You’re probably familiar with the Inktober challenge? Every October, artists from all over the world take on this drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month. In 2019 I decided to participated, and the theme which came to mind was Space. I had recently found a wonderful book from the eighties, with lots of interesting space images… the mix of complex machines, astronauts and celestial objects is just so appealing to the imagination!

Ready for take off! The materials I used were black indian ink (diluted with some water), nib pen, no.12 water colour brush and an A5 size Stillman & Birn sketchbook (Zeta series). This paper is really nice and thick, so there’s almost no bleeding of ink through the pages. However, the next time I would choose the Beta series (or another water color sketchbook) which probably absorbs the ink better, when painting a large surface like black sky.

My goal for Inktober was getting to know the material ink better… I already loved the black line quality of ink, but hadn’t experimented much further with ink.

The first week was all about getting to know complex space machines, with their strange details, antennas and other accessories. For me that’s often the first step in a new project: drawing by reference, and getting to know the subject.

Week 2 was launched by E.T, the Extra Terrestrial… the start of imaging some space characters, and their fictional modes of transportation. Really fun to do!

ideeHB inktober space machine

Week 3… aliens need to live somewhere, don’t they? And do they go to college?

ideeHB inktober space apartment
inktober space MIT university

And then the final week… this was the week to combine things and just draw whatever came to mind. The alien space crafts were still flying around, which can lead to a traffic jam – on busy days that is.

inktober space air works ahead

Also aliens need to stay fit – just like humans- at Planet Fitness.

inktober space planet fitness

After some last drawings by reference, the final page was reserved for the school photographer, to preserve those nice memories!

inktober space goonhilly downs

inktober space little stars preschool

How I look back on Inktober? It was really fun to do, and drawing every day with ink really helped to get to know the material better! For example the fact that you can only continue to darker tones, and not go back to lighter tones… a big difference with for example acrylic paint or gouache. Making washed ink images is also formative for art skills in colour, because light/dark contrast and composition are key elements in any illustration.
Thinking of joining Inktober this year? Try selecting a personal subject of interest, which is real helpful to stay focused. The ideas for the 31 drawings came quite naturally, evolving from more realistic to fantasy drawings.
Check out my Instagram account if you’d like to see more work in progress, and thanks for taking the time to read this blog!

Quentin blake crocodile

One of my favourite illustrators of all time is Quentin Blake. The liveliness of his work, and the wonderful characters and scenes are so amazing! Last year I visited an exhibition at museum Meermanno in The Hague, dedicated to his work. It was such an inspiring visit, and I’d like to share some insights!

Let’s start with a look at his Winsor & Newton water colour palette.

Wonderful colours of course, grouped into families! And such a good idea, to stick the water colour pans on a large piece of white cardboard, which leaves space for adding the names. In a standard pan box, the darker colours are sometimes difficult to distinguish.
However, before adding colour, the drawing process begins with a pencil and lots of sketches, like this…

Quentin Blake sketch

… which eventually turns into beauties like these!

Quentin Blake drawing tips

But how to get from A to B?

Things I learned from my visit to the exhibition:

  • Draw, draw and draw! By practicing every day, your drawing will improve, and become just as fluent and personal as a sort of handwriting.
  • Use lots of paper… keep the things you like, and use a lightpad to draw these in the final image.
  • Regarding the use of the lightpad (and very important): do not trace your images, and only use the underlying sketch as a faint guideline. Use the nib pen just like you’re sketching, and keep the drawing quick and vibrant!
  • When starting on the final image in ink: start with the most difficult part, for example the facial expression, so when that’s not to your satisfaction, you can easily start over again on a new piece of paper. And when you’re happy with it, the most difficult part is done!

Have lots of fun, and keep creating!

Want to read more tips and inspiration? Check out these books: