Saturday, July 31, 2010

Linda Ledbetter: Super-Simple Airbrushing with Copic Markers

I've always loved the look of airbrushing, but between the expense of purchasing a system and the mess of switching out bottles of ink, I never wanted to actually do it. Then, I started playing with Copic markers and got so into them I decided to get certified as a Copic Designer. One of the components of the curriculum is learning to use the Copic Airbrushing System ("ABS"). What a blast! I fell in love with this incredibly simple method the first time I tried it.

I purchased the Copic ABS-1, which includes everything you need to get started except the markers themselves, so be sure to also get a few Copic Sketch or Original markers in colors you love (Ciao markers don't work in the ABS). I always keep a package of alcohol wipes nearby for quick clean-up, too. Here's my unassembled airbrushing system:

Setting it up is so easy, my cats could do it (well, if they had thumbs they could...). Begin by attaching the smaller end of the Air Hose to the bottom of the Air Adaptor:

Then, screw the Air Grip onto the Air Adaptor:

Next, take the other end of the Air Hose, with the screw at the top, and loosen the screw several turns. If it falls out, simply screw it back in with a single turn:

Twist this large attachment onto the Air Can. The Copic ABS-1 comes with a small air can, but I purchased the larger 180 size, which gives about 45 minutes of spraying time. Place the Air Can into the foam rubber holder so it won't tip over.

Tighten down the screw on the Air Can. This will start the flow of air into the Hose, through the Adaptor and into the Air Grip. Fear not— the airbrush won't spray ink until you press the trigger on the Air Grip!

Uncap the chisel-point end of the Copic Marker you want to use and slide the marker into the Air Grip until it clicks. You can use both Sketch and Original Copics in the airbrush!

Here's a closer view of the Marker in place:

That's all there is to it. You're ready to airbrush!

So... now that you're set up, what can you do with this airbrush doohickey? Why, you can Copic-ify just about anything that isn't moving!

For instance, make custom-colored flowers. I rarely purchase dyed fabric flowers anymore, because I can get the precise shade I want with the Copic airbrush:

Airbrush onto glass, clear plastic and acetate for a soft, translucent color. Here, I stamped onto glass with permanent ink, then airbrushed over the top. To charge colors, just switch to a different marker.

Make your metallic pieces match your project:

Quickly add color to wood and crystal:

Hey, you can even airbrush onto paper! It's so easy to blend colors together. It's my favorite way to create a sky:

Here's a little recap:

One of the best features of airbrushing is how dramatically it reduces the amount of ink you use. Instead of soaking through your paper, the ink sits in a light layer on top, but still gives gorgeous, saturated color. It will greatly extend the time between marker refills!

When you're finished airbrushing, simply put your markers away, loosen the screw on top of the fitting that's attached to the Air Can, and clean up any overspray with alcohol wipes. You can leave the airbrush system set up so you're ready to rock next time!

There are a gazillion other uses for the Copic Airbrush, and I hope this sparked your imagination! If you get really into it, it's worth it (for both monetary and planetary reasons) to invest in a small air compressor so you don't have to keep buying and throwing away Air Cans. When you're starting out, though, this is such an easy and inexpensive way to play!

Have fun!


  1. Even a crystal??? You really are the Queen of Copics Linda!

  2. Fab tutorial.. think I might have to invest in one of those :))

  3. Great tutorial. Don't have any copics and never tried airbrushing, but it looks great!

  4. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  5. my hubby is not going to thank you for this tutorial haha when I tell him that I NEED one tehe, great tutorial you make it sound soooo easy x

  6. What a fantastic tutorial, I think you covered everything!!! I have been thinking about getting one of these for ages, but was unsure as they are not cheap and I was worried that I wouldn't use it enough. However, you have shown so many ways of using it that I think I will have to take the plunge.



  7. Wonderful tutorial Linda! It all looks fabulous! Thank you!

  8. Fabby TUT Hun I have thought about the air brush thingy a few times but not sure I would use it enough do I really need another gadget? Probely lol

    Love Dawn xx

  9. Very timely. I have a new airbrushing kit and plan to try it out today. One question though- I have a large tank and do I need to disassemble it completely after I finish each time?

    I didn't think about using it one glass.

  10. Vicki, if you're using a compressor, there's definitely no need to disassemble it after use. Just remove the marker and cap it. You can certainly leave the rest of the set up in place, and you'll be ready to go in seconds! Have fun!!!

  11. Awesome tutorial, Linda!! I have been waffling for quite some time on whether to get one of these... didn't know how "user-friendly" it really was. After this tutorial, I *know* I want one!! (Especially after the point you made about using up markers.... I can definitely relate to that, coloring sky, using up all my light blues - it's an airbrush for me now!) Now, where is my magic piggy bank.... LOL!

  12. Cool! You make it look easier than it sounds!!

  13. Every time you show off your airbrushing I want to do it myself.

    Luckily my wallet is tucked into a safe with a timer that won't open until 2032 ... about the time I'll have money again. :)

    Thanks for sharing your cool and beautiful work!

  14. This is a fantastic tutorial, Linda and the final projects are to die for! Thanks for sharing your talents with us.

  15. Wowza GF! What a FAB tut, you are just amazing!

  16. How did I miss this one Linda? Fabulous tutorial. If I didn't already own two airbrushes I'd run right out and get this one!


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