It’s September. The air is getting colder, the leaves are starting to turn orange, and there’s a magical smell in the air…
… Pumpkin spice? No, I mean ink! Because Inktober is just around the corner.
If you’re not familiar with Inktober, it is a month-long challenge that takes place in October wherein artists challenge themselves to complete one inked drawing every day.
The creator of the official trademarked Inktober, Jake Parker, started the tradition in 2009 on his blog. From humble beginnings, the challenge is now carried out by thousands, if not millions of artists and hobbyists.
While there is an official “Prompt List,” a list of words to inspire drawings for each day, there are also hundreds of UNofficial prompt lists available, and plenty of people participate without using the prompts at all. For a view of the official prompts, check the official Inktober Instagram account.
To prepare for Inktober, I wanted to sharpen my inking skills.
Actually, as a near complete novice inker, I knew I had a lot of ground to cover before October.
Enter Jake Parker himself. On the Official Inktober website, Jake offers 3 stand alone mini courses for sale for, at time of publication, $15 each. Each course is centered around one piece of art that he provides to print out and trace over while he explains ink techniques as well as design decisions.
Better than that, I found that his classes are also available on the Society of Visual Storytellers website, SVSLearn.com. It is an online learning platform for aspiring children’s book illustrators for which Jake has provided many courses and co-hosts the platform’s podcast (along with other children’s book illustrator extraordinaires Lee White and Will Terry). The website hosts 80+ courses and they are all available to purchase for one time costs, or by subscription model, currently costing 24.99 per month.
This means that if you’re planning on doing all three of Jake Parker’s ink classes, it’s a heck of a deal to sign up for the monthly subscription on SVSLearn because you get access to tons of bonus content as well and you save money overall.
I was able to sign up with a free trial to boot and do all three courses in a week. SVSLearn even has many more classes about inking that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. Update September 26, 2021: SVSLearn has now released a 5 day course specifically geared toward prepping for Inktober!
Each of Jake Parker’s short ink classes is about 30 minutes, with about 5 minutes of introduction and warm up exercises at the beginning. The rest of the video you get to follow along and watch him ink over the same print out that you get while he narrates the specifics of what he’s doing and why.
The first two art pieces are robots done in a funky loose style of inking with a brush pen (Jake uses a Copic, while I experimented with a Zebra brush pen and two Tombow Fudenosukes), while the third is a more methodical and careful inking done with fine tip Pigma Microns. Jake recommends using card stock for the exercise, which I used and can see why it would be helpful, as there is very minimal bleeding with cardstock as compared to very thin cheap paper.
Overall I think the classes were very helpful and interesting.
I learned about how to make marks in the most comfortable way to me, how and why to vary line weight, and different considerations for where and how to add texture.
Most of all I loved the fact that this class provided the print exercises to trace over because doing so was very motivating and helped boost my confidence to ink my own work.
I highly recommend the classes to beginner inkers and I think getting them through SVSLearn is a bargain. More intermediate to advanced inkers might be better served by other ink classes, perhaps also on the platform. I will say that there is perhaps value for the more advanced in that having Jake’s drawings to practice over might be a change of pace from whatever standard warm up exercises they otherwise might use.
I feel ready for October!