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Spectrum Noir Markers and Copic Markers April 14, 2015

Posted by Danielle in Crafts.
Tags: ,

Well, I jumped on the bandwagon and bought a set of the Spectrum Noir markers.  They are marketed as a craft grade alcohol ink marker.  I was mildly interested in these markers when they originally came out, but obviously it has taken me a few years since to actually get a set of my own.  Guess that’s a good thing, since they have definitely made some improvements to the original version of the markers.

I have been using Copic markers for years now, and I got my toes wet in the alcohol ink marker arena by starting out with a set of Neopiko 2 markers. I liked that they were virtually odorless (unlike the Prismacolor markers), and I really enjoyed having the brush nib – the downside is that the brush nibs are a much lower quality than the Copic markers, and by the time the markers were running out of ink, quite a few of the brush tips were shot.  I got my set probably 6 or 7 years ago and paid around $100 for the set of 72.

My delight with the brush nib led me to want to try the Copic markers.  I took a so-called Copic class through Archivers before they declared bankruptcy.  Honestly, I didn’t learn much in the class itself, and some misinformation was actually given out about the markers, but I did discover that I definitely wanted to invest in Copics.  I have Original, Sketch, Ciao, and one wide marker (which I got as part of the Copic Certification class and don’t use).  Most of the markers I own are Sketch markers, which are my favorite.

Here is a comparison of something I’ve colored using my markers where I tried to match the SN and Copic marker colors:


Comparison using comparable colors to blend the same image

The stamp I used is one I stamped while at a friend’s house – I’m guessing it is an older Stampin’ Up stamp, but I’m not sure.  The Copic version is on the left, the Spectrum Noir version is on the right.


Crafter’s Companion recommended blending families

This next swatch is the Crafter’s Companion recommended blending families that are on the basic 72 set (the 6 marker packs).  I couldn’t complete the one cool gray family because I received a duplicate marker in that set (I got 2 IG6 markers and no IG10).  I contacted Crafter’s Companion last week, and they are supposed to be sending me out a replacement IG10 marker and TN2 marker, which had a cracked gray part of the marker that holds the bullet nib.  Personally, I do not care for some of the recommended color blending families, and I found some of them very difficult to blend – some that I thought did not work for me include both purple blends, the FS6, PP1, EB2 blend in Pale Hues, PP3, PP5, DR3 in Pinks, and TB1, TB2, TB9 in Blues.  The remainder seemed to blend pretty well for me.


Completed Spectrum Noir color chart

This is the blank chart I colored in with the Spectrum Noir markers.  You can find it on the Crafter’s Companion website under downloads.  While this chart is very helpful, I’m still confused as to whether or not there is a reason for the letter/number system of color labeling.  Perhaps there is a better explanation on one of their instructional DVDs, but I really don’t want to have to buy a DVD to learn how to use the markers.  The colors in the different color families do not appear to guarantee that they will blend will together, and I really had to check with a few colors to make sure I did not color the wrong rectangles since the colors are almost identical.  In particular, this happened when I was coloring TB5 and TB6; BG8, BG9, and BG10; CT2 and CT3; and JG1 and JG2.  However, because these markers are sold in sets, I either have to purchase them or go without the set.  Copic markers also have a number of shades that are very similar, but at least if I purchase them as open stock, I do not have to buy the colors that seem to be duplicates.


Here is another swatch sheet I made using some different variations for skin tones I found online on the Crafter’s Companion website.  They seemed to blend quite well together, and I thought this would be handy to have around.

Overall, I have been generally happy with the Spectrum Noir markers. I  do have to remind myself that I purchased them to travel with and to share, mostly because they are at a much lower price point than the Copics, but in a sense you do get what you pay for.  I have to be much more careful about the cardstock I use with the Spectrum Noir markers or I get an excessive amount of bleeding when I use them.  I also (in general) have to lay down quite a bit more ink to get the Spectrum Noir markers to blend than I do with the Copic markers – part of this is probably experience-based since I have much more experience using my Copics, but it may also be something about the way the markers work.  I still prefer the brush nib on the Sketch and Ciao markers by far over the bullet nib on the Spectrum Noir markers.  I know that Crafter’s Companion is now selling a brush nib for their markers, but they are quite pricey and based on the experience I have had with the bullet nibs on the markers, I’m not convinced that the brush nibs will hold up to use.  I say that because, right out of the box, there is a difference in the bullet nibs on many of the markers.  Some of them are nice and firm, giving a great fine line.  Other nibs are much more soft and cannot produce a fine line.  Having used Copics with both the brush and bullet nibs, I have rarely had to replace the brush nib and never had to replace a bullet nib so far.

Another issue I’ve had with the Spectrum Noir markers is that many of them have poorly stamped names on the end caps, and they are not identified on the barrel at all.  Now I realize that the Ciao markers are only identified on the barrel of the marker, not the caps, but a big convenience factor for the Sketch and Original markers is that the caps and barrel are labeled.  It definitely helps to have all parts labeled if I’ve got a bunch of markers out for use!  I contacted Crafter’s Companion, and the customer service rep stated that the marker names should not come off; I didn’t even try scratching the label off for fear that it would actually come off!  I wound up putting a coat of Glossy Accents on the ends of the caps for good measure.  Better safe than sorry, in my opinion.

The most annoying issue i have had with the Spectrum Noir markers is that a number of them come apart at the barrel when I try to remove the cap.  Since I did test out the markers soon after purchase, it wasn’t due to mishandling on my part.  Most of the markers functioned fine, and they were all nice and juicy.  I have another question in to customer service and have yet to receive an answer as to whether or not I can use glue to secure the gray part to the black barrel with some kind of glue or not.  The reason this makes me question the overall quality of the marker is because they are marketed as refillable – but I don’t want to deal with the markers coming apart at the barrel.  If they start coming apart within the first week of light use, what will they be like in a month or a year?  Hopefully, there is a fix for the issue.  Knock on wood, I have never had this happen to any of my Copic markers before.

All in all, the Spectrum Noir markers are a good jumping off point for getting started with alcohol-based markers.  I’m not happy with some aspects of them, but they are comfortable to hold and use.  They are refillable, and the nibs are replaceable.  They don’t stink or give me headaches, and I’m glad to have a set of alcohol markers I can carry around with me and not worry as much about replacement cost.  But Copic markers will remain my favorite alcohol-based markers to use at this point.

ETA (6/19/2015): I have now been able to find Spectrum Noir markers being sold individually at many retailers, including Crafter’s Companion.



1. Fran Baker - April 14, 2015

Excellent and very informative write up. Hugs, Fran

2. Judy Garrelts - April 14, 2015

Great review!!!!!!!! I appreciate all of it! I do love my SN markers!

3. Spectrum Noir Update | Danielle's Corner - April 18, 2015

[…] just wanted to update my original Spectrum Noir post since I just received some new information from Crafter’s Companion as well as the […]

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