckily, Ellen Hutson posted a comparison of inks with Copics on her blog Simple Dreams. Ellen came to the same conclusion that I did -- Palette Noir is not the best ink for Copics.) If you check closely again at the little boy, you'll see a bit of an outline on part of the boy (on the left side closest to the castle). I used the Warm Gray W1 Copic marker for this. This is my attempt to copy what I've seen design team members do (I have no shame, do I?). I've tried doing this type of outline before with other markers, and it always looked a little cheesy. I think the Copic gray marker worked much better for this type of shading and I recommend purchasing some of the neutrals if you are looking to achieve this effect and are not comfortable and happy with your results using other products. My bottom line: Using a Copic or other alcohol based marker will not transform you into an artist. When it comes to coloring in an image, you still need to know about source of light and all that artist stuff to really take advantage of these markers. I don't think they are the best use of my money for coloring in images. But, wait -- there's more. IMHO, the very best thing about an alcohol based marker, such as a Copic, is the ability to color stuff so that you can get coordinating paper, ribbon, etc. See the polka dot paper in my first card? It was originally white with red dots -- from Memory Box's Christmas Brights collection. However, I wanted it to coordinate with the creamy sand color of the main image. On a whim, I just picked up the wider end of the Skin White E00 Copic sketch marker and colored the paper. Here is the comparison. Is this great, or what?? The paper did not warp, bleed, or do anything strange. Note: Copics will bleed through to the other side of the paper. Therefore, they are of no value if you are coloring an image on a no layer card. Next -- the ribbon on my little boy card. It started out as White Stampin Up grosgrain ribbon. I went over it with the same Skin White E00 Copic marker and then very carefully edged it with the B04 Tahitian Blue Copic. If you use a heavy hand coloring in the ribbon, it will bleed onto the rest of the ribbon, so do it carefully. Voila -- perfectly matched ribbon, and kind of cute if I say so myself. The marker changes the feel of the ribbon -- it stiffens it. It feels heavier, but not in any way that was a problem. So, are Copics worth the price? That's for you to decide. For me, I will not be buying large quantities. But a few here and there to match patterned paper, yes.