From Japan, Kawaii illustrations stand out with their adorable and innocence-infused graphic style.
The word “kawaii” literally translates to “cute” in Japanese. Emerging in the 1970s, the kawaii style quickly gained worldwide popularity, transcending Japan’s borders.
Its charming aesthetic is admired for its ability to convey positive and joyful emotions through irresistibly characterized figures always depicted with big eyes and wide smiles.
Exploration From My Art Studio
Are you looking to create in a Kawaii style?
Here’s a list to adapt based on your personal preferences and favourite mediums.
Tools for the demonstration – Picture by Amylee
You Will Need:
• HB graphite pencil for first sketches and adjustments before adding colour.
• Watercolour pencils to achieve the soft colouring typical of the style. Watercolour is perfect for achieving soft and translucent effects.
• Watercolour set, In my demonstration, I’m using the Derwent Pastel Shades Paint Pan Set
• Water brush filled with water for blending colours and creating gradients.
• Black ink marker (fine and thick tips) for drawing sharp outlines, delicate eye lines, and details. Faber-Castell Pitt markers’ ink doesn’t smudge when watercolour is added.
• Thick paper, opt for good quality drawing paper, smooth or textured, always suitable for your preferred technique (pencils, markers, watercolour).
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You can find a great range of art supplies in GreatArt store in Shoreditch (London) or on GreatArt.co.uk online shop.
Drawing on watercolour paper – Design and Picture by Amylee
How To Create Kawaii Characters?
To enhance the “too cute” aspect, Kawaii illustrations are characterized by:
- Simplified lines
- Large eyes combined with wide smiles
- Rounded shapes
- Vibrant and pastel colours
- Exaggerated expressions and poses Common themes draw inspiration from animals, preferably sweet foods, everyday objects, imaginary characters, mascots, and young girls.
The Kawaii style is known for its positive values like friendship, kindness, sweetness, and benevolence. When observing these drawings, there’s always a comforting, light, even gentle effect that soothes the viewer.
Drawing on Bristol paper – Design and Picture by Amylee
The Kawaii Creative Process
If you’re interested in the Kawaii style, you can draw inspiration from it to create your own cute drawings and fully explore your creativity.
Here are useful resources to help you get started:
- Immerse yourself in the Kawaii world by exploring artists. Observe characteristic features like shapes and colours used.
- Don’t limit yourself to copying what you see. Aim to develop your own graphic style.
- Even though the Kawaii style is simplified, it’s important to have a grasp of drawing basics so you can distort and adapt them as needed. Practice drawing shapes, facial expressions, and poses to give life to all your characters.
- The Kawaii palette is often colourful. Your illustrations should reflect your personality and convey positive emotions.
Kawaii is primarily a playful and joyful style. So, don’t take yourself too seriously! Have fun, let your creativity shine, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas.
Really cute drawings – Design and picture by Amylee
Some Uses of the Kawaii World
Kawaii illustrations are commonly used in the realm of comics, manga, and digital art, whether for creating standalone artworks, avatars, emojis, or video game icons.
In Japan, Kawaii characters are often integrated into graphic designs such as posters, flyers, greeting cards, logos, and packaging because they add a touch of lightness and impactful visual appeal.
A multitude of merchandise emerges, including clothing, plush toys, stationery accessories, phone cases, and much more. These collections are extremely popular among fans of Japanese pop culture, Kawaii style enthusiasts, or attendees of Japan Fairs.
My Favourite Kawaii Illustrators
5 illustrators known for their Kawaii illustrations.
- Tasty Peach Studios: Specializing in adorable characters and fantastical creatures in a Kawaii style. Their illustrations are often inspired by animals and sweet delectables.
- Hidari: A famous Japanese artist known for cute and whimsical illustrations. Their characters have expressive large eyes and vibrant colours.
- Rilakkuma: Created by the San-X studio, Rilakkuma is an iconic Kawaii character. Their illustrations feature lazy bears and other animals in everyday situations. I’m sure you’re already familiar!
- Little Miss Paintbrush: A Philippine illustrator creating Kawaii illustrations with a touch of nostalgia. Their works are full of tenderness and positive emotions. I love it!
- Q-Lia: A Japanese stationery brand offering Kawaii illustrations on items like notebooks, stickers, or cute accessories. Their designs often revolve around animals and yummy desserts.
A little magic to bring back the smile – Design and picture by Amylee
This article is here to inspire you to share your own Kawaii illustrations.
Remember to draw from various graphic and artistic sources to develop your own unique style.
So, grab your pencils and brushes!
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Content provided by Amylee Paris
The passion of Amylee, fine artist and author is to share her paintings between galleries, art collectors and her community. Amylee is also recognized as one of the most influential French artist-entrepreneurs. Since 2009 she has mentored thousands of visual artists guiding them to thriving their art career.