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Cartoon warrior slashing slimes with a sword.

How To Avoid Burnout With the Inktober Challenge

There's only one way to avoid the pressure and burnout of the Inktober challenge and it's not quitting.

The Inktober challenge is one of the biggest community events for artists, especially considering that COVID-19 has pretty much ruined every in-person event. I've really missed conventions like Anime Expo, but at least we have these online events until those come back.

There's a lot of pressure that comes with Inktober! If you want to participate, you have to do a new drawing every day. That can be really challenging for people who don't have a drawing habit, or are simply new to drawing and excited about the opportunity to connect with people. The question is, how do you make it through Inktober without feeling all that pressure? How do you make it through without getting burnt out?

You have to make it fun.

Break the rules

The first thing you want to do to make Inktober fun is break all the rules. And then make some of your own.

If your teacher were to make a character design project around the anime, One Piece, you would use it as your source of inspiration. Most people, who are rule-followers like me, would make a variation on that pirates theme. You might change the pirates to samurai, or wizards, but you would follow that same formula of a crew banding together and going on adventures.  

The people who I'd get angry at, who did not follow the rules, (which I realize now I was very much jealous of) were people who take something super small from that story and turn it into something that they enjoy.

For instance, in the first chapter of One Piece, Luffy wants to show his bravery. He stabs himself in the face and gets a scar under his eye that's present throughout the whole series. It's a reminder for the readers that this is how our journey started with Luffy. You could take a small sliver of inspiration from One Piece, like the scar under the eye, and make a more interesting story. Maybe you have a warrior who was cursed by a demon, and the only way to get rid of it was stabbing himself in the eye. And then he got rid of the demon but there was residual power left there, so he goes on to fight demons by using his eye power. Maybe he keeps it behind a patch so nobody sees it and then later on you could have him combining with the demon. The point is, a student who breaks all the rules will find something much cooler by simply bending the inspiration source into something they actually like.

Bend the rules into something that you enjoy, and if you have to, break them entirely. Make your own rules. You don't have to follow Inktober exactly. The point of Inktober is to improve, make better progress with your art, and make good drawing habits.

If you find something that you're really excited about, don't stifle that excitement by making sure you follow every prompt for Inktober. If on day two of Inktober, you have a prompt leads you into this cool story that's motivating you to keep on drawing and make designs, follow that instinct. Abandon Inktober if you have to. You don't have to follow the rules.

Choose any prompt or list

Inktober was started in 2009 by Jake Parker. He started Inktober to improve his inking and to make positive drawing habits. Unfortunately, Parker chose to turn Inktober into something toxic and was accused of plagiarizing another person's book. While the majority of artists don't support him anymore, Inktober is still very much a thriving community.

Inktober comes out with its own official prompt list every year, but there are tons of people in the community who make their own. Sometimes they have it as a different name, such as Drawtober or Witchtober. You don't have to follow the official list. There are tons of opportunities to explore. You can mix and match the lists that you have. As I said before, break the rules. Make your own list or use what's out there if you want. It's up to you.

Share your work

Sharing is a big part of Inktober. This may be a little controversial because it is nerve-wracking to share your work, but I think it's important to share during Inktober because of how community-driven this event is.

I know it can be scary to share, but you really never know what people are going to respond to. Some of the work that I've posted, that I'm not really happy with, can get the most encouragement and likes. Some of the stuff that I'm the most proud of may not even be looked at. You really have no idea and it's just a great feeling to have feedback from the community. Especially with the social media commmunities we have available.

TikTok right now is such a welcoming and warm community. There are always going to be bad people on every platform, but in my experience, everybody has been wonderful. I've even shown some of my old drawings, that I really don't like, and they've still been the best.

Find confidence in fear

If you're really hesitant on sharing your work, sometimes it helps to play out worst-case scenario.

I'll tell you a story of one time where I showed my work to my teacher. I actually just posted this story on TikTok and this was one of the warmest community engagements that I've had so far. I was in a character design class and the teacher asked us to redesign the characters from a book that we liked. I chose Artemis Fowl at the time because I was really in love with the fantasy story. I did tons of drawings, lots of studies, and was overall super motivated. Character design was one of the biggest reasons why I got into drawing. I was excited to fill out nearly half a sketchbook and even did a final pencil render of one of the characters.

When it came time for the teacher to look at my work and review the drawings, he skimmed through it very quietly and then told me that the final pencil render looked like a high school drawing. He struggled to find any other words for his critique. Needless to say, I was devastated.

When you share your work, the worst thing that you want is to have somebody diminish you and your effort. He was a teacher, so that definitely shouldn't have happened. You're more than likely not going to get that from the Inktober community. That was a worst-case scenario I went through and survived.

Even if you have people that look negatively on you or the things that you're drawing, know that that's more about them than it has anything to do with you. Either don't respond to them, kill them with kindness, or block them entirely. It's up to you. But don't be discouraged to share.

There are lots of wonderful people out there who would love to see your work. They'll give you feedback and comments, boosting your confidence to keep drawing. You can continue to improve and make those positive drawing habits that you're trying to make.

Make the drawing

The last thing I want to do is put all these rules into effect and bring you guys through the process of creating an Inktober drawing. I usually do a drawing for every article or video and I think it'd be cool to go through the process.

For this sketch, I used the Inktober prompt list by JelArts. She called it Jeltober, which I love. And right away I was breaking the rules. I found the word slime on day two and thought that was cool. It made me think of the Dragon Quest slimes. I looked for reference first, for the pose, so I could come up with some cool action. I did change it up a little bit, just to have a sword in there. I think it came out pretty cool. It makes me think of an RPG adventure (which is what I was going for).


We've done it! We made Inktober fun! Or at least, I think so. I hope you enjoyed the drawing, and if you are participating in Inktober, I hope that this helps you. I hope you create those positive drawing habits and improve your drawings throughout the month of October.

Think of Inktober 2021 as an opportunity to grow. Just remember you don't have to do every prompt, you don't have to follow any of the rules, just focus on keeping the process fun so you stay engaged. That's what's going to keep you drawing and coming back for more. That's what's important about the Inktober challenge. It's not about participating in every second of Inktober, it's about making it fun and improving. If you can do that, keep it light, fun, and keep on improving, I would say that you did Inktober successfully.

I hope this helped and good luck with all our Inktober drawings. I'll see you next time.



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