Tombow vs Copic Markers

When I walk into an art supply store I always notice these big stands of markers. Personally, I’ve never worked with markers, until this summer when I went to an Art supply store in Newcastle where they had even more marker options.

The two where I was most interested in were Tombow and Copic markers. Everyone has heard of the Copic marker, of course. But the Tombow are also very interesting to me. I bought a few colours of both and have tested them out.

I bought a few colours of both and have tested them out.

Tombow or copic markers? Which are the best to buy?

Copic markers tips

On the Pictures, you can see the Copic marker Ciao which is one of four versions of the Copic marker. The ciao series contains the same ink (alcohol based) as the Sketch but is available in fewer colours and contains less ink. 

However, the round shape instead of the oval shape of the sketch makes is easier for a beginner (like me) to use.  For a more detailed explanation about the different lines of markers; Copic markers

All Copics are refillable! So while they are expensive you do get to use one pen more times!


The black markers are the Tombows which are water based. These colours are just as vibrant as the Copic. You  can mix them and use the ink to make watercolour paintings. More detailed info; Tombow

An infographic on the differences and thing that I noticed;
Tombow vs Copic infographic

Overall the Tombow markers do claim to be mixable but this is quite hard. The tips, however, do not get dirty from going over other colours. Creating details is also a lot easier because of the fine tips.

When used as watercolours the Tombow colours are very rich.

These would be great for scrapbooking, writing making, small doodles etc.

If you want to colour even areas without stripes the Copic markers are much easier. Since these are alcohol based the colour evens out when it dries. This does mean that you need some thicker paper or bleed proof paper so that the colours doesn’t move.

Thicker paper is for better for both water and alcohol based markers. It simply allows for more ink on te paper. Unfortunately, you can’t layer a lot with waterbased markers because it destroys the paper. That is also why it is so hard to mix them.

Personally, I’m very looking forward to buying more of these of both kinds. I really like them and I think it gives a whole new array of options for my work!


Let me know if you have any favourite marker kinds! Or if there are any other kinds of markers you want to be reviewed or compared.

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6 Responses to “Tombow vs Copic Markers

  • Thanks for the comparison, Sophie. I have worked with both marker brands extensively in the past. When I first started using the Tombow it was the only professional brand available. They are still my favourite marker. I have the Copic brand in a more limited colour range. I bought these for better blending but in the end I found that the Tombow gave me what I needed and I have since returned to the Tombow as my # 1 choice.

    • artsbysofie
      2 years ago

      That is so interesting! Since Copic is such a hype now I never really saw work made with Tombows. Personally, I do really like them but I couldn’t find them at my local stores but those do sell Copics so those won out for me. (I could buy them online but shipping is so expensive sometimes.)

  • Hi,
    I am from oz, I recently discovered copies after using tombows. I like the colour range, however they bled through my pages and I felt very disappointed! I’ll be going back to tombows!!

    • artsbysofie
      2 years ago

      I am sorry to hear that. Copics are indeed not the best to use in sketchbooks and such. If you want to use Copics it is better to use separate sheets of thick smooth paper. But of course, Tombows are great as well!
      I wish you the best of luck.

      ~ Sofie

    • Copics work very well and bleed thru less on marker paper. I use them for professional illustration. Put a layer of architectural trash paper underneath so that as you layer colors the buildup doesnt bleed too much. Either way, you will find leas bleed and bettee performance with marker paper. Caio!

      • artsbysofie
        8 months ago

        This is great advice indeed! Especially about putting the paper underneath! ~Sofie

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