Inktober sketches

notes - studies

2018 Inktober (or paintober for me)

This was just like my sketch gym and paint gym--
exercises in drawing something I've never drawn before nor would have imagined from scratch.

I looked up photo references for each prompt as a starting point.

Inktober 2018

Drawing from reference makes me sketch outside my comfort zone.
Left to my own imagination I would have likely created sketches in the same perspective, the same body posture, the same faces, same facial expression, etc. -- I'd get bored of my own works!

It may sound boring to use a photo reference -- certainly, if I were to sketch things as is!
It becomes fun when I try to (1) simplify and tweak the visual elements in the photo to look more iconic, (2) render backgrounds into an impressionistic painting to make the image easier to recall, and it's also fun to (3) learn new techniques on how to render a particular image using my chosen medium.

I've compiled a speedpaint video of my paint process and it shows how often I meet 'happy accidents'...

Inktober speedpaint video

31 sketches in 31 minutes.

Inktober 2018

This art exercise taught me a few new techniques and compositional tricks...


I was really looking for a photo reference of a snake but
it kept triggering my fight-or-flight response -- I couldn't hold a pencil properly. It's more pleasing to look up nude lady photo references. So I tweaked the sketch with an addition of a snake.

inktober 2018 poisonous


Rendering landscapes into a little painting with just a few brush strokes is a skill I can't get enough of.
The process of simplification makes the output look deceptively easy.
I believe the Italians call this sprezzatura.

inktober 2018 tranquil


Rendering a photo subject into a comicbook-style drawing makes the image more
mentally-packable / easier for viewers to recall.

inktober 2018 roasted


In this sketch I tweaked a reference photo with my own comicbook character, Nod.

inktober 2018 spell


Images that I wouldn't have been able to imagine from scratch are always a favourite...

inktober 2018 chicken

Now having done such a sketch, I've bent my mind a little bit to consider this kind of composition
-- or some version of it -- next time I draw a comicbook panel.


Kissy drawings are fun to sketch out.
I've jotted down some ways to draw french kisses on an earlier study.
This one would fall under the category of voyeuristic & suggestive.

inktober 2018 drooling


Animals are a favourite of mine to sketch and paint.
I think it's because they don't wear clothing.

inktober 2018 exhausted


This was my second star sketch.
First one was the Ganges during sunset but I didn't realise the sun wasn't as big as I'd prefer it on the page until after I had finished the sketch. I ended up sketching something that became one of my favourites of the bunch...

inktober 2018 star

It made me practice applying high contrast tones and gave me that satisfaction with
reducing visual clutter and creating a simplified drawing, just like seeing a clean room -- sprezzatura!


I wasn't looking for this particular photo reference but came across it while doing an image search for something else.
The moment I saw it I knew this would be precious. There was a busy background in the photo reference that I left out.

inktober 2018 precious


Another one of my favourites --
I hadn't painted splashy flowing water before. This was fun the learn.

inktober 2018 flowing


I picked this shot for its interesting shapes and because I needed
more practice in painting clothing creases.

inktober 2018 cruel


Fun animal painting
and a little break from painting clothes.

inktober 2018 whale


Like the chicken sketch I love love love painting shadows.
I don't always know where they're supposed to go. This is where photo references are a great tutor.

inktober 2018 guarded


I find it tough to paint buildings so I picked a photo reference
with one on the background and tried to simplify it.

inktober 2018 clock


When I can get the opportunity I'll pick that photo reference with the uncommon body posture.
This made me rotate my sketchbook a few times and pay close attention to the proportions of the characters.

inktober 2018 weak


Another favourite where I learned how to paint stone cracks that appear lighter than their surrounding surface.

inktober 2018 angular


As a comicbook artist I find it essential to practice drawing a variety of characters
so that they don't look like they all came from the same mommy and daddy.

inktober 2018 swollen


I had two photo references for this sketch -- the lady reaching for a milk bottle and a cat walking.

inktober 2018 bottle

This sketch is very much like how I create comicbook panels -- compositing and embellishing.
I added that wall crack as a little accent to draw the eyes towards the centre of the sketch.


This was my second scorched sketch. The first one looked no different.
I accidentally deleted my first video recording of my paint process so I did a second take...

inktober 2018 scorched

After a second try, I realised I hadn't accidentally deleted the first one after all. It was just nudged below my desktop dock.
This taught me to avoid painting past my bedtime.


This one was good for practicing uncommon(ly drawn) body posture, clothing creases, and tonal values.

inktober 2018 breakable


Another photo reference I picked for the shadow play.

inktober 2018 drain


I don't get to draw old people that much. I think most artists don't either.
But I notice there's a lot of interesting old folks photo references out there. They all have an honest feel to them
-- like you're looking into someone's soul.

inktober 2018 expensive


This is another exercise on "cartoonifying" a photo reference and reducing visual clutter.
I enjoy sketching painterly backgrounds but some sketches work better without them.

inktober 2018 muddy


Old lady with a knife at the park -- too interesting to pass up!
I'm glad there was a prompt for this...

inktober 2018 chop

I painted the whole scene this time, but simplified a few areas of the photo reference to reduce visual noise
and make the sketch's centre of gravity stand out.


I notice both old people and children are quite easy to "cartoonify".

inktober 2018 prickly


This is another one of my favourites since I had a bit of a problem to solve.
The photo reference had a lot of distant houses in the background that was messing with my head a bit...

inktober 2018 stretch

It was fun figuring out how to suggest a packed neighbourhood with minimal brush strokes and rendering a light tone to the background in order to make the main subjects stand out.


I re-applied the same brush technique I learned from the light cracks on the Lincoln sketch unto this thunder sketch.

inktober 2018 thunder


Here's another reason I like drawing from a photo reference...

inktober 2018 gift

The moment I came across this photo, my mind instantly swapped out the tea cup
with a little gift like it was meant to be.


I can't get enough of "cartoonifying" exercises.
Most of the photo references I use are high definition that could look overwhelming to sketch out.
The trick is to learn how to distill the shot into its atmospheric essence.

inktober 2018 double


In "cartoonifying" photo references I also noticed the sketch output comes out memorable -- more mentally-packable.

inktober 2018 jolt


By the end of this, I noticed I can get used to being outside my comfort zone of sketching.
But now I'm starting to miss doing my own art projects.

inktober 2018 slice

That was my first Inktober (or Paintober). Done.
I'm pleased, now I can go back to my normal routine.

Materials used:
Water-soluble Graphite
Synthetic and sable paintbrushes
Monologue A6 soft sketchbook