After trying to create from scratch and paint a series of Japanese shops in the "New Storefronts" series, I moved to a more ambitious project — imagining a whole city.
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In many of my previous projects, I searched for pleasant, exciting, and nostalgic Japanese cityscape fragments. I then painted them as best as possible to make them look even more appealing. I tried to bend the reality I saw to do my artistic bidding, as is often done by animation background artists. Next, in the “Tokyo at Night” book, I explored and portrayed Tokyo’s night side, trying to uncover the truth about it. When painting those illustrations, I realized that I could make even quite desolate, grimy back streets seem appealing. This was a problem. Even though the final pictures looked “cool,” I wouldn’t say I like the original places, really, and would not want to live in a city like that at all.

So, together with Kana, we decided on a project that would become a set of “image boards” for a more friendly, human-oriented, and pleasant to live in city. I try to imagine everyday scenes from such a place without making them look too nostalgic and unobtainable. It’s not the “rose-colored” past or a world from an animated movie that will never come to be. I’m trying to paint a city that could exist in Japan even now.

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I decided to paint digitally this time to convey more of the atmosphere of each place. I wanted to capture the temperature, the smell of the air, the play of the light, or the weather. For this, having the flexibility of digital tools helps a lot. Also, all the pieces will be ultimately accompanied by characters designed and painted-in by Kana.

To fuel this creative attempt, I’m using a lot of elements from the many reference photos I took in Japan during ten years of living here. Having a library like this allows me to make the paintings believable.

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Because these pieces were made on my iPad using applications such as Procreate or Art Studio Pro, I’m able to show the process of painting in my YouTube videos:


Technical details:

  • Painting: Procreate, Art Studio Pro apps on 2020 iPad Pro 12.9 inch
  • Editing: Photoshop
  • Brushes: Download my Procreate 5x brushes beta on Patreon.