If WisCon 39 was the turning point of my return to writing, then SPX 2015 was that for art. I got to meet a ton of long-distance friends and make new friends, and seeing all the comics and art reminded me that drawing was one of my passions before depression and school stifled it. Inktober gave me a perfect group challenge to start drawing regularly again, and I loved seeing the pieces that would cross my Twitter timeline.
I started Inktober by working more with brushes and brush pens. My first piece was the only one I did with old-school brushes and bottled ink:
Kat had introduced me to a couple of brush pens when I went to visit her in Baltimore; I came home and discovered that my Sakura Micron pack included a brush pen that I’d never used before. It doesn’t seem to be as fine as the pens Kat had, so I struggled with detail and controlling line weight for my brush pen pieces. I do enjoy the looseness of brush pens, though, so I’m keen to practice more with them.
(That last drawing of a cat was a reminder to myself to post everything I drew for Inktober. A lot of people post only their most polished work, but I wanted to treat this month as practice and posted work I was iffy on alongside work that I was really proud of. I’m only human, after all.)
As Inktober went on, the constant practice made me develop a process that felt intuitive and led to consistent results. I had watched Trungles draw at SPX and seen Annie Wu complete a couple of commissions at Baltimore Comic-Con. One thing they both have in common are their loose, flowing pencils, which you don’t often get to see since their finished pieces have clean inks and no pencils. I had struggled a lot with drawing too hard and creating pencils that I didn’t like, so I decided to focus more on a concept and be loose with my pencils. To achieve that, I had to relax, which helped guide my artwork and led to more polished pieces.
The piece “Trunglesque” for October 14 was in response to a couple of Trungles’ tweets:
I definitely didn’t achieve Trungles’ effortless, flowing hair—I discovered in my attempt that my grasp of volume and depth isn’t at Trungles’ level (yet!). But one of the important lessons I learned was not to shy away from detail, which I incorporated into my drawing for October 19 below.
Inktober also provided me the opportunity to challenge myself to draw things that I normally don’t draw. I tend to be people-heavy, so Wendy always gives me an objects prompt when I’m stumped for something to draw. I branched out a bit and was pleased at how my work turned out—it’s not actually hard to draw animals or things; they all boil down to the same skill of seeing the form underneath the subject.
Wendy also emphasizes the importance of backgrounds, and the article Backgrounds Make You Better by ArtPrompts really drove that home for me. I eased into drawing backgrounds by doing two Miyazaki screencap redraws. Miyazaki movies are brilliant for being so incredibly detailed but not overwhelming. I noticed later that both the screencaps I chose have strong foreground, middle ground, and background elements, which I made sure to incorporate into my latter two original drawings.
And finally, for October 31, I wanted to challenge myself to do a comic. I love reading comics and have on and off thought about drawing them since I was a preteen, but I never did follow through. SPX inspired me to give it another shot, and I have a better grasp of both storytelling and the mechanics of comics now than when I was younger. Maybe someday I’ll create a small zine or a webcomic, but, for now, this page is a start!
By the way, I took the line in the third panel from this post that Kat shared with me. We mused about how hilarious it would be if you just heard the tiniest toot from a spider, and I knew then that I had to draw a comic about it.
Inktober’s officially over, but I plan to continue drawing consistently now that I’ve made more of a habit out of it. I can see the progress I made throughout the month, and more targeted practice feels like the most efficient next step for me to improve. Inktober was also fantastic for helping me let go of perfectionism—I can spot the flaws in many of my pieces, but I take them as practice that showed me something I can improve on in my next piece.
My Inktober pieces are available chronologically on my Inktober 2015 page, and you can buy an Inktober 2015 zine at my store. I have no idea what’s in store for November, but I’m looking forward to creating even more pieces. 😄