Testing marker papers with Copics

A few nights ago, I did a great deal of work in testing out different papers with the greyscale Copics I have had for years and not used. Night before last, I made scans of some of the more successful trials. Last night, I edited this document and worked on image adjusting.

As versus my last entry, I scanned in the initial documents at 1200 dpi, and saved the data to .JPEG format. This seems sufficient to retain the details of paper texture. In my last post, I noted the texture was resolving into mottled dots at 600 dpi in .JPEG format. 600 dpi in .TIFF wasn’t an issue, though: I could still see the paper texture, and I really don’t know precisely why. I mean, sure: .TIFF saves all the information it can…but I didn’t change the resolution. Does that mean that if I’m saving a file in .TIFF format, I can make it lower-res?

I dug up six different paper samples to test with the Copics. Four of these were either “Marker” or “Layout” paper, while the last one was “Comic” paper. (The other one…we shall not mention.) This time while testing the papers, I tried to saturate the papers with each ink, before declaring one or another smooth or splotchy. Because I did this, I at least can see some of the places where I used C-0 or C-00 markers (which, being extreme tints of Cool Grey, are almost totally clear).

A black-to-very-light-grey value scale made with Copic Cool Grey markers on top of Canson Pro Layout Marker Paper. This produced the smoothest rendering out of all the papers I tried.
This is a (necessarily) low-res image of how the Copic Cool Grey markers looked on Canson Pro Layout Marker paper.
Altered scan settings: Gamma = 3.0, Brightness =-30, Greyscale (discarded color information)

Out of the first four marker and layout papers I tried, Canson Pro Layout Marker paper performed the best. It’s very white, very smooth, and the ink penetrated evenly enough that this paper had the least splotches in the inked areas. It is heavier than all of the other Marker/Layout papers I had, but lighter than the Comic paper. The smooth ink distribution with a minimum of white speckles, cause me to hope that this paper could be viable help where it comes to visual storytelling, going forward.

Apologies for the slight difference in font sizes and clarity, between this and the following sample: in the first, I typed in the text layers before resizing; in the second, after. I used the same markers, and to the best of my memory, the same scan settings.

A black-to-very-light-grey value scale made with Copic Cool Grey markers on top of Borden & Riley #37 Boris Marker Layout Paper. The black and grey tones are relatively even and not-blotchy, but in the original, the paper grain is visible.
Borden & Riley #37 Boris Marker Layout paper used with Copic 100 Black and Cool Grey series.
Altered scan settings: Gamma = 3.0, Brightness =-30, Greyscale (discarded color information)

And yes, I do see C-7 being darker than C-8 in both of those trials.

I’ve decided to place #37 Boris Marker Layout Paper by Borden & Riley (just above) in second place, here. There are undeniably differences between this paper and the Canson Pro Layout; notably, the Borden & Riley paper is more textured in the colored areas. This means that there is more value variation in relation to the paper grain. I think, but am not positive, that this will present some different effects upon laying in digital colors.

The reason I’m listing the #37 Boris Marker paper above Deleter NEOPIKO paper, is the evenness with which the #37 took up the Copic ink. The ink was relatively “self-leveling” on this paper, whereas with the NEOPIKO, the markers are darker in some areas than others — and it’s not due to the grain of the paper showing through.

I had gauged the NEOPIKO to be more of a second-place contender, until I looked carefully at the scans, and then carefully at the original. I’m not sure whether it’s due to the paper itself, or my inexperienced marker technique, but the work is a little blotchy. On the above two images, there may be textures, but at least the colors are relatively flat and even.

…I’m thinking you’ll forgive me if I don’t want to put together another low-res value scale.

I may be able to figure out whether the problem is technique or material, in the near future — especially since I have an idea of how to work, now, and am planning to get some transparent acetate sheeting to lay in between the marker paper and the initial pen-and-ink artwork. Doing this, I should be able to work in layers with value and color, without sacrificing my initial ink work.

NEOPIKO paper is much thinner than the Canson Pro Layout Marker paper, although when laid side-by-side over a doodle I made with a very fine black Multiliner, they seem to have about the same translucency. In comparison, Borden & Riley’s #37 Boris Marker paper is a little more translucent than NEOPIKO.

The NEOPIKO paper is also a little off-white, whereas the Canson is bright white, and Borden & Riley is advertised as “Bright White”. It’s hard to tell under artificial lighting, though. I don’t think my scanner will be able to tell, either: at least not if I scan in greyscale with a black-point reference, and keep altering my settings and tweaks, anyway.

The Comic paper I tried out was Deleter Comic Manuscript Paper, “type-B”, which basically just means it’s plain white. “[T]ype-A” has rulers printed in Non-Photo Blue on its edges, to help with layout. (I don’t remember having tested whether we are beyond the time when, “Non-Photo Blue,” meant something…I’ve had “Non-Photo-Blue” pencils be detected by scanners, but apparently these marks can be digitally removed.)

The “type-B” paper I used appears to be 110kg in weight, while what I see for sale today seems to be a heavier 135kg. You may be able to find this at stores or websites that specialize in Asian stationery; I picked mine up from a Japanese-language bookstore, a very long time ago — along with some screentones, which I was able to use on this paper.

This is actually a really nice and smooth paper to use with the Multiliners, which made me happy when I could produce internal line variation via changing pressure and “flicking” the Multiliner up at the end of a stroke. (Though, never bear down on a multiliner; it’s just sad when they break.) Deleter’s Comic manuscript paper feels relatively hard, as well. So far as translucency goes, it is essentially fairly opaque: it seems to be more of a base layer than an overlay. Tracing over pencil roughs onto this paper would require physical backlighting…if it could be done satisfactorily at all.

The Deleter Comic Manuscript Paper (not the Deleter NEOPIKO Paper Pad, which is expressly made to take NEOPIKO alcohol markers, though it also works with other alcohol markers) took the Copics relatively well, but there are white speckles in many of my “colors” (I used my Cool Grey series from C10 to C00, plus Black [100], and didn’t test any of the alcohol markers with actual chroma, or [noticeable] color values).

As well…I don’t know how to say this, but the Comic paper soaks up a lot more ink than the Marker papers, so it’s easier to get unintended color variation by just pressing more firmly with a brush nib. This is the same issue I found with the Deleter NEOPIKO paper, but it’s less pronounced in the Deleter Comic paper.

One other nice thing about the Deleter papers: they come in Standard International Paper Sizes, meaning that — in the US, at least — flatbed scanners which take 8.5″x11″ paper may also be able to scan A4 and smaller papers without having to cut them down. 9″x12″ is a more common art paper size to find in the US, and it’s decently close to A4, but may have to have some material trimmed away before scanning. This would be in order to fit the paper entirely onto the scanner bed. Avoiding paper overhang at the scanning step, avoids gaining shadows at the edges of your digital document.

I’ll need to experiment with my method, and I’ll likely be wrong about some of this, but in the below, I brainstorm how to approach the problem of making my work.

I’m hoping to use the Deleter Comic Manuscript Paper as a base to work out my pencil sketches and inks (black-on-white), then layer clear acetate over it, and the Marker paper over that. This should allow me to try out tones without committing to them, and without marking my original page.

Two aligned images like this (an inking layer, and a tone or color layer) might be able to be overlaid using a graphics program — though I haven’t tried it, yet. Right now I’m thinking of scanning in my lineart as a transparent .PNG, and using it as an upper layer in my document.

Yesterday was the first time I actually tried to digitally overlay any color on top of the grayscale tones I’ve shown above, though I should remember that I can shuffle the order of the layers.

A number of blending modes within my image-editing program look pretty awesome, but I still have to re-learn how to make a custom selection (or shape) and fill it. I also found that adding in a color overlay at greater than 50% opacity with a Normal blending mode will begin to obscure the underlayers. Adding in a color overlay at lower than 50% opacity and Normal blending mode will result in paler colors and stronger dark tones.

I’ve got to investigate this further. For example, I haven’t really experimented with overlaying a dark color yet. Overlaying a relatively light color can make the dark tones look like they’re mixed with opaque white, clouding them out. I have a feeling that overlaying a dark tone may make things look like they’re mixed with black…but I’m not sure yet; I haven’t tried.

I could try to overlay my lineart or tones, on top of colors, and use the blending modes on those upper layers (and not the lower ones) to preserve their intensity. If I’m right, I do think there is a Hue Shift capability in my image-editing software. I could use this to change the color of my lineart by isolating it in a selection, copy/pasting it into a different layer, and shifting the hue information in that layer. But I’m not sure if the lineart has to have a hue, for that technique to work.

I just mean to record my presently-inexperienced brainstorming about how to consider moving forward with the technical end of this project. I haven’t yet researched how professional comics artists use these materials; nor have I gotten into depth about how digital artists do their work. I’m thinking, though, that most of us don’t know what we’re doing, at first. At least I’m at a level of comfort, playing around with this.

I have more to say, but it can wait: I’m beginning to move into the nature of the markers I’ve tested, at this point, and that seems to be a different subject.

I also need to work on developing the story for this project. I meant to do it yesterday, but spent most of the day editing this post and experimenting with the technical side of things. At least I’ve learned something, though!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the brands or software tools I’ve reviewed today, they have not compensated me in any way, and my materials were purchased with my own funds.

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