My First Inktober

Last month, I took part in my first ever Inktober! I’d had an Instagram account for my design work lying empty and unloved for quite a while so I decided Inktober was the perfect challenge to bring it to life with a bit of inky colour. 31 days and about a gallon of ink later and I am pleased to say I have done just that - you can see for yourself here.

To mark the completion of my first ever drawing challenge, today I thought I would share what I made this Inktober as well as what I learnt along the way…

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Day 1

Being completely honest, I almost didn’t even start my Inktober challenge. At about 11pm on the 1st I remembered I had to start that day. I had already decided I would be following Furry Little Peach’s prompt list and the first theme was “pebble”. Slightly frantically, I threw together some vaguely pebble-like shapes and whipped up a quick colour scheme. I posted my first ever Inktober with 15 minutes of the day to go and the end result actually turned out to be one of my favourites from the entire challenge.

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Week 1

Week 1 of the challenge continued pretty smoothly. I enjoyed creating most of my Inktobers but this collection were particularly fun. From unimpressed moons and sad mountains to graphic patterns and cosy camping scene, each entry came together pretty easily. And I even posted some of them before it was dark which felt like quite the achievement.

As you will probably have guessed, I created all the illustrations digitally although they all included some element IRL ink. I know some people might say this is cheating and that Inktober should be completed with ink and only ink but I think the best thing about Inktober is that it is so open to interpretation. It is a personal challenge that you can make your own rules for. I wanted the challenge to be something fun that I would feel comfortable completing each day so my rulebook didn’t mention any kind of digital ban.

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The Colour Scheme

For most people who have complimented my Inktober feed, their favourite thing has been colour scheme I used throughout. Part of what had made me so hesitant to post on Instagram before was that I wanted a good looking grid. In order to achieve this with my Inktobers, I knew I needed a cohesive colour scheme to tie them all together. Plus, having a preset palette made the process of creating each illustration much more straightforward.

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Unexpected Favourites

Out of the 31 images I created during Inktober, I am particularly pleased with a select few. What surprised me was that the drawings which have turned out to be my favourites weren’t the prompts I was most looking forward to. I had no idea what to do for statue yet ended up throwing together something I really like. On the other hand, I was excited to create something for “volcano” but a little underwhelmed by the result. It showed me that I really don’t know what will work until I actually start drawing.

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The Inktober Community

Of course, I wasn’t the only one taking part in Inktober this year - there were thousands of us! Even if you weren’t taking part yourself, the #inktober Instagram tag was a constant stream of inspiration throughout October. Sha’an d’Anthes (AKA Furry Little Peach) who created the prompt list I followed, had a particularly adorable Inktober. Despite being known for her bright colour palettes, Sha’an added the extra challenge of creating all her illustration in black and white which made each cute creation even more impressive. By launching the list, Sha’an also created her own little online drawing club. I found lots of brilliant artists posting with the tag #flpinktober and particularly loved Merak Creative and Artisa Tumiwa’s digital interpretations of the themes. I also had lots of IRL encouragement from my friend and classmate Nicole McLaughlin who created a witch-inspired set of illustrations for her Inktober, all of which you can find here.

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Feeling Stuck

Like with any creative challenge, it wasn’t all plain sailing. In the middle section of the month, the project felt like it was losing momentum. The prompt list was great but sometimes I just didn’t have any ideas for that day’s prompts. This resulted in a few illustrations which felt forced and I was therefore much less happy with. One thing I have learnt from Inktober is the value of being able to go away and come back later with fresh eyes and relook at an illustration. The big yellow blob above’s expression perfectly sums up the feeling of this not being an option and having to just push on even if you have no idea what you are doing. Feeling a tad frustrated, I decided to change my plan a little and only follow the prompts on the days where ideas sprang to mind. Kind of cheating I know but again - my challenge, my rules.

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Experimenting With Style

One thing I - and alot of other creatives I know - question a lot is how important it is to have a style. Another reason I hadn’t really posted on Instagram before was the fact that I don’t really have a set style. I like experimenting with different ways of drawings and making. One day I might be interested in having a more instantly recognisable style but I’m not quite ready to pin one down just yet. My Inktober collection includes everything from abstract patterns to bold characters and wonky animals. My hope is that what ties them all together is simplicity. Bold shapes and limited colour schemes are consistent throughout my work and, for now at least, that is enough of a style for me.

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The Finish Line

I’m pleased to say that altering my plans slightly worked and the final leg of my Inktober ran pretty smoothly. Some entries were late as I got distracted by Halloween celebrations but all came together quite quickly. When I finally posted my last drawing - a cacti/ monkey nut inspired monoprint - I looked back on what I had made that month and I have to say I am pretty chuffed with them. None of them are perfect and there are lots of tiny details I would change if I could but as a set they look pretty damn pleasing.

So what next? All through the challenge I had been a little concerned about what I would post once the Inktober was over. With no prompts to follow, how would I know what to do with myself? However, now I have passed the finish line, I am excited to share some creations I have spent a little bit longer on. It will be nice to show I can do more than colourful blobs and quick sketches. Keeping my colour scheme consistent will be a bit more of a challenge but I am sure I’ll manage. I’m also considering doing another daily drawing challenge soon. So for updates on all my latest creations, please do go give @headlessdesigns a wee follow.