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inktober 2020 day 20


Another of those Inktober drawings where I had just a single image but didn’t know the story.

This time the idea was from the point of view of Livingston, the fish in the aquarium of Picard’s ready room, looking out at the captain.

I doodled ideas in my sketchbook. Lynda Barry, I think, talks about the magic that happens when you just start moving the pen or pencil. Ideas show up.

First I had Data peeking in at Livingston, then Q.

I tried to shape the story around the two images I now had. Picard drinking tea. Q peering in at Livingston.

A day in Picard’s ready room. You can see the nighttime shot in the last thumbnail.

Then when looking for Livingston reference shots, I saw Hugh, the reluctant Borg, observing Livingston, and I knew that was it. Not only would the Borg be more recognizable as a big headed comix character, but it also felt more…alien.

Rather than an empty ready room, I decided to begin and end the comic with Picard looking out at space sipping from the tea. Though the gesture was the same, maybe Picard was a little different.


In the sketchbook page above you can see I made some notes.

Study: MC Escher, Fisheye, Lionfish.

These were a reminder to research these aspects before I could begin drawing the strip proper.

Escher & fisheye

I knew I wanted Livingston’s aquarium sphere to warp the light and image of the ready room, to give it that ‘Fisheye Lens’ look.

So I looked to MC Escher’s brilliant self-portrait of him holding a reflective sphere as my guide. I doubt the properties of the glass are actually the same as the reflective sphere but the effect is convincing enough.

And once again this image laying out the geography of Picard’s ready room has proved invaluable.

As did an image search of Hugh, the reluctant Borg.


I always get nervous once I’ve got the pencils done and before I put down any ink.

Since day 17 I’ve exclusively been using a brush, which has allowed me to get a much thinner line. But man, I’m wobbly.

Here’s a shot of panel 2, partially inked.

I love the look of this so much. The combination of loose pencils lines with the inked foreground. I’d love to figure out how to do a story with this look.

For all of the thousands of comic books I’ve read, and countless inking books, I still don’t know how to use the black areas to direct the eye where it needs to go. The final comic is just so…busy.


The shots of Livingston that I’ve found over the last month or so from Next Generation, aren’t great, so I needed to research what Lionfish look like.

catch up on my star trek intober here

I created a collection to house all of this year’s Star Trek Inktobers, so you can easily browse your favorites and skip over the clunkers. It’s easy!

read past inktobers

I compiled past inkotbers into easy to read comics collections.

There’s my Zelda themed Inktober 2019, where I did some strong work but ran out of steam and time halfway during the month.

In 2018 I completed a Metal Gear themed Inktober, and 2017 was my first themed Inktober. It featured the world’s greatest detective.

inktober 2020 day 17


Last night I hit a wall of exhaustion after drawing the strip and just couldn’t get to the inks, so today’s inktober is arriving a little late in the day.

I’m starting to spend longer on each strip, too. The last two have taken me about 4 hours each, from drawing to completed inks, so it makes it harder to get one of these done a day.

Here’s a look at the pencils from today’s strip, before I inked them. I always like to take a photo because I’m worried I’m going to screw up a perfectly good drawing.

Like Day 8, I originally thought this might be just a single image of Picard, sipping a cup of tea, while an ion storm rages outside his ready room window.

Brilliant cartoonist Ivan Brunetti talks, somewhere in his brilliant book Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, about not having to change each drawing much. That idea really tuned me in to looking for small moments when doing my own comics.

At that point I thought, ‘maybe it will be two images.’ Just Picard holding the glass, then taking a sip of tea. (Having two moments like that are great for turning an image into an animated loop, perfect for making a gif. I may get to that one day with this idea.)

Then I thought a flash of lightning from the storm would be fun to play with. (I have no idea what an ion storm might look like, or whether there would be lightning as we know it, but it feels right.)

Now I’ve got three panels. I could probably end the strip there.

  • Panel 1: Picard in his ready room holding a cup of tea while he looks out his window where an ion storm rages on.
  • Panel 2: Picard takes a careful sip from the tea.
  • Panel 3: A bright flash of lightning surprise the captain.

Beginning. Middle. End.

However since reading Brunetti, and cartoonist Lynda Barry’s books over the last few years, I’ve really fallen in love with the 4 panel strip. I use it in my strip Steps, and have used it in all but one of these Star Trek Inktober comics.

There’s something lovely about the timing of the 4 panel strip that I’m sure Brunetti and Barry have a far more eloquent way of describing than I can.

Once I had my 4 moments, I had some research to do.


First I found this sketch of Picard’s ready room. (You may have to scroll down a bit.)

Then I had to find reference for Livingston, Picard’s fish.

But the aspect of the strip I was most concerned about was the lighting. I needed to establish that the only light in the room was coming from the storm outside; that Picard was watching with the lights turned down. I also needed to convey how the flash of ion storm lightning would change the lighting of the room.

I hadn’t really tried to convey lighting before, at least not this year. All just been pretty flat, but I knew I needed something like this for the flash of lightning.

Now, looking at the strip, I’m a little worried that not only did I not convey that this is a flash of lightning, but I’m worried that the storm doesn’t even look like a storm. (Is it successful? Let me know in the comments.)

Ah well. Onward. I’ve got to figure out something for ‘Trap’ tomorrow.

You can easily browse all of this year’s Inktobers, here. What’s nice about that link is you don’t have me droning on and on about how each strip was made.

You can also visit (or revisit) my Zelda themed Inktober 2019, where I did some strong work but ran out of steam and time halfway during the month. In 2018 I completed a Metal Gear themed Inktober, and 2017 was my first themed Inktober. It featured the world’s greatest detective.