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The World of Hayao Miyazaki + Beautiful Fanart [Part 2]

Hello friends! Here is Part 2 of our Miyazaki Fanart showcase! I have so many gorgeous pieces of artwork to show you – it’s always hard to choose, but I hope you’ll agree that these are some of the greatest. Hayao Miyazaki is a master at his craft, but these illustrations could give him a run for his money (okay, well maybe not). Don’t forget to read Part 1 if you missed it – it features the first five movies and an introduction who the man who directed these beautiful films is.

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is one of my absolute favorites of Miyazaki’s. “The story concentrates on involvement of the outsider Ashitaka in the struggle between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans of the Iron Town who consume its resources. There can be no clear victory, and the hope is that relationship between humans and nature can be cyclical.” – Wikipedia.

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mononoke-yaphleen

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The World of Hayao Miyazaki + Beautiful Fanart [Part 1]

This is a post long in the making. A post I have been in the process of writing for a long time. A post highlighting the work of the greatest animator of our time: Hayao Miyazaki and his wonderful Studio Ghibli. A man who has brought more tears to my eyes than any other movie creator. I can’t adequately explain how his movies make me feel, but anyone who has ever watched Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke or any of his epic masterpieces… well. You understand.

Who is Hayao Miyazaki?

“Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese manga artist and prominent film director and animator of many popular anime feature films. Through a career that has spanned nearly fifty years, Miyazaki has attained international acclaim as a maker of animated feature films and, along with Isao Takahata, co-founded Studio Ghibli, a film and animation studio.” – Wikipedia.

He is best known for his strong female characters, his simple line art but elaborate background paintings, and his love for nature and magic and the belief that children are the most remarkable and courageous people on this earth. All of this shines in every one of his works.

In honor of The Wind Rises arriving to the US, I thought I would do a showcase of some of my favorite Miyazaki movie fanart. I absolutely love seeing how different artists bring his characters to light. Because he’s done so much amazing work – I’m breaking this up into 2 posts and we’re going to focus on the work he directed under Studio Ghibli. On with the show!
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Journey to Dinotopia: Interview with Illustrator James Gurney

fuel-jg04Of all the illustrators alive today, there has been one man whose work has been a constant fixture throughout my life. I was one of those strange girls that would rather be outside excavating dinosaur bones in my backyard, getting my hands and knees dirty, than inside with a dollhouse. I spent countless hours pretending to be a world-famous archeologist, discovering hidden temples and pretending I had stumbled upon portals to other worlds. My favorite book reflected this: Dinotopia by James Gurney. I poured over those books, taped print-outs of his paintings on my wall, and I still have my first copy of The World Beneath on the bookshelf – now with the spine taped together because of the many times that book accompanied me into the woods. When I graduated high school, as my gift, my parents drove me hours away to a tiny museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin where James Gurney’s Dinotopia paintings were on display. They are even more incredible in person. My favorite painting? The Black Fish Tavern from The World Beneath. The use of light and detail in that painting is incredible and I remember walking around the last corner of that gallery and there it was, sitting on an easel as you walked out the door.

For those who don’t know him, James Gurney is a writer and illustrator, best known for Dinotopia and his work for National Geographic Magazine. “He specializes in painting realistic images of scenes that can’t be photographed, from dinosaurs to ancient civilizations.” In fact, one of my favorite art guide books is Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist, an excellent book for anyone interested in fantasy illustration. You can learn much more about James Gurney and his work by visiting his website, which was recently redesigned by his talented son, Dan. Check it out and take a look at his gallery. Thank you again to James for this fantastic interview. Enjoy!

On with the Dinosaurs! …I mean Interview!

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As a kid, dinosaurs played a huge role in my everyday imaginary adventures. How were you first introduced to dinosaurs and the different civilizations that make appearances in Dinotopia and when did they begin to appear in your sketchbooks?

I was bitten by the dinosaur bug as a kid, thanks to the Zdenek Burian illustrations in the Time/Life book on evolution and a few trips to natural history museums. I was also fascinated by lost civilizations. I grew up with a bound set of old National Geographics outside my bedroom door. I’d tiptoe out in the hall at night to read about great explorers like Hiram Bingham discovering Machu Picchu. My ambition in third grade was to find a dinosaur or a lost city. I started excavations in my backyard and had my friends helping me until their mothers told them they couldn’t come over anymore because they always came home with their pockets full of dirt.

I majored in archaeology at UC Berkeley, and then worked for many years as an illustrator for National Geographic. They put me in an early grave, you might say, by sending me on assignment to Etruscan Italy to poke around some recently discovered tombs in Tarquinia. They also sent me to Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem, and I worked with a lot of archaeologists and paleontologists. Around 1988 in my spare time I started doing big paintings of lost empires and I came up with the idea of drawing a map of an island and telling about it through the journal of a Victorian explorer named Arthur Denison.

Does your artistic process differ when you’re working on paintings for your fictional books in comparison with work for instructional art books or commissioned pieces?

Not really. Both my Dinotopia paintings and my scientific illustrations are imaginative work, meaning there’s no photo to copy. The idea is to do a realistic painting of something that isn’t visible in front of me. For both science and fantasy paintings, I have to do lots of sketches, and maybe pose models or build maquettes. If it’s a commissioned illustration, I might have to resolve the sketches a bit more than I would if I was doing a Dinotopia painting. The artistic process does differ of course for my plein air work, where I work on oil primed panels, drawing the subject directly with a brush.

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In your experience, what was more beneficial in helping you grow as an artist: formal art education or your personal travels and learning on your own?

For me the most beneficial thing was learning on my own and traveling, simply because most art schools weren’t teaching the good stuff 30 years ago. You had to dig it out from the old art instruction books that were 50 or 100 years old. Doing that felt like having Norman Rockwell or Harold Speed or Andrew Loomis as your teacher. Many art schools are better now, and are offering a good skill-based foundation. Still, I’m a real believer in learning through direct observation of nature, which means carrying a sketchbook around constantly, and painting outdoors.

Imaginative Realism is a fantastic book, but for those who haven’t read it – how do you go about creating your paintings of creatures that no longer exist? What steps must you take for the creatures to look as real as they do?

I work completely in pencil and oil. My studio is upstairs in my house, and it’s crammed full of art books, maquettes of architecture, old theater costumes, and sculptures of dinosaurs. My method is based on the nineteenth century academic approach: thumbnail sketches in black and white and color, studies or photos from costumed models, plein air sketches, and lots of reference photos filed away in a set of filing cabinets. The really elaborate paintings can take as long as six weeks, but an average painting goes together in about six days. During my lecture tour this fall I’ll be doing presentations at several different art schools and studios in LA and Ohio. People can find out the list on my blog under “Upcoming Appearances.”

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Your blog is an amazing resource for all sorts of traditional artists. What is the biggest piece of advice you could give to a blossoming illustrator?

Thanks for the compliment. As far as advice, I’d start by saying: don’t worry! Professionals in the business often complain about the headaches of stock art, photo-illustration, lousy contracts, and disappearing clients. There’s no doubt: it’s a tough time right now to make a living as an illustrator. But it has always been a changing business, whether you were working in 1905, 1925, or 1955. In many ways, this is the best time ever to enter the field. We live in a more visual culture than ever, and never before has fantasy and science fiction been so central to our culture.

I’d also recommend balancing imaginative and observational work. Sketch from life and sketch from your head. And don’t worry about developing a style. Just observe nature faithfully when you’re young. The style will come naturally.

We have more resources at our fingertips—tools, references, printing technology—than any of our artistic ancestors ever dreamed of, and there are unlimited opportunities if we can just try to rise to the high ideals and standards that they stood for. Illustration is a proud calling. We should never forget how lucky we are to be able to conjure dreams out of thin air.

And finally… in one word, what “fuels” your illustration?

Probably the same thing that has fueled artists all along—the desire to tell a story, to bring a character to life, to create a doorway into a world that no one had ever imagined before. I’m constantly reminded of the impact that still pictures can have over us. I got a letter last week from a young woman who is an art student in Germany. She said she found her old copy of Dinotopia after it had been misplaced for many years, and she remembered something her father said about it. He told her that it was a magical book, and that every time she opened it up, there would be a new picture hidden somewhere in its pages that she had never seen before.

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You can learn more about James Gurney here:

Originally posted at Fuel Your Illustration on September 27, 2011.




5 Great Illustration Tumblrs for Your Artistic Inspiration

I love Tumblr – it’s one of those addicting websites that I get trapped in. I log in to post one thing and five hours later I’ve done nothing but look at superhero illustrations and cats. It happens. So, to spread the addiction, I’m showcasing five of my favorite illustration tumblrs. Sorry – no cats. This isn’t the Tumblr Cat Addiction …. though I like the sound of that!

ANYWAY. On with the showcase (of illustrations… not cats).

Tiny Post Offices

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I just discovered this one today and it’s what inspired me to write this post. How lovely and whimsical is this tumblr? It makes me want to sketch every single building I see. Sometimes it’s the most normal things that end up being the most magical to an artist like Kyle Durrie with nothing but a pen and paper.

Artmonia

tumblr-artonia

I spent hours at a time on this tumblr and tend to “heart” every image that comes up. So many talented illustrators are showcased here and so many more beautiful images. Countless amounts of inspiration, countless amounts of reminders that I need to kick my butt in gear and draw so that one day I’ll be on this blog too.

Yaphleen

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Oh my gosh, I could just gush continuously about Yaya’s gorgeous illustrations. She’s one of those artists that’s painfully good – as in it’s a painful reminder that some people are so incredibly fabulous at drawing that they make everyone else look bad. But I like pain apparently – her latest Mononoke Hime fanart is my desktop. So good!

F*ck Yeah Illustrative Art!

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I pretty much love all tumblrs that start the same with the same two words, but this one has got most of them beat. Illustrative Art! Not only is it a showcase of awesome talent, but you also find some great tips and tutorials among the pretty pictures. From comics to fanart to epic fantasy paintings, it’s all here.

Show & Tell

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Show & Tell is the illustration tumblr of Meg Hunt, one of my favorite illustrators. I adore her colors and her textures and how she can make these complex images look so simple. Her work is a constant source of inspiration to me and I’m constantly wishing I could fill my whole studio with her art. Meg Hunt wallpaper anyone?

Contribute!

What are you favorite illustration tumblrs? Comment and let us know! Share your addictions!

Originally posted at Fuel Your Illustration on October 16, 2012.


 
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About
  • AuthorNikki Jeske is an illustrator, designer, and geeky gamer living in the great hill country of Austin, Texas.

    Snailbird is a blog about art, comics, design, gaming, life, nature, and a little bit of nonsense thrown in for good measure. In short: geekery. Welcome!

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