What’s a Kokeshi Doll?
A kokeshi doll is a lovely traditional Japanese doll, and originally they were made of wood. They’re so simple but so pretty, and for some reason I’ve been really fascinated by them recently. I used to live in Japan for four years, and I really do miss traditional crafts and fabrics, and of course the food.
I’ve been experimenting with drawing some kokeshi dolls recently on my iPad, I have an app called ArtRage that I’ve written about a few times in this blog. I like the app a lot (it’s the only way I can create art now), but because my iPad is about 4 years old, I couldn’t upgrade to using the new pressure-sensitive styluses that are now available. Using these types of styluses means that I can draw and paint more “naturally,” as I can go from a dark line to a light line in one stroke (instead of manually changing the pressure in the settings each time, which made graduated lines nearly impossible). I was also wanting to start using the full version of ArtRage, but to do that on my existing Mac would have meant drawing on the trackpad. It’s hard for me to hold pressure on the trackpad for more than a few seconds because of my injury, so that wouldn’t have worked out well for me.
A week or so ago I upgraded to a new Microsoft Surface Pro 4. This device has only been on the market for a few weeks, and the screen resolution and sensitivity of the Surface Pen (the pressure-sensitive stylus) was significantly higher than the Surface Pro 3 I had been considering buying. I took the plunge and got the 4, and the first thing I did was to download the full version of ArtRage. The neat thing about the Surface Pro line (and the only thing that got me over my strong dislike for Microsoft and PC systems) is that it’s a tablet that runs a full desktop operating system. That means it’s lightweight (and has a great kickstand and optional magnetic keyboard) like a tablet, but powerful like a desktop or a laptop computer. No more using watered-down mobile versions of apps on my tablet. The great thing was when I bought ArtRage it was on sale (hoooraaay), and I got download links for both my Mac and my new PC. Now I can transfer art between the two devices if I need to.
In the video below, I did an experiment with the “record” feature of ArtRage. It has that function in the app version as well (where you can literally record all your strokes as your art comes to life), but you can’t play it back unless you have the full version of the program. I did a quick sketch of a kokeshi doll as I knew it wouldn’t take me too long to create a little one, and it came out really neat. I thought it would be good to share the video so that people can see what kinds of things you can actually do with digital art and technology these days, and to encourage those who maybe have physical limitations like myself to try other means of creating art. At some point it’s likely I’ll use some of these drawings as the basis for new cross stitch patterns.
I hope you enjoy the video, I’ve used traditional Japanese shamisen music in the background of the recording (a shamisen is like a Japanese banjo, it has a very distinctive sound). If you have any questions or comments please let me know below! 🙂