3 marker Challenge; How to get the best out of expensive art supplies

Art supplies can be quite expensive and not everybody has the money to indulge in all the expensive art supplies they want. One of these very expensive brands is Copic. While their brush markers are amazing and one of a kind almost, their least expensive marker (Ciao) costs around 3,55 euro a piece here in the Netherlands.

That is why I will upload some 3 marker challenge throughout this piece while talking about how you can deal with expensive art supplies.

The challenge itself is meant to be about how you can still make good work with limited supplies. You can watch and original 3 marker challenge by Baylee Jae here. 

How to get the best out of expensive art supplies and what do you need to look for when buying them. Build your collection the smart way on a budget.

3 marker challenge basics

[symple_box color=”gray” fade_in=”false” float=”center” text_align=”left” width=”840″]Rules (as I used them)
– Pick 3 markers blindly
– You can use tools like pencil and fine-liners but no extra markers (aka blender).
– I have drawn the pictures I am going to colour in advance.[/symple_box]

In the end, I ended up with 6 pictures with the last one being my favourite. I think that picking colours blindly did give me some very interesting colour combinations that I would otherwise never have thought of.

First attempt;

Colours; E37 Sepia – BG34 Horizon Green – E53 raw silk

3 marker challenge attempt nr1

First things to think about when buying expensive art supplies;

  • Think about what you want to use them for
  • Don’t just buy the cheapest option, do your research
  • Know what you are going to need

What is your main use;

If you are going to sell the originals your work must be at least a little light fast and have some quality to it. But when you are selling prints this might be less important since you can use the original image over and over again as it was at the moment you created it.

Not just choosing the cheapest option

Like mentioned before when you intent to sell the original you need some light fastness but also cheaper art supplies can make it harder to create what you want.

Some cheap pencils for example barely give off any colour and in cheap oil paints the oil and the pigment get separated. This only means you need to do another investment.

Know the bear minimums;

One Copic marker is close to useless and paints without brushes aren’t very great either. Just make a little list of what you really need, like which colours and tools.

Attempt nr 2;

Colours; BV00 Mauve Shadow – G21 Lime Green – R 17 Lipstick Orange 

3 marker challenge attempt nr. 2 this time with a brush pen outline.

What to buy;

When you are buying art supplies I think it is vital to do some research. Some things you will want to look for are not only the brands but also the quality. Often cheaper options in art supplies are student grade, meaning that the pigments might not be light fast as you would want.

Depending on the kind of medium you are buying you can go for different options;


Paint is the easiest to mix so you can get away with a few colours. If you have the primaries (red, yellow, blue) you can opt for a black and a white and be done with it. You can always invest in other colours later like a burned ombre or different shades (warm and cold) of the primaries.

The cheaper the brush the more work it costs to get good effects unless you can get a good cheap brush. But to start off there is nothing wrong with a cheap brush as long as the hairs stay attached.

You can also stay on the lookout for sets of paints (and painting supplies)  which can sometimes turn out to be quite a bargain.

For example; Winsor and Newton  Cotman Watercolour sets


Definitely not as easy to blend but often slightly cheaper plus they come in sets. Sets are cheaper than buying them separately and they often give a good colour scheme to start with. 12 colours is a small box but would give you some idea of the medium and such.

If you are already sure of the brand maybe you can start with 24 or more but you won’t really need every shade immediately. You can layer a lot if you use the right paper and tools and build up hues that are not just one pencil colour.


These can be tricky since many don’t really blend. If you want to know about the 3 things you should consider before starting with markers you can read more here.

I would advice building you collection slowly if you don’t have the money for a big set. My top beginner set is the Copic ciao 5 + 1 hobby 2 set which has a lovely colour scheme and was my fist set as well.

For the markers, I think it is best to start with colours that aren’t too dark since you might want to blend those with lighter colours to create a natural effect. Starting with medium till light will give you shadow options but you can still use the medium colours as just a base.

Attempt nr 3

Colours;  R00 Pinkish White – RV10 Pale Pink – BV00 Mauve Shadow 

Attempt 3 with no inking in advance!

Finding new combinations.

Part of the three marker challenge is finding those colour schemes you might not have thought of yourself. Combining new colours and trying out some new effects without investing in new tools can be a great way to expand you use for your supplies without spending money.

Attempt 4

Colours; R17 Lipstick orange -Bg34 Horizon Green – V09 Violet

Attempt 4 with a slightly difficult pallet with a very dark colour.

Investing in cheap side tools

Another great way to get more out of expensive art supplies is by investing in cheaper helping supplies. This can be a cheap dollar store brush set which has a greater variety of brushes.


  • masking fluid  (watercolour)
  • plastic pallets
  • mediums


  • blenders (pencil or fluid)
  • tracing paper
  • thin erasers


  • fine-liners
  • gel pens
  • colour erase pencils (great for sketching)
Attempt 5

Colours; BG34 Horizon Green – Y11 Pale Yellow – RV95 Baby Blossoms 

attempt 5 called dreamy portrait



These are my thoughts about how you can get more out of your expensive art supplies.

Do you buy expensive are supplies and if so what do you look for? 

To close this post I would like to share the only version that I actually like;

Attempt 6;

attempt 6 with pastel goodness.

3 Responses to “3 marker Challenge; How to get the best out of expensive art supplies

  • Hi Sofie,
    Your sketches are magnificent!
    Thanks for bringing your post to Blogger’s Pit Stop.
    Janice, Pit Stop Crew

    • artsbysofie
      8 years ago

      Thank you so much, Janice! It was loads of fun to see so many great posts again!

      ~ Sofie

  • You definitely have a talent Sofie, this pictures are amazing, wish i could draw like this, thanks for let me saw something exciting and wonderful today!

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