Inktober started out as a personal challenge to artist, Jake Parker, who wanted to form the habit of drawing something every day, specifically in ink.  Over the next few years, professional and amateur artists around the world would join him in creating better drawing habits.  This year, I was one of those artists.

I heard about the challenge from a creative cousin of mine only a few days before October 1st, and as we spoke on the phone I could hear my brain rattling around ideas.   The Inktober challenge started in 2009.  Artists are encouraged to draw in ink every day of October.  Some people decided to do a half marathon and drew every other day, or even a few times a week.  This was the first year that Jake Parker released a ‘word of the day’ prompt list.  The list was optional, and was given to add an extra challenge or for inspirational use.  (Inktober was all about creating good habits, whatever that meant to each artist).  For me, this challenge was about forming a daily drawing habit, but, it turned out to be much more beneficial than I anticipated.

In the last few days of September I sat down with the prompt list and brainstormed ideas for the whole of Inktober.  I decided to stick with the list that Jake gave and I also decided to add a Halloween monster creature theme to all of my drawings.  It was important for me to make sure that the span of the month didn’t repeat any characters or monsters, and I wanted to feature creatures that spanned form mythology to modern urban legends.

inktober

Inking can be done on the computer or with quills, brushes, and an ink bottle.  There are certain benefits to each medium and certain drawbacks.  I did purchase a bottle of india black ink and did a test run with it, but I was so unfamiliar with the medium that I stuck with my computer.  I grew up learning how to draw with pencil, and it wasn’t until college that I discovered ink in the form of pens.  Using a bottle, quill, and a brush is a whole different ballgame.  But, even drawing on my computer is still a huge challenge.  I learn something new every time I jump into another project, and even through the month of October I saw an almost instant growth in my techniques and execution as the days went by.  Lines started getting finer as I found out how to shade using different textures.  They got so fine that the last few pieces started to look almost like pencil drawings.

The biggest discovery for me was drawing light versus shadow, and it happened by accident.  The first day I drew a scene with a unicorn running away from a werewolf in the woods.  I thought it would be neat to sketch out the figures by drawing the light of the moon using white ink on a black surface instead of starting with a white background and drawing the shadows to building up the darkness.  I thought the first drawing was interesting, and the second drawing with Jekyll and Hyde was also intriguing with the black and white backgrounds next to each other.  But on the third day, I had a breakthrough and went through a ton of growth, and the black background stuck with me through the remainder of the challenge.  I love the look of it.  I always had an issue with not creating enough shadow in my art, especially with pencils.  Values were never dark enough which made everything a little flat.  Working backwards, in a sense, and hitting figures with light is much more comfortable for me and this is something I never knew about myself.   I will be taking this way of thinking with me into the future.  It’s so important to be aware of how one works as an artist: where you work best, the time of day that you are most effective and creative, what mediums feel natural to you, and how your brain works when drawing.

I made it through all 31 days of inktober, and drew one image from start to finish every single day.  Some days were daunting, and should have been spread over two or three days, but I am so proud of how much I have grown.  This will be a great collection to add to my portfolio, and a wonderful experience to look back upon.  And I know that is has paved the way for my techniques in the future.  I just need to find a way to break out of my shell and figure out what I want to draw, next!

Below are days 1 through 31 of my inktober drawings.  Each one is titled for the word of that day, and there is a description following.  Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

(You can visit me on facebook and Instagram, too – I’m much more active there)

1 - swift
“Swift” – Day 1

The lines and the technique are SO CHUNKY compared to the final days of this challenge.  It really is amazing to see the growth through each image.  There are a handful of pieces that I would like to re-draw, or touch up, and this is one of them.

2 - divided
“Divided” – Day 2

Day 2 features Dr Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde.  This is the only piece in the collection that has a white background.  From here on out I decided to start with completely black canvasses.  This is also where the stipple dot technique is introduced.  Very time consuming, but effective.  I would have used it more for later pieces if it didn’t make my hand so sore.  The dots are a lot larger and more spread out in this picture than later pieces.  I will probably touch this one up later.

3 - poison
“Poison” – Day 3

Medusa and her poison snake hair was a HUGE breakthrough for me as far as technique goes.  The stipple dot effect is improving, and I am starting to get a hang of highlighting the hot spots of light.  It was here that I made a decision to draw white on black.

4 - underwater
“Underwater” – Day 4

Underwater is my first minimalist piece.  I have always been a “more is more” kind of person, but after inking Medusa with the millions of dots the day before my hand needed a break.  I also loved the “miniature” portion of the drawing.  The use of black space as a ‘character’ of sorts will make its way into other pieces later on.  You don’t need to fill every square inch of space to be effective in your artwork.  (Sometimes I need to remind myself of this)

5 - long
“Long” – Day 5

The Slender Man is a new paranormal phenomenon and he is featured in recent urban legends and in a video game or two.  He is a tall, faceless, creature who roams around in broad daylight through suburban towns or in the woods.  He is seen around children, and it is said that he follows certain victims throughout their lives until they are drawn to commit suicide.  Very interesting character and the images online are insanely creepy.

6 - sword
“Sword” – Day 6

The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow has been a favorite story of mine since I can remember.  Since the word was ‘sword’ I wanted to make sure that the sword was the center of attention, and I wanted to practice some foreshortening skills.  (something I have never done before).  I wanted it to feel like the horseman was slicing off your head.  I would actually like to see this one redone, with color, and with better crosshatch shading in the figures.

7 - shy
“Shy” – Day 7

Edward Scissorhands is probably one of the most adorable characters that Tim Burton has ever created.  The movie is one of my go-to comfort films and the ballet is beautiful, too.  (Thank you Matthew Bourne).  Edward is so awkward and shy, and I love Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, but I wanted to “re-cast” the characters just for fun.  I decided to go with Josh Groban (you look up pictures of him and tell me he isn’t beautifully charming and awkward like Edward.  I can see it) and Vanessa Hudgens (beautiful, adorable, and a wonderful alternative for Kim)   You can see the reflection of Kim in Edward’s hands.  This is one of those pieces that took a long time for research because of the details in the costume and the scissors.  I wanted them to be as accurate to the movie as possible, but trying to make out what was on Edward’s shoulder was difficult.  There is a metal and…something else.  This is as close as I could get with photo references.

I would like to touch this one up, and add more of the dots around the faces specifically.  I just ran out of time and energy, and my hand was screaming at me.

8 - crooked
“Crooked” – Day 8

The Crooked Man is taken from an old nursery rhyme that actually has to do with the uniting of Scotland and England.  It’s very cute.  The modern interpretation of the Crooked Man is especially prevalent in The Conjuring movies.  Material on the internet also points to a sadistic, old, hunched man who drives people to commit suicide.  This is my version of the character, inspired by the actor Conrad Veidt, from “The Man Who Laughs”.  Many people said that this piece reminded them of the Joker from Batman, and it is true.  The Joker was inspired by Conrad.  You can see it all over his twisted crazy face.  Again, I would like to re-do the crosshatch shading on this one, now that I’ve figured things out.  But, it’s nice to see the progression of the artwork over a short period of time.

9 - screech
“Screech” – day 9

This became one of my favorites of the collection.  The dots have made their way back in a fanciful way.  They almost look like glitter, and I love it.  Screech made me think of ‘owls’ right away, but also aliens.  “The Fourth Kind” was the last horror movie that I have ever watched (surprisingly, I don’t watch horror films…there is enough going on in my head and I find them overwhelming).  There are many people who associate barn owls with aliens because their faces are so similar, and it is said that people who have been abducted have their memories wiped and replaced with images of owls that overshadow the aliens.

I find that a lot of people see the owl right away, within the light of the UFO, but if you look closer you can see the continuing outline of the alien in the shadows surrounding the owl’s head.  Another way to find the owl is to look at the drawing techniques:  the owl is drawn with lines and the alien is drawn with dots.

10 - gigantic
“Gigantic” – Day 10

I think that this image has opened up a whole new miniature world for me to love, because I am fascinated with drawing mini city skylines, now.  I wanted the monster to be bigger than anything anyone has seen on a movie, and I wanted it to destroy Los Angeles, because I feel that New York gets most of the end of world love.  This is the beginning of the apocalypse, and Satan has come to claim the world, starting with LA.   You can see the Griffith Observatory in the foreground.  I think it might be my favorite part.  I also love the use of black space below and above.

11 - run
“Run” – Day 11

Giant Mongolian death worms are amazing.  This is another piece that I would probably like to go back in and touch up.  I think the shading could be better, but not bad for a partial day’s worth of work. Trying the foreshortening thing again, too.

12 - shattered
“Shattered” – Day 12

ALL THE DOTS!  I think that after this piece the dots started to diminish drastically.

13 - teeming
“Teeming” – Day 13

Spiders are tough for me to deal with.  An egg hatched in my room when I was younger and when I came home from vacation the spiders descended upon me….it was SO FUN! But, it is always good to face your fears, and I couldn’t think of any better ideas, so I pushed through.  This image is brought to you by: My Nightmares.  (You’re welcome)

14 - fierce
“Fierce” – Day 14

Wendigos are former humans that have been taken over by such an excessive hunger of greed that they turn into cannibal monsters.  They have an insatiable appetite and are constantly hungry and emaciated.  Their story sprouts from the native american people.  Wendigos have more recently been depicted as were-deer looking monsters, but the original legend describes them as more humanoid with graying taught skin and sharp teeth with lips that are torn and bloody.  They eye sockets are sunken in and they smell of death.  I thought the deer antlers were a little interesting on the animal version of the wendigo, so I used it as a mask of sorts that would lure hunters in close enough for the monster to attack.

15 - mysterious
“Mysterious” – Day 15

The Ciguapa comes from Puerto Rican folklore.   They are described as beautiful women with brown or blue skin, and very long black hair that covers their bodies.  They are almost like land-mermaids, and they drown men in rivers or kill them in the woods after luring them and wooing them with their strange and haunting songs.  Their feet are backwards, which makes tracking them down difficult and they can only be killed during a full moon.

16 - fat
“Fat” – Day 16

There are so many different versions of Satan floating around in art and culture, and most of them depict him as a suave and sexy man.  This is another version: huge, sitting on his throne in Hell, surrounded by the skulls of people.  The literal version of gluttony.

17 - graceful
“Graceful” – Day 17

What is more graceful than a ghost of a woman?  This ghost has a special history in Virgina. Avenel is home to one of the most popular ghosts in America: Fannie Burwell. She married James Breckinridge, right before the Civil War. He went off to war and she visited him in Gordonsville where she caught typhoid fever. She died soon after she returned home. James was devastated for the loss of his new wife and it was said that he took many chances during the remainder of his time on the battlefield, where he was eventually killed.

People speak of seeing a beautiful woman on the Avenel property, dressed in fine white clothing of the period. Some say that she keeps an eye out, waiting for her husband to come home from the war. Others say that they hear a woman’s voice asking for water around the inside of the house. It might be the echo of her final days as she struggled with the fever, and her asking for water to quench herself from the heat that would ultimately overcome her. The Avenel house was used during the Civil War, and was also visited frequently by Edgar Allen Poe.

The porch and background in this picture is taken directly from reference pictures of the property, as it is seen, today. Looking at the house from the front, this is the right corner of the newly-remodeled wrap around porch. The Avenel House is used for events and weddings, today.

18 - filthy
“Filthy” – Day 18

Filthy, to me, is the dead rising from their graves.  I tried out the foreshortening with this one, again.  I really need more practice.  There is a semi-new technique that is used in this piece, which is the squiggle lines.  I used it a lot in college for fashion when I wanted to depict that a lot of bead work or embellishment was going to be on a dress or outfit, but I didn’t want to draw the minuscule details.  You’ll see this more in later drawings….like the next one…

19 - cloud
“Cloud” – Day 19

The squiggles are strong with this one.  I created a scene from one of my favorite books “Frankenstein”.  Victor Frankenstein attends the University of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, where he creates the “monster”. I did track down pictures of the University, but it wasn’t as dramatically placed as I would have hoped for (it sits on the river, and I wanted a city skyline effect as a backdrop). BUT! The gorgeous Neuschwanstein Castle overlooks the college and town of Bavaria. It might not be accurate to the story, but at least it ties in the town from the book.  I can live with that. This is my depiction of the stormy night that turned the creator into a monster, and brought life to the tragic and neglected Adam Frankenstein.

20 - deep
“Deep” – Day 20

I thought that this piece was going to be a lot more complex, but it turned into something a lot more minimal with a lot of black space, and I love it.  Who doesn’t like dragons waiting in a deep and dark cave for an afternoon snack?  I really like the black space in this one.

21 - furious
“Furious” – Day 21

This is one of my least favorite pieces of the collection, because it looks rushed to me.  I got super busy this day with work and almost didn’t draw anything, but I powered through and whipped up something in a few hours, just so I could say that I did it.  I’m so glad that I did.  I feel that in a challenge, like this one, there will always be one or two days that really bog you down, and you just need to power through them, no matter what.

Fenrir is a giant wolf, and one of Loki’s children (Norse mythology….or, for those who follow Marvel Comics).  He was separated from his siblings, Jörmungandr and Hel. Together, the three would bring down the dynasty, ruled by Odin. While his brother and sister were easy to send away, Fenrir kept growing and growing, and it was decided that the giant wolf needed to be bound. Two times he was bound and broke free. (no rope or chain could hold him). He was successfully bound the third time, by a ribbon made by dwarves that was given to Odin. It was called Glepinir’s cord, and was made of six very special ingredients: the sound of a cat’s feet, the roots of a mountain, a bear’s sinews, a woman’s beard, a fish’s breath, and a bird’s spit. During the time of Ragnarök, the earth would shake and loosen the ribbon from Fenrir, who would swallow Odin, the chief of the gods, whole.

22 - trail
“Trail” – Day 22

The squiggles are also very strong with this one.  I had a friend tell me that although he isn’t afraid of clowns that the squiggles create a static noise in his mind that creeps him out.  I never understood why people are so afraid of clowns, but I know I wouldn’t want to run into him on a path.

23 - juicy
“Juicy” – Day 23

Vampires and blood.  I really like the grasp of the neck on this one.  The crosshatch is starting to look a lot better.

24 - blind
“Blind” – Day 24

This drawing features my own eyeless creature, who decided to steal the eyes of a young woman.  This one is presented to you by: My Nightmares.  (You’re welcome, again)  I think that this is another turning point for my technique.  The shading is becoming a little more solid and the lines are getting finer.  I can’t decide if the squishy eyeballs or the loose hair are my favorite element about this…definitely one of my favorites of the collection.

25 - ship
“Ship” – Day 25

A Kraken and a ship.  This is another one that turned into a “minimalist” piece.  There were going to be detailed waves, and a stormy sky, and the whole canvas was probably going to be filled from head to toe with details, but once I drew in the white caps I thought it was perfect the way it was.  It drew attention to the right places and the black space made everything pop.  Gotta love that black space!  The tentacles look rushed, and I might like to add more detail to what is already here.  We will see.

26 - squeak
“Squeak” – Day 26

When I was little, I remember watching a short TV movie where the main character gets stuck underground in a series of tunnels and tries to crawl away from flesh-eating rats. She reaches a dead end that happens to be in a coffin and the rats eat her alive. I had seen it only that one time but it is an image that has stayed with me all of these years, so I tried my best to draw my version of it. 

It was a little complicated trying to come up with an effective layout, because it is underground and in very close quarters, and I wanted to capture a close up of her in the split-second moment when she realizes that she has no way out. I drew the scene as if the end of the wooden coffin were made of glass, so that we can see her. Her hands push against the panels as the rats start to make their way around her. What a horrible way to die. It would be bad enough without the rats….honestly.

There is something that I need to fix in this one….foreshortening skills are improving, but I overlooked something.  Overall, the techniques are solidifying and the shading is becoming that much more effective with each drawing that I do.  I really am astounded that it took so little time to see this much improvement.

27 - climb
“Climb” – Day 27

Movies like “The Grudge” and “The Ring” scare me the most.  I think I stopped watching scary movies after seeing those two because they were so triggering for me.  But I couldn’t pass up drawing such a dramatic image.  I love and hate this drawing so much.

28 - fall
“Fall” – Day 28

My original concept for this piece was to have a raven man falling from the sky surrounded by raven birds.  What it turned into was this.  They do look somewhat like angels but they are supposed to be some sort of raven creatures falling out of the sky.  There’s something so elegant about this one.  It was refreshing to draw after dealing with the girl on the stairs.

29 - united
“United” – Day 29

When the walking dead unite, we are all doomed.  So many faces…there is no way I would have been able to complete even five of these people in the first week of drawing for Inktober.  I got a lot faster as the days went on.

30 - found
“Found” – Day 30

Easily one of my favorite pieces because of the lighting and the simplicity.  A little girl hugs her teddy bear as she hides in the closet from the thing that ultimately finds her.  I’ll let you decide what that thing is.

31 - mask
“Mask” – Day 31

I had to go out with a bang for Inktober.  This piece took the longest, by far.  Much longer than anticipated but I was able to finish before midnight last night.  (I did rush a bit toward the end of the night, so I would like to go back and touch up a little of Christine’s face)  The Phantom of the Opera is near and dear to my heart and I wanted to draw something a little more creative than a slasher film, mask-wearing, stalker.  So, I drew a fancy, mask-wearing, organ-playing stalker.

This scene is taken from my favorite part of the score, at the end: the trio.  (Sung by Christine, the Phantom, and Raoul)  The Phantom wraps a noose around Raoul’s neck and gives Christine an ultimatum at the cost of Raoul’s life.  The greatest challenge of this piece was capturing the raw emotion of each person in that split second of chaos while also balancing the composition of the drawing.  I tried positioning Christine behind the phantom as if she were running toward him with her arms out, but it didn’t feel right to have her positioned behind the men.  It wasn’t strong enough.  I wanted to be able to see Christine’s terrified expression as the Phantom’s insanity reached its peak and honed in on her.