It's funny how fast trends move on. Not that long ago it seemed that everyone was going mad for Prismacolor pencils, then it was promarkers and now it's copic ciaos. I bought some promarkers a while back but wasn't really getting on with them due to the lack of colours that I owned. I've since extended my collection (amazing how easy it is to let things fall into online shopping baskets!) and I've also bought a few copics. Here are the main differences between copics and promarkers that I've noticed.
Style: definately beat the promarkers hands down on looks!
Colours: 143 colours. Orginally, they had more colours than promarkers and the added benefit of being able to top up with the more expensive copic markers if you were missing a colour. The pens are grouped according to colour family which makes it easier to locate the next colour up or down for shading.
Design: the fact that the lids of the copics show the colour rather than the barrel of the pen make it a lot easier to pick out the pen you want if you use tubs or pots for storage, rather than buying the penholders.
Ease of use: this is very much down to personal preference. Copics have a brush nib and a broad nib.
Extras: you can buy new nibs and refill the copics apparently, although they are not advertised as such.
Price: normally the most expensive of the two.
Challenge website: http://copicscolourchallenge.blogspot.com/
Style: rather dated and not particularly attractive!
Colours: promarkers have extended their range and now have 148 colours.
Design: the fact that the barrel is coloured rather than the lid can make locating the right pen difficult depending on your storage method. Also the colour on the barrel is often not true and they can look similar to one another e.g. pastel yellow and ivory look the same in poor light.
Ease of use: promarkers have a bullet nib and a broad nib.
Extras: promarkers can be used with their airbrush system, which is not possible with the copics. The official Letraset website has 10% off selected colours each month.
Price: normally the cheaper of the two, retailing at around £1.99.
Challenge website: http://promarkerchallenge.blogspot.com/
Verdict: although the ciao certainly seems to have the streetcred edge at the moment, so far I've not found anything to justify the extra price other than they look prettier & are easier to organise. However, if you are planning on going for the whole collection that the easy identifiable lids on the ciaos might be the better option. I personally prefer the bullet nib on the promarker. Before making your decision check on your local stockists. Our local art shop stocks promarkers which is obviously a huge plus for me as I can stock up on single pens as and when I need them. Either way, the two challenge websites are great fun to follow and often have technique tips as well. If any of this has been of use to you, please leave me a comment below. Thanks.
Update 9th Oct: Ekk, I've just found another art shop in town the stocks the ciaos. I'm spoilt for choice now!