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When and how to change Copic nibs and refill pens

A common question I’m asked often is how to change Copic nibs – when do you do it? What’s the process? And how do you refill Copic markers? Today’s very short video will talk about both! Watch the video below, or click HERE to watch in HD on YouTube.

Important tip!

In case it didn’t come through clearly enough in the video: do NOT use rubbing alcohol in place of Colorless blender except in cleaning functions only. If you soak your caps, 99% alcohol works great. It’s super for putting on a rag or paper towel and wiping off ink around the nib. But do NOT mix it with color inside your pen or touch it to the nib. You don’t want to mix that with the Copic ink. Use colorless blender if you want to do things like mix custom colors, etc.

How to refill Copic markers

I recommend only purchasing refill bottles for colors as you use them; you may THINK you’re going to use a color a lot, but wait until you find out if you actually do. You’ll get many refills out of one bottle; so don’t get too worried by the price, it’s a great deal. I’ve posted a list of my most-refilled markers HERE – that means that they’re the colors I use the most!

Signs that a marker needs refilling:

  1. inconsistent coloring
  2. “dragging” of the nib while coloring; sometimes with a squeaky sound
  3. whitish nib

Refill from the chisel side, especially if you use my technique (removing the chisel nib, dripping ink directly into the marker) or the Booster System. I’m going to make a wild guess and say that most people who make videos – including Copic – must not use the booster needle, because I couldn’t find any how-t0-refill videos showing it! ha. I’ve tried it before and it works, it’s just easier to put the drops in directly. Some folks use the measurement notches on the bottle and figure out how many cc’s to put in; I hold the bottle above the marker and drip ink into it, and just count drops.

Once you think you’ve got enough ink in the pen, be sure to test it. If ink is dribbling out of the brush nib – you’re over full!

If your marker still isn’t quite right….a Copic hack!

I’ve had a few markers over the years that weren’t coloring quite right even after refilling. They were a little “gummy” on the surface of the nib – if you end up with that kind of nib, you’ll know it.

The trick with the bag shown in the video worked BRILLIANTLY on the marker I used it on this week. I was so excited to see that! In the past I had just changed those nibs…so from now on when I get a gummy marker, I’m going to mess with it more before giving it up. Just put a little Colorless Blender into a plastic bag, and massage it into the nib for about 30 seconds or so. Scribble off color – it should be lighter and thinner ink at first, as the blender solution wears off. You may need to add more ink to get it to color properly.

And if that doesn’t work – try changing the nib.

How to change Copic nibs

I replace nibs most often when the nib breaks down; that means either the tip develops a little “tail” that flips around as I color (agh! Frustrating!)…and sometimes the sides of a nib break down and develop what looks like pilling. If it still colors fine and you aren’t bothered by it, though, don’t change it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

How to change Copic nibs: Pull out the nib with Copic tweezers. It’s an inexpensive item, so go ahead and pick one up, honestly. It’ll keep your fingers clean when changing nibs or refilling – and it’ll make pulling out a brush nib WAY easier. I tried replacing a nib and using my regular makeup tweezers to pull out the nib – and only the foam part came off, and I had to do crazy things to remove the rest….it’s easier to just use the Copic one.

Pop a new nib into the empty marker, then wait for the ink to wick down to the end. Super easy. You may need to add more ink, but wait til the ink wicks out to the end first.

Extra links

The “hack” I showed with the bag isn’t mine, though I had always wondered if it would work. So happy that marker is back to working well instead of needing a new nib! Here are two ladies with blogs that are jam packed with great info:

My most reinked colors

At long last, after SO many requests….I’ve updated my favorite products page. At least with a few of the basics! I have more to add, but…here you go!

My favorite products


Copic Markers at Ellen Hutson LLC
Copic Markers at Dick Blick Art Materials
Copic Markers at Simon Says Stamp

I hope this post was helpful in learning how to change Copic nibs and refill your markers!

26 thoughts on “When and how to change Copic nibs and refill pens

  1. I have a questions. I have the 25th anniversary Sketch markers (black barrel) with very fine nib at one end. I need to replace a couple of the nibs which have become very hard. I tried soaking them in the Copic blending solution but it didn’t work Anything else I can do? Or do you know where I could purchase those very fine nibs?

    1. I’ve never used that one – check the Copic site for info.

  2. Hi! Can the original copic nib be changed?

    1. All nibs can be replaced – refer to their site if you want to change it to a different style nib, the originals only fit some nibs.

  3. […] been saying I need an assistant lately….a munchkin to fill my markers and change nibs….to sort out my piles of rubble on my desk and put the stamps back in their stamp […]

  4. […] took almost 11 hours in real time. Stopped to refill markers a couple times, especially while doing that […]

  5. Thank you for this! A question would be, I accidentally bought the Copic markers when I should be buying the sketch markers instead. Can I change the nibs of the original markers to those of the sketch pens?

    1. I don’t believe so 🙁 But – I bought some of the original bodies too, especially for coloring details with the bullet nibs. So you might find you would still use them.

  6. Sandy, your video was most helpful yesterday. Your Hero Arts Peace Poinsettia video is what inspired me to give Copics a try and after coloring 17 poinsettias, my R14 marker had all the signs that it needed a refill. So keep those videos coming. You are a wonderful teacher.

  7. […] out and enter to win the entire release!) I colored on the stamp with my Mementos (Espresso, Olive, Tangelo, Rhubarb , then added water. Easy and sweet! I added a scrap of border-punched watercolor […]

  8. Thank you for the video. I always throw away the gooey-sticky nibs. I’ll be trying the bag next time.

  9. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  10. Hi Sandy! Thanks for your tutorial, it was really helpful. Unfotunately the link to your most refilled markers is not linked. I would really love to find out what your favorite colors are. ;o)

  11. Hi Sandy. Although I don’t have any Copics yet, I WILL have them! LOL BUT, I always do my homework before I buy/try something so expensive! I am thrilled that you shared this video as I like to know how to use something properly when I DO have it. I pinned it for future reference. It was a clear and informative video and I really appreciate that you took the time to do it!

  12. Thank you for showing us how to maintain our markers!! Love your videos!!

  13. Love this article, Sandy!

    1. Hey thank YOU for the bag trick! Excited that it worked…and on camera too. LOL!

  14. Thanks for the tips. I don’t have Copics, but it can’t be too much different for Spectrum Noirs. I enjoy and look forward to your videos…….

  15. Hi Sandy, you didn’t mention those markers such as the Anniversary collection that don’t have a chisel tip. What is the best way to refill those?

    1. I actually don’t have those, so I’m not sure….google for it?

  16. I have the Copic tweezers but I still have issues with the brush tip coming apart when I pull it out of the marker. Obviously I’m going to discard it so it doesn’t really matter if it’s in bits and pieces, but it’s a major hassle to go back several times to get all of the tip out of the marker. Do you have any ideas of what I might be doing wrong, or am I just waiting too long to change tips and the tip is too disintegrated?
    Also, I have started weighing my markers to determine when they need refilling. I bought a jewelry scale on eBay that was very inexpensive. If I have a marker that isn’t behaving I will weigh it first. If it has enough ink then I know I probably need to work on cleaning or replacing the tip. If it’s low, then refilling it does the trick.

    thanks again for sharing all your Copic knowledge!

    1. Sometimes they really are just so disintegrated. But at least it’s trash anyway, like you said! Grab it as close to the fat part of the nib as you can, though, that may help, then you’re squeezing on a bigger part of that inner plastic bit.
      I haven’t messed with the scale – with the crazy mess on my desk, I’m better off with fewer tools laying around! 🙂

  17. You, my friend, are awesome! ♥♥♥

  18. Thank you for the information. I use Spectrum Noir but refilling is almost the same. 🙂

  19. Good information.,and thank you for the Copic list. Some of these groups were a little surprising.

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