Ah, yes. In the northern hemisphere, the weather is turning milder, the days are becoming shorter. Pumpkin spice is filling up the air…and the Inktober prompts are here! (Well, they have been since September 1st 😛 – Here is the link to the official Inktober site, started by Jake Parker: (click here))
Once again, the question arises. Will I be taking on the 31 day drawing and inking challenge in October known as Inktober?
The short answer is: Yes, yes I will be.
The longer, more detailed answer is: Yes, but with a heck load of preparation before hand! Let me expand on this further….
Disclaimer: This is just how I am prepping for Inktober. Feel free to use some or all of these tips if it suits you! There is no right or wrong way!
The main goal is to improve your drawing/inking skills while having fun!
I know Inktober is not for everyone and if you aren’t doing it this year, that’s totally cool and okay!
Last year (2018) was a real struggle for me and I ended up giving out by Day 12. Balancing school and work along with a fully inked artwork just didn’t work out (not to mention managing my health – which is still pretty chaotic – alongside all this jazz).
Also, I went cold turkey and didn’t plan out my drawings properly for each day. I created some thumbnails here and there but it was really just what I had in mind at that moment as I sat down to draw.
Not the best idea for me.
So, this year, as I was determined to make it through all 31 days, I did some serious planning by listening to/ reading about other artists and their ways of preparing for Inktober. I also reflected on my own shortcomings last time to see where I can improve.
I narrowed down the areas that gave me trouble last time, namely:
- Tackling the prompt list with a set idea in mind
- How big or detailed do I want to go with my Inktober drawings
- What supplies I’ll be using
- Getting into the daily drawing habit
Tackling the Prompts
I like my planners and to-do lists. I like to know what to expect and plan ahead. So, it’s shocking I didn’t have a plan last time with Inktober. But that ain’t gonna be the case this time!
It’s nice to have the prompt list a month ahead of time just to see what the prompts are and to come up with a theme or get a feel for the prompts.
Last time, I had the most fun with artwork of my OCs and environments. I knew I wanted to do more of that this time around and so, this year, I know every single one of the prompts will revolve around my OCs and environments from my most recent vis-dev project!
It’s also nice that October is alternatively known as OC-tober (get it? ahahahaaa..) where you draw your original characters each day in October.
Two birds with one stone, am I right?
Alternatively, you can create mood boards for the prompt words using sites like Pinterest so you know what subject or aesthetic you want to do for each prompt. (Example: if prompt is treasure, create a board with pictures of gold coins and treasure chests… then on the day of the prompt, you have something to draw – pun intended – inspiration from)
Some artists also create a short story or narrative, where each day’s drawing is a sequence in that overall narrative (See @vixiearts on Instagram, where she created a cute narrative about a puppy and friends for Inktober 2018)
Now that I knew what I was going to center my art around, the next was to decide how big my Inktober pieces were going to be and how detailed.
Drawing daily with other commitments means I won’t have time to do anything really elaborate or fill up a huge space.
Last year, I kept to my A5 sketchbook and I liked the amount of drawing space that gave me. It’s small enough to not being able to go into detail but at the same time large enough to draw simple pieces.
So, I’m sticking to drawing in that A5 sketchbook this year, too.
As mentioned, I’ll also try to keep my pieces simple enough so that most of them take only half of the A5 sheet (which means I can do 2 prompts on one page). It’s somewhere between a doodle and a full sketch.
Also, planning ahead means I know that if I want to do anything big i.e. take up the entire A5 page, I just need to allot a little more time to sketch it out. I also need to make sure I make it a prompt on days where I have more time to dedicate to drawing (ex: prompts that fall on the weekends).
Inktober doesn’t have to be expensive. As long as you have a pen, pencil and paper, you are essentially good to go! Also, digital inking is acceptable, too!
I’m still deciding on what I want to use – it’s confirmed that it’ll be all traditional this time – but I’ll finalize that decision by the end of this week.
Why? So I don’t waste time in gathering my supplies each day of Inktober.
That effort to go and round up my supplies really pulls me down when I am all geared up to draw. And, if I need anything like extra ink refills, knowing that beforehand when organizing my supplies helps me to decide shopping dates and to-buy lists.
Getting your supplies beforehand also lets you decide if you want to experiment with new things. For instance, this time, I am planning on experimenting with ink washes, so I know getting my ink bottle into my Inktober supplies crate is a must.
Basically, it’s nice to know what you have to work with before you start working!
Setting Aside Drawing Time
One of the main points of Inktober is to get into a daily drawing habit. However, just jumping in doesn’t work out for me as I have no idea:
- What times are good times for me to draw
- How much time I can spend to each drawing
Also, I knew some days I just won’t be able to draw due to chronic pain and other health issues. Additionally, October is exam and deadline time for school/work, too. Woohoo.
What can I do, then?
Well, Sketch-tember was the go-to solution for me. September is known as Sketch-tember where you do simple pencil sketches each day. It’s not as glorified as Inktober but many artists seem to take advantage of this month to thumbnail or pencil sketch their Inktober drawings in advance.
The only thing is, though, if you do this, make sure to have a small disclaimer on your Inktober drawings that you thumbnailed/ sketched in advance so it doesn’t mislead people into thinking you did an art piece all in one day 🙂 Also, don’t post your Inktober art/sketch in advance of the day – just out of courtesy to other artists!
This was my golden egg. My hero and savior. There is no pressure of having to post art each day or the feeling of being left behind. I had so much trial and error in the past couple of weeks to where I now know what times are good times to draw (afternoon on weekends; evenings on weekdays, usually before dinner or as a wind-down before bed) and how long each drawing takes me (sketching = 30 min to 1 hour). I also know that I can catch-up on missed days without worry since I know how long it’ll take me to do that catch-up work.
In the end, Inktober is about getting creative and having fun by taking out some time to draw. It is not a competition nor is it anything super serious that your life depends on it. Don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t compare yourself. Don’t look at those social media likes or views.
Inktober is for you and your self-improvement.
If you ain’t having that fun or that self-satisfaction of having manifested something into the physical world from your abstract mind, you are probably doing Inktober (and art itself) wrong.
There are still ~15 days left before going off into the whirlwind of Inktober. I sincerely hope that sharing my prepping process with you helps you in your Inktober journey!
Have fun and get creative! And I’ll see you here, soon, friend.