Hello all!! This past October I participated in my first ever Inktober on my instagram (@SarahBustilloArt).
For those who aren't aware, Inktober is a drawing challenge created by Jake Parker that takes place every October. The goal is to create art everyday for 31 days using ink, though many artists use different mediums if they want. There's an official prompt you can follow, but many artists make their own prompts or don't follow a prompt at all (which is what I did).
With that said, today's In Depth Process will focus on my month long journey through my first Inktober. I'll go over the materials I used and talk about some of my original drawings as well.
I knew I didn't want to follow a prompt for Inktober, but I made sure to plan out a few sketches before October began so that I had somewhere to start. That definitely helped get rid of some of the anxiety because some days are harder to be creative than others. I also got a lot of comments on my Instagram asking how I was able to make detailed pieces each day. The answer is simple: restless limb syndrome. I just don't sleep well, so a lot of the time I found myself starting a drawing for the next day the night before. It's not fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do!
After deciding on a general concept, I sketched out my drawings in my Strathmore 5.5 x 8.5 sketchbook and inked with Dr. Ph Martin's india ink. The Speedball 513EF pen nib was my primary weapon for inking, though I used my dying Faber-Castell PITT pens for some super fine lines. If I decided to use a wash, I would mix 1 drop of ink with about 6 or more drops of water to create a nice grey. For white details that I didn't plan ahead for, I used my favorite white gel pen.
Decision making isn't really a strength of mine, so I improvised a lot and learned how to get creative with some of my mistakes. For example, the drawing above from Day 3 wasn't a very good composition in my sketchbook, so I cut it out and now it looks more successful as a sticker. I also learned that splitting my pages in half made it easier for me to come up with compositions that weren't complex scenes. As the days progressed, many of my drawings became smaller, but more detailed.
The circus mouse drawing at the top of the page is a good example of all the different techniques I used during Inktober. I knew I wanted to create a piece inspired by the movie Coraline, and the circus mice felt right up my alley. I worked from foreground to background starting with inking all the line work. I then filled in the larger areas of black with ink and an old paintbrush. To add more dimension to the ball, I used numerous washes of ink to get my desired shading. Some remaining areas (mostly the star on the ball and the clouds) were a bit too white, so I dulled them down slightly with the inky water I was using to clean my brush. I finished the whole thing off with some white ink details for the stars, webs, and highlights. I used the same basic process for most of my drawings, including the ones below.
I had been wanting to do Inktober ever since I learned about it years ago, but I never really had the time or confidence. If I started, I knew I would give up by around Day 8 or so. I expected this to be a great learning experience and it really was! I discovered that I like ink a lot more than I thought and I'm much better at controlling my lines now. It has also helped to strengthen my knowledge of value and composition.
I especially liked that Inktober gave me the ability to break away from what some people expect me to draw and create whatever I want. At one point in my career I felt "stuck" doing portraits, then when I moved to animals I felt like everyone expected more whimsical or thoughtful pieces from me. That feels very restricting! So doing Inktober was a good excuse to draw some things that I had been keeping myself from drawing for a bit. It's also given me a few ideas of some pieces I'd like to create in the future!
I'm hoping to do something with the pieces I've made this year, either as prints or a zine. That, however, will have to wait until after I buy a new computer. I'm entirely phone-bound at the moment, and writing a blog post on your phone is very hard on the thumbs. . . but I digress.
So if you're an artist that recently completed (or even attempted) Inktober this year, congratulations! If you're considering Inktober next year, I wish you luck and I'd love to see what you come up with. If this was in any way helpful, please let me know in the comments below or tag me in some of your Inktober creations on Instagram (@SarahBustilloArt) so I can see them!
Sarah Bustillo is an illustrator from Los Angeles, CA. Her work delves into themes of femininity, death, and rebirth. She graduated from California State University Northridge in 2018 with a degree in Illustration and Anthropology.