Thursday, March 30, 2017

Demo by Kazuo Oga

In this video, Studio Ghibli's background painting master Kazuo Oga demonstrates how he paints a misty landscape. (Link to YouTube -- Thanks, Daroo)



He's using Nicker poster color (also spelled 'Knicker'), which comes in jars. He wets both sides of the paper before placing it on the work surface. Then he takes some liquid colors, together with white, out of the jars and places them on a nearby dish. He drops the paint into the wet surface and blends it while it is wet. The result is a soft atmospheric base into which he can place smaller details of branches and leaves.

Note:
• He is standing up when he starts and sits after 15 minutes.
• He gets his large, soft passages in first, and progresses to the details last.
• The paints are arranged in spectral hue order.
• He uses a large Japanese brush with a sharp tip for painting even the tiniest blossoms.
• He paints some branches from the tip down to the trunk, and others from the trunk outward.


Kazuo Oga says: "Basically, I use poster- color. Because as we have to paint much, we can't use expensive paint. Poster colors can show brightness or depth of color and, above all, it is easy-to-use."
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Longer video: Here's a 24-minute version of the above video, free on Daily Motion.

DVD: Oga Kazuo DVD

Paints: Nicker (Knicker) poster color (imported from Japan)
The Art of Spirited Away

Previously on GurneyJourney: Kazuo Oga

24 comments:

Matt Dicke said...

here is a link to the DVD where the tutorial comes from (does have english subtitles) I have a copy it- love it. https://www.amazon.com/Oga-Kazuo-Ten-Totoro-Mori-Ega/dp/B000W0A0NA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490881324&sr=8-1&keywords=Kazuo+Oga+dvd

Janet Oliver said...

Thank you so much for posting, James. Do you know what kind of paper Kazuo Oga uses?

Jim Douglas said...

Jim, can you describe the differences you see between a background painting by Studio Ghibli and say a landscape painting by Ilya Repin?

Both are detailed, sophisticated, and impressive works of art, but what gives Studio Ghibli's work it's "cartoony" quality (for lack of a better word)? I see a difference but have trouble understanding why.

On a related note, you've previously discussed how John Singer Sargent's portraits often border on caricature, and I certainly agree, but they rarely come across as cartoony. What do you think makes an image cross that line?

Daroo said...

Among other things, I am interested in the use and storage of the poster paints --at the end of the painting day he just puts a board atop all the jars and I suppose if you are painting all day everyday that would probably be enough to keep them from drying out. John Berkey had a box with a lid and some sort of gasket material that would seal the jars.

Are the poster paints easily re-wettable like gouache? How do the poster paint whites compare to gouache whites like zinc white, titanium white and chinese white? Anyone have experience with using them?

Matt Dicke --thanks for the link -- what is the content like of the rest of the DVD?

Jacob A Stevens said...

Wow! Looks like they finally sell these paints in the US amazon store.

James, do you think the poster colors are pretty similar to gouache?

Tom Hart said...

I'm so glad to see this post James! Thanks for sharing it.

Kurt Ankeny-Beauchamp said...

What an excellent painting set-up. Does anyone know a Japanese or other website where they sell those porcelain dishes and that huge double-welled brush rinsing tub? Thanks for sharing this, James!

Pierre Fontaine said...

Thank you for sharing this James. I've already passed it along to many of my friends via Facebook.

DamianJ said...

Though Amazon doesn't have any preview pages for the two art books you can get a visual overview of what is in them from ParkaBlogs ( run by Teoh Yi Chie )who has a review and video flick-through for each:-

Book 1: oga-kazuo-art-collection-1

Book 2: oga-kazuo-art-collection-2

James Gurney said...

Damian and Matt, thanks! I've updated the links at the end to include the DVD and the Parkablogs review.

Pierre, thanks for passing on the word to your Facebook friends.

If anyone can find links for the vessels Kurt is looking for, please let me know and I'll add that too. Also for the paper that Janet is asking about.

Jacob, I would guess so. They look quite opaque, but kind of like a liquid gouache. I used Cartoon Color to paint backgrounds, which is like a liquid acrylic, very opaque (It's what they used to paint the cels).

Daroo, yes, good point. When I visited John Berkey at his studio in Minnesota, he was using casein paint that he mixed himself, with a little acrylic binder. Very opaque stuff which he kept in jars.

Meredith said...

You can find dishes in many art supply stores, oriental art supplies website (also good for brushes) or amazon.

damian willcox said...

To help with searching, the paint manufacturer is 'Nicker'

James Gurney said...

Damian, you're right -- at least I've seen it spelled both ways. I spelled it with the "K" because it's listed that way on Amazon.

Victoria Maderna said...

Nicker poster paint comes in tubes as well, I own a set of them, and it's just regular gouache (in the UK, "poster paints" is usually what craft-grade gouache is called so maybe that's the source of the name). The paint in the tubes I have is not liquid, my guess is that the jars are topped with water to prevent drying and this must affect their consistency, or maybe some water is added purposefully to give them more fluidity.

Daroo said...

Oh I knew Berkey mixed them himself but did not know they had an acrylic binder -- seems like drying out would be real problem.

Kurt -- I just went to my local thrift store and bought some used but similar porcelain dishes and sauce cups for super cheap. Still looking for the double welled brush rinsing tub though. Blick has these:
http://www.dickblick.com/products/nesting-porcelain-bowls/

rock995 said...

An added bonus for watching this great little video was to see what YouTube was recommending afterwards. More demos by Mr. Oga plus a link to 4 Walt Disney artists painting a tree. Starts out with Walt reading from Robert Henri and 4 of his artists painting outdoors.

damian willcox said...

Yeah, makes sense :) I picked up a tiny sample set of their paints when I was in Japan so wanted to make sure people don't end up with google pages full of knickers :D Thanks for the article - love Ghibli as well as all of your work! :)

Fabio Porta said...

I guess I should buy those paints while I am in Japan.
Do they reactivate like gouache?
If so, what's the difference between the mediums, apart from the price?
They do look incredibly opaque at first glance

Kurt Ankeny-Beauchamp said...

Thanks Daroo, I did see those versions on Blick. The plates would be relatively easy to source I think, even from non-art-supply places. It's that tub that's the real show stopper. :) I speak Japanese, so I could navigate a site if I needed to, but craft-specific jargon is so hard to look up in a foreign language, mainly because I think a lot of these tools never are given any sort of formal (or standardized) name.

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Annie C Curtis said...

I find it interesting that Oga seems to make no effort to keep the colours from cross-contamination - he double-dips his brush, but also seems to shake the brush off over a different colour on occasion. Fascinating to watch his brush handling and colour mixing!

Todd Blakeman said...

Long time listener. 1st time caller...
So first of all thank you so much for sharing this. Secondly thank you so much Mister Gurney, for the wealth of knowledge you pass along. It is very much appreciated.
So I primarily paint en plein air in oils. Before oils I painted first with water colors. I want to try out gouache more and more recently. I like the look that can be achieved on paper with Gouache. It appears to have a cross between the working properties of oils a little and water colors a bit as well.
But when I watch a Studio Ghibli film the attention to detail in not only draftsmanship, but also in how everything they do is simply perfect, it makes me want to work harder and get to be as good as their landscape artists. They are masters at choosing just the right color for every last detail. One of my personal favorites is My Neighbor Totoro! Great land scape scenes in that one :)

Todd Blakeman said...

Long time listener. 1st time caller...
So first of all thank you so much for sharing this. Secondly thank you so much Mister Gurney, for the wealth of knowledge you pass along. It is very much appreciated.
So I primarily paint en plein air in oils. Before oils I painted first with water colors. I want to try out gouache more and more recently. I like the look that can be achieved on paper with Gouache. It appears to have a cross between the working properties of oils a little and water colors a bit as well.
But when I watch a Studio Ghibli film the attention to detail in not only draftsmanship, but also in how everything they do is simply perfect, it makes me want to work harder and get to be as good as their landscape artists. They are masters at choosing just the right color for every last detail. One of my personal favorites is My Neighbor Totoro! Great land scape scenes in that one :)

James Gurney said...

Todd, thanks for commenting—and reading the posts.
Yes, gouache is a very nice medium for a person who works in oil. Though if you tend to "noodle" over areas and do a lot of slow blending, you will have to become more efficient and deliberate with your strokes.

This K.Oga demo appears to have been done without much of a preliminary drawing, but of course many of the Studio Ghibli backgrounds have fairly involved perspective and preliminary drawing.

I love My Neighbor Totoro, too. Brilliant on every level.