Inktober starts tomorrow (yes, this is a very last minute blog post) and I’ve been planning for a month of daily ink drawings, paintings, illustrations, and - if time isn’t my friend - quick sketches in my bullet journal.
If you plan on tackling Inktober yourself or are curious about art challenges in general, I hope I can give you a quick overview and helpful tips so that your month of creativity goes well.
What is Inktober?
During the month of October, each single day, artists of all skill levels and styles create and post daily drawings.
As the name indicates, these drawings are mostly done in ink. No matter if nib pens, brushes, brush pens, or multiliner pens.
If you’ve never participated in Inktober, this art challenge might look intimidating.
But don’t worry! There are no strict rules and a lot of people use Inktober as motivation and inspiration for daily drawings in general, no matter the materials used. Watercolors, pencils, gouache - don’t restrict yourself to ink if you don’t want to.
What to draw during Inktober…
Anything you want!
Of course, it really helps to decide on a theme or compile a list of motives ahead of time. Not only will it make the daily decisions so much easier, it will also leave you with a cohesive body of work at the end of the month.
But where do you find ideas?
There are official and unofficial art prompt lists for the entire month of October.
You can choose to follow one of those prompt compilations and use the word of the day as inspiration.
Set yourself a theme. For me, this year it’s my comic characters and their Korean setting - with the vague idea of tackling traditional ink painting and calligraphy elements along the way. This isn’t very restrictive - if it’s your first time doing Inktober, I’d recommend choosing a more streamlined theme. A series of daily plant paintings, self-portraits, tiny house drawings…
Or mix them up! I found this list of art prompts that fits so well with my theme of Korean illustrations and I’ll be including some of the prompts.
Choose a main color each day to combine with black ink and experiment!
Go to my bullet journal doodle tips to find more ideas if you’re new to drawing and painting and would like a beginner friendly Inktober. :)
How to plan for an art challenge like Inktober?
So you’ve decided on a theme, a list of prompts, or you’ve collected your own list of keywords or materials that you want to try out… what’s next?
While you could just jump in on October first, a bit of planning does wonders, especially for when days get hectic and real life doesn’t leave you room to think!
Compile reference material.
Pinterest boards, folders on your drive (so that you can look at them even while out and about on your phone and sketch anywhere!), real objects you want to draw - collect and organize continuously!
Keep a notebook or a note writing app handy for when new ideas strike. 31 days is a long time of consistent daily drawings and your initial ideas might lead you down unexpected paths.
Plan the first week (at least)
If you follow a prompt list to the letter, this is already taken care of. But if you don’t, take out your planner or calendar (or use the printable file I made for Inktober!) and write down what you’ll draw on each day of the first week. Then all you have to do is plant at your desk and start drawing, instead of stumbling through notes and reference material with no idea where to start.
Sketch ahead of time!
This can be so helpful, especially if you’ve got a busy week (or four) ahead. Just do a couple pencil sketches for your Inktober drawings ahead of time so that all you have to do is ink and/or color.
Choose art materials
You can use anything from old sketchbooks to high-quality paper for Inktober. Just make sure you’ve got enough pages!
Test your pens, brush pens, inks - especially if you don’t draw a lot during “normal” daily life, some might have dried out or leaked. I had to toss a couple old inks because they smelled horrible…
I’ve got a comprehensive list of my art materials here if you need some advice!
Find inspiring and motivating accounts. Social media during October/Inktober is full of other artists sharing their work!
Nothing motivates me more than seeing a beautiful sketch by an artist I admire, or a cute idea, a unique theme…
Don’t procrastinate, but still, Inktober is only half as fun without the social aspect of it. There might even be artist meetups in your area!
If this blog post was helpful for your own Inktober prep or if you use my Inktober tracker page, tag me on Instagram! I’d love to see your work!
I made a printable Inktober tracker for my bullet journal.
Since I love habit trackers and bullet journaling in general, I definitely wanted a unique and creative way to keep track of my progress during this art challenge!
I decided to draw my two favorite watercolor palettes and use them as a basis for this tracker page. Each color in the palette is numbered and just big enough for a one word prompt. Once I’ve finished the drawing of the day, I can color in the palette to mark my progress.
But even after Inktober is finished, the same printable can be used as a mood tracker page or for other creative projects, like daily writing, sketching, blogging…
Find more of my habit tracker blog posts below!
Now, let’s draw! Inktober has started!
I’ve mentioned this in my Portrait Drawing Practice blog post a long time ago, but your drawing abilities will fluctuate a lot. I can feel it myself on days when I’ve mostly been working on other things and then sit down to draw… every line looks crooked and even the easiest sketch is a struggle!
So take a couple minutes to loosen up those hand muscles, stretch, doodle, maybe draw a couple quick 2-minute sketches from reference to warm up…
Don’t get distracted…
You don’t need a lot of time to invest into Inktober. Just sit down, listen to an audiobook (I’ve got two downloaded and ready to go this month!), a podcast, or inspiring music, and draw.
Don’t fret and don’t be too hard on yourself.
There are always good and bad days. Some illustrations might not turn out how you wanted them to - but they’re still good practice, a wonderful opportunity to experiment, and part of the journey.
Just think of how much you’ll improve if you stick to the whole challenge! Consistence is key!