*This post contains affiliate links. I receive small commissions for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.
These commissions help me keep this site up and running, in order for me to keep providing helpful and inspiring art content. :)
Are you an artist looking for a foolproof way to improve your drawing/creative skills in a short period of time? Have you always wanted to participate in #Inktober or other daily drawing challenges but find them a bit intimidating? Are you a beginner looking to make drawing and creativity a part of your daily life?
Month-long drawing challenges like Inktober are no joke. Most of us have a lot going on in our lives and committing to producing one drawing a day (and actually sticking with it for the entire month) requires a huge amount of discipline. Even if one starts with the project excited and has proper fun creating those first few sketches, that initial burst of inspiration is probably going to dwindle at some point mid-way.
And when that happens, it's going to take sheer determination to keep going!
This said, if we are able to stick with it, growth will come inevitably and fast. By the end of the month, our drawing skills will have progressed and our creative abilities will be heightened. This type of experience is also incredibly valuable as it helps us make way towards finding our artistic style and voice. Committing to any sort of series like this one is a great way of pinpointing our strengths and weaknesses, which is essential.
In this blog post, I'll be sharing my top five tips to ensure that you are progressing your drawing/creative skills as much as possible with this drawing challenge, but also staying sane along the way. These are all things I'm making sure to do myself throughout this month. I'm also including links to a few very helpful pen and ink drawing blog posts/YouTube videos that will help you step up your inking game.
The video included in this post is a compilation of time lapses for my first five Inktober sketches.
Make sure to follow me on Instagram to stay up-to-date with my progress throughout the month.
I'm sure I'll be missing a few days here and there, but I am planning to make up for them as soon as I'm able to.
Check out these helpful pen and ink sketching blog posts/YouTube videos!
1. Pen & Ink Sketching: 6 Shading Techniques
2. Guide to Shading Techniques: Hatching, Crosshatching, Scribbling and Others
3. Shading Simple Objects Using Hatching, Crosshatching and Other Drawing Pen Techniques
4. Shading a Hand Using Pen and Ink (Complex Subjects)
1. Be practical about it
As creatives, we have tons of different ideas popping up in our heads non-stop. This is great, but it can definitely hinder us from moving forward and actually finishing things. Think of an idea that you feel could work and that feels practical in terms of time, and just go for it. If you look back constantly, there's a huge possibility that you won't finish drawings on time and they're going to start piling up, which can lead to overwhelm.
Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. I like keeping this sort of project practical by giving a bit of my energy each day instead of giving it all right at the beginning and burning out fast. I'm not striving for masterpieces, but for growth.
2. Avoid looking at others' work until after you have finished yours
It's important for me to keep my work as original as possible and I hope this is the case for you as well. I'm sure there will be other artists in the world creating work that is similar to mine in some (or many) aspects. But when this happens, I know that it's due to the fact that those other artists and I are somehow influenced by similar things and not because I'm copying their work.
For challenges like this one, I find it super helpful to stay away from social media until after I have finished my work (or at least my initial sketch). This way, I'm not allowing other artists' ideas to infiltrate my mind.
3. Brainstorm ideas and create sketches
Before going to bed, I'm reading the prompt for the following day and allowing myself to start brainstorming. I start sifting through ideas in my head, setting aside those that might not be practical (no matter how amazing they might sound). I don't actually put pencil/pen to paper until the next day.
I recommend creating at least a couple of quick sketches prior to actually starting with your piece. Doing quick thumbnails is an excellent way of arriving at great compositional arrangements. For several of the drawings above, I was unsure whether I wanted my main subject to be facing forwards or whether I'd be sketching him/her/it in profile or at an angle. It wasn't until I created those sketches and actually saw my ideas come to life that I could make a decision about what would be most appealing.
4. Incorporate some sort of element of coherency (or a theme)
When creating any sort of series like this one, it's useful to think about how you can bring an aspect of consistency to your work. A lot of artists like sticking to a specific theme for Inktober and I think this is very useful, as it limits the broad range of ideas that might lead to indecision and not doing anything at all.
I decided to incorporate coherency in the format/layout of my overall design. However, there are many ways that we can add a sense of consistency to our artwork. Perhaps you want to make sure to incorporate human figures in all your drawings, stick with a specific color scheme (if you're using color), create some sort of frame around your drawing, integrate handwritten lettering, or think of a specific layout like I did.
5. Have fun and don't strive for perfection
Being a perfectionist and expecting too much from yourself with every single thing you do is a surefire way of burning out and not enjoying the creative process. It also keeps you from producing the amount of work you have to create in order to really improve artistically.
Not to mention, this challenge (in my opinion) is a way of improving our personal skills, not about showing off masterpieces and/or comparing them with other peoples'! Stay in your lane and remember that the purpose of this project is to improve your drawing and creative skills, as well as to make art a daily habit.
I hope you have fun throughout the month and wish you lots of artistic growth!
My Inktober art supplies
*Click on images to check out the specific supplies I'm using for Inktober that I've bought through www.consumercrafts.com and www.amazon.com:
is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites
to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
is a participant in the Shareasale.com Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Shareasale.com partner companies.