Inktober- My Story So Far (Part Three)



Welcome back to Part Two of my Inktober journey! I recommend reading Part One first.

So October is the month of Inktober; an art challenge made by artist Jake Parker in 2009, where you have to draw 31 daily prompts in ink-based media. This has evolved over time, with people taking more liberties and using their own prompts/ themes/ media, and every year I say I will give it a go and every year I neglect to...

But 2019 is different! I plunged right in (3 days late mind) and have been able to keep up with the daily drawings. So, as well as share with you each drawing I've made, I also wanted to comment and reflect on the experience, as it's been very eye-opening and has made me want to pursue the medium of pen and ink further.

Each drawing was made using Derwent HB pencil, eraser and Staedtler pigment liners drawn on sketchbook paper- no digital means at all (apart from adding the prompt title).

I'm going to split the post into 3 parts, as it'll be quite an eyeful to go through all 31 drawings in a single post, so this will cover prompts 21-31.

You can see all of my artwork from Inktober plus all my artwork on my Instagram, @maddoctorartist

Let's get into it, shall we?

DAY 21- TREASURE

This was a fun one to do! I immediately thought of magpies and how they love to collect the shiny things. I actually used my own photo reference of a crow in this pose, then added all the trinkets. It took some time to come up with what sort of items a magpie might steal, so there's an assortment of watches, coins, mirrors, jewellery, cogs, screws and keys in there!

I also tried the feathering strokes again- it didn't really seem to work for the head and body, so it was something to look at for future.

DAY 22- GHOST

Another tricky prompt, as I didn't want to draw the stereotypical ghost in white sheet. Ghost can also mean spirit, however, so I thought I could do a haunted elk skull. Initially I was going to do a wolf in the sky with the northern lights, but once I did the skull I felt it was detailed enough to be its own thing.

As you can see here I really started to get to grips with shading, adding it to the trees, rocks and skull itself. I quite enjoy doing crosshatching, it's quite relaxing! I did make a lighting mistake on the left antler, which I only realised afterwards. Thus this has made me try to think about light sourcing and where to put the strokes, something I hadn't really done consciously before, and this is a good thing!

DAY 23- ANCIENT

As I mentioned in Part Two, I think this would have been better suited to Day 15 'Legend', and would have neatly swapped (as Virgo is an ancient constellation). Regardless, I chose to draw Pegasus wandering the ruins of Ephesus (in southern Turkey). I visited this place while on a cruise with school, and found it quite fascinating. I always like the style of Greek ruins, but aside from Athens (which I also saw on the same cruise) I haven't seen many.

I enjoyed coming up with a background for this one along with doing the feathers. Pegasus is often draw with his wings open so to be different I did him with one wing folded. I also really liked how the shading on the pillars came out.

DAY 24- DIZZY

This one I struggled with for a long while. Then I recalled a piece of fanart I had seen years ago from Fire Emblem, involving a character who could transform into an eagle. The fanart showed him twisting through a ravine (you can see if here if you wish), and I thought that 'dizzying' feat would work well for a bird. Initially I was going to do a peregrine falcon, but once I found a great reference picture of a bald eagle flying upside down, I decided to go for an osprey instead.

As you can see it was a very challenging pose, but great fun to do. I was also starting to think about how to convey 'colour' when I only have black and white. As odd as this sounds, if you desaturate a colour, it has a natural 'brightness' (so a desaturated red looks different to a desaturated blue, even if the colour is missing). In art terms this is called a value, and it also depends on how much light is hitting the object.

With pen and ink though, conveying 'colour' and shadows uses the same sort of idea. In this case the belly of an osprey is white, while its wings are brown. I perhaps could have done without drawing the individual breast feathers and made it more 'fluffy' to convey white, but that is the fun of Inktober- it has let me experiment and try things out. While not everything has come to what I had in mind, I haven't been upset with any result. It has all been a grand learning experience and has taught me a lot more than digital art has, and I'm super happy about it!

DAY 25- TASTY

Another prompt that I already knew what I was going to do! Following my very challenging Royal College of General Practitioner's practical exam (which was super nerve-wracking), I found a fun photo of two owls devouring a mouse, which I posted to Facebook saying that I felt just like the mouse and the owls were the examiners!

I remembered this photo and thus thought to use it as a basis for this prompt. For all the bird art I do, I've only ever drawn an owl once, so I decided to go for a barn owl this time. This was a nice straightforward pose, and I decided to focus more on the 'colour' of the owl rather than the shading. Hence it looks a bit 'flatter' than the previous drawings but I liked doing the stippled effect on the feathers. I was also able to make the head more 'fluffy' by not drawing individual feathers, as I had done with the osprey.

DAY 26- DARK

Is it me, or do the prompts seem much easier for these later days? Maybe it's because I was very into thinking up ideas by now, or just they seemed to translate to wildlife themes better. Either way, this was another one I knew exactly what I wanted to do- a blank panther hunting at night. Now this was going to be a challenge, as how could I render the black fur but also make it look shaded?

The answer is not to use solid black! Thus I went with layering of crosshatching and avoided any solid shades, saving this for the background to emphasis the night-time. I loved how this came out- it feels like a full fledged ink drawing, rather than the simple sketches I was doing to start with. This also took a lot longer- around 3 hours! It reminds me a lot of published novel illustrations that you used to get- I enjoyed looking at these and always wondered how the artists could convey so much detail with only black ink.

DAY 27- COAT

This is hands down my favourite of all the prompts. Of course I wanted to pick an animal coat/ pelt, and the contenders were bear and snow leopard. Snow leopards have such lovely thick winter coats, so I went with that. Here I applied everything I'd learned so far in Inktober and I love how it came out. I went all in with shading, including the background. Some parts didn't quite blend as I hoped, such as the belly fur and leg, and the background shades are a bit too close to the fur itself so it merges into each other, but I really was please with the fur texture- a dramatic improvement over Day 6 'Husky'!.

DAY 28- RIDE

I seem to have lost my momentum with this one, I feel it's not as good as some of the previous ones, but I did enjoy coming up with the concept, and I also learned a new fact!

So, as you might be aware, Hinduism has many gods. Many of these gods have what is known as 'vahan'- literally translated this means 'vehicle', but the English 'steed' is a better approximation, as these are the animals the gods use to travel. I was going to draw all of them, but a quick search showed me there's over 30, which was far too much for a single prompt!

Hence instead I decided to choose the major goddesses- Durga (she rides a tiger), Lakshami (she rides an elephant or a white owl), Saraswati (she rides a white swan) and Parvati (who rides a lion- a fact I didn't actually know!). Parvati also sometimes rides a bull, which is her husband Shiva's steed.

Thus that was the mystery connect between the four animals and the prompt 'Ride'!.

DAY 29- INJURED


I had to think a bit for this one, as there were a lot of potential possibilities. I was thinking to do a Monster Hunter monster again, but then thought of something simpler- a stag fighting a wolf. I enjoyed the stag, but the wolf still seems a bit 'cartoony', which was not what I was going for. I didn't have a direct reference, but I did use several photos to help. Overall though I liked th emoment captured, and how I was able to shade the fur on the stag.

Here I was starting to see how difficult it can be to make consistent strokes- see the trees for example- but I was playing with different ways to hold the pen, so I wasn't too frustrated with it.


DAY 30- CATCH

This one competes with the snow leopard for my favourite. I was initially going to draw an eagle or osprey fishing, but as I had already used these birds in previous prompts, I chose to do a kingfisher instead.

I was finally starting to get the hand of blending with ink- that is, layering strokes with different distances between the lines to get a gradient of light and shadow. I also didn't try to draw individual feathers too much, apart from the head and neck, which on kingfishers are quite prominent.

Very happy with how this one turned out!

DAY 31- RIPE

And here we are, the final prompt! Once again I changed my mind last minute, as I discovered I could slip in another bird! So, instead of drawing strawberries, I went for a macaw eating a fruit, as this is part of their natural diet.

I think I went back a bit here- I was a bit too heavy handed with the head feathers, and I could've made the breast feathers bigger so they don't look so 'tiled'. Again, it's a decision between wanting to convey 'colour' and wanting to convey shadow, so this is something I can work on in future drawings.

Thus, I completed all 31 prompts, with only a single delay at the start! I am particularly thrilled to see such an evolution of my art style, from the single line flat sketches to this much more detailed and textured forms. I still have a lot to learn, and have in fact purchased some books to further my studies! I don't think I will abandon digital art either, but it is really lovely to experiment with a new medium.

I hope you enjoyed taking this journey with me, and I'll be sure to post more artwork soon!

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