Copic Airbrush Buyers Guide (sorta)

Copic Airbrush Buyers Guide (sorta)

I hesitated a little to call this a Buyers Guide post…I don’t know *everything* there is to know, so this is the Guide based on what I know as of now! Which is better than nothing – I’ve found little on the web with enough detail to help me make my own decisions about what to buy. So at least this is a start! I’ll edit it in the future if I find out I’ve maintained more misconceptions.

Watch the video and then read on for lots more written info:



In addition to the explanation in the video, here’s a bit of additional information as well—in text that won’t fly across your screen in video!

First, the way I came by all this information…I wanted a couple sets of airbrush equipment to use for classes. I definitely wanted to have some of the air can types to show folks, and a couple of compressors. I knew it was possible to “share” compressors, but it took some effort to figure out what I needed to purchase to have matching sets of everything that would work for my classes.

Some misconceptions I had been under…

  1. That the designation of ABS1, ABS2, and ABS3 for the airbrush kits was the order of expensiveness/extensiveness of the kits. Not so.
  2. That it was super easy to step up from one kit to another.
  3. That the info on all this was going to be in a simple place somewhere on the interwebs. LOL. Why would we think that? Heehee!

Granted – the info IS on the Copic site when you know where to look. I didn’t find it in an easily comparable place or in words that I could follow, however, since I didn’t even know enough to know what questions to seek out. I ended up emailing the amazing Marianne Walker with a gajillion questions, some of which she had to figure out answers for as well. I think she’s probably really happy that I lived through my Airbrush 101 class last week and am now “set” with equipment for future classes! Thank you Marianne!

The three kits

Which kit is right for you? It depends on what you want to do with it. Light-use airbrushers can do fine with the ABS2, while more invested folks will want to consider a compressor – by the time you purchase a few cans of air, you could already own a compressor. See the samples at the end of this blog post to see what I mean by “light” or “heavy” uses. I personally chose to go the compressor route right away. As many of you can attest to, I wasted so much money buying my markers one-at-a-time and could have saved a ton by waiting til I could buy big sets. But no, I didn’t do that —-so when it came to my next investment, I decided to go big at the start instead. And can say I’m glad I did.

  • ABS2 – The least intricate kit. It comes with the Air Grip (the thing you put the marker in) and the can of D60 air. That air lasts 4-5 minutes- some places it says 7-8 minutes, but I mentioned 4-5 to be on the really conservative side. In either case, it’s not a lot of airtime. I’d recommend this for folks who just want to do a little spritz here and there. Replacement costs for the cans are $12-15 depending on where you get them.
  • ABS1N –The middle of the road kit. It comes with the Air Grip, can of air called the 180 that contains 30-45 minutes of air, plus an air adaptor, hose, and foam piece to hold the air can. More airtime here, and the replacement cans run around $20.
  • ABS3 – This kit goes with the compressor. That’s what I have. It’s got the Air Grip and air adaptor, and if you get the Copic compressor it comes with the one hose you need. Best thing – air is now free!

While the compressor is an investment, it also means you don’t have ongoing costs for cans of air. That’s important to me since I like to really spend time working on stuff, and if I was working with “gas gold” in an air can, I’d be wayyyy more conservative with what projects I took on.

Upgrading kits

To step up from one kit to the next,  you should know a few things.

  • If you start with the ABS2, the only part you have in your possession that you’d need for the others is the Air Grip. If you want to move to the ABS1N, you need a bunch of new stuff: air adaptor, hose, air can 180, foam holder. If you want to go to the compressor system, get the air adaptor and compressor with the hose and you’re done.
  • If you start with the ABS1N, stepping up to the compressor is easy. Just get the compressor with the hose! You have everything else in the ABS1N kit.

The hose that goes with the compressor runs around $30ish – and you need that specific hose. I wouldn’t recommend trying to find one “like” it necessarily; by putting the wrong hookups on your system, you can ruin an air adaptor or grip. As for non-Copic compressors – I can’t speak to that intelligently at all, really! Compressors are complex, they have things like PSIs and all kinds of numbers. Oily, oilless, I’m just not qualified to speak to any of that. That said, I’m trying out a non-Copic compressor to see if it works, but I’m going into it lightly; it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles I see on my Copic one, and I think it needs more maintenance since it’s not the same kind. Until I have a lot more experience with it (and see if I explode any air guns!) I’ll just keep my two cents worth to myself. BUT – please know that the high price of the Copic compressor DOES include the $30 hose that you need, so if you find another compressor to try, add he $30 to the cost to see if it’s actually worth a “deal.”

What the systems look like

See the video for realistic kits, of course – and the Copic site and packaging will have lots of info for you in detail. But here’s my little doodles of the three systems so you can see them by comparison. Not to scale, just sayin’! Click to download one that’s printable (not as horizontal of a format, but easier to print out).abskitcomparison So there you have my initial assessment of the Copic Airbrush kits for all of you who’ve been asking! You can probably see why it took me a while to get it all together – I wanted to be sure to have my own questions cleared up before passing on misinformation. Below are some samples of what I mean by usage levels, so hopefully that will illustrate for you what you might be interested in!

Heavy Airbrushing

These are samples of what I would call heavy airbrushing. The backgrounds are full of color and large enough to require a good amount of time to airbrush; you could easily use the whole 30minutes of a can of air on one, especially if you’re learning and take a lot of time to build layers slowly.

This first card is a new one here on my blog – using the new Lawn Fawn “Love You Smore” set. One layer on that paper, cool eh??

Sandy Allnock LF Smore Campfire

This is yesterday’s card here on the blog – click on the image to read a little about how I made it. It’s not entirely airbrushed in the background, but enough overlayering of airbrush that I’d put it in the “heavy” airbrush category as far as the time it took to overspray with color.

Sandy Allnock - Mo Manning Bossy Brick Wall

This card is entirely airbrush, so really does need a ton of airtime! There’s also a video showing how this was done, both diecutting and airbrush. Click on the card to go to the original post.

Sandy Allnock Essentials By Ellen Hearth Home

Light airbrushing

I dug through my airbrush samples (you can check them all out by sorting my blog by the Airbrush Category) to find light airbrushing, and I do have just a couple samples of what I mean. This first card is light since it’s a tiny area of coverage in the window scene, though it does take a little more time to create rainbow looks. As above, click on the image to get to a blog post about the card.

Sandy Allnock - Kitty Window Cards

This card has a small panel of airbrushed color behind a diecut – this can be achieved with just a little air.


The swoosh in the background on this image was created with a quick swoosh of airbrushing, and then stippled with dots of color.

And finally, this is one of my earliest tries at airbrushing, where I airbrushed above torn paper masks to create light clouds.



Bunnies, Masks, and Airbrush

Bunnies, Masks, and Airbrush


Hey there – and TGIF to you! I’m so sad this week is coming to an end – it was SO sunny and hot, I even got a little touch of sunburn! But the forecast has it cooling off right quick…bummer! But…I have a pretty summery, cheerful card to share today in my Friday video!

The image is by Stacey Yacula and is available only over at Purple Onion Designs – links in the doobliedoo – don’t blame me if your wallet starts crying! I had to drop a significant dime over there when I discovered Stacey’s work… you may have the same issue! 🙂

Here’s the still of the card…..I wish the interwebs could post color correctly! It’s stunning in real life, I swear! 🙂
Sandy Allnock - Purple Onion Poppy
Before I go – thank you all so much for your comments on yesterday’s little work of art! It wasn’t a pastor gift – some folks seemed to think that. It’s more for something they may want me to do with the students at the college. EEEP! Fortunately it won’t be on the NEAR term horizon!


Watercoloring Mimi the Chick

Watercoloring Mimi the Chick

Well hey thee and happy Friday, everyone! I hope you have some fun planned for National Scrapbook Day tomorrow….maybe some fun that involves cards! Lol.

I’ve got a little different video for you today…watercolor! Inspired by a request from a patreon supporter, I dug out my Twinkling H20s to do a little painting! Hope the video embeds here in the blog post – my iPad is not liking the copy paste function right now, and keeps madly correcting random things…so I may be stuck fixing it tomorrow!


Hope you enjoyed a little something different! And just in case you wanted to know the colors I used…the labels list all the colors, even if the colors in the little pots are wrong. Sorry ’bout that! 🙂 I did buy them as a single set way back in the day – but not knowing which set it is, I linked a few options down below for ya.

twinkling h20s


Double Die Inlay – with airbrush

Double Die Inlay – with airbrush

Happy Friday! And I’m happy for sure. I was struggling all week with producing today’s video – nothing was working, footage was all icky. Just wasn’t making me a happy camper. Then….I went to my LSS yesterday morning.

What a BLAST that was! I had stamped and diecut a bunch of stuff the night before, just so I could focus on pulling out something and airbrushing it for the customers. They wouldn’t have to sit and watch me fussycut masks. lol. That’s the craft equivalent of watching paint dry! One idea I had was the one for this card…I wasn’t at all sure it would work, but decided to try it as about the 8th demo. I was just a little tired of rainbows by then (everyone wanted to see rainbows), so I just decided to go masculine. The one in the store didn’t come out as well as this one but it was a great prototype. So I came right home and started shooting.



The still photos are much more accurate for color than the video was. I still have my lights that do weird things with some colors, and it didn’t like this brown at all, it made it pretty orangey.

In the video I said I did spots so he’d be a paint – but maybe he’s a palomino? I don’t know horses, so be kind 🙂

Sandy Allnock - Double Die Inlay 2

The video includes a few ideas at the end for those who don’t Copic airbrush – so you can do cool stuff too, of course! And think about dies you have that could work to make a scene like this one. Or if you just need the dies, I have links for you….guess where? The doobliedoo on YT!


Airbrushed Lost World Card [2 Videos!]

Airbrushed Lost World Card [2 Videos!]

Hello everyone! I have a superspecial card for you today…I’ve waited for weeks to share it, and have been chomping at the bit!

It’s somewhat the result of a dream I had; I’d been thinking about what I wanted to do with the Lawn Fawn dinosaurs for a Simon Says Stamp video, and in my dream, I was walking among dinosaurs with an incredible reddish sky overhead. Very very cool image, so I thought I’d try it with airbrush. This card was surprisingly only my 2nd attempt at it … Instagram followers might remember the peek at the first card – cool, but not as cool as this! In the first portion of the video, you’ll see the airbrush, and the wonderment I had when I peeled off all the masking to see that it actually worked. Yes, it surprised me that I hadn’t wasted all that effort!


And part 2 – the dinos and the ground:



Butterfly cards – a whole kaleidoscope!

I made butterfly cards on the retreat I was at recently, and this was one of the few with no Copic coloring on it, too. (Did you know a whole bunch of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope? How perfect!)

Butterfly cards

It’s a brand new stamp from Simon Says. They posted a pic on the Simon Says Stamp Instagram and it’s gotten lots of love there, so leave it some here too…it came out so very pretty. I wanted to make a real rainbow out of them, and had my Memento inks on hand for it.

Some of the butterflies were stamped directly, some were second-generation stamps (stamped once then stamped a second time before reinking to get the lighter color). And I didn’t have a light yellowgreen, so I inked the butterfly in yellow, then patted it onto some dark green ink on a piece of scratch paper, and stamped it – voilá, yellowgreen!

Simon Says Butterfly cards

I used only Memento inks from my dewdrop pads for my butterfly cards…these are the colors we’ll be using in my Spin the Color Wheel class next week. We won’t be making this card, but I want to take it with me as an example of using the full rainbow of color in addition to all the other colorways taught in the class. BIG thanks to Tsukineko for all these pretty inks. It’s FUN to play with so much color! (Ink pads listed in the doobliedoo are the full pads, not the dewdrops.)

Simon Says Butterflies2

By the way, the soft purple sentiment was stamped the same way as those yellowgreen butterflies; I inked it in a red, then dipped it into purple that was inked onto scratch paper. I could have used a redpurple color to ink it, but wouldn’t have come out with that coolio texture and blending!


Butterfly cards are so perfect for just about any occasion…think I’ll make a few more of these!

Distress Ink Techniques – Instagrammed Embossing

Today’s card – one of many gorgeous distress ink techniques! I may be out of town but I didn’t want to leave you high and dry without inspiration! It was inspired by my latest obsession – Instagram – and the crazy filters you can apply to images. This technique looks a little like it does that, so…that’s what I’m calling it!

Sandy Allnock Instagram Embossing - Distress Ink Techniques

It’s truly amazing what you can do with distress ink techniques – stay tuned for a lot more to come over months and years ahead around here. There really are so many different ways to apply them, tools to use, and more – FUN! Hope you enjoy the how-to video below, or click HERE to watch it directly on YouTube!

Distress ink techniques really give a card a unique look – and each time I use one of them the item comes out completely different. I had created this card before shooting the video, yet the one in the video came out even more luscious!

Sandy Allnock Instagram Embossing - Distress Ink Techniques

FYI – If you are hemming and hawing about taking my Online Copic Backgrounds class – here’s a little endorsement on a post recently: “WOWsa….. Sign up for this while you can……. Sandy, you never cease to amaze me! Thank you sooo much for doing this1 You make it look so easy…but at least it gives me confidence to give it a go!!!! Thank you Thank you Thank you!”  To sign up go get more info HERE!


Leave me a comment and let me know, which are your favorite distress ink techniques?

Hot new trend in crafting

I am sooooo excited about this! I’ve never been “in” on a trend this early, but I’ve seen some amazing people playing around with it on Instagram, and I just had to try a couple of these myself. Nobody’s been bold enough to put it on a blog yet, so I might be the first. *nervous* But here we go!!

The technique is called SuperCAS!

I’ve never been much good at CAS (Clean and Simple), so who am I to think I could Supersize it!?!? But I decided to try. I saw Jennifer give it a go, then Kristina, and Jana jumped on the bandwagon. I bet in no time it’ll be over on the Simon Says Stamp blog, and on MFT and Hero Arts and Paper Trey too. You just wait! They’re totally going to rock it. But between the sneek peeks everyone’s been sharing, I just had to get on the bandwagon and give the technique a shot.

I’ll let you decide if I pulled it off or not. I tried two different ones, and after agonizing over a number of failed attempts, here’s the 5th one that I came up with, using my favorite color: yellow. I decided to try the horizontal version with the short side fold first, it looked easiest:


And just look at the detail on this closeup photo! I love how the inside looks darker, just because of the way the light is hidden from it. It really makes the card front POP!


I got my confidence up after the success with the yellow card, and decided to do another in a teal-ish green color. I’m not sure I really like it that much though, since the inside turns so dark in the shadow hidden by the card front. It would have to have a liner to write a note inside – and that just totally takes it out of the SuperCAS realm entirely. So I think I’ll stick with much lighter colors when I try this.superCAS2

I hope you enjoyed my little card share for today! I’m just so proud of these cards, and of being on the leading edge of a new trend. Well maybe not THE lead, since others have gone before me, but….at least I’m toward the front of the parade. Let me know in the comments if you think you’ll try it out – be brave, it’s not as hard as it looks!

Ciara’s Friends: 4 ways to Copic color a horse!

This video’s the longest one I’ve done in eons…eeeep! But that’s what I get for being indecisive. In all the places I’ve asked, lots of you have requested me to color him in black, brown, white, and paint/spotted….so I did them all since I couldn’t pick one and disappoint everyone else! lol. People-pleaser, that’s me! Annotations will take you from one section of the video to another, so feel free to skip around to what you want to see.

I’m providing stills of the finished cards; designs were all kept simple since the focus is just on the horse. On all but the last, I didn’t even put much detail into anything on the cowpoke except a little shading on the hat and box. At the very end of everything I did some quick washes of color for backgrounds.

Sandy Allnock Brown Horse-Trigger & SkylerSandy Allnock Black Horse-Trigger & SkylerSandy Allnock White Horse-Trigger & Skyler

On this one I added more shading onto the cowpoke, and went a little nuts on the sunrise in the distance, too! Sandy Allnock Paint Horse-Trigger & Skyler

I hope that’s helpful for you guys! I have a request to do a Ciara’s Friends coloring video for another channel – which one of the stamp line would you like to see in a couple weeks?

Embossed Wax Technique

After a couple days out ‘n about on the web, I’m excited to be back with cards here on my own blog. It’s fun to visit, but I never know how many people will bother clickin’ a link to follow me around! 🙂

It’s Friday, so you probably know what that means – I have a video out! Patrons voted for one of the techniques I taught in my class with Hero Arts at CHA….so this is a version of that. I had wanted to play around more with it anyway, so this was a good chance to do so….I tried it with a bunch of different styles of embossing folders, just to see what would hold up to the ironing. Yes, ironing! Paper is about all I ironed in the last number of years. Make sure you read the NOTES at the bottom of this post. Enjoy the video:

Here are stills of the cards made with the birthday background…I’ll make cards with the others over time, so stay tuned for them to show up sometime. This one is in Hero Arts neons – a fun rainbow of color!

Sandy Allnock Embossed Wax Resist Tutorial 1

Here’s the masculine version, using Wet Cement and Cup o Joe shadow inks.

Sandy Allnock Embossed Wax Resist Tutorial 2

On OWHtv next week I’ll see about doing a tutorial on how I did the star (see closeup over on Instagram)- it was a total accident but came out looking like camo!


  1. I found that the Hero Arts shadow inks worked best for this technique; the darker the ink, the more important it’ll be to dab off excess ink, like the Red Royal or Navy.
  2. When adhering something onto the waxy surface, you’ll find tape runners and ATG don’t stick very well; keep it simple and use supersticky adhesive like Tombow Power Tabs.


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