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First time taking on the Inktober Challenge

October 30, 2017

Upgrading my doodling skills from nonsense to some-sense via a month-long inking challenge: Inktober.



For the longest time, I was only good at doodling -  decorating the margins of my notebooks with random lines and shapes that often made no sense. 


(Most people think I am not paying attention when I start doodling, but ironically enough, it actually helps me to concentrate more by giving my restlessness an outlet. So honestly, I’m listening, guys!)


At one point, it occurred to me that maybe I should make my doodles a little more structured, a little less senseless, and maybe even a little bit pretty - something worth keeping as opposed to being crumpled up and chucked into the wastebin.


But how to be better? When to do it? What’s going to motivate me to start, and more importantly, to finish?



Inktober what?


Inktober was started by Jake Parker in 2009 - he wanted to improve his drawing and inking skills by drawing one ink drawing a day for the entire month of October. Apparently, he wasn’t alone, and as with any good idea, it spread and now thousands of people take on the challenge each year. 


The rules are simple:

  1. Pick up a pen and make a drawing in ink

  2. Post it online

  3. Put a hashtag on it (#Inktober)

  4. Repeat every day of October


Joining the fun


Inktober seemed to be the right opportunity and excuse for me to finally work on improving my drawing skills. I don’t think I could commit to drawing each day every day for a year, but a month? A month seemed doable.


Together with a friend who is an actual artist or artist-to-be, we pledged to participate in Inktober for 2017. We also agreed to share our daily drawings on social media, which is hilarious to me because I’m the last person to jump on the social media bandwagon (the only time I use hashtags is when I’m punching in codes on the phone). 


In fact, this is the first time I’ve actually put my recently-opened and mostly-abandoned Instagram account to good use. 



Tools used


Typically, when embarking on a new hobby or fad, most people would get excited to shop for all of the ‘necessary’ bits and bobs.


I too found myself toying with the idea of shopping for a new sketchbook, new pens, new pencils, a new set of watercolours (oooooh~), and new everything. 


But older and wiser, I knew that spending money does not necessarily lead to better chances of success. In fact, knowing just how high the likelihood of my abandoning this project halfway made the notion of buying brand new things ridiculous. 


If - and that’s a big if - I actually persevered and completed an entire month’s worth of drawings, and proved myself capable of sticking it through, then and only then will I consider purchasing new tools, perhaps for 2018’s Inktober.


For this first round, however, I decided to stick with things I already had and use all the time.


*Note: this is not an endorsement or promotion of any of the products listed below.





Instead of the fancy Moleskin or Mossery notebook that I had my eye and hopes on, I ended up just using the back of the cheap notebook that I use for my daily tasks and musings. 


A cheap ~USD 1 dollar notebook


The paper is a bit thin, and completely unsuitable for inky or watercolour-y works of art, but I had a lot of it left to use up before 2017 ended, it more or less served my purpose of just practicing and I carry it with me everywhere anyway, which dramatically increased the likelihood of me doing this Inktober challenge.



Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen (for inking)


As part of my no-waste efforts and my campaign against disposable items, I made the switch to a more permanent fountain pen a year ago, and have never looked back since.


Three's a crowd: mechanical pencil, mechanical eraser & fountain pen


Using only one pen did put a limit on the kinds of drawings I could do, but I preferred that to carrying multiple pens around. Also, having to make do with just one pen definitely made the challenge a lot more interesting!



Pilot Ink - Black


My fountain pen is filled with Pilot’s black ink, and that’s what I used to make the drawings. 


A bottle of black ink





Every year, Jake releases the official daily prompts to spark the creativity of those participating in Inktober. This year’s prompt was: