Assignment 2: A sense of a place

I decided to base my illustration for the final assignment on my upcoming trip to Japan. Since I will be there on holiday I thought it would be a great place to do some reportage illustration. In this assignment, I spent time sketching real people and places but also took photographs and did more work at our accommodation in Japan and when I returned to Bangkok. The reason I chose to do Japan was that I could look at it with a tourist eye. Also, we just found out a week before arriving in Japan that we will be moving there in July. So I thought it would be a really creative way to get to know my neighborhood.

Originally I was thinking about basing my illustration on tokyo as a whole. However, it was the holiday seasons and we were with family. In the end, we didnt do that much touristy things but instead spent most of our time in one city: Kitchijoji.  I did have ago at a sketch of a food alley in Skinjuku while eating a a bowl of ramen. The ramen arrived quickly and was so delicious, I only ended up doing one little sketch below.


A few days later I headed to Kitchijoji. This is a station stop that is close to the in-law’s house and actually one of my favorite places to be in Tokyo. I first did a rough sketch of a yakitori restaurant.

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From that sketch and my situation of close proximity, knowledge and appreciation of kitchijoji, I decided that I would be basing my assignment on this part of Tokyo. Sometimes giving yourself boundaries helps to generate ideas. I started to brainstorm what was in the area of any interest that a tourist board would like me to illustrate.

PrepKitchi 2

Below are a few sketches of things I saw inside Inokashiri Park.

Inokashiri park is the largest park in Kichijoji and famous for it sakura festival in March/April where the cherry and plum trees blossom with pink and white flowers. Its a very popular tradition to head to this park with a blanket, some sake, mochi and friends. You sit under a tree and enjoy the surroundings. People also enjoy riding on the swan boats. The time of the year I was at the park was winter. So there was not a lot of picnics or swan boat riding, it was hard to capture the essence of that very popular tourist attraction. I started to think about all the other attraction in the park alone. One of the pieces of work could be base around all the things you can do in the park. Below are some sketches of park life.

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Food: food in Japan is very important. I thought I could showcase the food and restaurants or frontages I found in Kichijoji. Below is a sketch of a man making coffee at one of kichijoji’s specialty cafes. Also some ramen that I ate for lunch and some yakitori.


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Another idea I had was creating a scene or collage of store frontages. I knew it wasnt exactly shoing vitality and life so maybe if I added some people walking past. These illustrations were created from looking at photographs.

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Back in Bangkok with my sketches and photograph. I began starting on my final pieces.

Reflecting on what sort of reportage I am most interested in: I am actually most interested in still life sketches and drawing people. Drawing large scenes with action is something that I am not as comfortable with. I really liked looking at the courtroom dramas and thought that was a great way to show to energy of the room. But for this assignment I felt like it should be similar to the image example given from OCA.

Below are the beginning stages of my piece. I started with thumbnail drawings of different ideas. And small drawings of people who would be seen in the park and streets.

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I was happy with this thumbnail and began working on it with color to see how it would look. I was happy with the draft and below even took notes on what could be next in the series.

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I scanned in my doodle to play on photoshop and help me decide what is the best approach for color choices.

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Below is my first piece made for the tourist board.

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And after scanning, I applied some textures to it.

kitch 1


The next area I was going to focus on in Kichijoji was the food alley ways or also know as Yokochos in Japanese. For somreason the first thumbnail I liked it straight away. I focused on the people and how they would be involved in the scene to show the excitement of walking through these areas. From my photographs and memory, there were always red lanterns shining brightly day and night.

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Below is the piece scanned before photoshop. I got to use some of the reportage drawings I did in japan towards this piece. The Kanji (japanese script) is real and also means what it is supposed to. Where we have beer, I have put a beer sign in Kanji. The ramen in japanese actually says ramen. I think this attention to detail would be important to japanese people. The color has to be red. The brief states only one needed to be in color but I felt like I couldn’t leave out the red.

kitch 3

Next area of kichijoji to focus on was the shopping. This one i had my challenges with layout and how I was going to fit al the detail into my drawings. One of the problems was the paper i was going to be working on before scanning needed to be under A4 because my scanner is not larger than that. Also, timing, I was very late with turning in my assignment and couldn’t work on a larger piece. So i need to make sure that I could fit in the detail on an A4 drawing. I actually had to switch pens and use one with a smaller diameter to create the thumbnails.

Layout and perspective also played into account when making decisions. So I experimented with different perspectives.


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Atone point I thought it might be too challenging and that I couldn’t do it. Maybe I should draw the ghibli museum instead!. But that was over after one thumbnail and I went back to the street scene. Sometimes it only take one good thumbnail for me to think YES! thats the one. So I recreated it a little bit larger this time. I was happy with the people, the buildings and the scene of this shopping street in kichijoji that is called Nakamichi. PrepKitchi 14


I actually drew the larger piece in pencil first because o fhow much detail was needed. The other ones I worked pen straight onto the paper. I made a few mistakes and didnt want to have to redo the whole thing, so I started with pencil!

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Below are the three pieces, after being photoshopped to add the texture I desired.



Overall I’m super happy with the three pieces. I think they show vitality and life in this city and if I was a tourist I would definitely be interested in leisure in the park, shopping and eating and drinking. Im proud of the perspective techniques int he illustrations and the overall color choices. One thing is that the Park was the first drawing that I did, but it doesn’t have as much detail as the other pieces. I would probably redo that one to match the energy and liveliness of the other drawings.



+Please take a look at my personal sketches and my new page ’30 days”. For 30 days I challenged myself to create a portrait a day of someone I knew. This actually led to commissioned portraits.]





upon looking over my work, I noticed I made an error with the english spelling of the town Kichijoji and added a T in the name. I have edited the final images so that they are correct.




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