Copic Sketch vs Ciao -Learn In-Depth Comparisons!

my copics Copic Sketch vs. Ciao

Copic brand alcohol markers are regarded as the best alcohol markers on the market. Here I’ll show you the differences between Copic Sketch vs Ciao. With a price tag you would expect from the world leader of professional and hobby alcohol markers, they have features that are not completely available in any other brand.

Copic has three major series of markers.  Copic Sketch,  Ciao and,  Classic, the original brand.

If you are short of time, check out my comparison chart for Copic Sketch vs Ciao, or read on for in-depth information!

9 Nibs Available InterchangeableXX
No-Roll BarrellX
Brush and Chisel StandardXX
Airbrush System CapableX
Color Name/Number On CapX
Colors Available180358
Large BarrelX
Available As A Single Marker ColorXX

All Alcohol Markers

The Colorant

All alcohol markers are dye-based and therefore, NOT colorfast. They will fade over time.  This is called ‘non-lightfast’ in the art supply industry.

But that is not a problem for illustrators and designers because they immediately scan their artworks to convert them into a digital file. They can then use them for commercial printing or alter them easily with photo manipulation software.

Hobbyists and crafter’s creations are not intended to last for decades or handle heavy sun exposure.

All markers need a homemade color swatch chart so you can accurately judge color and value.

Dry Time

All alcohol markers dry super fast (in just a matter of seconds.).   They are impervious to rewetting again once they’re thoroughly dry.

Therefore, they are ideal for easy layering.  This is called ‘permanent’ by the marker industry.  HOWEVER, there is a short window after you lay down colors when the ink isn’t quite dry completely and you can rewet them to a certain degree for blending or partial lifting.

They are ideal for lettering because they dry so quickly and are ‘permanent’.


All markers bleed through to the backside of the paper to some degree.

Each subsequent layer of alcohol marker will create a darker value of the color underneath it, until maximum saturation is reached.

Too many layers of alcohol marker may create a gooey mess that won’t dry flat or matte.


For great tutorials and information about blending with alcohol markers, please read my article here and download my free ebook tutorial on our opening page at VeryCreate. 


All alcohol markers are dependent on your using a quality paper made exclusively for alcohol markers.  It is amazing how different papers react with the same pen! Please check out my article here which shows test samples on five different marker brand papers.  What a difference!

Colorless blender

A colorless blender is not used to blend, it is used to lighten and reduce the intensity of the color on the paper.  It can correct mistakes somewhat, if the dye colorant cooperates.

Most alcohol markers do not have super accurate cap colors…they are a generality.

All alcohol markers are flammable, and the refill bottle and the markers should be kept far away from any flames.

They are not odor-free.  As they are alcohol-based, they smell like a hospital or doctor’s office.  There is a chance you might be sensitive to the smell.

What sets the Copic brand apart from all the other brands is its outstanding quality PLUS all the other unique features that each series has.

Let’s examine some of these features.

Copic In General

Copics are the industry leader in innovation and originality.  They are made in Japan and got their start in 1987 as a useful tool for Manga art.  Copics rapidly became a favorite of cartoonists, illustrators, and designers.  When deciding Copic Sketch vs Ciao, keep in mind that the ink inside both is identical.

red pens Copic Sketch vs. Ciao

Copic Sketch vs Ciao Side By Side


Copic nibs are replaceable, which is totally remarkable for an alcohol marker. But what is fantastic is that there are 9 total nibs available that are interchangeable in their markers!  This makes for one VERSATILE marker!

The nib varieties include two basic sizes: standard and thinner/smaller.

The standard Nib Replacements

  • Standard Fine -which is a Bullet Nib Round.  Good for making dots, consistent medium fine lines
  • Super Brush nib – makes thin and thicker lines in one stroke depending on pressure.  Good for creating no streaks in larger areas.
  • Chisel Soft Broad nib – depending on how to tip or angle it, it will give a consistent width line because it has faceted tip
  • Standard Broad – is a angled flat tip
  • Calligraphy Flat 5mm wide with a square tip

Thinner, Smaller Nib Replacements

  • Standard Fine – short , thinner bullet tip
  • Super Fine – short and pointy
  • Semi-broad  narrow, angled tip
  • Calligraphy small 3mm

Refillable Inks

Copic quality ink is rigidly controlled and manufactured in their plant for consistency across all their varieties and for perfect matching from batch to batch. Every single color is available as a refill barrel and refill bottle.

>Check Price On Amazon<<


>>Check Price On Amazon<<

This makes the high price of an individual marker actually fairly cost-effective if you refill the barrel instead of having to replace the entire marker.  Depending on which Copic series you select, each refill bottle will refill up to 8 times.

Individual Purchase

While it is cost-effective to buy Copics in sets, you can buy individual pens.  This is amazing.  If you end up using one or two colors a LOT, it’s much cheaper to purchase Copics for refilling and nib replacements.

Outstanding labeling

Copic alcohol markers are labeled with a color name AND an alpha-numeric that makes perfect sense.  The higher the number, the darker the color. As plastic caps are not typically accurate, having a precise numbering system is super helpful in picking the right marker.


Coming in at the top of the price point in the market, Copic markers are a definite investment, costing about $3-8 EACH.  However, if you factor in the fact that the nibs and the inks are replaceable, then the lifetime of the initial marker becomes much more cost-effective.  Other markers are use-it-up, then throw-it-away.

Copic Sketch

There are two nibs that come with the Copic Sketch.  On one end is a classic chisel nib and on the other is a semi-flexible brush nib.  Of all my alcohol brush marker brands, the Copic Sketch has the longest brush nib.  It really lays down a juicy line!  I find it easy to use, and if I had any criticism, it would be that the brush almost lays down too much color too fast.  My favorite is a shorter brush nib, like the Ohuhu brand, but that’s just me!  It is, however, ideal for creating large swaths of color.


The barrels are oval, which is great for a comfortable hold.  They won’t roll off the table.

You can even purchase empty barrel blanks and with some Isopropyl Alcohol 99% solution and some ink refills, you can create your own custom color mixes!  Say what??!?  THAT is amazing.

The Copic Sketch are larger barrels than the Ciao, but not overly large.

Another outstanding feature of Copic Sketch is their individual number and labels on the cap ends of each marker.  They organized them by color value (lightness and darkness) so you never have to guess the color properties of each barrel.


There are a whopping 358 colors available and they all can be purchased individually!  Artists who use one or two specific colors a lot will be thrilled to know that they can buy that individual color as a refill bottle and refill their marker up to four times with each refill bottle. Talk about great cost savings!


Copic Sketch sets come in a heavy, clear plastic storage box.  The boxes have individual slots to keep the markers upright. Most other marker sets have flimsy or no storage containers.  If you take care of the boxes, they should last years!

Copic even makes an air canister attachment to turn the Sketch marker into an airbrush spray for a large even color lay down.

sketch copic cap number Copic Sketch vs Ciao
I love the easy to understand and use labeling system

Sketch sets can be purchased in a large variety of topics like skin tones, floral, earth tones, and color fusions of three values of one color hue, among many others!

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Copic Sketch Markers and Sets


>>Check Individual Colors and sets at Dick Blick<<


Copic Ciao

The standard nibs are identical to the Sketch series. However, the nibs are easily replaced with any of Copic’s variety nibs.

Copic Ciao is intended as an entry-level marker for the Copic brand.


The barrels are round and relatively thin, therefore making them ideal for smaller hands or younger artists.

Copic caps are unique.  They have an inner seal and venting holes with no labels on the cap to identify the color.  Instead, the labels are on the barrel themselves.

They are marketed in Japan for young kids and the vented caps are intended to be slightly safer if accidentally swallowed.  Theoretically letting some air flow until emergency help can be accessed.  Of course, don’t give ANY markers to small kids!


They are less expensive than the Copic Sketch brand, with identical nibs on each end. However, do not mistake these for budget markers. They are still quite expensive.  You may find that the extra features of Copic don’t justify the extra cost.  If you’d like to explore other brands, check out my in-depth reviews here.

Colors and Sets

Ciao is available in 144 different individual colors and also available in a variety of sets.  The same refill bottles that are available for the Sketch can be used with the Ciao.  What’s more, since the barrels are smaller, you’ll be able to get more refills out of each bottle.

Because of their smaller size, they are not compatible with the airbrush system.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Copic Ciao Double Ended Markers and Sets

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

>>See  Price on Individual Colors at Dick Blick<<


In Addition

After looking at Copic Sketch vs Ciao, and you aren’t sure they justify the cost, please check out my articles below.  My favorite marker is actually a watercolor brush marker, for example.  I bet you haven’t heard of them!

What Markers Are Best? 

Best Copic Alternatives

Best Papers For Alcohol Markers -18 Of Our Top Picks





Anita HC

I hope you are enjoying this article! I love helping creators learn. My goal is to help you find the knowledge and inspiration you need. Check out our library of articles and visit often...I'm adding articles every week! Thank you again for reading!

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