After dabbling in Inktober for the first time in 2018, I was determined this year to really give it a go. September was hectic, and it was a mad scramble to get ready for Inktober but I’m glad I did it! This post is a little capsule of what I found the process to be like, what I learned and the fun of trying new things!
Choosing a theme…Simon Snow
I initially planned on just following the prompts put out by the official Inktober programme, but I ‘d recently been in the throes of a very intense obsession with Rainbow Rowell’s Simon Snow series, so I decided to interpret the prompts within the context of the books as a way to siphon off some of my fervour. (It had the complete opposite effect!)
Line to colour
I was too scared to colour Day 1’s RING, so I left it as line art.
Day 2’s MINDLESS was the first time I ever coloured using alcohol markers, and I was terrified! Day 4’s FREEZE was my first with full greyscale and I was so scared that I’d ruined Simon’s face when I just went straight in with grey all over – but luckily these pens lend themselves so well to layers! From doing Simon’s moles and freckles with a marker, I realised this wasn’t really working – so I got myself some sepia and dark grey fineliners. I didn’t even know they had these until I saw them in Hobbycraft! I also got myself a few more alcohol markers that were on sale.
This is generally the process I went through with each one: pencil, then lining with fineliners, and lastly inking if I felt like it needed to be coloured.
Experimenting with more abstract interpretations
I’d largely been doing pretty direct word to illustration interpretations (I would literally search through each book to find a sentence containing the prompt word), but when I got to pencilling Day 11’s SNOW prompt, I was suddenly inspired by this earlier passage:
All Baz has been able to focus on for the last year is Simon; he can’t see past the hearts in his own eyes.
…and somewhat merged the way I visualised that with this quote, which was the one I ended up using:
Simon Snow, it hurts to look at you when you’re this happy.
And it hurts to look at you when you’re depressed.
There’s no safe time to see you, nothing about you that doesn’t tear my heart from my chest and leave it breakable outside my body.
I also experimented with a mix of colour and greyscale in Day 10’s PATTERN to really highlight the ‘pattern’ in question, on Baz’s floral shirt and the banana peel. I would’ve kept it to just his shirt and the peel but I only came up with this idea halfway through shading Baz’s jeans!
Change in style?
I’m not sure if I have a distinctive style. I recently went to a great talk/live illustration by Chris Riddell, and he told me that he thinks style is more something that finds the artist, rather than the artist finding their style – so I won’t worry too much about that!
However, I did notice a small change as I progressed through the days. Days 1 through to 7, I was illustrating within pre-drawn borders. But after Day 8’s FRAIL, I started expanding out and just using the whole page – I have no idea why! I think the border theme worked best with Day 3’s BAIT, Day 5’s BUILD and Day 7’s ENCHANTED, but I’m really bemused as to why I suddenly stopped with borders.
The most important takeaway? TO RELAX!
By far the most important thing I learned from Inktober 2019 is that fanart doesn’t have to take forever. Simple pieces can still be great, and I don’t need to pressure myself to produce really complicated pieces that take forever in order for the fanart to be ‘worthy’ of the fandom – the key part is whether it has heart and conveys how much I love the book, not how fancy it is!
I often have trouble with anxiety and stress, as I set myself so many rules and boundaries that are needless really – but I struggle to break them. I’m trying to tell myself it’s ok not to ink all of them – to ink them out of order, based on which are my favourites – but it’s a struggle to actually do that even though I know it’ll make me feel so much freer! (Just another thing to overcome, I suppose.) I’ve already accepted that I’m not going to do Day 23 ANCIENT and Day 31’s RIPE, and that I don’t actually need to ink all of them to call them ‘finished’ – after all, Inktober is over now! For example, I’m quite happy with Days 19, 21, 29 and 30 as pencil sketches.
I’m really glad I took this chance to get back into drawing and I’m definitely going to keep going at it – it’s been great motivation and practice, as well as a nice way to take my mind off stressful things ❤️
I’ve got a Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo) full crew WIP, and a cute Heartstopper (Alice Oseman) one planned. I’m really excited to start working on those after I finish with my Inktober ones!