Fun Sketching: Chinese Zodiac From Cute Japanese Sculptures

Fun Sketching: Chinese Zodiac From Cute Japanese Sculptures

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Once in a while, it’s a good idea to relax with some fun sketching. Draw something frivolous and light. Recently I stumbled upon a neighborhood Shinto shrine with Chinese zodiac sculptures. Not the usual beautiful, elegant figures, but in signature cute Japanese style. I photographed all of them. I thought they would be easy and fun to sketch. 

Why is this a simple sketching exercise?

Drawing animals is not the easiest thing. But in this case, the sculptor has simplified and stylized every Zodiac animal for us. The cute, round shapes have done away with all complications (except, perhaps, the dragon). Remember that you don’t have to draw exactly what you see. Draw them the way you want to and make them your own. 

You can start with the head and work your way from there. I invariably found that I made the head too big. In any case, that’s how I figured out the proportions. Drawing with a pencil makes it easy to correct any mistake. Don’t tinker too much with your drawing, though. Let things be. To sketch means to let yourself loose. Focus on learning how to see. Not perfection.  

Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Rat.
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The Rat. This is the first sign in the Chinese Zodiac. The remaining 11 sketches follow further down.
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Mouse.
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The local Shinto shrine

If you take a walk around Japanese neighborhoods, you will inevitably come across a local shrine. Take a look at photos from the Shinto shrine in question. Important family rituals take place there. During the first week of the new year, people pray for good luck from nature gods or Kami.  

Many new year cards in Japan have an image of the Chinese Zodiac animal for the year. In 2022, the Chinese lunar year starts on February 1, and it is The Year of the Tiger. 

What does the Year of the Tiger mean?

Let me quote from Yahoo Life!: “The Year of the Tiger will be about making big changes. This will be a year of risk-taking and adventure. We’re finding enthusiasm again, both for ourselves and for others. Everyone is fired up, generosity is at an all-time high and social progress feels possible again”. Sounds good!

Take time for some fun sketching. Draw from photos of cute Chinese Zodiac animals at Japanese shine. Loosen up and enjoy!
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A local temple in Nara has planted flowers in the shape of a tiger with Japanese text for the Year of the Tiger 2022. It is spelling out good wishes to students taking the university entrance exam. I was standing on a hill taking the photo, so it is quite large.

The Zodiac animal photos and my sketches

I am showing you the sketches I made from these animals. Now it is your turn! You are most welcome to share your work in our One Tree Art Club Facebook group. I can’t wait to see yours.

If you enjoy painting with watercolor, you will find many tutorials on this blog. They come with free outlines that you can download from the One Tree Art Club library.

Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Ox.
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The Ox
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Ox.
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Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Tiger.
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The Tiger
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Tiger.
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Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Rabbit.
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The Rabbit
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Rabbit.
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Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Dragon.
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The Dragon
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Dragon.
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Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Snake.
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The Snake
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Snake.
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Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Horse.
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The Horse
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Horse.
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Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Sheep.
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The Sheep
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Sheep.
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Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Monkey.
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The Monkey
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Monkey.
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Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Rooster.
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The Rooster
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Rooster.
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Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Dog.
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The Dog
Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Dog.
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Sketch of the Chinese Zodiac sign the Pig.
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Cute Japanese sculpture of the Chinese Zodiac animal Pig.
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A few more posts about sketching that you may enjoy:

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