Line by Line

Inktober 2018 Comments

posted December 5, 2018

Tags: art, comics, WIP report, writing

Whoops, my hand slipped and I accidentally did another Inktober instead of working on my comic. Don't worry, I am working on that again (in case you missed my last post [TODO: Link]). But more on that later. For now, I want to talk about these goofy little ink drawings.

I didn't want to do what I did last time and put a description of each piece in the gallery description. Rather than clutter that page with descriptions and still have to pare everything down to a sentence or two, I figured I'd just make a separate post over here in the blog. There are some pieces I'm skipping because I don't have anything interesting to say about them, but you can see the complete assortment in the gallery.

I did much better this year than in 2016 with sticking with the challenge, even though my work schedule means I had less time in the evenings for actually working on the drawings. I'm proud to say that I didn't miss a single day this time. I'm less proud of how some of the drawings turned out, though; I feel like I got sloppy with a lot of them. But without further ado:

drawing of a humanoid dragon glancing seductively over her shoulder
1. Poisonous

Okay, this is a stretch, but my initial plan was to use the prompt list only if I couldn't think of anything myself. And I wanted to draw a dragon, so here we are.

My lack of skill with expressions and body language ended up working in my favor: I was aiming for a playful, somewhat flirty look. As it went on, it ended up becoming more sexy/seductive than I wanted (partly because I couldn't figure out how to imply the character wasn't naked and eventually forgot until I already had it mostly inked).

After looking at it with fresh eyes the following day, I got a vibe from the expression that she's rather, shall we say, dubiously trustworthy. I'm not sure how much of that is me reading into it now that I know what the prompt is, but yeah, I could definitely see her as someone who'd poison you.

drawing of a pine tree on the edge of a pond in a grassy field
2. Tranquil

This is one that I'm not proud of at all. I mean, it's okay if you don't look too closely, but then you realize that the grass doesn't have a reflection and the perspective isn't even close to correct. It's also too scribbly and hard to read. So instead of being tranquil, it gives me anxiety. Oh well.

cartoon of a small dragon using its fire breath to roast a marshmallow
3. Roasted

I actually love this doofy little guy, but there are two things that bug me. I don't like the lighting on the wings: The outside edge facing the flames needed to be lit, and the inside of the membrane should have had some more gradation. More annoyingly, I messed up the eye line, which ruins the whole expression. He was supposed to be cute, and really focused in on his marshmallow. Instead, he's staring off angrily into space. I know the general rule is that the iris/pupil should almost always be touching the top eyelid, but clearly there's a reason cartoonists often ignore that rule.

drawing of a stone tablet marked with runes, floating in midair, and surrounded by sparkling lights
4. Spell

Get it? It's a pun! See, because it's a magic... And it has runes that... Oh, whatever, you people just don't appreciate comedy.

I tried to use the shadow to make it clear that the tablet was floating in the air, and not just floating in the white void that exists behind most of my drawings, but for some reason (maybe because the stone is overlapped by the shadow) it flattens the drawing instead and makes it look like the tablet is partially sitting on a placemat or something.

I promise I did actually plan out where the light source was, but looking at it now, I feel like if the light is angled high enough to put the shadow there, the shadow itself should be narrower.

Maybe I should have drawn an impression in the ground where the tablet was before it started floating, but when I was drawing it, I imagined it as a small tablet on a table or something, not a big monolith rising from the ground.

drawing of weather vane made to resemble a rooster
5. Chicken

Okay, I'll just cop to getting the directions wrong: The N and E should be swapped, as should the S and W. I added the rusty spots because I felt like a solid black field would be too lazy, but honestly it probably would have looked better.

cartoon of a large dragon, exasperated, being licked by a much smaller dragon
6. Drooling

I don't like drool. It's gross. I don't want to draw something gross. So here's something cute instead.

This marked the first time during the challenge that I made some preparatory/practice sketches on a separate piece of paper before doing the actual drawing. I ended up liking the sketch better than the final; it looks like it has more life to it, and the scale is better:

two preliminary sketches of the “Drooling” cartoon

Of course, it doesn't help that the big dragon's hands are so scrawny. I mean, my neck is thicker than both my wrists put together, but not by an order of magnitude!

drawing of a fountain
10. Flowing

I'm really pleased with how this one turned out, but there's one thing that bugs me: There's no distortion in the parts of the fountain that are covered by water, so it looks like there are just small amounts of water trickling over each basin where the edges and the highlights are. If I had it to do over again, I'd use shakier lines, and possibly thinner, too. Some more highlights scattered around might have helped too, or might have just made it look messy and busy. For all that, though, I'm surprised at how much I ended up liking this one.

drawing of a noose
11. Cruel

This is the only time I decided to cheat and draw something really simple just to have something done. But it wasn't because I was unambitious this day. Quite the opposite: My planned drawing was a fairly simple geometric shape, but it was also a three-dimensional object in perspective. It wasn't a full-fledged 3-point grid with vanishing points, because that would require me to put lines overtop of finished drawings from previous days. (Like last time, I did multiple, small drawings on a single page.)

I thought I'd figured out a way to get good results anyway, but for some reason (as happens nearly every time I try to do a perspective grid), I just couldn't get it to line up. After about a half-hour to an hour of erasing and retrying and just generally being frustrated, I had more or less ruined the tooth of the paper and left marks that couldn't be erased. So I just moved to a new area of the paper and did something quick and angry.

It may have been a subconscious holdover from an idea I had for a previous prompt: For “Spell,” I toyed with the idea of a cowboy, holding a chalkboard with a game of hangman and glaring upwards. He would have been framed by the legs of another cowboy standing on the back of a horse. I don't know if that's too morbid or not, but It would have been too complicated and time-consuming for the time and space constraints I was working under.

drawing of a boomerang against a partly cloudy sky, with trees and mountains in the distance
16. Angular

Okay, a boomerang has an angle in it, but the actual idea here was that since the boomerang is spinning, it has angular momentum. I'm not sure that's as clever as I thought it was at the time, but it's still better than the boringly literal interpretations of “Whale,” “Clock,” and “Bottle” (even if “Whale” turned out to be a much better drawing). Incidentally, I'm not including those three in this post because there just isn't much to say about them; you can see them in the gallery.

I still like the idea, but the execution leaves something to be desired. I'm not sure what's going on with the pseudo-fisheye effect on the backgroud there; I'm generally pleased with it even if I'm not sure it makes sense. Just ignore the pitiful, scratchy attempt at motion blur on the boomerang.

drawing of a burned tree stump, with more burned trees and stumps in the background
19. Scorched

This one is one of my favorites. The big stump isn't exactly accurate; it's sort of a synthesis of a few different variations of burned wood I found pictures of. I think it still reads correctly, though. I think the burned trees in the background also turned out well.

cartoon of an abstract painting in an ornate frame
22. Expensive

I had fun with this one. The ornate picture frame was tedious, but well worth it, and I'm surprised that the wobbly unevenness of it doesn't catch my eye as badly as I thought it would.

The painting itself was just me having fun with the idea of coming up with something that a bunch of art snobs not realizing what they're looking at would be willing to pay a bunch of money for, but was actually just something silly. I'll let you figure it out.

Sadly, I forgot to ink that bottom corner of the frame before I erased the pencil lines. Oh well.

cartoon of a scaly dragon, wearing a plaid shirt and suspenders, holding an axe
24. Chop
This guy looks a bit like the dragon in the suit and tie from 2016. They both have formless, lumpy torsos with shoulders that don't line up properly. I still like this one, partly because I think it's the first time I've ever drawn a dragon with fully detailed scales.

There's a “roughneck” joke in there somewhere. I know that usually refers to oil rig workers but it can refer to others with dirty or low-paying jobs.

cartoon of an absurdly long stretch limousine, partly coiled, holding its foremost and hindmost sections up
26. Stretch


This idea seemed so clever in my head: A stretch limo that stretched so long it turned into a snake. It looks more like a Play-Doh extrusion than a snake even after I looked up pictures of snakes and combined a couple. (Maybe it's because I combined a couple?) The texture is weird; it needed a lot more solid black to read as glossy black rather than...whatever that hatching ends up looking like.

drawing of a storm cloud with bolts of lightning striking the ground
27. Thunder
I'm actually shocked (*cough*) at how much I ended up liking this one, even if the cloud did turn out weirdly two-dimensional.

I learned something interesting about lightning in researching this. The Wikipedia article on Lightning shows an animated gif from NOAA showing how lightning comes down from the cloud, and while the downward/stepped leader changes direction and branches, it's always moving down. I don't think this is a universal rule, as I've seen images (including some on the wiki article) of lightning that does appear to arc back upward, but I feel like following it as a rule of thumb makes the lightning appear more natural.

drawing of a squat, wingless dragon with two heads and two tails
28. Gift Double

The prompt for the 28th was “Gift,” but I read the wrong one and had the base drawing for “Double” halfway done before realizing my mistake. I didn't want to erase it and start over with something else, so I decided to just go with it.

It was fun to do a more squat, reptilian dragon body in contrast to the usual birdlike or cat/dog/horse amalgamation bodies I usually use. I looked up crocodiles and Komodo dragons to get the basic feel.

Something I wish was clearer is that the heads only have two eyes each; the inner side of each head is supposed to be pretty flat and blank. I didn't want to have one head turned away from the viewer to show that, though, so it doesn't really come across. I guess I could have had one of the heads looking more head-on at the viewer.

I assure you there is no intentional video game reference here. I'm not a bad enough dude for co-op beat-em-ups.

cartoon of a small dragon presenting a teddy bear to a crying baby gryphon
29. Double Gift

Naturally, I made up for skipping “Gift” by doing it on the day I was supposed to do “Double.”

I almost couldn't think of anything to draw for this prompt. A dragon in a birthday present box? Already did that one in 2016. Well, just the box, then? No, that's lame. Wait, I've got it: A monstrance! My first publicly posted religious art! That quickly turned out to be a nightmare of symmetrical geometric shapes, so rather than relive the “Cruel” kerfuffle, I decided to start over.

But what else would read as a gift? Fortunately, the idea of bringing back the little dragon with the teddy bear from “Precious” popped into my head, and from there it seemed natural to bring back the gryphon chick from “Exhausted.”

I'll probably never get to it, but I'd like to redraw this one day. I really love the idea and the characters, but the wonky perspective and the blank white void backdrop are really bumming me out. The poses could be pushed further, too. Also, I wish it were clearer that the gryphon has a band-aid. I did my best to make it read that way, but it just looks like some kind of weird blocky thing.

cartoon of a cat, fur standing on end, hissing at a Van de Graaf generator
30. Jolt

This one was fun but I really screwed up the shadows. I had everything blocked in and a lot of the texture/shading already done and it looked like everything was in a blank void (you know, like most of my drawings), so I added some shadows so it would look like everything was against a wall. It wasn't until I had the shadows partly inked already that I realized that I'd already established a light source in the form of the highlight and shading on the Van de Graaf generator's globe, and I'd completely forgotten to make sure the direction of the shadows matched

The book spines were fun. The second book, which was meant to resemble a …For Dummies book, was (I think) supposed to be Lightning For Dummies but I wrote “Lighting” instead, which turned out to be more apropos.

And that pretty much covers it! Thanks for bearing with me as I ramble about my art. As a reminder, I did all 31 days, so anything not mentioned here can still be seen in the gallery.