A completed Inktober

Who remembers Clovember, in which the idea was to draw your clothes every day through the month of November?

Well, perhaps I’m a sucker for these portmanteau-titled month-long challenges, because along came Inktober (draw something in ink daily for 31 days) and I did my usual thing (“No promises; I might just do one or two”), before immediately feeling that I had no other choice but to complete the challenge.

Oct 28: Hundreds of migrants are stranded in Budapest after police stop trains leaving for Austria and Germany in a bid to prevent them from travelling onwards.

You can choose to work from a list of daily prompts, but I made a swift and unconsidered decision to base my images on photographs from the news. My motivation was twofold:
– News photographs often contain people in dramatic but unposed compositions, which hopefully would teach me new angles and ways in which humans intersect, to carry through to my work in comics;
– We see so many images online every day; by drawing them, I wouldn’t be able to just scroll by and hardly understand what I was seeing. Instead, I’d be thinking about each person as I drew them.

Oct 30: French president Emmanuel Macron plays it cool when catching a whiff of marijuana during a visit to French Guiana, warning youngsters that it won’t help with their schoolwork.

The kind of pictures I chose

As always with this kind of project, it took a few days for me to settle in and understand exactly what I was doing. After a week or so, I began to know exactly what sort of photographs I was scouting for (a process that often took as long as the actual drawing). Elements that attracted me were:
– Crowds of people, often swarming around a central point: an interviewee surrounded by journalists with recording devices; a protester being manhandled by multiple police officers; a speaker being harangued by opponents;

Oct 23: Demonstrators on both sides demonstrate outside a university where white supremacist Richard Spencer was speaking.

– Compositions where one or more people were in the foreground with others in the background, ie differences of scale;
Oct 19: An outbreak of plague has killed 74 people in Madagascar.

– Complicated scenes where it is hard to tell which body part belongs to whom
Oct 6: Syrian Democratic Forces help a shell-shocked comrade to his feet.

– Interesting clothes, faces, poses and expressions.
Oct 14: High court judges take a selfie at the valediction ceremony for Mr Justice Bodey.

How I worked

The only Inktober rule is that you use ink. In most cases, I went straight to pen without any pencil drawing first, although there are a few exceptions to this, especially early in the month.

Drawings took between 20 minutes and an hour. I managed a daily drawing despite being ill for two of the days, home late on one of them (resulting in a late-night drawing) and away with work and comics stuff for another four.

Oct 3: People filling containers with water in an area hit by the hurricane in Puerto Rico

What I learned

– This sort of project always requires you to set aside concerns about sharing work that isn’t perfect or as good as you’d like (unless you have all day to redraw the images that don’t come out as you’d like);
– But equally, in the doing, sometimes images emerge that really surprise you, drawn in a way you probably wouldn’t otherwise have arrived at;
– By sharing them on Instagram or Twitter, you get immediate feedback in the form of a ‘like’ count, and the ones which followers like are not always the same as the ones you like yourself;
– Drawing hands will never be easy.

Oct 22: Pole dancing could become an Olympic event. A member of the Chinese national pole dancing team practices.

Next time

I really hope I can immediately apply some of the experience from this Inktober to my drawings. And next time, I’d like to choose a theme that encouraged me to loosen up rather than to lean towards my natural tendency of tight detail like this. So, perhaps something more imaginary and fanciful. Can someone remind me of that on Sept 30 2018, please?

Here are all the month’s pictures arranged chronologically in a gallery: you can click on one and then you’ll be able to click through them all at full size.

Published by Myfanwy Tristram

I am an illustrator, situated in Brighton on the south coast of England, and with a special interest in comics and graphic memoir. I also work for a non-profit which encourages people to be active in democracy and to exercise rights such as the right to information through FOIA.

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