Thursday, February 2, 2023
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Architectural Style of Totoro


Initial sketching

I normally draw comic and fantasy related art but the girlfriend has been requesting a picture of Totoro. Anime is not typically my default style, so I started off just sketching the big fluffy guy to get a sense of his proportions. One of the sketches in the upper left had his arms stretched out and it reminded me of DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man.

Color testing

I thought a Vitruvian Totoro would be pretty awesome. I did a quick websearch figuring someone had to have thought of it before. and lo and behold, I couldn’t find any (or at least anything well done IMHO). I started to mix some watercolors to do some color testing.

Initial cartoon

After drawing the circle (with a big kitchen bowl) and square I Penciled out the Totoro monster and to get him to fit perfectly in the circle and square.

First wash

Before doing anything in pen, I got my first few washes down and let it dry. I wanted to make sure I got the basic colors down.

Some details

Luckily, I realized I had penciled in the designs of his belly wrong (miss counted the little up arrows). Add some details and defined the overall shape and light source.

Background and pen

I went in with sepia waterproof ink and a crowquill to draw the circle and square. I wanted to keep that sketchy free hand feel so no guides were used for the curves or lines. I referenced the original Vitruvian and added in some cross hatching behind the figure. Watering down the sepia with some burnt umber I added the washes to the background. I know that DaVinci wrote his notes in “mirror writing” above his original sketch, so I penned in Kanji the lyrics to the Totoro theme song in “Mirror Kanjii”. Such a pain.


The original goes to the girlfriend, but when I posted this up originally, quite a few people wanted a copy so I made a print and included a fun quote from Totoro along the bottom. Enjoy!


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