Inktober with Quill: Completing the Month-Long Drawing Challenge in VR

Oculus Blog
November 15, 2019

Inktober is a month-long art challenge created by artist Jake Parker with the goal of helping artists improve their skills and develop positive drawing habits. The first Inktober invitation was in 2009, and since then, artists from around the world have shared their works of art on the internet by tagging them with #inktober, and for this year, #inktober2019.

The challenge begins on the first day of October, and each participating artist is asked to create one drawing a day for the entire month. Anyone is welcome to join, and the rules are fairly straightforward: Draw, share with a hashtag, and repeat. Recently, Inktober also added 31 one-word prompts that artists can use as a springboard and interpret for their drawing du jour.

Inktober has been a fun activity for a lot of artists because of its simplicity, its ability to give busy people a quick way to get creative, and the sense of community it fosters among the participants. Artists can use whichever medium they want to create, including VR! Today, we’re featuring three artists who created their 31 works of art in virtual reality using Quill, Facebook’s VR illustration and animation tool: Graphic designer Tyler Friedel, freelance creative director for interactive experiences Jono Yuen, and our very own resident artist and Art Director Goro Fujita. Read more to discover how they made Inktober come to life in VR with Quill.

Tyler Friedel — Freelance Animator

Tyler Friedel, a freelance animator currently based in Missouri, has been teaching himself animation since he was little. After doing an internship working with motion graphics, he was introduced to VR and loved the experience so much that he found himself the owner of a VR headset the very next week.

It’s his first time to join Inktober, and he used Quill to finish his pieces. A simple scene took him as little as under an hour, while more complex environments took anywhere from three hours to a few days, especially when character animations were involved. “It’s still so much faster than any other medium I’ve worked in, though,” says Friedel.

On the best part about completing Inktober in VR, Friedel has this to say: “I love to world-build, and VR frees me from the limitations of other mediums. Normally, I aspire to create a piece where there’s an element that’s so potent, be it the color palette or an object’s texture or a character’s expression that you almost feel like you’re there in the piece. In VR, I can actually put you there. I can warm you by a fire in the middle of a forest at night, abandon you in an endless sea of sand in a desert, or trap you in time and space watching the exact second a character’s heart is breaking.”

He adds, “I love pixel art because it feels like one giant puzzle to piece together individual colored squares to make something fun. Quill takes that to another level, combining multiple mediums together. You paint your strokes, sculpt and modify them into more refined shapes, and combine them together like a 3D program to make something like a character or environment. Best of all, you get to animate your creations in an amazingly user-friendly way. Quill really helps you get intimate with your creations.”

Friedel’s favorite prompt from this year was day 27’s Coat. “I get cold super easily, so any time it drops below 60°, I’m bundled up. Last year when I got my chickens, we had a pretty cold winter, so I was constantly in and out making sure they were okay, trying to cuddle them, give them warm water, etc. They never seemed to accept my hugs though, so I wanted to make a piece poking some fun at that.”

Inktober even helped him work through some difficult emotions and channel it through his art, via the Dark prompt. “Throughout the Inktober challenge, my family was going through an incredibly difficult time with my mom. Working on Inktober was, almost literally, my escape from reality into whatever creation I was working on at the time. I wanted to share my story with others because I wanted to inform those around me about what was occurring in my life, and what better way than to give them a piece of my reality? It was hard for me, though, since I had to take the part of my life I was trying to escape from and recreate it detail by detail. I still have a hard time loading up that file and checking it out, but overall I’m glad I got to share my experience.”

If, like Friedel, you want to get your feet wet and start creating art in VR, he says that the VR community is ready to help you get started. “The VR community is more than willing to help with any questions you could have. I finally decided the only way I’d get better is if I got my hands really dirty with it. Jump in and make some things, play around, grab some friends and play VR Pictionary, just get in and start messing around with things. You’ll discover lots of fun and unique ways to do things, and some really dumb ways to do things that can be simplified with a bit of advice. It’s all part of the learning process!”

Follow Friedel on Instagram to see more: @sohka217.

Jono Yuen — Freelance Creative Director for Interactive Experiences

It’s Jono Yuen’s second time doing Inktober, and as a “time-poor” dad of two, he appreciated the convenience Inktober in Quill gave him. “I’m just amazed by how much can be accomplished in such a short amount of time. There’s no way I could pump out 31 stories in 31 days using any other tool.” The Melbourne-based creative director for interactive experiences has been using VR for over six months and used Inktober plus Quill to accelerate his skills in the medium.

His concept-to-execution flow was pretty straightforward, too. Says Yuen, “Most of these ‘very-short stories’ were illustrated and animated in one hour and then stitched together in AfterEffects with minimal sound in about 15 minutes. That was all I could dedicate to it because I have two young kids so I barely have time to brush my teeth! I’d think of an idea on the drive to work, jump into VR once everyone was asleep that night and punch out the animation, then edit the clips together during my lunch break the next day. That was my rhythm for 31 days!”

Of the 31 prompts, his favorite was Catch. “It was a little personal story about me. It was a surreal experience to be standing next to myself and animating myself. I wanted to give myself a hug!”

Day 29’s prompt, Injured, was the most technically challenging. “it involved three characters and a scene change. This was when I started getting ahead of myself and tried to be a bit too ambitious for what I could accomplish in an hour! It had a lot of different animations in it, rather than one or two key moments. The damn hula hoop motion tripped me up a bit, too, and in hindsight I could have done it more efficiently. I think I was suffering from Inktober fatigue at that point!”

Doing Inktober in VR was magical for Yuen because he could truly capture the images in his head. “I love the freedom you have as a director in VR. You can literally occupy any position in space and at any scale—it’s mind-blowing. The fact that you can shrink from being a giant to the size of an ant or move from being at the top of a building to the ground level in seconds allows you to direct your shots in a way that’s not possible traditionally. It’s like being on a film set, but you can move the set around like miniatures or clone buildings instantly. It’s a wild experience. VR also allows you to build any environment imaginable and then lets you walk amongst it. I can’t imagine any other scenario where you can do that! I can finally recreate the images in my head and visit them and stand right next to my characters; I can’t explain how fun that is. It’s absolutely magical.”

Yuen recently joined the Virtual Animation group on Facebook, and he recommends adding this group to your follow list if you’re looking to get started creating art in VR. “It’s rich with friendly, supportive, and experienced members, so that is a great place to cut your teeth. It also contains a list of tutorials and resources on there, too!”

After Inktober, Yuen has committed to dive deeper into creating in VR and is working on something larger scale. Follow him on Instagram to track his progress: @jonoyuen.

Goro Fujita — Art Director, Facebook/Quill

While Inktober had been on Goro Fujita’s radar for a long time, this is actually only his second year participating in the challenge. “While it’s not a requirement, you’re encouraged to create your Inktober entries with ink and paper,” he explains. “I see myself as a painter and don’t feel too comfortable with just line art, but I thought it would be an interesting challenge to do it in VR.”

Fujita also has limited time, so he tried to give himself a one-hour deadline to finish his pieces when possible. Some of the more challenging works took roughly four hours to accomplish. Like Friedel and Yuen, Fujita exclusively completed his Inktober prompts using Quill because of how efficient the combination is—and how fluid it feels.

“VR enables you to draw, paint, and animated exponentially faster than any other medium I tried,” says Fujita. “Being able to do daily animated pieces is a dream come true to me. Contrary to the traditional 3D approach, VR and Quill remove technology from the artistic approach and makes creation intuitive and extremely efficient. It’s also a fun challenge to translate 2D drawing techniques into 3D space. But most importantly, being able to tell a story within an hour of time is magical.”

His two favorite prompts from this year’s list were Frail and Dark.

Fujita also enjoyed the challenge of interpreting the prompts. “It would be easy to draw the obvious, but the fun of Inktober is the way one interprets the prompts,” he says. “From a technical standpoint, the pieces with less animation can be done faster. I can create a piece like Freeze within 30 minutes.”

“Technically speaking, Swing was the most challenging as swinging motions are not very forgiving and it’s hard to get the timing and poses right,” Fujita notes.

Itching for Inktober 2020 to arrive? Give yourself a head start. “Just dive right in and join the fun,” Fujita says. “I see VR as a whole new artistic medium and a new way to express yourself. This is the first time in my lifetime where we have the chance to be part of defining a new art form. While painting, film, photography, theater, etc. have been around for decades and have been more or less figured out, VR opens a door to a whole new undiscovered creative landscape! The VR train is moving and you should make sure to hop on now as the chance to be at the forefront of a new art form won’t come again any time soon.”

Inktober may be over, but Fujita has daily Quillustrations for you to check out on his Instagram: @goro.fujita.


New to the VR art space? Here are links to Friedel, Yuen, and Fujita’s recommendations, plus Quill and tutorials to get you started:

Quill tutorials

Facebook Groups:
Virtual Animation
Virtual Painting
Virtual Sculpting
Virtual Art News

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