If you haven't noticed, I get onto little themes and run a few posts in a row on the same topic. If that topic doesn't seem to apply to you, just have patience and sooner or later I'll post something that is useful to you. OR, you could always ask me a question and if it's interesting enough then I'll answer it through a blog post.
For those of you who draw your own work in pencil first, then ink and color it this is going to be most useful to you. Actually, anyone who uses regular graphite pencils with Copics will find this useful. Note: I'm NOT talking about colored pencils yet, since those have different properties.
I know that I mentioned once before a list of things you shouldn't color over because it will ruin your marker tips. In the second half I mention pencil. Some people just don't like to ink their work though, and so they are determined to draw lines with pencil and go over it with their markers. For those of you who HAVE to use pencil first there are some properties of Copic markers to keep in mind before you work.
Regular Gray pencil lines are made from graphite which, depending on it's hardness and darkness, leaves a residue on your paper when you rub it. The residue is very soft and movable- that's why so many artists like to work in pencil. If you want a soft pencil blend you can just rub your thumb over the line and it softens up. Because the residue is so soft and movable it can also be erased easily, and it gets altered when you start working with Copic markers and your pencil lines.
Rule 1: On soft papers, be careful of erasing because this can cause the paper fibers to flake up leaving rough spots where your inking pens and marker will feather and look bad. Trust me on this one. You really want to test your papers before making this mistake - I've worked hard inking things only to have them ruined by erasing.
Rule 2: When you go over pencil with Copic markers the line feathers and smudges. Those of you who draw with fine line mechanical pencils may notice this when you color and your fine mechanical line isn't so fine anymore. See the example. The first line is scribbled over with a blender- it smudged and so did the second line that I rubbed with my finger.
Rule 3: When you go over pencil with markers the line becomes permanent. This is a major one to pay attention to. If you are like me and you do your rough outline in pencil, then ink it, then color be sure all that pencil is erased BEFORE you start coloring, because once marker is layered over the pencil it is permanent. The markers act like fixative in this respect (see next segment on fixatives)
Rule 4: Once you go over the pencil line it will stain your marker tip. Those stray bits of graphite that want to smudge will collect on the tip of your marker and are a pain to get out unless you scribble them out right away. My blender pens show the most grayness, usually because of pencils.
Now, after reading all those negatives, if you're still determined to work with graphite pencil as your outline then let's do it right so we can use those rules to our benefit.
Rule 1: Just use good, tight papers and this won't be a problem. I love the Copic sketchbooks because their pages are nice, heavyweight, and their fibers don't pull up when I erase.
Rule 2: Don't go over the pencil line. Or, if you do go over the pencil line go in the direction of the pencil, not against it so you see the smudges- see the next step
Rule 3: If you want to see the pencil without smudges when you blend and layer marker over the top then you want the lines to be permanent. Use a light pencil since this leaves less graphite on the paper to be moved, and try using a light spray fixative before coloring (not heavy and know that not all fixatives will protect against alcohol, so test first!)
Rule 4: Instead of going through all this hassle and drawing with pencil why don't you just ink your lines with a gray inking pen?
Look at how the colors around the pencil rose got all muddied up. I was being careful, but whenever I accidentally touched those heavy pencil lines it smeared all over.
If you draw the work with a gray pen however, it will feel almost as subtle as pencil but it won't have problems like the pencil does and it won't stain your marker tip. See this little example. The multiliner rose will never smudge, yet it's still subtle like the pencil.
Note: The gray multiliner is a cool gray, whereas pencil is more neutral.
And, if you are still determined to use a pencil for drawing your artwork, then go lightly, and color up to, but not over the lines. This final rose I drew a few years ago, very lightly in pencil. So lightly that in most areas you can't even see the lines and the whole picture has a very soft, undefined feel. This made it very hard to photograph clearly- the camera didn't know what to focus on. My scanner couldn't pick up the subtle colors either, so the photo was the best I could manage.