• Anna

Ink work - Ink pen and Watercolour - Totoro and friends from My Neighbour Totoro

My Neighbour Totoro movie poster

In the last weeks that I've been drawing black and white biro pens, I felt that there was still so much to learn, not to mention, other ink mediums. I did feel a bit restricted after making myself draw with just black pens, but that exercise definitely brought upon the discipline of just making and committing to my art.

Now that I've introduced colours, different brushes, paper and mediums, there is so much more possibility! I am really excited to create art using other mediums! For this week, I want to take a jab at watercolours and pens together.

My Neighbour Totoro

In a previous post, I discussed how My Neighbour Totoro was to me personally and I also shared my first drawing of Totoro. If you want to read more about that first, then have a read on Ink work - Biro pen - Totoro from My Neighbour Totoro.

Did you know that Totoro is in Toy Story 3 and many other works? Have a watch of the video below to see more!

Disclaimer: The video above is not mine. If you like the video, please head to Youtube and give some love to SimplyGrouch.

Feature Character - Totoro and friends

Looking back at stills I've taken from My Neighbour Totoro, I decided to use one of the stills that felt like would be good watercolour reference. Totoro is accompanied by his family. Does anyone know what the little Totoro are? Are they Totoro's children, siblings or just friends? Leave a comment if you want to flex on your Totoro knowledge!


Totoro and friends on top of a tree playing the ocarina at night

Above: Movie still of Totoro and friends from My Neighbour Totoro. Totoro plays the ocarina at night on top of a large tree.

There are a lot of still shots I could've taken from the the film, but this photo resonated with me the best at this time. It takes me back to when I was a child, believed in unicorns and anything was possible.

Most mythical creatures, including Totoro, appear at night when the world is fast asleep. Magical things happened when children are dreaming. It's in the same realm of the sock gnomes, tooth fairy or even Santa Claus.

Totoro and his friends dancing to help acorn trees grow at night

Above: Totoro, his friends and family dance to make a tree grow.

The drawing

Watercolour and pen art of Totoro and friends on a tree playing the ocarina. From Studio Ghibli's anime film My Neighbour Totoro.Original art by Anna Legaspi Art

Above: Ink and Watercolour on A5 paper. Anna Legaspi 2021

Tools used

  • Mechanical pencil

  • Rubber or eraser

  • Daler-Rowney Aquafine watercolours

  • Unbranded watercolour set that I've had since I was in school (it has great vibrant colours)

  • Uni-pin fine line pens

  • A5 sketchbook paper (170 gsm)

  • Music from my Jazz Anime by Anna Legaspi on Spotify to set the mood.


I haven't used watercolours for over ten years so it was about time to get the paints out. I have to admit, I was slightly intimidated by watercolours since I've not used it much before either. To keep things fun, I decided to keep the paints simple and added more detail using a pen.

Firstly, I did a freehand sketch of Totoro and his friends. I then got my watercolours and started on the tree - layering wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry and did whatever I felt like doing. The sky, Totoro, his umbrella and friends were all coloured with a light wash. For me, it was more interesting to use all the colours I had rather than getting the colours right.

I then started to add details on the tree using the fine line pens. The tree ended up looking like a massive broccoli and that's okay - after all, broccoli are little trees.

After this, I felt that the sky looked pretty plain and it needed more life in it. So I decided to emphasise on the stars by drawing circular lines around it. There was now a lot of swirly lines with no colour on the painting, so it was just even more reason to test almost all of the colours in my watercolour palette. This piece reminds me of Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night, as I tried to fill the sky with more interesting textures.

In a way, this was a really good experiment. It's not my best painting, but definitely a good exercise to get re-acquainted with paints. It feels a bit psychedelic too!

The Starry Night painting of Vincent Van Gogh

Above: Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night

Up next

For the next week, I'll drawing Honey senpai from the anime Ouran High School Host club. Thank you for taking the time to read about my art and I hope it has made a positive contribution to your day. If you like what you've seen so far and want to follow my art journey, please follow my socials or subscribe to get emails when I've got a new post.

Remember, It's not about creating the best art, but creating art that makes you happy!

All the best and until next time!

Lots of love and positivity,