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

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.


Renio Linossi said...

I was wondering around this dog character some weeks ago while reading again "Dining in the air"
Surely is similar to Watson from Holmes.

However seems quite strange according to the legends around Metantei Holmes production. The "dog characters" were an idea of the italian team (Marco and Gi Pagot) that proposed the original concept to TMS, and Miyazaki was againist a cast made entirely of anthropomorphic dogs.
He want at least an human character, Mrs.Hudson. This idea was rejected by the Italian producers, however, even if Mrs.Hudson is dog-like, her character design is "less doggish" then the others (And she is also a widow of a an aviation pioneer (like Gina in Porco Rosso), the Miyazaki lady in blue for this production).

In the end Marco Pagot and Hayao Miyazaki became friend (and so Porco Rosso), but seems strange that he used a character with a design that, maybe, he felt unsatisfactory in the beginning.

In which other stories appear this dog character?
I remeber in "A Trip to Tynemouth" (even if not so Watson in character colour).
Watson in the anime is a Scottish terrier, maybe this occurence in Tynemouthcould be an homage to a scottish/british person (If exist)? Or the Watson like simply a Miyazaki's friend/colleague spoof that in some occasions flew with him on intercontinal flighs? So the appearance in "Dining in the air?

(Thanks for the blog, by the way, is my first comment)

Christopher Sobieniak said...

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.

Just imagine Toys 'R' Us having this down an aisle! (though personally I see this at Michaels myself but fat chance on that) But yes, we really do need something like this baby.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Thinking of it some more, I think the closest we ever got to something like this was what was offered once at Disneyland back in it's beginnings. When the famous "Art Corner" wasn't offering a piece of Disney history one cel at a time, they put out their own animation kit anyone could buy at the store or send away for.

Brian Ackley said...

Holbein sadly discontinued Violet grey, permanent green 3, and Cobalt yellow green shade back in 2013. I wonder if the set still includes them as those colors are hard to find now.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

That is interesting Brian, assuming the kit is still sold with those colors.

Also annoying when colors are discontinued. I went to a art store a few weeks back and noticed they had some leftover Dr. Ph Martin's Concentrated Watercolors they were selling for cheap because they were discontinued.

Santiago Bustamante G. said...

The Spanish version of this post is found here:


Steffi Ame said...

I'll be visiting the Ghibli Museum in May. Does anyone know if it's still sold there and how much it costs? I was hoping to bring my own drawing materials while I'm there, but seeing this made me so excited to buy it instead!

Christopher Sobieniak said...

I wish I knew, asked a pal I know in Japan to try to get that for me the next time he visits the museum.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

As an update for those who may be following comments here, or just showed up, here's an update.

My pal in Japan sent me this kit! It's still the same set of items but the colors offered by Holdein are as follows...

1. Crimson Lake (W 010)
2. Opera (W 013)
3. Vermillion Hue (W 019)
4. Yellow Ochre (W 034)
5. Permanent Yellow Lemon (W 035)
6. Permanenet Yellow Deep (W 037)
7. Permanenet Yellow Orange (W 038)
8. Yellow Grey (W 151)
9. Viridian Hue (W 061)
10. Permanent Green No. 1 (W 066)
11. Cadmium Green Deep (W 070)
12. Bamboo Green (W 078)
13. Cobalt Blue Hue (W 091)
14. Cerulean Blue (W 092)
15. Ultramarine Deep (W 094)
16. Compose Blue (W 096)
17. Prussian Blue (W 097)
18. Lavender (W 116)
19. Bright Violet (W 175)
20. Light Red (W 130)
21. Burnt Umber (W 133)
22. Burnt Sienna (W 134)
23. Davy's Grey (W 155)
24. Ivory Black (W 138)

Just thought I'd give a heads up to those asking for what colors to replace for the set.

Unknown said...

Does anyone know where I can buy a new FO-HOMO drawing pad online or in the US? I've fallen in love with this paper but googling "fo-homo" doesn't yield the results I'm looking for....

Christopher Sobieniak said...

These links might work...

The books appear to be sold in different sizes.

m-q-t-pi said...

Can someone send me this kit? I will pay you :( I dont know if I would have enough money to go japan.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

I wish I could help you out there. Just having added up the total of what is in this kit (though using only a few websites for prices and rounding off things for an estimate), it seems to be anywhere between US$75-100 depending on cost (the paints are the most pricey especially). I don't know how much they were asking for this at the museum so I can't give you that amount. The way I got mine was for having a friend I've known for over 15 years that currently lives there who was able to send me mine after a year or two of having asked him, as I knew I didn't want to push it right away.

metztlitochtli said...

What about the brushes? Any clue what brand they are and where one would be able to purchase some?

Christopher Sobieniak said...

The brushes come from a company called "Namura". I'm not sure what size/number they are, but Amazon has a few for sale.

Here's their website, though it's in Japanese.

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