Little Amabie

Today, I wanted to share a little drawing I made of Little One disguised as an Amabie! And what on earth is an Amabie you may be asking? An Amabie (pronounced Ama-bee-eh) is a legendary Japanese pseudo mermaid with a bird-beak like mouth and three legs or tail-fins, allegedly emerging from the sea. The legend behind this dates back to 1846 when a government official allegedly encountered one glowing in the water. Introducing herself, this mysterious mermaid predicted a rich harvest that would bless Japan for 6 years but added that a plague would also ensue to ravage the country. She then advised that in order to ward off the plague, the people should draw an image of her, make copies of her likeness and share to many people as possible.

As such the Amabie became known as a charm or amulet against epidemics. This story was not very well known, even in my time, evidently as Japan modernized and a healthier nation ensued. Since Covid hit the shores in 2020, though, it suddenly became all the rage. Shops across Japan are nowadays selling this charm as a sort of protection against this pandemic, and if you excuse the pun, it has indeed gone viral!

Outlining our Amabie

With the uncertainty underlying Covid, I have been considering drawing an Amabie for some time. I finally got around to doing so and thought it would be an idea create a series of artwork portraying her in a variety of mediums. Today, I thought I’d start with some markers and hence grabbed my set of Copic markers and a page from my Bristol Paper sketchbook (Strathmore’s). A pencil sketch was first done followed by tracing over the outlines with a good permanent black ink markers. For the first time, I went for Kuretake ZIG Mangaka markers. Great markers they are! I occasionally use the bottled ink version of them (Kuretake ZIG Cartoonist Ink) which I love. The markers are also as good in terms of ink quality although I do prefer the bottled ink and bamboo pen as you can achieve a bespoke stroke by adapting your choice of nib, hold, and angle.

Coloring with Copic Markers

Now time to color Amabie in! I used a variety of Copic Ciao and Copic Sketch markers for this, making it a point to jot down the exact color code. As such I went for pastel colors for the hair and fins in pink, green, blue, yellow and mauve. What challenge that was figuring out which markers go best to what section so you get a good distribution of the different colors. Apart from that, it all went well. Bristol paper is indeed a great choice when using markers. Whilst most paper designated for markers tend to be too thin, Bristol paper is wonderfully thick, and given its smooth finish even the Copic markers didn’t bleed through and mark the page below.

Finishing Off

Wanting to add just a bit more details, I incorporated some shadows on the face, fins and tail and streaks on the hair with some colored pencils. Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils were used for this, more specifically the pastel colors set. Then to make the whites of the eyes even whiter, I filled them in with some white Uni Posca markers. And here we are!

My first attempt at drawing the Amabie! How cute is that. The markers worked rather well with the colored pencils, and I think they make a great pair together. Next I would definitely love to go for some watercolor and acrylic to see what it would all look like, even try different colored backgrounds too. The more done and shared the better! For now, here is my Copic Pen version of Amabie and praying that the pandemic will subside as soon as possible. So stay safe everyone!

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