Development of animation brushes


Development of animation brushes


Paintbrush For Anime

Anime Fude Sakuyo
Anime Fude Kasumi

For a high quality brush that combines quality and durability...

In the 1990s, the paint brushes used by the art staff at Studio Ghibli became difficult to use, affecting the finished product, and the company sought a high-quality brush that would combine quality and durability. At that time, one of our staff members noticed the town of Kumano, which produces about 80% of all brushes in Japan, and asked Shougetsudo, a specialized manufacturer of brushes for Japanese-style paintings, for advice.
Shougetsudo wanted to create an animation brush that would be recognized by professionals, so we decided to develop a brush for use in animation.


Millimeter Shape and Delicate Elasticity

We have worked hard to improve the quality of our brushes by making many prototypes while exchanging opinions with the art staff of Studio Ghibli on how they felt about using the brushes.
The quality of a brush is determined by the selection of bristles to be used, the ratio of bristles to be combined, and the type of shape to be created. These processes require skilled traditional techniques. Because natural animal hair changes from time to time, it takes many years of experience and intuition to produce a stable product. Shougetsudo’s skilled techniques were used to ensure the millimeter-by-millimeter shape, delicate elasticity, and cohesion of the hair. We were able to create an animation brush that would satisfy “animation professionals”. This allowed Shougetsudo to enter the new field of animation with its traditional techniques.

Kazuo Oga, animation art director of Studio Ghibli, visits Shougetsudo's production line.

In March 2010, he visited Shougetsudo on the occasion of the “World of Kazuo Oga” exhibition at the Brush Village Studio.

Details of the development process

Kazuo Oga’s art book, “Kazuo Oga Art Book II”, features our animation brushes on page 42. In addition, the column “15 years of trial and error concerning brushes for background art” on pages 138-139 describes in detail the high level of requirements for sharpening brushes and the development process of our anime brushes.

Ghibli THE ART Series
Edited by Studio Ghibli
Kazuo Oga Art Collection II(男鹿和雄画集Ⅱ)


The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

Shougetsudo’s animation brushes, whose quality was improved under the guidance of Kazuo Oga, the art director for Isao Takahata’s “The Tale of Princess Kaguya,” were used in the production of the background paintings for this film.

Current and Upcoming Initiatives

After much trial and error, we have finally received positive feedback that we have produced a brush that can be used in actual work. However, there is still room for improvement to reach our ideal level, and we intend to continue striving to create the ideal brush. Our major goal of creating higher quality brushes that will be highly praised by professionals in the art world is the source of our motivation to improve our company’s level of quality.

Future brush making

However, brushes are used as tools not only for calligraphy, but also for arts, crafts, and industry, and their disappearance would greatly affect these fields. This is why brush making must not be allowed to cease. In particular, I believe that the Kumano brush industry must work together to train successors and continue to protect the traditional techniques that have been cultivated over the years.

Attention from overseas animation industry

The company’s expertise in the ratio of more than a dozen types of bristles and the shape of the tip has been highly evaluated for its ability to achieve the important elements of an animation brush, such as the cohesiveness of the tip, appropriate elasticity, good color penetration, and supple drawing comfort, as well as for extending the brush’s life span.
The brush also attracted attention from the animation industry not only in Japan but also overseas.

The 3rd Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Awards, Chugoku Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry Director-General's Award Awarded in the category of Application of Traditional Technology

You can view the pages from the 3rd Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Award pamphlet in PDF format.

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