My Best of Inktober 2022

When I first heard of Inktober, I thought the rules were that you had to draw straight in ink from the get-go, and that you didn’t know what each day’s prompt was going to be. I don’t know why I thought this, but even years after finding out these weren’t really the “rules,” I still mostly do Inktober as if that’s how it has to be done. I see the prompt list in October—I just this year realized it gets published a month in advance—but take it one day at a time.

Sephiroth looks bashfully down and to the side while standing casually with one hand in his pants' pocket. He's holding a bouquet of fire he's conjured into the shape of flowers.
Or in this case, two days at a time: days 5 and 6, “Flame” and “Bouquet.”

This year, I felt really strapped for time, but that in itself made me want to do this even more. With each passing year I feel like my job eats away at what little time I have for myself, so doing this is, in part, trying to get a bit of my life back. From what I’ve read on social media, some people stress themselves out to create 31 perfect illustrations, but for me, taking these ten minutes to two hours is escapism. If I draw something that’s worth a second look, that’s a bonus.

All that said, I’d only gotten through all 31 prompts one year before, namely 2019.

This year, as before, I mostly used whatever ballpoint pen was nearby when I sat down to draw, but a few prompts gave me ideas that I wanted to put more effort in to, so I did some penciling first on a few. For the penciled pieces, I inked with some combination of Tombow or Faber-Castell brush pen, Sakura Microns, highlighter, and gel pens. I also used color pencil and Prismacolor markers on one of these. With one exception, I drew inside of a 5.5 x 8.5 inch (14 x 22 cm) sketchbook.

A large mushroom with arms and hands dances surrounded by little mushrooms and wavy lines in different colors.
Day 7: “Trip.” I didn’t do any penciling for this one, but it does use pretty much every tool mentioned in the paragraph above. Also, I was listening to this awesome lofi remix of FFVIII’s “Man With the Machine Gun” while I drew this.

Unlike 2019, when I used Sephiroth for only one piece, this time I let myself spam him as much as I felt like, which ended up being seven times, with one of those times counting for five days’ worth of prompts. I’d “cheated” by doubling up on prompts before, but doing five-in-one was a first. I ended up liking it so much that I did a digital colored version, which I’ll share for the first time at the end of this post.

I originally shared these images on Twitter as I drew them, but I had used my phone to take the photos, and mostly at night with artificial light. For sharing on Warped Frost, I used my scanner instead for much better image quality. I wrote in “” only on the pieces I planned on sharing here after posting them to Twitter.

Side note 1: For the time being, I don’t plan on leaving the bird site, but neither did I nor will I pay for its service. Whatever happens, I’ll be here on Warped Frost. I don’t log in every day, but any message left here, I will see eventually.

Anyway, on to it! Here are the rest of my favorite pieces from this year’s Inktober!

Sephiroth and Cloud vogue while wearing the tennis skirt trend. Sephiroth's racket has an exceedingly long handle. He says "Keep Up!" to which Cloud responds, "Stop Cheating!"
Day 8: “Match.” In the version I posted to Twitter, the conversation continued with Cloud calling Seph “asshole,” then “bitch.” Though Remake Cloud does call Seph an asshole, in retrospect “bitch” just felt too unnatural coming from Cloud, IMO, so I edited it out in this scan.
Leyla Serizawa laying in bed with her hair fanning out all around her. There are clips in her hair in the shape of birds near her bangs.
Day 9: “Nest.” Leyla Serizawa, the lead singer of Trapnest, from the manga & anime Nana.
Young Sephiroth sitting in a corner with his hoodie up, listening to music from a portable CD player and scrolling on his flip phone.
Day 10: “Crabby”
Panel 1: An alien in ripped jeans and a hoodie is seen arriving at an upstairs landing. In Panel 2, the alien says in his language with English subtitles, "Why'd I come up here?"
Day 12: “Forget”
Sephiroth stands with his arms crossed, winking, in front of a bay window with a potted plant in it. In a square dialogue box, he says "I'm not going to wake you up tomorrow."
Day 13: “Kind.” That threat always felt a little empty to me, though I have a feeling CCR and Rebirth will do away with that impression since we’ll be able to see the characters’ facial expressions in greater detail.
Small illustrations of three animals and one object that are written with "ll" in Spanish: a pink fairy armadillo, a horse (caballo), a llama, and a tortilla. Phonetic pronunciation is given in katakana below the names in Spanish, with a note in Japanese saying that "arumajiro" is based on English pronunciation.
Day 15: “Armadillo.” In searching for photos of armadillos, I learned of the elusive Pink Fairy Armadillo.

What was supposed to be a fast illustration turned into a night of watching videos about the pink fairy armadillo (including this nearly 50-minute documentary) and reading about yeísmo (the tendency of the sound of “ll,” which had been considered a letter in its own right in Spanish, to change into the sound of “y” across the majority of the Spanish-speaking world). On a slightly different train of thought, since Spanish words which are used in English tend to go into Japanese through English, Japanese people pronounce them in the bastardized English way even when they would be perfectly capable of pronouncing them as they’re said in Spanish. For example, “armadillo” is written in katakana in the dictionary as アルマジロ (arumajiro). The sound “di” doesn’t exist in Japanese, so using “ji” instead of the newer combination ディ (di) is understandable, but using ロ (ro) instead of ヨ (yo), which approximates the sound of “llo,” is due to the influence of English.

Sephiroth sits on the floor with his legs straight out in front of him. He's wearing horse ears and has his hair in a high ponytail. His hands are inside of black dress shoes. A voice from out of frame says "Come on, you lost fair and square, so say the line already!" to which Sephiroth replies, "...Neigh."
Day 19: “Ponytail.” I wonder how many people noticed that Seph’s hands were inside of shoes and that he punned. (^o^)
Red XIII runs forward with Yuffie barely hanging on to him. She has materia in a sack. Over a hill, a motorcycle is in pursuit, as is a helicopter in the sky.
Days 21 and 22: “Bad Dog” and “Heist.” I think this is a good concept but don’t feel strongly enough about either character to do a better version myself. (LOL)
A person is in bed asleep as a little fairy dressed in green and gold approaches their nose with a tissue. In the background is a nightstand with a lamp and a clock, which reads 3 o'clock.
Days 23 and 24: “Booger” and “Fairy”
Sephiroth stands against a tree pulling his shirt down to expose his shoulders and torso. In his left hand is a branch with marshmallows skewered on it, but the marshmallows are on fire. In the background is a campfire and more trees. Sephiroth is smirking a bit.
Five hit combo! Days 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29: “Tempting,” “Ego,” “Snack,” “Camping,” and “Uh-oh.”

Not gonna lie, I felt a bit cheesy at first piling so many prompts into one illustration, but I probably wouldn’t have drawn something this ridiculous otherwise, so ultimately I’m very happy with it! Special thanks to whoever this is in the stock photo I used as reference for the pose.


Bonus 1

A rough sketch of Sephiroth in the horse pose. In this original sketch, from a different angle, it's clearer that he has his hands inside of shoes.
The original ink sketch for Day 19, “Ponytail.” I generally liked it, but realized I hadn’t left enough room for both his arms to be between his legs and messed up the placement of his hair.

Though I’ve noted before how much I enjoy High Ponytail Sephiroth, this was actually inspired by Uma Musume: Pretty Derby, an anime about…famous race horses who get reincarnated as girls in Japan…? Or something. I suppose it’s not any sillier than Uma no Prince-sama, the otome game about dating a horse who has a human face. Ahaha…

Bonus 2

A digitally colored version of the Days 25 through 29 illustration. Iin color, we can tell it is night time at the camp site.
I’m really happy with how the colors turned out on this!

Since I do the majority of my drawings on paper first, I’ve been wishing there were a way to remove the white background from line art easily with crisp results. In the past I’d found a tip using the blending mode multiply in Photoshop, but this messed up pretty much everything else given how I do things. I figured it was time to give this search another shot, and found a technique that worked far better on the site of illustrator Christine Nishiyama:

Quick Tutorial: How to Remove a Background from Line Art in Photoshop

Were it not for this, I would’ve had to re-ink the lineart digitally, which would’ve been boring for me. (When I know I’m going to color a piece digitally, I don’t ink it physically so I don’t feel like I’m doing the same thing twice.) I did end up with a lot more smudges and sketchy lines visible in the digitized lineart, but I’m willing to bet that could be reduced with some adjustments. I just didn’t feel like figuring it out right now. I only made some minor corrections to the lineart, mostly in the face, and voilà! Digital lineart ready for coloring.

I thought of drawing Aerith in the far background, peeking out from behind the last tree, but I forgot. At this point, I consider this done, so that’s that.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did, O Readers! I leave you with one last Bonus, the piece that was meant to be my FFVII Halloween piece, but I didn’t finish in time.

Bonus 3

Behind a bust of Pallas Athena, we see Sephiroth's head, black wing, and a bit of his torso. He's wearing a plague doctor-style bird mask. In the upper left is handwritten in cursive "Nevermore," while at the bottom of the image is the last verse of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven."
You can read the full text of “The Raven” in many places, such as the Poetry Foundation.

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seaming of a demon’s that is dreaming
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

2 thoughts on “My Best of Inktober 2022

  1. silphion

    “Booger Fairy” now I have to sleep with one eye open and both nostrils closed. great work, as always – and congratulations on a successful Inktober!

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