Thanks to Instagram, I was reminded of the annual art-making challenge of Inktober which I have wanted to participate in since I learned about it last year. The goal: complete one ink drawing per day in October. This exercise came at the right time for me; I often get in drawing ruts and instead of fighting through it, I default to lettering and calligraphy. And as much as I love lettering and improving my handwriting skills during that evasion, I neglect drawing and those skills become rusty. And then I fear picking up a pencil or pen because I know the result will be dismal. And believe me, day one of Inktober was just that. Looking back on October, I can see improvement in different areas of my drawing, composition, and abilities, and I can also look back in my sketchbooks and look at all the ways I flopped! Here are my drawings for Inktober 2015:
As for time requirements, each drawing could take 15 minutes to 2 hours. And I admit, October 30th got away from me so there was no drawing for that day. The perfectionist in me suffered. The realist in me shrugged. Here are a few things I learned this past month.
I am an advocate for doing what you can with what you have. Many of my illustrations are created with a mechanical pencil and Crayola colored pencils. But when it comes to improving your work, introducing new tools into your art-making will expand your knowledge and give you new ideas of things to create! Sometimes the media informs the subject; this was at least the case for many of my drawings. At the beginning of the month, I had an idea or source image and I tentatively introduced new media into my drawings and was met with either elation or disappointment. Most often I was disappointed by my lack of control over a certain media (color india ink!) or the subpar quality of my paper. When I sketch and draw in pencil, I find the paper doesn't matter as much. I just grab a sketchbook and start. But when it comes to a liquid medium, paper is very, very important. This is a big DUH-DOY to me now but it took several over-worked or smudged and bleeding drawings to realize it. Here were some of my go-to tools during Inktober.
Moulin Roy Watercolor Paper
I think any heavy watercolor paper would suffice for ink drawings, but this is the kind I had on hand. It was lovely, and I ripped it into small pieces and completed plenty of drawings! When tearing watercolor paper, here's the trick: lay a ruler on the paper, press down on the ruler and tear the paper along the ruler for a clean and natural edge.
Higgins Fountain Pen Ink
My note next to the ink bottle is to say that a drawing india ink would work just as well. This ink is at the right fluidity for fountain pens but it worked really well when combined with my Kuratake water brush. Which brings us to my favorite item in my pen collection...
Kuretake Water Brush
I use this brush pen on a daily basis. Ink can either go in the pen (combined with water!) or else fill the pen with water and dip the brush into ink. I can get this brush for about $2 - $3 at Blick Art Supply, but I have an Amazon link in the header with the brush at about $5. The pen gives you great control over ink or watercolor paint. You control how wet the brush should be simply by pressing on the body of the brush pen, allowing for more water to reach the brush. This pen is great for lettering, ink washes, and fine details. I never wish to be parted from it.
Sakura Pigma Brush Pens
If you really want to explore ink drawing, I highly suggest these brush pens. I often would use the Fine Brush pen (FB) to begin my drawings and later, once I wanted to add more variety in line quality, would go over lines with the MB pen. The nibs are flexible and high-quality. The FB pen is finally dying on me after thousands of lines and many, many uses.
My BFF got me these inks last Christmas and I have attempted to use them throughout the year. The color is very potent and must be thinned in order to get any variance in their hue; you can see how I utilized them in my Inside Out: Sadness drawing near the end of Inktober. I also played with them throughout the whole month (see Day 2 & 3), but they often got the best of me and I would overuse them in my drawing to the point where the drawing was ruined. I would suggest staying away from these until you are better established in ink drawings. I am looking forward to revisiting them!
Some days of Inktober were the freaking bomb. I would have an idea, my sketch would work and my final drawing was exactly how I pictured it. But most days, the drawing I ended up posting was number three or four in a string of crappy drawings for that day and the final one was what I resigned myself to. But that's okay! You figure out what works, you figure out what you want to come back to, and you figure out how to forge ahead! The point is you don't stop and give up. This is true for any activity, job, or hobby you are interested in but I thought I would remind you for ink drawings in particular.
2015 has been a real delight as I have connected with more artists, letterers, and letter-writers than ever before, many of whom participated in Inktober this year. Finding these folks is as simple as clicking on the hashtag #Inktober, and a whole gambit of artists, amateur and professional alike, are at your fingertips for inspiration and encouragement. Some are just starting out and need that Like and Comment in order to keep going - do it! Some are well-established and have developed a style of their own - don't hesitate to Like and Comment and also glean from their experience. I grabbed inspiration on how to do the Disney Princesses eyes from @gabbyzapata and the day I had art block, @drawmatthewdraw inspired me to draw my own gooey slice of pizza. Learn from other people and pay attention to your own drawing style. If you spend too much time gleaning from other artists, you'll end up with a style that is only a copy of a more talented person. Develop your own style through practice and original ideas.
Well, that's all folks.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my Inktobers and that you are inclined to join me next October for an ink drawing marathon! I have made a few of my Inktober drawings available for purchase on Society6 store.