Visual research for Samurai vs Ninja

When considering how to create and sustain the Edo period world of “Samurai vs Ninja”. It was important to undertake a lot of research. One of my favorite forms of art is the Ukiyo-e woodblock period of Japanese art. I love colour saturation, the strong line work and the masterful compositions.

The work of artist such as Katsushika Hokusai are synonymous with the art form. His ‘wave’ (The great wave off Kanagawa, from the 36 views of Mount Fuji series) image being one of the recognized images of Japanese Artist.

From the Edo period of Ukiyo-e woodblock artist, my favorite character artist is Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Kuniyoshi work from the early to mid 1800’s. One of his most recognize series being the images of the 47 Ronin. His distinctive black and white patterned sleves on the characters in this series was the inspiration of Buta-sama’s own clothes.

Buta sama and Utagawa Kuniyoshi

In Samurai vs Ninja (book3) Day of the Dreadful Undead (June 2015), The story required an image to over state the actions of the Mighty Kingyo-sama, Lord Goldfish of the Samurai. When asked by the ghost of a long dead relative “’Tell me, Master Goldfish,’ rumbled Fuka-Sama,’how many victories have YOU had in battle?’” (p41)

Kingyo’s assistant then tell of an epic battle against a mosquito. I thought it would be funny to have the battle commemorated in a woodblock print.

Know that Utagawa Kuniyoshi used to portray narrative based conflicts. I started to research into his battle images. I quickly found one of his more interesting compositional device was to place the conflict in the bottom 3rd of the image, suggesting the character on top had the upper hand and was overpowering his opponent.

Utagawa woodblock inspiration 2

I decided that this would be a dynamic/over the top way to portray such and under stated conflict.

Utagawa woodblock inspiration

I love it when my illustration work allows me to draw inspiration from and pay homage to such an amazing artist as Utagawa Kuniyoshi. I would certainly encourage anyone who love Ukiyo-e woodblock prints to have a look at his work on line.

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