Inktober 2019 - Part 2

November 4, 2019 | 10 Comments

So October has come and gone and that means that another Inktober challenge is over. This is the first time I have actually made it to the end of the challenge but my approach was extremely minimal this year and in fact I completely forgot about it for a few days towards the end of the month. In the end I managed 29 simple ink drawings during October. My goal was naturally to hit 31, and I reached that on 1st November. So I’m really happy with that, especially as this October was rather hectic for me (including running a new online course and teaching at Brisbane Sketchfest) and even attempting the simplest form of a challenge feels like a big achievement!

As my approach to Inktober was to just do some simple line drawings, it wasn’t much of a stretch as I already do a lot of these in my everyday sketching. However, just being more intentional about when and where I use ink drawings was very instructional and it has really confirmed something that I have believed for a long time…

It’s really not very difficult to fit a simple line drawing into my busy day to day life. It only takes a few minutes and requires very little effort – all I need is to get a pen out and draw!

There have been numerous times during the past month when I did not have the time, energy or focus to get my paints out and do a watercolour sketch, but I did (easily) manage a quick line drawing. These drawings are not masterpieces, but they are very important for the storytelling aspect of my sketchbooks. They also are super valuable for training observational skills, eye-hand coordination and compositional skills.

The other important reminder from this challenge is that limiting myself to just using ink is a great way to tackle a complex scene.

These two sketches show two different techniques:
1. just using lines to simplify a messy scene
2. adding water to create tone even when using permanent ink (you have to be fast to move the ink before it dries).

So all and all, I’m happy with my Inktober collection. It doesn’t contain any masterpieces, but it does record many important memories of a big month.

So here are the second half of my ink sketches (you can see Part 1 here)


1. I’m only counting ink only sketches for the Inktober challenge, but I’ve included some of the full spreads so that you can see how the simple line drawings fit in with my other sketches and text.

2. I wrote the above text before scanning my sketches, and guess what? I got my numbering mixed up and had a double up. As a result I did in fact hit 31 ink sketches on the 31st.

3. There are a lot of cafe sketches in this collection!

So how did you go with Inktober?

What did you learn from your attempt (whether you finished it or not)?

Did you stick with it for the whole month?


  • Angie Keegan says:

    Hooray for finishing Inktober Liz! I made it too this year and it’s all because I followed your fine example and just kept it simple and ditched the prompts. As soon as you mentioned the observational art not really working with prompts… not a direct quote. The penny dropped. No wonder I had problems keeping to prompt lists!

    I kept really really simple and did a continuous line drawing of everyday items around my house. Nothing o did was brilliant but I showed up every day with dip pen in hand ready to sketch!

    Thank you 🙂 I’ve ordered my enamel pin to commemorate making it all the way through the challenge ?

  • Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Nicely done Liz! Hard to believe you crammed it all in October !!!

    This is my 3rd year in a row of completing Inktober. The first year (2016) I missed the last week with the chaos of work and family related stuff, so I wowed to be more diligent the following year and it has been a breeze since then. It is just a matter of habit really. I also figured that if I know I am going to have a busy day later in the day, I try to sketch in the early morning not to forget. This year I tried to sketch scenes instead of objects only. I needed to raise the bar from previous years, but at the same time, not make it too hard or time consuming that I would dread it. I water colored a few of them, only when time allowed. I also downsized to a 4 x 6 sketchbook in an attempt to avoid larger, more time consuming sketches and practice simplification. It worked fine as no sketches were over an hour from beginning to end, which for me is a HUGE improvement, lol! I even practiced a motorcycle, a car and a mini truck sketch, to go along with that WOL on going assignment 🙂 So I am very happy overall, specially given that for 2 weeks in the middle I could barely hold a pen due to massive blisters on my hands and fingers (and both arms and legs too!) and rashes all over my body from a poison sumac allergic reaction after i carried a series of leaves home to dry which happened to be poisonous – DUH! Lesson learnt for sure! What a disaster that was, but i lived to tell – i still have some recovery left from the rashes, but the worst is behind me, thankfully!

  • Congrats on getting an ink sketch done for each day of October. You are right that it is pretty easy to fit in an ink sketch even into a busy day. I like seeing the ink sketches next to a color sketch too.

    I was able to complete the challenge too. I usually end up adding color at some point during the month but this year I think I only got really tempted on one sketch. I used my Elegant Writer for shading in many of my sketches as well as shading a bit with the permanent black ink I use. I’ll have to remember next year that I would like to do some sketches in sepia too. It always looks so good for shading.

  • Jane Jackson says:

    I really like your simple line sketches and the great page layouts with the painted cups. Having completed the sketching now foundations and watercolour courses, I felt confident enough to take part in Inktober 2019 choosing ‘ what is in my kitchen?’ as my theme, and even posted on Instagram @jjbrynteg. This was a great first for me and as the month progressed, I got more experimental trying out acrylic inks, using non permanent inks with washes, using a limited selection of Derwent paint pens to do coloured sketches of pottery, trying out brush pens and simple contour drawing. Anyway, it was lots of fun, and I just want to say thank you for teaching me the skills and setting me off on this sketching journey.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Jane – so great to hear about your sketching and inktober sketching – YAY! I’m so glad my lessons have helped!

  • Diane says:

    Hello Liz,
    It’s always a pleasure to see your work and read your articles. I did keep up with my 4th Inktober challenge. Ended up with 54 sketches, most of them small. This year I opted to focus only on architectural elements and some street furniture aiming to improve on urban sketching. i drew from photos but I realized that I prefer a lot more drawing on site. Using only black ink with white for highlights on grey paper was rewarding and helped a lot at observing lights and shadows. I also drew directly in ink (no pencil) and after a while, I gained more confidence. Ah ! and I did enjoy myself. Now, it’s time to go back to homeworks and exercises of your Watercolor on Location course. Thanks for being so generous in sharing your experience. Diane

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Diane – well done on your Inktober challenge! And yes, on location is always better. Glad you are enjoying the WOL course 🙂

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