One Month of Focus: Create & Complete Your Art Project Using Inktober | Lawrence Basso | Skillshare

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One Month of Focus: Create & Complete Your Art Project Using Inktober

teacher avatar Lawrence Basso, Illustrator & Visual Creative

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      History, Rules & Guidelines of Inktober


    • 3.

      Setting Project Goals - Inktober 2016 & 2017


    • 4.

      Utilizing Constraints - Inktober 2019 & 2020


    • 5.

      Planning & Preparation - Inktober 2021


    • 6.

      Reaching The Finish Line - Class Project


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About This Class

Hi there, and welcome to my class!

If you're like me, then your creativity spreads far and wide beyond just drawing. You likely have many art projects in various stages of completion waiting for the right amount of time or proper amount of inspiration for you to jump in and complete them. Well, I may have the solution to your artistic struggles. 

Let's take a journey together through the handful of years that I participated in Inktober. I will share with you the ups and downs, and lessons I have learned along the way. You will see how those experiences helped me turn the ordinary art challenge into a driving force to create and complete various forms of illustration-based art projects. 

Join me, and by the end of this intermediate, self-guided class - you'll have decided on a project goal, the constraints in which you will work, along with your plan of attack to help you succeed in your one month of focus.

I encourage you to download the worksheet and my Inktober project PDFs before you start so you may easily follow along as I reference my projects, as well as jot down your thoughts and notes along the way.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Lawrence Basso

Illustrator & Visual Creative


I like to think of myself as an all around art generalist ― a mostly self-taught creative and visual problem solver with a varying degree of skills, styles and interests.

I worked in advertising at a design firm for 13 years, helping grow the company from 5 people to 30+. A majority of that time was spent as the director of creative and motion [motion design, video, VFX and animation].

Following that, I worked in video game development as a senior artist at Blizzard Entertainment / Vicarious Visions for 5+ years as part of the UI team, cinematics team and narrative group. I've had the pleasure of working on such games as Diablo IV,  Destiny 2 (PC release, Warmind, Forsaken, Black Armory, Destiny Guardians Korea)&... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Do you have an art project that's sitting unfinished because you can't find the time to complete it? Or perhaps you've always wanted to create something like a series of illustrations, a comic book or a picture book, but have yet to take that leap. Well, I'm here to help. Hi, my name is Lawrence, and welcome to my class. One month of focus, create, and complete your art project using October. Join me as I share with you the lessons I've learned over the years participating in October. And see how I turned a simple art challenge into a motivating force and designated block of time to create and complete some art projects I've always wanted to do. We'll begin with a brief overview of what October is and then I'll take you through my various attempts year by year as I share tips on planning and prepping and how I stayed motivated throughout the month. By the end of this class, I'd like for you to have a clear understanding of what your goal or project will be, while also having a solid plan in place that will help you reach that finish line. And just to be clear, this is not a class about gaining followers or subscribers on social media. And it's not about learning how to draw either. It's about growing as an artist by completing a creative project for yourself and having that proud sense of accomplishment, regardless of whether you choose to post it to social media or not. If October isn't your thing, well, you can easily apply what you learn here to the plethora of monthly art challenges that take place throughout the year. You can even use the foundation to create your own block of focus time on your own terms whenever it works best for you. Our class project is comprised of four parts, defining your goals, setting your constraints, creating your plan of action, and finally, crossing that finish line with your completed project. I provided worksheets that you can download to jot down notes and answer questions as you watch each lesson. So with that, let's get into it. 2. History, Rules & Guidelines of Inktober: So what is October? Well, like many other monthly art challenges, the foundation is the same one drawing a day for the entire month and for the month of October, creatives all across the world take the inktober Challenge, which was created by Jake Parker in 2009. Jake created the challenge as a way to improve his inking skills and drawing habits. The idea of doing something for a month or 30 days can easily evolve into a habit. And drawing daily can help increase the speed at which you develop as an artist. Furthermore, the structure of Tober increases your creativity by introducing constraints and some accountability. Here's a breakdown of the rules or guidelines. Create a drawing using only ink. Share that drawing on social media and hash tag the drawing with hashtag October and hashtag October plus the year. And then just repeat that each day. Ideally, by producing a drawing and only ink, it forces you to really think before you draw. Visualizing an image in your mind before producing it on paper, as opposed to haphazardly throwing down random lines and pencil that can easily be erased. The limit of medium helps clear the path to drawing ink on paper, nothing more. And posting to social media helps with accountability by putting yourself out there to say, hey, I'm doing something. And watch me reach my goal. And given the size of the inktober community, there's this built in support and motivation you get when posting and commenting on line. Seeing what others are doing as well can be encouraging, motivating and inspiring. So, but drawing a day using only ink and posted to social media. This is what I would call the original or raw form of October. And in all of my years of participation, I have not done this. I have always needed some sort of underdrawing or sketch before inking, and that's okay. That's just how I draw and it's part of my creative process. In 2016, Jake introduced the prompt list to further assist with removing the friction of getting started a single word to guide your imagination when staring at a blank page. Over the years, Tober has evolved. As more people participated. Various forms of permanent mediums, as well as digital inking, are used. And even additional prompt lists, often with cohesive themes to help guide you even further. Some artists get satisfaction out of just random doodles, while others like to set a timer as an additional constraint to help increase their speed. And then there are people such as myself who started using the challenge as an excuse or motivator to produce fully completed projects such as picture books, comics, print collections, sticker packs and so on. And by setting your sits on a target. Along with the proper prepping and planning, you too can create a finished product by the end of the month. So now that you have an understanding of what October is, let's begin my personal journey that started in 2016 in the next lesson. 3. Setting Project Goals - Inktober 2016 & 2017: As I mentioned earlier, 2016 was the first year I participated in October. I had no plan in place and no real goal. I just decided I wanted to do it and I was off to the races. I was drawing whenever I had time or could squeeze it in. And it became a pain in the butt at times, especially when it's late at night and the clock is ticking. But in the end, I completed all 31 days, but I wasn't really happy with the results. I felt like my art was all over the place. An experimental mishmash of style and subject matter, and I used a lot of other mediums as a crutch and there was no consistency across the board. Pens, markers, colored pencil. And really, all of this is okay because art can be whatever you want it to be. But I realized that's not what I wanted. And honestly, at times I felt like I was phoning it in. I wasn't motivated to draw. And over time had that just to get it done, attitude. And that's not how I wanted to feel about drawing, and if I was feeling that way, then what was I even doing. Ultimately, I didn't really gain anything from it, and I felt that I could do better. The first lesson I learned from October was goals. I needed a goal, a target to hit. So in 2017, I set some goals for myself based on what I didn't like about my attempt in 2016. Number one, use only ink, no color. Number two, use a consistent style. And number three, create something cohesive. Those goals led me to the idea that I wanted to tell a story and publish a picture book. That would be my overarching main goal. My loose, not very well thought out plan was to use the official prompts in a narrative for each drawing. Every drawing would feature a creature as well as a child in peril. Collectively, they would work together as a cohesive narrative for the book. Needless to say, the journey was brutal and I definitely bit off way more than I could chew. Here's where I fell short in my planning. I did not consider if the style I chose was actually attainable. And therefore, I underestimated the time it would take to produce each piece and wanting to stay true to that one drawing a day aspect. Each day, I would brainstorm the idea, thumbnail, it, lay it out on illustration board, ink it, scan it, color grade it, and then post it to social media. And this was all while working full time and having various other obligations going on. It was just too much. But in the end, holy crap, I did it. And posting my daily illustrations to Instagram as well as people seeing pieces in person, is really what kept me motivated throughout the month. Receiving praise from friends, family, fellow artists, and strangers really helped push me through to the end, but there was also a decent amount of fallout afterward. It took me a year to actually finish the book. I wound up designing it twice, and it was difficult to find a quality printer at a reasonable price. All in all, I was just totally burnt out. I didn't post to Instagram for over a year and I didn't participate in October in 2018. I didn't want to make the same sort of commitment again, and I felt it was better to just not participate than try to reach the same standard I had set with the last one. It may have been dumb for me to think that way, but I needed the breather. So I took it. In the end, I learned that my goals needed to be realistic and my plan of action a little more thought out. And I also needed some more constraints. But most importantly, I needed the experience to be positive. Sure, I finally made a book and I achieved my goal, But it really wasn't worth the sacrifices. I really wanted to enjoy the journey and the process of creating my art, not just the destination and the finished product. My takeaway from that experience was the following. Be realistic. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Think about what you have going on that month and set realistic expectations for yourself. Use constraints. Keep it simple with an appropriate art style. Narrow the medium, and do some tests so you know what it is you're getting yourself into before you start. Then make adjustments. If you need to have a solid plan, decide what you're going to do and how you're going to do it, write notes, do thumbnails, and so on. And most importantly, create a schedule. Lastly, be positive. It doesn't have to be overwhelmingly serious or monumental. Don't dread it. Look forward to it, kick its butt. Be in control and have fun with it. Now let's continue with the journey in the next lesson. 4. Utilizing Constraints - Inktober 2019 & 2020: In 2019, I decided it was time to jump back into October again, and this time I would use what I learned from the past two attempts. Be realistic, use constraints, have a solid plan and be positive. I decided I wanted to do letter forms as my focus. I've always loved hand lettering. Even when I was a kid in school, I loved experimenting with my handwriting style. And I loved taking notes in class, along with endless amounts of doodles too. For a while at work, I was doing doodles, posted notes that consisted mainly of work related themes and stuff people set around the office. Another love of bye is music listening whenever I can while driving, drawing, showering, cooking, and so on. I decided I would combine the two loves for my project, my goal hand letter and illustrate song lyrics, my constraints. Use the daily prompts and find song lyrics that contain the word for the given day. Use pen and ink on Bristol board and experiment with using custom half tones and other ink effects. At the time, I figured out a way to transfer half tones to my artwork using laser ton er, printouts and chart pack blender markers. My plan prep as much as possible before 1 October, Being that the prompts are released a month earlier, I could find all of my songs, write out the portion of lyrics I would be lettering and start thumbnailing layouts for each drawing. Once October came around, I would do all of my pencil under drawings in the morning, and then I would start inking during lunch at work, then finish up after dinner if I needed to, followed by scanning and posting my artwork to Instagram as part of the B positive lesson. Whenever possible, I would be listening to the song that I was illustrating for that day. In the end, the experience wound up being a lot of fun and I was pretty happy with the results in March of 2020. As we all know, Covid hit and the great shut in began when it got closer to October. I was unsure of what I wanted to do. At the time, I was toying with the idea of starting a Youtube channel that focused on my art. Given that I now had a lot of free time on my hands with not much to do aside from binge watching various streaming content for October 2020. My goal was to fill my October drawings while focusing on learning a new skill, inking with a brush. My constraints were to keep it simple and letter only the daily word prompt. I would use India ink and a brush on Bristol board and I would keep the video aspect as simple as possible by filming in real time with very little post editing based on those decisions, my plan for the most part was fairly simple. The most time consuming part of my prep was figuring out the video and lighting aspect. Having worked as a director of creative and motion design for well over a decade, I knew that I would over engineer anything related to video cameras and lighting for this project. The weeks leading up to October were mostly spent figuring out the camera and lighting setup, creating a designated drawing space, and recording various test videos. Once my month of focus started, the routine was fairly simple. Every evening, I would power up hit Record, sketch out the prompt, and then ink it. When I was finished, I did a quick trim and color grade of my footage, added some pre selected music, and uploaded it to Youtube, as well as posted time lapse versions of the videos to Instagram. In the end, it was an overall good experience given the state of everything at the time. But in the following winter months, after some thought and reflection on the past two years, I realized I needed to get more out of what I was doing. I needed a project. I needed a more definitive artistic and creative project or product to work on. I feel that's the best way to learn a new medium or technique and the end satisfaction is so much greater for me. I also learned that I want to tell stories. I needed to work on something where I'm quite literally telling a story. That's really the ultimate goal of what I wanted to be doing with my art. So given those two realizations, I had an idea for a project and I would need to use everything I've learned over the years in order to complete it and not exhaust myself in the process. So let's learn more about that project in the next lesson. 5. Planning & Preparation - Inktober 2021: Given my experience of the two previous years, I now have added two more bullets to my list of lessons learned. Create a product, tell a story, be realistic. Use constraints, have a solid plan and be positive. My goal for October 2021 was to write, illustrate, color, and letter a short comic book. My constraints would be to use the prompts to inform the story. Limit the story to 31 panels spread across 12 pages. Use 11 by 17 illustration board. Use tambo brush pens and micron technical pens along with India ink and white ink, utilizing brushes and other tools. Then I would tone, color and letter digitally to save time and keep the focus to mainly inking. Now I know that still sounds like a lot of work and don't get me wrong, it definitely is. But I felt like with a solid plan and the right amount of prep, I could accomplish that goal. Maybe even with some time to spare. My plan was to start pre production at the beginning of September. I would begin writing the story when the prompt list was released. On the first, I would develop my page layouts based on the 31 panel count and story flow. I would then need to develop all of my character designs, environment vehicles, and so on. Once that was complete, I could create all of my under drawings or digital pencils using Photoshop and then print those as blue lines onto illustration board. And most importantly, I needed to create a solid schedule taking into consideration any prior obligations so I could get ahead whenever I could. I found various ways to save on time, either during pre production or for when I was inching. For instance, I used Meta Human to help create a solid reference for my characters, which helped speed up my drawing time immensely. I was then able to finish all of the digital lettering before October. All I had to do was drop it on top of my finished scans and make a few minor adjustments. The most time consuming part after inking was coloring. But given my many years of comic coloring experience, that one pretty smoothly knowing timing obstacles beforehand allowed me to get ahead whenever I needed to. Instead of sticking to the one panel a day, I sometimes would complete 23 or even four panels a night. And coloring wouldn't happen until the pages were fully inched. Remember, at this point in my journey, I was using Tobra as an excuse or motivating force to complete a project. Not necessarily develop a daily drawing habit, but regardless, it still compounds over time and it helps you to grow as an artist. And completing projects was my artistic or creative goal, not just drawing daily. Getting ahead meant I could schedule my Instagram posts, freeing me up to do more actual artwork. In the end, I finished my comic with four days to spare, and I was super happy with the results. A lifelong goal, since I was a kid, finally achieved. So from here, the final lesson will be the class project, where you will define your goals as well as your plan of action. 6. Reaching The Finish Line - Class Project: Let's quickly recap the lessons I learned from my October journey. I needed to create a product, tell a story, be realistic, Use constraints. Have a solid plan and be positive. Now this list in its entirety may not work for you, so feel free to modify it as you see fit. You may not want or need to create a product or tell a story, and that's completely fine. You just need to define what it is you want to accomplish. Let's begin with step one. Define your goals. What is something that you've always wanted to create, or a technique you've wanted to learn? Thinking about spending a month drawing, what would make you the most happy or give you the most enjoyment, or the greatest sense of accomplishment without running yourself ragged in the process. Remember, you need to be realistic. As I mentioned before, having some cohesive theme for an overall collection can aid in its creation. Here are some ideas to help. If you're stuck, you could create a series of character designs or portraits. They could be monsters, aliens, fairies, cats wearing hats. Or you could draw a series of one item, such as spaceships or monster trucks. Tree houses, ice cream Sundays, teddy bears or fashion outfits. You could also create a single poster or print that's made up of 31 individual characters or items. Or one large illustration that's divided up into 31 parts or sections. Or you could make your own board game or card game, or similar to what I have done in the past, an illustrated picture book or a short one shot comic. Once you have defined your goal, you can now decide on how to narrow your focus. In step two, set your constraints. Will you be using the daily prompts? What medium will you work in? Traditional ink brushes. Technical pens, Dip pen, Repito graph. Maybe you're going digital and we'll use Photoshop, Procreate or some other program. What style will you work in? Are you just outlining or are you shading heavy, solid shadows or transparent washes, Perhaps cross hatching or stippling. What size will you be working at and on what type of surface? Teeny tiny size like a postage stamp or giant size like a movie poster? Do you want to use smooth printer paper, Bristol board or toned paper? The fewer questions you leave unanswered, the better. Now that you've chosen your goal and set some constraints, it's time for step three. Create your plan of action. I would first start by doing a test to see if what you decided upon is still realistic. And if so, what do you need to do to be as efficient as possible when creating your artwork? What areas of what you want to accomplish are the hardest and how can you make them easier? This will help inform what prepping you need to get done before the challenge begins and how much time that will take. Maybe you only need a few days or a couple of weeks, and maybe that time is spread out across a month or two. The prep work can take as long as you need it to in order for your one month of focus to be as successful as possible. Do you need to purchase supplies? Should you be doing preliminary drawings? Do you have a dedicated work space or a drawing area set up? And is it clean and ready to go? At what times during the day will you be working? What prior obligations do you have for the month? Will you be away or tied up and unable to draw? If you're posting to social media, Should you predetermine a list of hash tags that you can easily copy and paste? Do you know how to schedule an Instagram post? And if not, should you be learning ahead of time? The more you plan, the less you'll have to think when it comes time to start. And that part is key. Greasing the runway, so to speak, removing every hurdle and pulling out all of the stops. You should be able to sit down and know when, what, and how you're going to draw. And you should be excited and looking forward to it each time. Well, I hope that you found my personal experience with Tober informative. Although this may be the end of this class, the next step in your own journey is just beginning. I encourage you to download and use the worksheets I provided and please post your completed projects because I would very much love to see what you have created. Thanks for watching.