Inktober for Nature Journals! (Week One)

It is about time for an Inktober for Nature Journals! This is your opportunity to commit to nature journaling everyday for 31 days! Each day has a prompt that you can see below. Feel free to share. On this page I will post more details about each prompt as the month progresses. Use the hashtag #inktobernaturejournal when you post your pages. Follow my instagram to see my posts because I am doing the challenge too!

inktober nature journal

Inktober for Nature Journal Prompts

Day 1: Gnarly Old Tree.

Charismatic old trees are ideal subjects for ink drawing. Firstly, find one near you or use a photo. There are often good trees to draw even in urban areas, street trees, and parks. This is a good time to test out some new ink tools that you are planning on using this month. Check out this post for a video about inking old trees.

inktober for nature journaling
In this ink sketch I used the Fude De Manen fountain pen by Sailor to draw the light and dark areas of this tree and several birds.
Day 2: Local landscapito with dark darks.

It is easy to have your nature journal pages come out pale. Especially if you use watercolor for landscape paintings. Today, we are going to practice landscapitos (small landscapes) using ink. You can make several thumbnails if you want. Focus on seeing the dark darks. Can you simplify what you see to a few value gradations? This practice will help you later with your landscape paintings. Look how Bill Waterson used dark ink areas to depict this landscape.

A Bill Waterson ink drawing for Calvin and Hobbes showing a landscape with dark darks
There is a lot to learn here about how to use dark areas for the depiction of a landscape

Still struggling putting dark ink on your landscapito? Check out how print maker Tom Killion uses black ink in these landscapes below.

Inktober prompts for nature journalers. Example from a Tom Killion print showing how to use dark darks in a landscape image.
Tom Killion Woodblock Print. Study how he uses dark darks in this landscape and how it makes the piece so much bolder.
Another Tom Killion Print with bright colors and dark darks
Another Tom Killion print showing Point Reyes. Notice where he uses black ink.
Day 3: Messy Sketch Moving Animal.

Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves. Especially with moving animals. Most animals we see in nature are going to be moving. However, it is really good practice to try drawing them. Have you ever seen Leonardo Da Vinci’s horse drawings? He has scribbles all over the page. That is what we will try to do today. There is no going back when you use ink 🙂

inktober for nature journal quick sketches of moving animals in ink
The more finished looking drawings are from the still animals. The corndog looking drawings in the middle with the arrows are the messy sketches trying to capture the moving animal. We can learn more from these sketches than polished portraits of frozen animals.
Day 4: The Blackest Flower?

This one gives you some opportunity to do a little research or look in a garden near you. What is the darkest flower that you can find? Are there any truly black flowers? Maybe do some research online or at the library. It is possible to apply nature journaling techniques to these secondary sources. How will you draw a black flower with ink?

A nature journal page for inktober nature journal showing several sketches of black flowers and a bunch of questions and notes about black flowers, whether they exist, what makes the color black etc.
My #inktobernaturejournal page for blackest flower. Notice how much I used writing, question asking etc.
Day 5: Quick Sketch an Invertebrate.

Invertebrates are animals too. However, we often don’t give them as much credit as birds and mammals. Now is your chance to find one and do some quick sketches of it with ink in your nature journal. Invertebrates include anything without a backbone. That means lobsters, butterflies, spiders, earthworms, and coral all count.

Day 6: Draw a Skull With a Story.

Everything in nature has a story. Moreover, the story is the most interesting part for humans. How can you be more intentional about capturing and telling the story on your nature journal pages? Getting better at this can make your pages more fascinating to other people or your future self when you look pack on them. For today’s prompt apply this idea to a skull. If you do not have access to any or can’t find any look for one in a book or do a search online. Make sure you can get some info about it.

Day 7: Something Living in a Corner.

Can you find something living in a corner? What nature journaling techniques can you apply to it? How many questions can you ask about it? And finally, what ink tools will you use?

A nature journal page for inktober prompt something living in a corner. I found some spiders, i think they are daddy long legs. I tried drawing several of them and there is a drawing showing there location as well as notes and questions about them
Including yourself in your drawings can be helpful for showing context and scale.
The second week of inktober is coming soon in another post…
Just getting started with nature journaling?

Need more tips? If so, check out this post. It will walk you through how to nature journal in 10 steps.

Need help choosing nature journaling supplies? Check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not


Drawing Prompts For Nature Journaling at Home

In this video you will learn ten drawing prompts that are fun, helpful, and engaging.

Have you ever experienced creative block? Have you ever felt a lack of ideas or motivation to draw, make art, or nature journal? You are not alone. It is for that reason that I have created this list of prompts.

Before we get into the list I want to say something about using the internet for inspiration. Basically, using the computer and the internet to inspire art is a double edged sword. On the one hand you have access to millions of images and ideas (Historical artists would have cut off their ears for that.) On the other hand you have the greatest source of distraction ever. Therefore I have separated my prompts into 5 without the computer and 5 with the computer.

Drawing Prompts (Analog Style)

  1. Trace shadows. In order to get warmed up we will start with an easy one. First, we will find a spot with cast shadows. I like to find tree branches or other vegetation. Next, we will position our sketchbook to catch the shadows. Finally we will trace them and color them in if we want.
  2. Paint a scene through your window. Now that we are warmed up we will find a window in our house that has a nice view. Because the window provides a frame we can skip some of the steps I talk about in my landscape painting video.
  3. Draw from a book. This is a lost art. When was the last time you looked for a reference image in a book instead of online? Drawing from books has many benefits.
  4. Draw your food. Do you want motivation? Don’t let yourself eat unless you draw the food first. Hunger will motivate you. Just kidding. But seriously, try drawing your food.
  5. Nature Journal in your Fridge. Similarly to the last one this nature journal prompt is about looking for novelty in all the boring places. I’m gonna make a whole video about this one next week.


Drawing Prompts (Digital Style)

  1. Draw from slow motion videos. Pick your favorite nature documentary on youtube and put it in slow motion. Try sketching. This is a great practice for improving your speed and confidence in the field. I used this technique before my trip to Tanzania.
  2. Do a species profile from Wikipedia. If Youtube is too distracting for you then try this nature journaling prompt. It is the same as a regular species profile but you get all the info from wikipedia instead of from looking at the real organism. Don’t know what a species profile is? Check this video out.
  3. Draw a landscape painting from a photo. Even though it might not be as fun there are many benefits to landscape painting from a photo. It is best to work from your own photos and you probably have a bunch on your computer. I did a whole post about this.
  4. Nature journal conference call. You still can’t get motivated to draw? Try getting on a video conference call with a handful of friends. Instead of talking a bunch just keep each other company while you draw. It’s like study hall! You will feel more accountable and less distracted.
  5. Draw from a webcam. Last but not least, this is a drawing prompt that I am really excited about. There are many examples of live cams or webcams at different zoos and aquariums around the world. You can watch many of these on youtube. Because it is live and the animals are moving it gives your drawing or nature journaling more urgency. Therefore this is good practice for the field.

drawing prompt number one is to trace shadows. This is an example of that prompt for drawing. Cast Shadow Tracing