• Anna

Ink work - Biro pen - Witch of the Waste (old) from Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's moving castle anime movie poster.

Howl's Moving Castle

Similar to the rest of Hayao Miyazaki's work, Howl's moving castle was magical to watch. it provoked childhood nostalgia when I was presented with the art style and mythical characters. But what I liked about the film the most is the message around love, beauty, insecurity and holding onto one's youth.

For instance, Howl perceived himself as ugly when his hair colour changed from blonde to dark blue. I can see Howl's insecurity as he makes effort to look aesthetically beautiful to compensate on the other parts of his personality that he wasn't proud of. There was also Sophie who has never seen herself as beautiful. She was cursed and turned into an old lady, but as she discovers love, her physical appearance slowly returns to her true age. Of course, there was the Witch of the Waste who holds onto her youth by disguising as her younger self and obsessing over young boys hearts.

The beauty of this film is being open for interpretation in many ways. The message I liked the most is that beauty is not external, but rather comes from the inside. What truly makes something or someone beautiful isn't their physical aesthetics, but their love for one another and their internal beauty.

Feature character - Witch of the Waste (old)

Witch of the Waste from Howl's moving castle GIF

Above: The Witch of the West before she was removed of her magic and turned old.

The Witch of the Waste was presented in two different characters - a powerful witch that Howl feared, and a vulnerable granny that needed assistance from her friends. The change in her appearance was stark when she lost her magic and looked like her true self. I found the old witch to be a much more interesting subject to draw.


Old Witch of the Waste wearing a red shawl from the anime Howl's moving castle.

Above: Movie still of Witch of the Waste (old) from Howl's Moving Castle

There were a few options I could've chosen for the Witch of the Waste, but I wanted a close-up that captured all of her layers and wrinkles. She also has a really interesting facial expression on this movie still since her eyes look youthful whilst the rest of her face is not. This is the part of the film where she recognises Calcifer as Howl's heart.

I have a similar feeling about this drawing as I did with my previous post on Yubaba from Spirited away. I've certainly been more interested in obscure, unique looking characters.

The drawing

Biro, Ballpen, Pen art of Witch of the Waste from Studio Ghibli's Howl's Moving Castle. Black and white anime drawing by Anna Legaspi Art

Above: Biro drawing on A5 paper. Anna Legaspi 2021

Tools used

  • Mechanical pencil

  • Rubber or eraser

  • Bic Cristal original

  • a5 sketchbook paper (170 gsm)

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


In my previous drawing of Totoro, I used a Bic Cristal Original Fine pen and I found the drawing lacking in boldness and contrast. So this time, I thought I would experiment and use a normal Bic Cristal Original pen.

As always, I started by creating a freehand sketch of granny and lightly traced my sketch using the Bic pen. I worked on the detail on her face and specifically enjoyed drawing the layers on her cheeks and the folds around her chin - after all, this is the most unique part of her character. As I got absorbed in the drawing, I forgot that I was drawing a face of an old lady. As a result, the the Witch of the Waste now appears to have a furry face or a beard, whichever tickles your fancy.

I found the fabric the most challenging since I've never really drawn fabric before. I've painted fabric before using acrylic paint, but this gives me room for error since I can always paint over my mistakes. Since biro is permanent, I had to be more aware of where I place my shading. I considered drawing the fabric in a more 'blocky' way with less shading just like the reference image; however, that would look out of place with the rest of the drawing. In the end, I decided to do what felt right and just see what happens.

Overall, I am pleased with the outcome, but I'm also thinking that the Bic Cristal original isn't as 'dark' as I wanted it to be. I don't know if its because my strokes are getting lighter and I just need to be more heavy handed or if I should try out other darker pens. What's the best pen you've used for your drawing? Share your experiences on the comments below.

Up next

I've decided to change the scene and watch something a bit more thrilling or others would even say horrific. So for next week, I'll be drawing anime from Parasyte: the Maxim.

After doing a few biro drawings, I've been thinking about when I should try different mediums and different subjects. This process is an exploration of art, so I don't want to restrict myself to just one medium. So, I decided that for 9 weeks, I will be creating 9 inkwork drawings. 9 seems like a decent amount of art and 9 biro uploads would also look good on Instagram. After this, I will try out other mediums like watercolours, acrylic paints, charcoal and pencils - whichever feels right at the time.

I've made a lot of my own original art before, but it's been such a long time that I feel like a brand new start is required. So, the last piece on the 9th week, I'll draw an original piece, rather than a reference from anime. This would hopefully be the gateway to creating my own new original art that I'd love to keep making!

Thank you for taking the time to read about my thoughts on Howl's Moving Castle and I hope my art 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,