Battle of the Markers: Spectrum Noir vs. Copic Ciao

Copic markers are probably to the marker world, what Polychromos or Prisma Premier colored pencils are to the colored pencils industry. Copics are one of the best in quality among alcohol markers, a favorite among the artist and colorist communities, and yes, quite expensive. Spectrum Noir positions itself to bridge the gap between cheap alternatives and premium brands. According to its website — “Because the high-priced ‘premium’ brands aren’t for everyone, and because nobody can really improve by using a cheap, inferior product – we put all our efforts into making our growing range of markers, pencils and artist’s accessories the best it can be. And then pricing it fairly. “

So  does Spectrum Noir measure up? Time for another Battle of the Markers — this time it’s Spectrum Noir vs. Copic Ciao alcohol markers. Note that there are several kinds of Spectrum Noir and Copic markers (more at the end of this article) but this article will compare the original Spectrum Noir and Copic Ciao.

The talented Jane Adam shares her experience using these alcohol markers. The sweet coloring page is from Maria Castro’s Lovebirds Coloring Pack from Scribo Creative’s Etsy store.

Here’s what Jane thinks…


  • Both are alcohol based markers
  • Both are refillable. We can refill about 13 times for Copic Ciao using Copic Refill Ink and 8-10 times for Spectrum noir using Spectrum Noir Reinkers.
  • We can replace nibs, available to be purchased separately.
  • Both markers blend easily; also have blender marker.
  • As with all alcohol markers, we need to put extra sheets or cardstock if we want to color single-sided coloring books, as it bleeds to the next page.
  • Both are non toxic.
  • Both are not lightfast. Colors will fade when exposed to direct light for a long period of time.


  • Copic Ciao is juicier than Spectrum Noir in my opinion. Also, with brush nib on one side, we can color in more detailed drawings.
  • Copic is the high end alcohol marker for artists. Copic Ciao has a smaller barrel but has the same quality as the Copic Sketch, hence more economical for people who want to try Copic.

Spectrum Noir is not as highly regarded as Copic, but is still a great alternative for beginners and/or artists to use.

  • Copic Ciao has a round barrel. Spectrum Noir has a hexagonal barrel.
  • Copic Ciao is more expensive than Spectrum Noir.

So are Copic Ciao markers worth buying?

In my opinion, I don’t see either as preferable to another. I like to use different markers for coloring. Sometimes I like to use a bullet nib so I use Spectrum Noir. At other times, I feel like coloring something more intricate so I use a brush* nib from Copic Ciao. To start, maybe get a small set of each and see which markers you like better.

*Spectrum Noir has an Illustrator line that includes brush nib. The Spectrum Noir and Copic websites will have more details on the different types of markers they offer.

Have you used either of these alcohol markers? Which one do you like better?