The aftermath of Inktober 2018

Game over, man. Game over.

Inktober is finished, and here is my final piece:

Day 30: Jolt

Inktober 2018 - jolt

It was almost Halloween, so Frankenstein's monster seemed like a solid subject. I'm really satisfied with the way this one turned out, although at the time, I regretted going in on the Kirby dots, because that is some time consuming work.

A final thought

Something which I forget is that "Inktober is a month long art challenge", with the emphasis on that last word: challenge. And frankly, after week three, it was a challenge that I wasn't sure I was going to complete. But I did manage to complete it, and on a fairly positive note, which was nice. But it was challenging. Between the day job and life in general, time is always tight. Plus, given my relatively slow pace when working, it was a real challenge to find the time. But find the time I did, and the experience of doing Inktober, even if it was the half marathon, is something which I think has made me a better artist, but not completely in the way I expected.

"When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk."

Far more intelligent people than me have said it, but time is one of the most important parts of creativity - time to practice, time to produce, time to fail, time to try again, time to recharge your creative batteries, time, time, time. But time, unless you have access to a time machine or the Speed Force™, is a zero-sum game. When I'm not working on a commission or design project, I have a bad habit of wanting to just relax. And don't get me wrong - it's not that I don't love making art, but, frankly, certain parts of life really sap my energy and so after a tough day or week, I generally feel like I don't have anything left to spend on creative endevours. And make no mistake: being creative is fulfilling, but it is taxing. I'm sure there's some neuroscience out there to back this up. And if there isn't, there should be damn it. Anyway, this was my big revelation:

Tough shit, soldier.

This is not a profound thought. When you have to work, you work - simple. But like many simple things, simple does not mean easy. So Inktober was a reinforcement of this principle for me. And sure, I think some of my technical skills improved (incrementally), but the real benefit of Inktober was reminding me that yes, I do have the energy reserves, time management skills, and self-discipline to produce art even with the rest of life happening.

The blog Dear Art Director has a fantasic article about being creative when you have low energy, which I initially read a few years ago, but I obviously never absorbed until now, so thanks, Inktober!

Next year?

If you asked me right now, "Hey, Rob - are you going to do Inktober 2019?", I'd say, "How did you get in my apartment?" But after we established you had no nefarious purposes, I'd say, "No."

I'm glad I did it, but right now, I'm burnt out on Inktober. Of course, it just finished a few days ago, so I may very well change my mind. If I do decide to do 2019, I might be a little less strict on the prompts, or even ignore them altogether: a drew a blank on a few of the prompts, and those were the days which were the most stressful. And one of my goals, to push my drawing beyond my usual fare (i.e. comic book / fantasy / sci-fi stuff), is something that never materialized, so it would be good to move in that direction.

So, I'm not doing Inktober next year. Maybe. Or I might. I dunno. I've got about eleven months to decide, and it's dinner time now, so I'll deal with it much later.

Inktober 2018: Week 4 recap

After the disaster that was week three, my enthusiasm for Inktober was, at best, at the bottom of a deep pit. The first drawing of the week started to throw dirt on it so as to make sure it was dead, but then, my enthusiasm, in true Will Smith fashion, gritted it's teeth, said "Aw Hell naw" and clawed it's way back to the surface. Which is to say, tortured simile aside, that I generally felt positive about this week's work.

Inktober or Artober?

I'm mostly following Inktober through Instagram and have seen some absolutely fantastic art come forth. One thing I've noticed is that a lot of artists are using media aside from ink - pencils, watercolour, charcoal, whatever. This is the pedant in me, but it seems that maybe there should be a generic Artober? If one of the goals is to improve inking skills, using pen and ink would seem to be a prerequisite. That being said, the other goal of Inktober is to grow and improve as an artist, and develop good habits - perhaps that's the more important point, regardless of medium.

To each their own, I suppose. But for me - just inking, even if it is digital.

Day 22: Expensive

Inktober 2018 - expensive

Avert your eyes, children. This week started off really poorly. As much as I disliked last week's drawings, they are masterpieces compared to this stain. Originally, I was going to do a homage to Lupin The Third's Fujiko Mine, but I can't sully the name of one of the few good anime out there by associating it with my crap drawing. Ugh.

Day 24: Chop

Inktober 2018 - expensive

Red Sonja chopping some hapless mook's head off - this is where things started to turn around, as all things do. My usually shakey confidence was shaken (not stirred) from my streak of failures, but I was (and am) generally happy with the way this turned out.

Day 26: Stretch

Inktober 2018 - expensive

I love Nextwave. I suppose I could have gone Mr. Fantastic, Elongated Man, or Plastic Man (or something non-comic book related) for "stretch", but Nextwave doesn't get enough love, so Machine Man punching the Captain. Part of me thinks I should have done this at a more dynamic angle, but there is something very Wes Anderson, matter-of-fact about the composition that I like. Also:

I am but a single consumer, but: Hey, Marvel Studios. I'm rapidly losing interest. I skipped Ant-Man & the Wasp. I'm probably skipping Captain Marvel (and BTW, Captain Marvel is Billy Batson - not Mar-Vell, not Monica Rambeu 1, not Carol Davners). Give me a Nextwave movie? I'm all in with a bag of chips. Mini-rant over.

Day 28: Gift

Inktober 2018 - expensive

I have drawn more Batman related stuff in the last couple of weeks than I have since I was a kid. To be fair, Bats is fun to draw, and can have a nice, minimalist design. Originally, I was going to go with the Margot Robbie version of Harley, but ultimately went with Amanda Conner's design, which works a lot easier in black and white.

Fourteen drawings down. One more to go.

1 Yes, complaining about the Captain Marvel naming debacle while simultaneously professing my love of Nextwave, Monica included, is weird, but... shut up. You're not the boss of me.

Inktober 2018: Week 3 recap

Well, that certainly was a week of Inktober. Now, to the tune of "Everything Is Awesome" from The Lego Movie:

Everything Is Awful!

This week sucked. Really sucked. There is not a single drawing that I liked. Nothing turned out well. If you read the post about Inktober, week 2, I wrote about the idea that most artists only get about twenty-five percent of what's in their head onto the canvas. This week, I think I'm batting one hundred, at best. Ugh.

Let's make excuses!

Screw the prompt list! Yeah - what a piece of shit. That's the ticket.... It's certainly not my fault! It's not like I was off my game, didn't spend enough time working on each piece, couldn't focus, and suffered from a minor case of artist's block.

Day 16: Angular

Inktober 2018 - flowing

There is almost nothing about this that I think worked. The only good thing I can say here is I like the composition, but the draftsmanship and over all execution is lacking. Strike one.

Day 18: Bottle

Inktober 2018 - flowing

If I had to choose, I suppose this would be my favourite of the week, but favourite in the sense of "bullet to the back of the head, devoured by fire ants, or burned at the stake": sure, bullet to the back of the head is the least painful, but you're still dead. My main issues here are the face and movement. I really don't like the face at all, and the figure seems to be stiff and posed - there's no energy there at all. On the positive side, the actual design of the genie, the smoke and the bottle are okay, but doesn't make up for the shortcomings. Strike two.

Day 20: Breakable

Inktober 2018 - flowing

I don't hate the idea of this one - in fact I was thought it was pretty clever. I do hate the way it is executed. The image just has too much unproductive white space. Bleh. Stike three.

You can't win 'em all. Frankly, this week was pretty discouraging, but self-improvement is always difficult, so here's hoping I do better for the final drawings of Inktober. On to week four!

Inktober 2018: Week 2 recap

Inktober week two is in the can, and, honestly, I'm a little surprised I haven't bailed yet. Go me. I guess.

Things I've learned so far

  1. I'm getting faster, I think, which was one of my goals. That being said, I've gone from sloth to sloth with a Monster Energy Drink. Baby steps.
  2. Muscle memory is strong: despite my desire to avoid using undo, at this point the undo gesture has become an almost unconcious action - I really need to be aware of what I'm going (which sounds odd, but...) when working on a piece. I've slipped up a lot, but trying to avoid relying on undo has made me be not as sloppy when working.
  3. I need to push myself farther outside of my comfort zone: all the drawings I've done so far have been very figure-based, and very human figure-based at that. So... unless I run out of time and / or ideas (which has happened more often than I care to admit), I'm going to try a landscape, still-life, or whatever. Not totally confident that this will happen.

Day 8: Star

Inktober 2018 - star

If anything could be considered a cult-classic in DC, it's James Robinson's 90s run of Starman. Vastly underrated character. But I digress - I'm generally happy how this turned out. That damned star with the speed lines turned out to the most time intensive thing about the drawing.

Day 10: Flowing

Inktober 2018 - flowing

I'm pretty shocked at how well "flowing" turned out. One of the few things I got out of my unversity art courses was something said by one of the instructors: If you can get even twenty-five percent of what you can see in your head on to the canvas, that's a success. So I'd say this is about a fourty percent-er. Might be due for a redraw and expansion in the future.

Day 12: Whale

Inktober 2018 - whale

Yeah... I know I could have just drawn a whale. Yet somehow this Dark Knight parody popped out. The thing which makes this one memorable for me is that I couldn't decide what to do so I started the drawing pretty late, so I went to bed way too late.

Day 14: Clock

Inktober 2018 - clock

This is another one that turned out pretty solid. I was going to add rain to the picture, but I'm trying to do things "right" for Inktober, so that ruled out using a blend layer. Ultimately, it would have taken too long for me do make it look half way decent, that was nixed for the moment.

Half way there - two more weeks to go....

Inktober 2018: Week 1 recap

The first week of Inktober is finished. A quick recap of my first attempts and some thoughts.

"What are your disciplines?"

Tony Zhou's fantastic series Every Frame A Painting did an episode on legendary animator Chuck Jones. One of the things discussed was that Jones was well-known for things he didn't do - his disciplines, the challenges and restrictions you set for yourself. While Jones was speaking of his animation and storytelling process as a whole, he does say that it's a vital factor in drawing. And given that digital inking can make you lazy (creating art digitally is very forgiving), I decided that I'd set a couple of limitations to try and push myself a little:

  1. Two layers only - a pencil layer and an ink layer.
  2. No undo. Eraser? Sure - but no undo.

I justified number two to myself by remembering that when I was still doing traditional art, inking involved a lot of white ink, gelly rolls, and white out. And physically having to erase lines and areas does create a very different feeling, a tension, that gives the lines more importance. When I erase something, I am very conciously aware that I made a mistake and need to correct it. Just tapping undo saps all of that way - since things can re-done so easily, there is much less of a emphasis on being accurate.

Day 2: Tranquil

Inktober 2018 - tranquil

My first thought was to do serene landscape, but then I remembered a hate drawing landscapes. So a monk meditating, while a little boring, would be a lot more fun do draw. The drawing is also one of the most fantasical things I've ever done: it would be impossible to meditate with a kitty clawing it's way up your back. I'm relatively satisfied with this, although if I had to do it again, probably use some lighter lines.

Day 4: Spell

Inktober 2018 - spell

I hate this. There are so many things wrong with it (the least of which is the incongruity of the focal point). I might do a re-draw later as I like the concept, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

Day 6: Drooling

Inktober 2018 - drooling

I was stumped throughout most of the day. Drooling? Seriously? I considered drawing a xenomorph, but that seemed way too obvious. Sleeping person, mouth open? Homer thinking of doughnuts? As the day was coming to a close, I paniced, drew the Hulk roaring (I mean, he's yelling all the time - there has to be some moisture coming out of his mouth), and called it a day. I actually think this came out okay. I hadn't really drawn Dr. Banner since I was in elementary school and it was fun.

On to week two! If you want to see my art as it's posted, follow me at

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