Best seller

Watercolor Illustration with Japanese Influence

A course by Flor Kaneshiro
Illustrator. Junín de los Andes, Argentina.
Joined March 2019
, Illustrator

Give your drawings an ancient identity with the Sumi-e painting technique

  • Best seller Spanish with subtitles in English
  • 99% positive reviews (1.8K)
  • 44893 students

Give your drawings an ancient identity with the Sumi-e painting technique

Spanish with subtitles in English
  • 99% positive reviews (1.8K)
  • 44893 students
  • 22 lessons (3h 15m)
  • 24 additional resources (14 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: Spanish
  • Spanish, English, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • Unlimited access forever

Sumi-e is a monochrome illustration technique centered around the use of India ink which originated in China and was introduced in Japan in the mid-fourteenth century. Flor Kaneshiro is an Argentine illustrator with Okinawan roots who specializes in this art form. Her drawings have been exhibited in Argentina, Japan, China, Peru, and the United States, and she has collaborated with publishers such as Quipu, Periplo Ediciones, and Palabras Aladas.

In this course, Flor teaches you everything you need to know about Sumi-e and how to create your own illustrations by combining the basics of watercolors with Japanese-style brushstrokes.

What will you learn in this online course?

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. Introduction to watercolor with Japanese influence and tools
  • U3
    U3. Watercolor exercises, brush strokes and sumi-e
  • U4
    U4. Project realization
  • U5
    U5. The pixel illustration and its production
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

Start by getting to know a bit more about Flor, her Okinawan roots, and her professional career as an illustrator. See some of her biggest influences and the people she admires, from illustrators to film directors.

Continue with an introduction to the history of Sumi-e to give you some context about this illustration technique. Look at some examples of simple compositions in this style before covering the tools and materials you need for the course.

Run through a few watercolor exercises to experiment with your first strokes and learn to work with colors and whitespace in a composition.

Next, get to know the Japanese side of watercolors. Flor shows you the fundamental brushstrokes used in this style and explains the importance of pressure, speed, and direction. She also introduces you to the “Four Gentlemen” of Sumi-e, known as the bamboo, the orchid, the chrysanthemum, and the plum blossom, to help you practice the roots of this art form.

Now it's time to start working on your final project. Search for reference materials to use as inspiration for your illustration.

Draw your first sketches and try to incorporate elements of storytelling. Choose your favorite composition and recreate it on watercolor paper with soft lines to give you more flexibility when adding color.

Tape the sketch to your work surface, do some tests to decide what colors you want to use, and then get to work. Begin by painting the background, move on to the middle ground, and finish with the foreground, progressing from lighter tones to more saturated colors. Finally, paint your characters into the illustration and create contrast with the background by using a thin brush to outline the parts you want to highlight.

Once dry, scan your illustration and import the digital version into Adobe Photoshop. Flor gives you a brief overview of the program and shows you some useful tools for editing your work. Clean up your illustration and enhance the colors while trying to maintain the essence of the original version.

To wrap up the course, Flor shares some tips that she's picked up over the years from other illustrators, animators, artists, editors, and friends.

What is this course's project?

Create an illustration that tells a story applying what you've learned in the course about watercolors and Japanese brushstrokes.

Projects by course students

Who is this online course for?

Illustrators, designers, and anyone interested in drawing, illustration, and watercolors.

Requirements and materials

No prior knowledge is needed to take this course.

The material list includes paper for sketching, HB, 2B, and 5B pencils, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, 250 GSM and 300 GSM watercolor paper, watercolors in pans or tubes, soft round watercolor brushes in sizes 0, 2, 8, and 14, a ceramic or plastic palette, paper towels, a spray bottle, masking tape, and water.

You also need a computer with Adobe Photoshop and a scanner to digitize your work.


44893 Students
1759 Reviews
99% Positive ratings
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Flor Kaneshiro

A course by Flor Kaneshiro

Teacher Plus

Flor Kaneshiro is an Argentine illustrator with a degree in fine arts from the National University of La Plata in Argentina who specializes in traditional Japanese-style illustration. Her work focuses on book illustration and video projects.

In addition to her studies in Argentina, she obtained a scholarship at the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts in Japan, where she has also exhibited her art. The central theme of her work is Japanese culture and the people, nature, animals, and stories associated with it, which she depicts using primarily watercolors.


  • U1


    • Influences
    • Presentation
    • What are we going to do
  • U2

    Introduction to watercolor with Japanese influence and tools

    • Introduction to watercolors with Japanese influence
    • Analog tools and materials
  • U3

    Watercolor exercises, brush strokes and sumi-e

    • Introduction to Watercolor
    • Color Gradients
    • Stains
    • Japanese brush strokes
    • Sumi-e I
    • Sumi-e II
  • U4

    Project realization

    • Thematic search and reference file
    • Sketches
    • We prepare the sheet and the color palette
    • Elements in the background
    • Background items
    • Elements in the foreground
    • Characters
  • U5

    The pixel illustration and its production

    • Tips and advice
    • What things should we consider when producing it?
    • Digital tools and editing in Photoshop
    • Scanning or Digitization
  • FP

    Final project

    • Watercolor illustration with Japanese influence

What to expect from a Domestika course

  • Learn at your own pace

    Enjoy learning from home without a set schedule and with an easy-to-follow method. You set your own pace.

  • Learn from the best professionals

    Learn valuable methods and techniques explained by top experts in the creative sector.

  • Meet expert teachers

    Each expert teaches what they do best, with clear guidelines, true passion, and professional insight in every lesson.

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  • Get front-row seats

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  • Share knowledge and ideas

    Ask questions, request feedback, or offer solutions. Share your learning experience with other students in the community who are as passionate about creativity as you are.

  • Connect with a global creative community

    The community is home to millions of people from around the world who are curious and passionate about exploring and expressing their creativity.

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Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need to complete a specific project. Every step of the project combines video lessons with complementary instructional material, so you can learn by doing. Domestika's courses also allow you to share your own projects with the teacher and with other students, creating a dynamic course community.

All courses are 100% online, so once they're published, courses start and finish whenever you want. You set the pace of the class. You can go back to review what interests you most and skip what you already know, ask questions, answer questions, share your projects, and more.

The courses are divided into different units. Each one includes lessons, informational text, tasks, and practice exercises to help you carry out your project step by step, with additional complementary resources and downloads. You'll also have access to an exclusive forum where you can interact with the teacher and with other students, as well as share your work and your course project, creating a community around the course.

You can redeem the course you received by accessing the redeeming page and entering your gift code.

If you're a Plus or PRO member, when you complete a course you'll instantly get your personalized certificate. You can see all your certificates in the Certificates section of your profile. You can download your certificates as PDFs and share the link online. Learn more about certificates
Watercolor Illustration with Japanese Influence. Illustration course by Flor Kaneshiro Best seller

Watercolor Illustration with Japanese Influence

A course by Flor Kaneshiro
Illustrator. Junín de los Andes, Argentina.
Joined March 2019
  • 99% positive reviews (1.8K)
  • 44893 students