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HomeNewsGhibli Museum Sketching Set - Miyazaki Teaches You How To Paint

Ghibli Museum Sketching Set – Miyazaki Teaches You How To Paint

The Ghibli Museum Sketching Set is a ready-made watercolor painting kit available at the museum’s “Mama Aiuto” shop. Available since 2003, this kits includes a pencil, pencil sharpener, paintbrush, palette, sketchbook, and a full-color booklet drawn by Hayao Miyazaki, detailing instructions and advice for all beginning artists.

The 24 paints included in this set were personally chosen by Miyazaki, and reflect the choice of colors used in his work. These differ slightly from the standard 24-paint set supplied by Holbein, who worked with Studio Ghibli for this package (along with Mitsubishi Uni, Staedler, Tokyo Namura, Sakura and Fo-Homo).

What a brilliant idea to introduce children to the world of drawing and painting. It’s also a very smart move for the long term; many children who pick up and play with the Sketching Set will one day become professional animators and artists. I wish something like this were available here in the US. I would buy kits for everyone in my family, and also one for myself.

For those who want to recreate this watercolor kit on their own, here are the 24 colors selected by Miyazaki:

  1. Crimson Lake
  2. Opera
  3. Vermilion
  4. Yellow Ocher
  5. Permanent Yellow Lemon
  6. Permanent Yellow Deep
  7. Permanent Yellow Orange
  8. Permanent Green No.1
  9. Permanent Green No.3
  10. Cadmium Green Deep
  11. Cobalt Green Yellow Shade
  12. Cobalt Blue Hue
  13. Cerulean Blue
  14. Ultramarine Deep
  15. Compose Blue
  16. Prussian Blue
  17. Bright Violet
  18. Light Red
  19. Burnt Umber
  20. Burnt Sienna
  21. Ivory Black
  22. Yellow Gray
  23. Violet Gray
  24. Davis Gray


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We snuck a peek at one of the pages from Miyazaki’s comic instruction manual in a recent post. Now let’s take a look at some more pages, including the cover. Dedicated fans will recognize the house on the cover: it’s the Grandfather’s house from Heidi, Girl of the Alps (that house was based on a real-life house discovered during location scouting in 1973). Miyazaki himself appears, as he always does in his manga comics, as the pig character (now with a beard).

The first section of this booklet details instructions in the use of watercolor paints, some helpful advice, and an introduction to basic color theory (mixing is an essential skill). I especially enjoy this part, which feels like an art lesson by Miyazaki himself. Who wouldn’t want that?

The second section is devoted to Image Boards, which are early versions of storyboards used in animation productions. This is how Hayao Miyazaki creates and refines his movies, through hundreds or thousands of highly detailed image boards. His work in scene design and layout in the 1960s and 1970s (Horus and Heidi, most famously) proved essential to his career as writer-director. And manga comics have always been his first love.

The two examples of image boards shown here were drawn by Miyazaki for a series of House Foods commercials that aired in Japan. These short commercials were included in the (now OOP) Ghibli ga Ippai Special: Short Short DVD. There’s also a long story behind the man who sings the song in that ad, another project that Miyazaki was deeply involved in, that was released as a documentary feature DVD, again in Japan. We’ll try to remember to detail that in a future Ghibli Blog post.

One final note: There’s a dog character in the booklet who stands next to Miyazaki (the pig). I’ve seen him in a couple other Miyazaki comics, but I’m not sure who he’s supposed to be. Does he represent an actual person? Is he a throwback to Watson from Sherlock Hound? Or is he just a recurring character? Any working theories would be welcome.

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