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Western love of all things Japanese traces back to 1858, following the reopening of trade between Japan and Europe. In fact, the influence of Japanese culture on 19th century art and design was so great that it became known by the term Japonisme.
Today, Japanese culture is once again enjoying a heyday with audiences around the globe, and so for you ‘Japanophiles’ out there, we thought we’d share some great Japanese style illustrations you can use for inspiration or incorporate in your next project.
Envato Elements is a great source for a huge range of gorgeous Japanese style paintings and other graphic resources.
Check out this wonderfully whimsical Japan illustration art featuring a collection of cultural symbols identifiable as Japanese in a flat, colourful design so renowned in Japanese style painting. Download it and use it as Japanese illustration wallpaper, a landing page banner, a book illustration, and more.
Well, this is a collection that should keep lovers of all things Japanese happy for days. It’s a collection of 30 vector images that represent familiar icons of Japanese culture: sake bottle, bento lunch box with traditional wrapper cloth, ramen, sushi, fish, instant noodles, and traditional Japanese confections, wagashi, kokeshi dolls in yukata, daruma, maneki neko, yokai, demon mask, kitsune fox mask, folding fan and bonsai, paper cranes, stone lanterns, fish flags, ink stamps, manga books, cat cafe, omamori, and more.
Here’s a beautiful Japan illustration art that would look great on a wall or as a screensaver. It features delicately drawn cherry blossoms, lanterns, a Tori gate, parasol, and other symbols of Japanese life.
If you’re fascinated with Geisha culture, you will love this terrific illustration which features 16 watercolour geishas, each on its own transparent background so that you can use them on invitations, greeting cards, posters, wall art, banners, T-shirts, or however you care to.
The crane is known as the bird of happiness in Japan. They believe it is a mystical creature that lives for a thousand years and is thus associated with longevity and good fortune. For all these reasons, we had to include this wonderful Japanese illustration wallpaper with cranes flying over the ocean and over mountaintops, because what could be more Japanese?
If you haven’t checked out Mixkit yet, head on over right now. There you will find a small but wonderful collection of Japanese themed illustrations that are completely free to download!
How can you resist this wonderful ramen illustration featuring a cat with its chopsticks filled with ramen poised in midair as they eyeball the treat coming their way in anticipation?
From our adorable cat to a Japanese art style that’s a bit more serious. This one shows a street scene of men wearing traditional robes on a city street. What makes this illustration so special is that, although the scene is very still and subdued, it is rendered in bold colours of red, blue, and yellow.
In contrast with the previous Japanese style painting, this digital art illustration of a couple in traditional Japanese clothing feels more light and summery. Maybe it’s because the painting is a riot of colours and the couple is walking past blooming cherry blossoms which fill the sky.
GraphicRiver is another source for terrific Japan illustration art. Here are some of the best options available.
Well, we really couldn’t complete any review of the best Japan illustration art without including anime. So here’s a lovely rendition of an anime character just for you.
There are so many things you could use this wonderful Japanese style painting for, including wall art, for greeting cards, or even to create cool Japanese style tattoos.
How beautiful is this illustration of two golden koi fish on a black background? This illustration is created in a layered PSD file so that you can customise it as needed. Perfect for use in posters, cards, T-shirt design, and more.
Here’s another hi-res PSD file that’s easy to customise to suit your needs. It features Bushido, which is the Japanese word for the way of the samurai life. Use this stunning illustration to create your own Japanese style tattoos or to incorporate into another project.
This fabulous illustration of sushi, sashimi, and maki is a wonderfully creative representation of these Japanese delicacies. Perfect for incorporating into a menu or using to create a poster.
Placeit is an excellent online tool that allows you to create a range of digital assets like mockups, T-shirt designs, and more from your web browser! It offers a range of Japanese Illustrations for you to have fun with.
Whether you’re after Japanese style tattoos or a T-shirt design, Placeit has just about every kind of Japanese inspired illustration to suit your needs. What’s more, customising the artwork is done straight in your web browser and doesn’t require any special software knowledge.
Bonsai is one of the icons of Japanese culture, and if you’re looking for the perfect bonsai illustration, look no further. Placeit has a number of wonderful illustrations you can use to incorporate into whatever design you have in mind.
How stunning is this Japanese illustration of a warrior’s mask? It’s just one of several offered at Placeit, so if this one doesn’t quite meet your needs, there are several others to choose from.
This gorgeous illustration is created to be used as a logo that you can incorporate into posters, menus, T-shirts, and more. If you love the design but not the colours, no worries—you can change anything you don’t like about the design in a matter of minutes using the Placeit logo maker.
Let’s finish up our Placeit Japanese inspo with an anime design that’s created for T-shirts but can be used in any number of ways. And yes, in case you doubt it, girls will save the world.
Envato Tuts+ has been the go-to educational source instruction on illustration for more than a decade, so it stands to reason that if you want to know how to create your own resources, you can find a tutorial to help you at Tuts+. Here’s just a small selection.
Koi carp have been painted and illustrated by the Japanese for centuries, and if you want to learn how to create your own using the traditional Japanese approach, this tutorial will show you how to use Adobe Illustrator to imitate what the Japanese have perfected.
Want to learn how to create a landscape in the style of a Japanese Ukiyo-e print? Tuts+ has got the perfect tutorial for you. Using Abode Photoshop, you will learn how to make your work light with Art, Scatter, and Blob Brushes.
Find out how Japanese Illustrator Aya Miyazaki and Art Director Shingo Miyazaki run their design business successfully and create amazing illustrations like this one over and over again.
If you love anime but are a bit unclear about exactly what it is and how it differs from manga, you have to read this article. As a bonus, you’ll find out why vector is a fantastic medium to work with when creating anime/manga styled artwork and how to approach using it.
And speaking about demystifying Japanese trends, this article deals kawaii (think the genre of Hello Kitty, San-X, etc.). It explains exactly what it is, what makes a piece of art kawaii, and how the culture of kawaii transformed contemporary Japanese culture.
I hope this article has given you plenty of inspiration and ideas to help you get started as an illustrator. If you want to learn more about Japanese design, we have plenty of tutorials to help you. Here are some great places to start: