Hello earthlings and aliens!

It’s me, Althea, your Art Buddy, and I’m here to talk to you about how to set yourself up for success for an art challenge. Inktober is almost here, and I’m sure many of you are just as excited as I am about it!

However, if you’re anything like me, your Inktober might look something like this:

Around this time of year, you get soooo stoked. Maybe you go out and buy new art supplies to try out. The first few days go absolutely fantastic. You feel so powerful! This is going to be the year you actually finish. Then a couple of days in, you sit down, feelin’ yourself and ready to draw and…

You run headfirst into a wall. Maybe you hit a prompt that you completely blank on, or you’re just super tired, but nothing works.

Then you miss a day…

And suddenly it’s November, and you’ve only drawn like 10 things.

Let’s not do that again this year! So today, I want to share some tips and tricks on how you can prepare and actually FINISH an art challenge like this one!

The best thing you can do for yourself is to start preparing ahead of time.This means setting up your prompts, gathering your materials, doing your research, and all-in-all making sure that your time spent during October is actually drawing. It’s hard enough to put aside enough time to draw and ink an entire illustration in a day, much less try to come up with your ideas on the fly too!

This is going to seem like a lot of work, but trust me when I tell you that this will actually save you a lot of time!

Prep Your Prompts 

You’ve probably seen bunch of inktober prompt lists. It’s a good idea to pick out a prompt list ahead of time. I know there’s the “official” one, and that a lot of people like to use it. It drops in September, There’s plenty of prompts out there, like people drawing spoopy things or witches, but personally, I like to make my own prompt list based on what I’m interested in. 

This year, I’m going with the theme “Heavenly Bodies” this year, and will be doing illustrations based on celestial objects. I did a quick brainstorm on what I wanted to do, and then wrote it out as a day by day list. 

My Inktober Prompt List

Heavenly Bodies

1. Sun
2. Mercury
3. Venus
4. Earth
5. Mars
6. Jupiter
7. Saturn
8. Uranus
9. Neptune
10. Pluto
11. Luna (Earth’s Moon)
12. Europa
13. Leo
14. Virgo
15. Libra
16. Scorpio

18. Capricorn
19. Aquarius
20. Pisces
21. Aries
22. Taurus
23. Gemini
24. Cancer
25. Orion
26. The Big Dipper
27. Polaris (The North Star)
28. Andromeda
29. Milky Way
30. Black Hole
31. Dark Matter

Make a Moodboard

The next thing that I like to do is make a moodboard for the kind of aesthetic I want. Since I’m working around a unified theme, this is going to make sure my aesthetic stays on point. You can do whatever you like for this moodboard, but I like to use Pinterest as a sort of visual research.

I thought of a few keywords that I would use for my illustrations. I knew that I wanted to do illustrations inspired by Art Nouveau, specifically Alphonse Mucha. I especially liked the way that the illustrations were framed, so I decided that I would do that with these illustrations.

For the aesthetic, I figured that art deco would be a nice twist on this look, since it’s so geometric compared to the flowy florals of my inspiration source. I didn’t quite want to do tarot cards, but I did like the idea of incorporating something like that, so I went with the Clow Cards from Cardcaptor Sakura, and I got lucky since these have celestial elements to them! I wrapped this up by looking at celestialcore to get some ideas. Now, I have a basic framework for my illustrations, with a mix of different inspirations. This mix and matching is going to help me make something unified AND unique.

Now that I have the frame, I decided that it was time to look at inspiration for the figures in the illustrations. I always love, specifically, looking at couture fashion for inspiration. There’s so many weird and wild things that happen in couture fashion that really push the limits of what I can imagine, so I got a little lost here.

Next, I remembered that “Heavenly Bodies” was actually the Met Gala theme from 2018! This had somehow slipped my mind, but I think something about the couture fashion jogged my memory. Ugh, look at all these iconic LEWKS! This is exactly what I’m going for. 

The heavenly bodies theme was actually inspired by Catholic art from the renaissance, so finally I arrived at the original source. It’s pretty stunning how both the couture fashion and Met Gala looks took this inspiration, and I really feel like I tapped into something special here. I especially felt this when I found the Renaissance tabernacles, special very ornate frames for these paintings.

Here’s my finished moodboard. All that research is going to help out a lot with the next stage of my prep.

Make Thumbnails

I think that every illustration benefits from a thumbnailing stage, but it’s especially helpful for a series like this. 

The thumbnail is basically the layout for the illustration, which sets out the basic layout of the image. These can be as detailed or as messy as you like. For a series like this, I usually try to do as many quick and dirty thumbnails as I can think of, since I can use all of them for the individual images, instead of trying to do them one at a time. The idea here is to get as many ideas as you can on the page, so you can pick out the best of them once you’re done.

It’s really hard to think of 31 different layouts, but I did portion my prompts out into sections, so I can reuse the same basic format to make all of these feel more cohesive.

After I pick out the layouts I like, I make a more detailed thumbnail for each drawing, using the research I did to guide me. This gives me a clear roadmap of how each illustration is going to look. All that’s left to do is draw!

Will you be joining me this October? Have you ever done Inktober before, and how has it gone? Comment below — I’d love to hear all about it!

Thanks yall! Ily byeeeeee

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