Designing Radish Spirits

My last reveal from the Miyazaki show are radish spirits. I have always loved Spirited Away. It's sort of a "comfort food" movie for me. One of my favorite characters is the Radish Spirit. He/she is so peculiar and odd. The character has always stood out to me. So, I knew I wanted to illustrate the iconic design straight from the film. 

That said, I also wanted to put my own spin on the name "Radish Spirit". I assume that the traditional Radish spirit from Spirited Away is modeled after a daikon radish so I picked two more species to model my own spirits from: The French Breakfast Radish and the Spanish Black Radish. 

All of my work starts as messy scribbles. I like to sketch out roughs in my sketchbook and then move to photoshop where I'll work out the details, proportions and color. 

Here I can sketch rather quickly, trying out colors, shapes and sizes. For these spirits, I wanted them each to occupy a shape: a triangle, a square and a circle. A lot of design in animation is based on overall shapes that describe a character's personality or attributes. Mostly it was an exercise in variation. 

From there, I used my usual method of bringing a digital sketch to finish. I print the image out, lightbox trace it and bring the drawing to finish from there. After that, I will apply color via gouache painting.

For this piece, I wanted the coloration to feel light and airy, similar to what you see in Studio Ghibli's art books. This piece was a fun way to use my creature design muscles for something so established. The original paintings are actually all separate from each other. This lineup was created for a limited edition of prints available at the gallery.  These spirits will be on display at Sketchpad gallery for the remainder of the month. To inquire about seeing the show, contact Sketchpad on Facebook.

Okotto, Nago, Beautiful and Strong.

Nago was beautiful and strong. 


This month I had the absolute pleasure to exhibit alongside nine other artists at a Miyazaki Tribute show! It was hosted by Chris Koehler and Joe Ching at Sketchpad Gallery in San Francisco. 

Of course, how do you choose a Miyazaki world to depict? I have a few favorites but when there are giant boars to paint, I'm going to head there first. I decided I'd illustrate Nago from Princess Mononoke in his peaceful form, before he lost himself. I produced two original pieces in the creation of this illustration; a pencil and a painting.

The pencils I use tend to be on the softer side and don't do well with lots of painting over top, especially on a painting this detailed. So instead, once the pencil is finished, I scan it in and reprint it as a giclee print on hot press watercolor paper. This way, I can preserve my pencil work underneath the gouache. 

I tend to layer quite a bit with gouache, staining and building up values slowly. Overall, this piece took about 3-4 days to complete. I am still breaking into the world of gouache but I am quite happy with how this turned out.  

The final image measures 9x12 and is gouache on hot press watercolor paper. This piece will be on display at Sketchpad gallery for the remainder of the month. To inquire about seeing the show, contact Sketchpad on Facebook. 

Special thanks to Chris Koehler and Joe Ching at Sketchpad Gallery, Luke Harrington and Craig Drake for organizing the show and the other artists who contributed such beautiful and inspired work. It was an absolute pleasure to work with all of you. 

Huge thanks to the fans and patrons who came out in terrible weather to see our work! You all rock and are the reason stuff like this happens. 

Read a feature on The Verge about the opening and to see other works from the other amazing artists in the show! Stay tuned for more updates and for a first look into designing the radish spirits for the show!