I had looked at many different brands and reviews online and Copic kept coming up as the brand to buy but they are super expensive. The argument is made that they are refillable and cheaper over the long haul but having to shell out hundreds of dollars up front to have a decent collection was a big deterrent for me. After using this set of Blick markers this weekend, I'm completely pleased!!
If you'd like the specific details, here is my comparison to the 24 Prismacolor markers I own and what I know of Copic.
72 Copic Sketch Markers are around $350
96 Blick Studio Brush Markers cost me $203 ($147 less and I got 24 more markers!)
The argument can be made that the Copics are refillable and therefore cheaper in the long run but so are the Blick. As of yet, Blick doesn't make a refill but the nibs come off just like Copic, so I'll refill them with Copic ink if Blick doesn't have refills yet. With 300+ colors in the Copic line I'm sure I can find a color that's close enough to suit me.
I have not actually used Copic but from what I've seen the Blick markers are VERY similar. The rounded hexagonal body is roughly the same as the oval body of the Copic and a great improvement over the round Prismacolor markers I have. The nibs can be replaced (and ink refilled) which is nice. It feels very comfortable in the hand. I'm use to the Prismacolor fine tip so the brush tip feels very soft and flexible by comparison but I can get greater line variation and feel like I will come to love it more in time. The chisel nib is very firm by comparison and I found myself using it to blend. I like that I can press harder with that end. I also like that the name and color is stamped on both caps for easy identification. Finally, they come in four hard plastic cases that make storing and retrieving the markers easy and neat while I work. Here's a picture of my desk when using Prismacolor (because I had no case).
The ink in the Blick Studio Brush Markers flows nicely and the colors are an uncanny match of the Prismacolor markers. Many have said in online reviews that Prismacolor excels at the pigment of their markers and is the one edge they have on Copic. I found the Blick to go toe to toe with the Prismacolors I own. I was even able to find nearly an identical match for all the colors but True Green. Here is a chart I made comparing the Prismacolor on the left tot he Blick on the right. I also made line thickness variations on each side. Chisel nibs on top and fine/brush nibs at bottom. I'm very pleased with the ability to match both the color and quality of the Prismacolors with the Blicks.
Here is a color chart of all the markers in the Blick color line (95 + colorless blender is the full line from Blick at the time I write this)
When it came time to put the markers to the page, I was equally pleased. Colors blended every bit as well as my Prismacolor markers and I have so many colors now it's almost overwhelming! Copic does make something like 300+ colors so that is one area where Blick falls short but I think I can get by with 96 just fine! Here are the 3 sketch cards I completed this weekend using the Blick markers. (click for larger view)
It should also be noted that the Blick markers went right over top Pigma Micron ink with no bleeding, smearing or color changes. Equally important, the Signo white gel pen I used on top did not pick up any of the Blick ink. The whites stayed white.
When making my color chart I noticed that I had a duplicate of Sienna and no Caramel colored marker. I emailed Blick customer service around midnight and they got right back to me the next day and said they were FedExing the missing marker to me immediately and I should have it and 3-4 days! I couldn't be more pleased with how they handled the matter.
All in all, I give the Blick Studio Brush Markers an A+ rating. I hope Blick decides to make official refill inks for these markers (that would be the only down side) but even if they don't, they offer the best value for a hobbyist like myself. They offer professional quality at an affordable price. Now that I know they have great customer service to match I'll be buying more of my supplies from Blick!