Monday, January 31, 2011

Tomomi Kobayashi

The Japanese illustrator Tomomi Kobayashi has been one of my earliest and most consistent inspirations. She is, first and foremost, a watercolorist, and is most known this side of the ocean for her work on Square's experimental SaGa series and the MMO Granado Espada. There is an obvious elegance to her work - in her lines, her use of color, her stylistic approach to rendering characters, her combination of organic nouveau and geometric deco elements to create a style that encompasses both the romantic and heroic traditions (incidentally, perfect for the type of video games that she has worked on).

My favorite Tomomi Kobayashi pieces are those done for SaGa Frontier on the original Playstation, probably due to the sheer variety in types of characters she had to tackle. This piece is fairly representative of that body of work. I especially like the approach she has taken to the designs of the characters. There is a good balance of form and function here - these designs actually make sense and don't feel like they have been created only to look cool, yet they are beautiful nonetheless.

If anyone is interested in watercolor illustration, it's definitely worth it to check out her work. She has a site at It's in Japanese, but the art is not hard to find. (However, the majority of her SaGa Frontier work is not up there. You'd have to Google that.)


  1. There are so many good video game artists out there; thanks for bringing my attention to this one! I really like how much there is going on in this piece--lots of different elements and color--but it doesn't come off as too "busy" at all. I especially like the little (lamb? dog?) animal sitting at the feet of the man playing the instrument.

  2. I love the style of the artist. His characters look as though they could stand only, but they compliment each other well. They colors def. give off the fantasy look, and each time I look I find new places to examine and enjoy.

  3. I really really love ink illustrations filled with watercolor, so this caught my eye right away. I looked at some other pieces, but as this is an art style I'm really fond of, of course I wanted to comment on it! I really liked the costume design in this image, and all the twisting, layering foliage. The transparent layering of colors is really beautiful, something also achieved with marker art, which I love. I will definitely be looking at more of this artist's work.

  4. Thank you for identifying her medium! I had a feeling it was watercolor, but I was just so enchanted by it that I couldn't really tell (and I have so little experience with watercolor). I'm trying to analyze her style as best as I can, but it's difficult to do when I want to admire it instead, lol.