Learn how to recreate classic fine art techniques in Photoshop. Part 1 - Japanese printmaking.
In 1856, Japan was forced to open its ports to trade, and Japanese woodcut prints suddenly became available in America and Europe. The work of artists such as Hokusai, Utamaro, and Hiroshige was well-known by the Impressionists and was influential – Japanese prints appear in works by Manet, van Gogh, and Gauguin.
But the fascination was not one-way. Japanese printmaking had grown in isolation, with occasional infusions of Chinese styles, but Hokusai and his colleagues had also studied European landscape painting.
Their prints dispensed with traditional scenes and were more like Western-style landscapes seen through Japanese eyes. Nineteenth-century Japanese prints often used a pigment called prussian blue, and rarely contain more than four colours in a print.
There is little tonal gradation. Shapes are outlined, often in blue. The most famous artist, Hokusai, produced many rural and coastal landscapes but is best-known for a series of prints, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which included his Great Wave of Kanagawa. For many people, Mount Fuji symbolizes Japan. Luckily, it’s not too difficult to draw its perfect shape.