A number of years ago, I was on a mission to try finding alternate brands to Copic; though I purchased my full set long before the changes at Copic/Too, I knew it was going to go from bad to worse. And I tested out all the brands as they kept cropping up on the market for alcohol marker users.

 

One of those brands was Olo, and I first tried them in 2022. They were kind enough to send me a set, I think they realized I was in testing mode and it would be a good opportunity for them if I liked them.

My review was mixed. But hopeful!

If you got here from my Weekly Newsletter and found the link for the next video about color didn’t work from that email…. here’s a good link for ya!  It has the discussion of color that was mentioned in the video on this post. One day I’ll remember to check links before clicking ‘send,’ huh? 🙂 

While a lot of people looked for “cheap” as their highest priority, I was looking for quality of product AND innovation. I’ve never liked when ANY company – art supply or otherwise – just replicates something that’s already out there, not putting any creativity into it! (I know I own a lot of products that have done this, but….I don’t review makers of my pajamas.)

Olo markers were immediately innovative: customizable markers, realizing that artists may or may NOT like a chisel nib, whereas other pens were automatically shoving both at us. While I use my Copic chisel nibs for airbrush, I don’t draw with them, and having the ability to only have to buy the brush marker end? That was very appealing.

The quality of the pens was good, the nibs were fantastic, the caps seated really well (in some cases too well; I’ve heard some people have trouble getting the caps ON, which hasn’t been an issue for me). The biggest drawback? Colors.

They had 128 colors, which back 30 years ago would have sounded fantastic, but I wanted a lot of colors that were missing; the greens only had a few color options and not great ones, and there weren’t good natural blending groups for hardly any colors to make it easy for newbies to color. 

But I remained hopeful, because that kind of innovation isn’t cheap. I’d much rather have a company work at expanding their line to fill out their vision than do what a lot of other fly-by-night manufacturers did—rushing out with 300+ colors and failing miserably to deliver on quality.

And so I waited. When Olo announced new colors would be coming, and let affiliats pre-order them, I squeezed the money out of my budget for a half-marker of each new color. And that brings us to today: new colors are finally here!

 

 

Tutorial: Getting started with Olo Alcohol Markers

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

32 new colors

This release has a good number of colors in it, thankfully; when companies come out with 3 or 6 colors, it’s stressful to even consider putting out a new hex chart to include them for just a few pencils. It takes me a lot in my process to alter a chart, and 32 colors is plenty to be worth it!

Out of these colors, a lot are neutrals for skin, hair, animals. Most interesting to me are 2 natural blending groups in the pink and purple (Natural groups have a light, medium, and dark in markers that all share the same first digit, making them easy to blend well). But a thrill? All the new greens! It’s almost as if they heard me, though honestly I don’t think anyone hears me cry into the wilderness. But I’ll take it!

Order markers here.

Alcohol Marker Jumpstart Class

I decided, on advice of a lot of folks on Facebook, to change some wording – instead of using “Copic” in class and video titles, I’ll be trying to make things apply to more people with the term “Alcohol Markers.” Which means I’ve changed the name of my most popular class: Copic Jumpstart is now Alcohol Marker Jumpstart! It’s the same course, but hopefully more inviting to users of other mediums.

The hand-drawn chart will be added to the class for students to download and color as a reminder of what the letters and number codes mean.

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Revised conversion charts

The two charts in this free set, Olo to Copic and Copic to Olo, will help you use a tutorial for Copics while using Olos, or vice versa! I’ll have more to say about the chart in my next view this coming weekend.

Get the free chart here.

A word (or 500) about other marker brands

Every brand of an art supply handles the naming and numbering of its product in its own way!

The cheaper craft companies often use random numbering/naming conventions; maybe it means something to them, but there’s no artist on staff making a color wheel of their colors and understanding why anything exists in their line. I find those extremely frustrating, and figuring out a company’s rhyme/reason for color codes tells me whether or not they have a colorist on staff. LOL.

Then there’s traditional art companies like Faber Castell who use traditional art names for colors and it’s the identical numbering system and colors across allllll their products.

In general, knowing some fo that info can help tell you whether an art supply is “good” —well thought out, quality, etc—or if it’s one that’s just put out there to make money. The latter companies are often not interested in pressing quality, just in cutting expenses to keep their product cheap and able to undercut the others in the industry. 

That doesn’t mean those supplies can’t be used. It probably means they won’t last as long as good supplies, might fade faster or other problems could happen down the road. Some of the companies I ttested over the years were this kind of flash in the pan; they didn’t last, and anyone who bought their inexpensive line of markers (me!) can’t get refills or nib replacements. Thus why I like that Olo is taking its time and pacing its growth.

Supplies

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6 Comments

  1. Jan Castle

    In addition to my Copic markers, I purchased 90 Graphit markers because of the tiny nib to color in really tight places. Now after two years, I am having trouble getting the lids off…have to keep cleaning the case and lid – frustrating. Still like what I can do with them as I like tiny coloring – but hard to find them now. Love the chisel tip on my Copics…use it to edge top layers for my cards as well as edge the added inside page with the deckled edge bottom. Thanks for the explanation and tips Sandy…you are the BEST!!!!
    Paper Hugs,
    Jan

    Reply
    • Sandy Allnock

      Isnt it crazy that marker companies come and go so much? It makes me glad at least Copic is still around even if they changed a lot. I hope Olo sticks around. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Karen Roberts

    Hi Sandy – I love how you refill these markers, but do not like the ‘half’ marker thing … I would never find anything. I saw a comment about a ‘handle’ , but I must have missed it in the video…would this handle help with the two halves problem ? Thanks, Karem 🙂

    Reply
    • Sandy Allnock

      The handles are $2 each so you could get one for each. https://olomarker.com/collections/accessories/products/olo-brush-handle

      But my recommendation would be to try a couple to see how good your memory is. It reminds me of that Memory game my sisters and I played as a kid except I’m in control of what pairs are Once I undid my original random pairing, I’m finding it’s MUCH easier to find them — I know R5.1 is paired with R5.3, and I’ve also put them all in racks by color family so I can locate them quick.

      If $ grew on trees I’d get two of each color, that way when one ran out I’d have another to tide me over. But until I win the lottery I’ll stick with what I’m doing. The $2 handles would solve the finding-a-marker problem, but not the oh-gosh-I-ran-out one.

      Does that help?

      Reply
  3. Nancy Sapp

    I have followed you for years and already purchased your HEX chart and filled it in with my Copic markers, which I have spent hundreds of dollars on. Are you now saying we need to switch to Olo markers? Has something changed with Copic markers that we all need to jump ship and spend more money on a new brand? And if so, could you please explain why? I’m a little confused as you have always been such a strong supporter and educator for Copics. When I watch people using Olo markers they do not seem to blend as well as Copics- just an observation on my part.

    Reply
    • Sandy Allnock

      Oh I’m not saying to jump ship! I still have my markers and will continue using them. But – Copic had some big changes lately that caused a lot of artists to abandon them. The quality has dropped drastically – tons of markers have microfractures in the caps, making them dry out before the purchaser has even used them once. The company went through a leadership change a few years ago and this has happened since – I still hold out hope they’ll hear from users that this is really bad and that they’ll turn things around, but it doesn’t seem like they’re listening. (I’m glad I bought mine before the shakeup, they’re still in great condition!)

      I don’t think Olo are as good as Copic at this time, but for those looking for a more affordable alternative that I think is a quality marker, I can recommend them. But if your Copic markers are working great for you do NOT abandon ship 🙂

      Reply

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