As always, I’m a little bit late with this post. Scanning, stitching, and optimizing 31 images just made me spectacularly lazy. But hey, better late than never. Ahem.
I’m sure everyone knows by now what Inktober is. I think I’ve participated in it for the past three years, and it’s always been fun, if a bit stressful. The first two years were rather relaxed — I did most of my sketching during my commute to and from the day job, a habit I cultivated over a number of years to unwind and de-stress, so doing Inktober was easy to fold into that long-established routine. So my sketches were rough, done with much impulse and little thought, happily scribbling with pen or scrubbing with brushpen just to meet the day’s number.
“I decided to follow the official Inktober prompt list and approach it as I would a work project.”
This year, however, I wanted to do something else. I decided to follow the official Inktober prompt list and approach it as I would a work project. I’m not a professional illustrator, but I thought maybe this would give me some insight into how I’d break down the prompt list into doable drawings. Luckily, the official list was released well ahead of October, so I was able to spend the week or two before the month to decide on the size of my sketchbook, the inks and tools I’d use, and what in the world I was going to draw.
First, I wanted it bigger than my usual A5 or B6 sketchbook. I like the square format, and only a handful of paper manufacturers produced sketchbooks in that size, though they seem to be increasing in number. I used a large — for me — 8.25×8.25-inch Global Arts Handbook Watercolor Journal, which I really like for ink. It’s okay for watercolor, but boy, I like how it takes ink.
So I wound up using mostly Dr. P.H. Martin’s Black Star Matte India ink with a Kuretake Menso Kolinsky sable brush. I used other things too: Liquitex Muted Acrylic inks, Dr. P.H. Martin’s Black Star Hi-Carb India ink, Yasutomo Sumi, Yasutomo Ultra Black Chinese ink, and a few shades of Daler-Rowney FW Acrylic inks. I poured drops of them into little contact lens blister cups — the hard plastic kind — that I could reuse and recycle when I’m finished.
“The research for what I wanted to draw turned out to be much more fun than I’d realized.”
“I front-loaded a lot of the drawings and sketches while the momentum was still strong, and this turned out to be the vital key to completing Inktober…”
The research for what I wanted to draw turned out to be much more fun than I’d realized, though there were some that I changed at the last minute, only because my execution turned out far weaker than I liked. I front-loaded a lot of the drawings and sketches while the momentum was still strong, and this turned out to be the vital key to completing Inktober — I lost a lot of enthusiasm for it towards the end of the month, and doing a lot of the drawings before the designated day really helped me. By the last week of October, the groove was back and I was able to close the challenge with almost the same interest at the start of it.
“I would’ve liked the drawings to keep a lot of the life that sketches have…”
But while I enjoyed the process, I found the drawings at the end of it to be far too tight. I would’ve liked the drawings to keep a lot of the life that sketches have, so maybe next year? I’m not sure. Drawing this amount for a month was truly exhausting, and I’ve developed a deep respect for illustrators and animators who do this everyday.
And have I picked up brush and ink since then? Heck no. I still reach for the convenient Pentel Pocket Brushpen wherever I am. But I can say doing Inktober every year has helped me refine my control, even if it takes a while to notice it. And it always reminds me that I love brushwork best and above all else.