Believe it or not it's October already, and for illustrators that means it's time to get pull out your pens for Inktober. If you're not familiar with Inktober, it's an annual challenge created by Jake Parker that calls on artists to create an ink-based drawing every day of the month and share their creations on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #Inktober2017.
Inktober might not sound too difficult on paper, but finding time to ink an image every day for 31 days can quickly become daunting. If you're like us, you'll soon find yourself asking how amazing artists like Lüleiya (who drew the breathtaking illustration above for day one of this year's challenge) keep up the pace.
We're still admiring the amazing Inktober 2016 artists who made the whole challenge look effortless, but if you're struggling to get going with Inktober, or if you need a creative pick-me-up, we've put together some tips to help you on your way.
01. Follow the prompts
For tips on how to tackle Inktober, who better to offer advice than the man who created it? In the video above, challenge creator Parker explains how artists can overcome creative hurdles and idea droughts with the help of the official Inktober 2017 prompt list.
He reveals that each day of the month is assigned a single word prompt to provide the starting point for an illustration. These include a range of ideas, such as shy, mysterious, and juicy. Of course you don't have to stick to these prompts, but they're there if you need them. You could also check out our article on 20 ways to overcome creative block for inspiration.
02. Browse the hashtag
Day 1. I’m back from the dead! Let’s see if I can make it through the whole month this year 😬 #inktober #sketch #inktober2017 pic.twitter.com/6A8zGMF2wDOctober 2, 2017
If the official prompts aren't working for you, there's always the hashtag to explore for inspiration. Simply chuck #Inktober into the Twitter search box and you'll instantly get a glimpse into how other illustrators are tackling the challenge.
Not only that, but you get to browse social media and not feel guilty that you're wasting time when you should be drawing. It's a win-win. Don't forget to comment on pieces you like with words of encouragement: the support goes a long way to helping other artists persevere.
03. Take your tools with you
the smell of autumn for #inktober 2014/2015/2017 pic.twitter.com/6B0FAauA1POctober 2, 2017
You never know when you might grab a spare five minutes, or whether or not you're going to get struck by inspiration, so carrying your ink pens and a notebook with you wherever you go is another way to make Inktober more manageable.
Lugging your tools with you is also just good artistic practice. And seeing as Inktober is as much about refining your artistic discipline as it is about drawing a masterpiece day in day out, you might as well take the opportunity to start two good habits at the same time.
04. Ink from left to right
Time for some straight up technical advice that should save you some headaches further down the road. In this video by Kiara Lashay over on her YouTube channel Kiara's Studio, she recommends working from left to right to avoid smudging when illustrating with ink.
And for all you left handers out there, don't worry. Lashay recommends that you do the opposite and ink from right to left. (Speaking from personal experience as a lefty, I find fountain pens difficult to use in terms of pressure, so maybe markers are the way forward.)
05. Pick a theme
#Inktober 1 | Charvel Surfcaster 🎸🌊 My theme for this month will be guitars ;;; pic.twitter.com/527SwqDYreOctober 1, 2017
If you like the idea of using the Inktober prompts we mentioned earlier, another way to make the most of them is to pick a theme you can hang them around. We've seen lots of artists doing this over on the Inktober hashtag, and it looks like a genius way to narrow down your decision making over the coming weeks.
Not only that, but by picking a theme you're comfortable with, you get to play to your strengths by illustrating something you care about. This could be anything from Disney princesses to robots – or, as Twitter user Crisalys demonstrates, guitars.
06. Get ahead
Bit of a controversial one, this. Given that life is busy and that it's hard to make the time for creative side projects, artists need all the help they can get to crank out an ink illustration every day for 31 days straight.
To this end, Windy Iris suggests in the video above that doing some groundwork in the form of preparatory drawing is fair game. As long as you're just sketching ideas in pencil and not actually inking your work it's not breaking the rules... is it?
We're sure that some Inktober purists out there will be marching on Creative Bloq towers with torches and pitchforks for suggesting such a thing, but give yourself a break. Inktober is a long challenge, so it makes sense to get ahead if you want to.
07. Have fun!
Hello and happy day 1 of #inktober ! ^-^🌱🍃🐈give your plants some water today~ #inktober2017 pic.twitter.com/gCReKoLGLEOctober 1, 2017
We've bleated on and on about how Inktober is great for polishing your artistic skills and discipline, but remember it's also a fantastic opportunity to simply have fun.
Be sure not to go too hard on yourself, and if you need to skip a few days it's not the end of the world. Nothing stalls a creative roll like unnecessary stress, and this pressure will definitely come across in your work. So keep your art looking good by relaxing.
Indeed, Parker says you can take it slower if you like: "You can do it daily, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. Whatever you decide, just be consistent with it. Inktober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better."
If you see illustrations you like on Twitter, make sure you share them with your followers. Hopefully you'll make some new friends along the way and discover exciting artists you've never heard of before.