Learn To Draw Stunning Waves in Japanese Style Now

I love the sea. It is a fact. Trips to the seashore always charge me with energy, calmness and strength. I do not know how to explain it, but the sea is always the same, and it is so different at the same time. It is so big, so blue, so beautiful and, of course, so inspiring. So, let us draw some waves in Japanese style.

How to illustrate waves in Japanese style

Illustrating the sea requires confident movements of your brush or pencil across the page. Also, the variety of wave drawing interpretations is limited only to your imagination. For example, in Japanese art, waves illustrations take a special place. They express beauty and are full of symbolism, like other natural phenomena.

Japanese style wave illustration (source: The Internet Archive).

To boost your creativity and imagination, I propose you look at the following Japanese artists from the last century. Their drawing technique is simple and marvellous at the same time. Just with a couple of clear ink lines, Japanese artists perform great results, creating impressive waves illustrations and seascapes.  

Download free Japanese art books

Thanks to Internet Archive and The Smithsonian Library, you can access and download some beautiful Japanese art books from the beginning of the last century free of charge. I am sure that they will serve you as an incredible source of inspiration. 

The waves you will see in these books had been drawn in ink on washi paper (rice paper). Moreover, you will find various nature drawings in these books, such as fields, rural life, trees, flowers, rocks and mountains. To open a book you like, click on its name. Enjoy!

So, my favourite Japanese art books from the Internet Archive page are:

  1. Unkashū

In fact, this book is totally about clouds and waves art. Open the book on the page you like and try to copy those ink traces in your sketchbook. Follow the fluid wave shapes and create stunning patterns. 

waves in Japanese style
Detail from Unkashu’s book, in which some Japanese styled waves are depicted (source: The Internet Archive).
  1. Hokusai imayō hinagata

It is kind of a sketchbook, where you will find some creative examples of nature illustrations by the famous Hokusai. I say “famous” because I am sure you have seen this Hokusai’s work before. Is it not? 

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai. Original work circa 1829-1832 (source: The Internet Archive).
  1. Bunpō Sansui ikō

This book’s drawings will help you develop Japanese-style seashores and rocks illustrations. It is highly recommended if you are up to drawing some waves accompanied by tall rocks and a classic seascape.

Detail from Bunpō Sansui ikō’s book (source: The Internet Archive).
  1. Ekiro no Suzu

Indeed, in this book, you will find river illustrations as well, as rural life, waves and mountains. 

Detail of Ekiro no Suzu’s book about Japanese style art illustrations (source: The Internet Archive).
  1. Ehon tsūhōshi

In the end, I will recommend you the last great Japanese art book. It is full of finished landscapes with plants, sea, mountains, humans and buildings. I like it a lot!

Detail of Ethon tsūhōshi ‘s book about Japanese style art illustrations (source: The Internet Archive).

Practice, practice, practice

To sum up, I encourage you to practice wave illustration and find your perfect wave as well. Also, do not forget to mention me in your drawing wave practice post on Instagram. Of course, I will be glad to see your art! To modify your Japanese-style art, try to work with colour inks or liquid watercolours instead of black ink. Their colours are saturated and vibrant. For instance, you can check out some of my liquid watercolour works here and here

See you!