Thank you for being a part of a brand new adventure where digital art meets painting. 'Ookiyo' is what I call my new and unique printing technique that uses 3D printed woodblocks. It is my modern version of 'ukiyo-e' (pronounced oo-ki-yo-aye) an ancient Japanese art-form that is over 400 hundred years old, ukiyo-e means 'pictures of a floating world' and are pictures of daily Japanese life, fictional fantasy or landscapes printed with ink onto paper using hand carved woodblocks as printing plates. Just this year, an original 'Great Wave Off Kanagawa' print (pictured below) by one of the most famous ukiyo-e artists - Katsushika Hokusai, who lived a long time ago, was sold for $1.6 million at Christies.
This 'Let's Ookiyo' page is a prototype of an app I hope to build in the near future with your help. The way the app will work is to let you make your own art using picture and character elements found in a library here, and then convert it into a set of 3D printed woodblocks for you to print the real paintings yourself.
It splits the process of making art into steps so you can do them one at a time, this way it's really hard to mess up! I hope you enjoy being one of the first testers of this process. I really appreciate your comments on how to make it better once you're done, write us back using the contact page.
Step 1 - First, think of the story you want to tell and imagine how you can use pictures to tell it instead of words. Choose elements of your story from the Ookiyo library below and download to get started, download one by one or as a bunch using the ZIP files.
Step 2 - Once you have the picture elements you need, arrange them with your computer. Since this is just a prototype, we will be using programs like Microsoft Powerpoint or Microsoft Paint. If you are familiar with another drawing tool then use that instead, it's up to you. As long as the finished picture is A4 size (295mm x 210mm).
I used elements from the library to make this funny scene in Microsoft Powerpoint and it didn't take very long.
Composing your picture is easier if you imagine a school play. There is always a background - the sky and scenery which perhaps some of the students painted with the art teacher. A good background will set the scene, Paris in this case. As a painting hanging on a wall, the background will invite people to come closer to see more detail.
Then there is the 'stage' where most of the actors stand, where all the action is. Use this area to tell most of your story.
If you like you can add foreground, something at the front of the stage, close to the audience, that adds more to the story in some way. I added a screaming woman to my 'Monster Mantis in Paris!!!' painting because I thought she made the whole thing even funnier.
Take as long as you need, you don't have to do it all in one go. Come back to it later and add more details.
Step 3 - When you are happy with your work, save the finished picture as a jpeg, pdf or just the send the Powerpoint file, etc. by email or use the cool free service called WeTransfer (click 'I just want to send files' and you won't have to sign up or anything else). Ask someone to help you if needed.
Our Step 4 - We will 3D print up to seven woodblocks that will allow you to print your original art Ookiyo style! Seven blocks means you can have up to seven colours. I have made some videos to help you with this step.
Ookiyo printing is really easy to learn at the beginning and also has lots of challenges later if you want to get really good at it. The 3D printed woodblocks are super reusable, so you can keep perfecting your technique or get a friend to try and see if they are as good as you. This could be the start of a great artistic adventure!
Some helpful tips:
You can make the elements bigger or smaller by scaling them. Do this evenly by dragging the corners, not the sides, since stretching them out of shape will make it very difficult to convert into woodblocks.
You can put things in front or behind each other to make them look like they are nearer or further.
You can cut and paste to make many copies of them, when making leaves for example.
Powerpoint allows you to change the colour of the elements which might help during composition, but don't worry if you can't because the real time to choose colours will come later in a much more fun way, with real paint...
Lastly, you can also make your own simple shapes, designs or characters to enhance your painting, these could end up in the Ookiyo library for others to use. Even a tiny part of your painting could become famous let alone the whole thing!