Inktober – The Final Picture

It’s here, at last – the final picture of Inktober – and I’m particularly proud that I managed to wait and do this image actually on the 31st October. It has felt sometimes like a breeze and others like a chore, but it has certainly kept me engaged and interested the whole way through.

Someone asked if it was something I’d feel able to complete, and my answer at the time was that it was usually more difficult to get me to stop drawing. I think if this month has proved anything to me, it’s that it can be very easy to get stuck in a rut, and that challenges like this are a great help in shifting me out of my comfort zone.

The final prompt for this month was ‘slice’ – and I’ll admit I initially groaned at how similar it was to the Chop prompt for day 24.

I was determined to use some of the practice this month had given me on perspective for this image. I saw a couple of other images online that wet with a variant on things being sliced with a blade of some description, so that got me thinking about the number of YouTube shows around forging blades I’ve seen, and their propensity to showcase the sharpness of their projects on various objects.

A watermelon seemed a good simple object to start with, and the rest of the image flowed from there.

So, there we have it – thirty-one images in thirty-one days to a preset prompt list.

I’d say I need a rest, but then I seem to have carried on regardless…

In this case I’ve already started reusing and updating the page my original ‘jolt’ image was on, using a mix of inks and coloured pencils and my usual mix of aliens and ugly monsters. I’ve been using a 0.05 size inkpen to do these particular creatures, and it’s a different approach to filling space to many other sizes of pen. I’ll see where it leads…

Inktober Twenty-Nine to Thirty

So this was the last big push, back from MCM, determined to get back on track to actually complete Inktober within the month itself.

These two did make me think about how to represent them within my framework of not over-working things as far as possible.

Number twenty-nine was definitely me trying to be clever with the prompt of ‘double’, and no one has escaped seeing it as something else entirely. The concept was to represent cellular fission – one cell becoming two.

Instead, everyone who has commented on it has said they thought it was a pair of boobs, possibly on someone being bounced around. While that technically still covers the prompt, it’s just shown me I should probably look at reference pictures more often. Oh well. Oh, and I wrote the wrong day number on it as well, for good measure.

By contrast, day thirty started as a simple image and then kind of grew in size and complexity. It’s still a simple enough composition – someone leaping in the air as they are jolted by electric current.

I should probably have started with the plug and the spark of electricity, but instead I did my usual start with the eyes and found the picture getting bigger and bigger to fit the whole thing in.

Still, if you’ll pardon the pun, there’s an energy to it so it works for me, and it’s a posture I don’t often depict, so new ground again.

Inktober Twenty-Seven and Twenty-Eight

These are another two that didn’t get done in their respective days because we were at MCM London Comiccon

Fortunately they were both really simple as inspirations go, so sitting down to do them when the dust has settled was the start of a couple of days of renewed energy and drawing.

Day twenty-seven was inspired of course by my love of comics – and with having already depicted a thunderstorm of sorts back with ‘spell’, I wanted to do something different. So with memories of recent Marvel films and a number of cosplayers fresh in my mind, I decided to draw the tunic of a certain god of thunder, complete with sparkles.

While not “screen accurate” I like this interpretation of this particular item of clothing.

Day twenty-eight was inspired very simply by Lady M’s upcoming birthday. As usual I’ve been giving her little presents in the days leading up to the actual date, so creating a simple drawing of one to represent ‘gift’ seemed only natural.

It was also a good exercise in practicing perspective, and has highlighted that I really need to do more work when it comes to ribbons and knots – because those elements seem weak to me in this.

Inktober Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six

We’re nearly there folks. I took a couple of days break at this point in the challenge due to health but quickly sketched these two before we headed out to the hotel for the weekend at MCM.

These are both fairly simple pieces, and didn’t take long to do. There was an element of feeling a lack of enthusiasm at this point in the project, but I wanted to see it through.

So on to number twenty-five, and once I’d made my mind up between a cactus or a hedgehog as the main focus, I had to pull this character out of the past.

You see this fellow is called Ludo The Luddite; and twenty-odd years ago I started sketching little doodles of him destroying technology and especially computers. They were promoted by my annoyance with the systems at the place I was working at the time and typically showed him snarling and burying his axe in whatever piece of technology had offended me at the time.

This present-day incarnation has obviously mellowed somewhat, judging by the contented smile on his face…

Number twenty-six is a tad more gruesome, and is a lot more rushed. I did it once we’d settled into our hotel room after a long Uber journey to the ExCel centre.

It’s meant to be a flayed human skin stretched on a rack, or a tanning table of some sort. Must be the influence of Halloween just round the corner – either that or the lingering grossness of being ill and really wishing my skin wasn’t crawling on a regular basis through anxiety.

Again, it’s not one of my favourites, but there’s a certain something to it.

Inktober Twenty-Three and Twenty-Four

I was just starting to feel unwell as an unpleasant bug that’s doing the rounds decided to take a run at my immune system.

As a result, I had a couple of days where I didn’t keep up with the pace of things as well as I had been. I fell behind as the week progressed, only to have a concerted surge back on top as the weekend drew to a close.

Number twenty-three was a prompt that I might have made more of, but I decided to use ‘muddy’ as an excuse to show someone covered in muck.

You could interpret it as a sight gag on the mudslinging that seems to have replaced political and social discourse, but that is entirely your decision. It only occurred to me after I’d finished it.

In general this was a quick and, if you’ll forgive the pun, dirty sketch while I was watching TV and sipping lemsip – it definitely isn’t one of my favourites.

Number twenty-four, by comparison, was fun to do as I just sat quietly and did detail work. I initially thought I might do something that depicted combat, but decided instead to go for a guillotine. This gave me an excuse to practice depicting an object rather than my usual grotesques – and I really like how this one turned out, with clean lines and a sense of what it is immediately apparent.

Inktober Twenty-One and Twenty-Two

And so here we go into the last ten pictures for October and this amazing challenge. Last year I didn’t complete the whole thing, largely because I came into it by accident and didn’t even know where people were getting their prompts from.

This year has felt more of a project to complete and with that has come both tensions and anticipations by equal measure.

Day twenty-one went through two concepts. The prompt was: Drain. Initially I thought of something running in the fantasy vein that involved vampires. A creature draining the lifeblood from it victim was my first idea, but I didn’t have a lot of mental energy this day.

I needed to do something more simple, and so the image of a physical drain in the street sprang to mind. Having something noxious slipping down it provides a sense of movement – and it was a good exercise in perspective.

Day twenty-two brought the prompt of ‘expensive’ and so I went with something that could reflect that on several fronts depending on your mood. A diamond engagement ring is traditionally supposed to cost a good few months’ wages – making it an expensive declaration of love.

Depending on your own experiences and feelings about marriage, you can also make sulkier arguments about the cost of marriage against your own selfish needs – but it’s not what my intentions for the piece are.

Inktober Nineteen and Twenty

We’re on what feels like both the final approach and yet still a long slide towards the end of the month with the Inktober project. All month I’ve been inspired by complex and hyperdetailed ink illustrations across social media while sometimes just dashing off small little pieces that feel inconsequential in comparison.

The thing is, I’m taking a different approach to some people by doing (by and large) a piece per day rather than planning and executing grand illustrations.

Some of the pieces I do come easily and I can relax as I let them flow into existence. Others I’m really wrestling with and struggling to produce anything that I can feel happy putting my name to. It’s proving to be a very valuable learning experience and I’m trying all sorts of new things I otherwise wouldn’t even try.

Scorched – for Day Nineteen – was scribbled in a lunch break after a long morning of frustration and yet another day of grim news that didn’t do a great deal for my contentedness with life.

The concept is a piece of paper, scorched, and I was doing my best to try and recreate semi-burned pieces of paper I’ve seen.

Yet another round of horrors and lies in the news reporting on that day prodded me to write The Truth and extend the scorched feel to it. This piece was a bit of a struggle to realise.

Day Twenty – Breakable – by comparison was simple and easy and a pleasure to draw. It’s a more figurative piece and it’s very much in my comfort zone.

The breakable twig is a simple image, and didn’t take long, but also had room for me to add little extra details at a leisurely pace. It was actually quite relaxing to create this one.

Inktober Seventeen and Eighteen

So, after nearly a week’s break, we’re back with the Inktober round-up of posts inspired by the list below:

Fortunately I’ve generally been able to keep broadly up to date with the pieces despite being ill and then going away to MCM. This morning, after sorting the first load of laundry, I sat down and dashed off a few more. I’ve posted them in a flurry on the Instagram account today, so they may be linked via the Twitter feed on this page.

So, on to day seventeen and the prompt was: Swollen. I had my finer ink pens to hand today and started out as usual with the eyes. I wanted to do something that breaks the normal symmetry that we see when looking at someone, so this seemed to be a good excuse to let my imagination wander with the grotesques.

I took inspiration from cinematic representations of the transformations of the Incredible Hulk, and from depictions of daemons of Nurgle from the various Warhammer games and books.

All in all, a fun little piece, done on a larger paper pad that I’ve been doing a number of sketches and doodles on.

Number eighteen’s prompt seemed an obvious one – it’s Inktober, so why not draw a bottle of ink? A number of pieces I’d seen online went with depictions of bottled emotions, but there was something simple about this that appealed as I worked on it.

I was back on the smaller book for this one, purely for ease of carrying around as I was on the move a lot and wasn’t sure how or when inspiration would strike. With some of these pieces I’ve been waking up with ideas, while others have needed prodding towards the end of the day after ruminating for hours.

Inktober Fifteen and Sixteen

I seem to be doing more iconic than figurative art at this point – perhaps it’s a reaction to the prompts or the speed that I’m taking them. I’m trying not to overthink the pieces, even though there are careful reasons behind most of them.

I could have gone with highly detailed pieces for both of these, but it feels like I would have been drawing from the head rather than the gut, which is where the best (to my eyes) pieces come from.

Day Fifteen had #weak as it’s prompt. It was tempting to do.something dramatic or portentous, but I was in a whimsical mood and so this doodle of someone struggling to move a helium balloon popped up. It’s not the most detailed picture in the world, and the arm positioning is problematic, but I think it embodies the prompt with a bit of a wink, and tongue firmly in cheek.

Day Sixteen gave us #angular. I did think of just doing one of my spiky constructionist pieces consisting purely of random edged pieces, but I overheard someone getting the word angel confused with angle. So I couldn’t resist poking fun and illustrating both at the same time. An angular angel against a background of angles – I may even revisit this at some point, I feel there’s more mischief to be accomplished here.

Inktober Thirteen and Fourteen

A slightly later posting for today as I’ve been travelling. After work yesterday I went down to Portsmouth to spend the night with Lady S while Lady M collapsed with man-flu. The drawings and sketches are continuing apace however.

I actually found these two prompts more difficult than anticipated. I’m not sure if it was time constraints in a busy week, tiredness, or just a dip in focus, but these illustrations are both very simple. That said, I drew two things for day fourteen so I’ll present them both.

Day thirteen was #guarded – and I’ve dipped into BDSM iconology and protocols here for a stylised image of someone wearing a leather ring collar.

To the general viewer this may be interpreted as a symbol of submission and surrender – and I was very careful to make the image gender-neutral. The dynamic being represented however is more complex than that.

In BDSM, someone wearing someone’s collar is in a committed relationship and is considered under their Dominant’s protection. There are many who see collaring as being as significant as engagement and marriage between the individuals concerned and in the majority of cases it is therefore respected as such, particularly in social or event environments.

In such places and times talking to, let alone touching, someone who is collared without getting permission from the Dominant can be seen as a major faux pas. The collared submissive is guarded as part of their social contract.

There are as many nuances and takes on this as there are people who take collars, so the complexity of it fascinated me enough to depict it.

Day fourteen was a very busy day and evening so I scribbled this first version shortly before going to bed. If nothing else it meant I could say that I had actually done something every day. The #clock prompt left me reluctant to simply depict a watch, or a sundial. This placeholder was the best I could come up with.

The next morning I knew what I wanted to present instead – the dandelion clocks that I loved – indeed do still love – to blow on to spread their seeds.

So on my lunch break I came up with a better representative of the prompt. It was the first time I’ve considered drawing anything like it, so it’s a slightly impressionist version I think. For something knocked up quickly, I’m quite happy both with the image and with the slant on the prompt.