ART 515-516

Fan Arts of the Three Kingdoms Era

Lv Meng

Da Qiao

Da Qiao

Zhen Fu

Zhen Fu

Wang Yi

Wang Yi

Wu Guotai

Wu Guotai

Cao Cao -- A 3d model I made using MAYA and Zbrush.

Cao Cao — A 3d model I made using MAYA and Zbrush.




Nomad Culture Design

I’m designing a nomad tribe for my thesis. They should be aggressive, mobile, and primitive. They were from in the cold North, and then conquered a half of the Southern empire. They adapted some technics form the Southerners, but overall they still kept their tradition. Here’s my design:


Composition: Most part of their clothing was made of cloth. But fur was used to decorate the rim (such as the hat’s rim and the collar). Metal was expensive among them since they barely knew how to forge. They appreciated asymmetrical design.

Color: They had very limited color range. Usually their cloths were dyed by plant ash or juice of bark, which was either black or dark brown. Other colors were rare. Also they adored red, since it looked good on their wheat-colored skin. Red gems such as coral were popular.
Value: Though not having fancy dyes, they still colored their cloths beautifully by using high contrast.
Pattern: Although they were adapting cloths instead of furs, they still dye cloths mimicking animal fur textures. They also had some embroidered patterns, too.

So why do they look like that? Where do all those elements come from?

I get references from Manchurians, Tsaatan people, Kazakhs, Chukchi people, Kyrghyz people, and Tibetans.

Let’s start from Manchurians.

Portrait of the Imperial Bodyguard Zhanyinbao, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), dated 1760 Unidentified Artist (Chinese, 18th century).

Hong Taiji, 2nd emperor of Qing Dynasty. reign from 1626 to 1643.


Yongzheng Emperor, 5th emperor of Qing Dynasty, reign from 1723 to 1735.

Their robes open at the right. Their hats are peaky at the top. The emperor’s robe has dark edging. And the end of Hong Taiji’s sleeves are dark blue, which is derived from archery bracer.
By the time these paintings were made, Manchurians had already became the ruler. And their clothes were made of luxurious materials with Han embroider patterns on them. But the structure of the upper part is still mobile enough for nomads.
So the next step is trying to find what REAL nomads look like.

Photos of this section all come from

Contemporary Tsaatan people, Mongolia.

Contemporary Kazakhs.

Contemporary Chukchi people, Russian.

Apparently they don’t have delicate robes but fur coats. Furs are not like silks or cloths, they’re hard to embroider, and they’re either brown or white. Even though they still make beautiful clothes. Those people arrange different colors on the fur thoughtfully, and make some simple geometric patterns. For example: The collar to the knee of Chukchi appeal are brown, and the boots are white. On the white boots, there are some rectangular patterns. And for Kazakh people, they arrange the fur relatively arbitrarily, but they have heavily decorated belt — which is a focal point of their appeal.
Now I have the overall look of my nomads, I need some special details which haven’t been used too much.


Kyrgyz hat is white on the upper part with a black edging. It has some spiral patterns which curves no more than 180 degree.

Contemporary Tibetan, China.

Contemporary Tibetan, China.

The jewelries on their braids are interesting. They’re made of compound metal and coral. They look like rings with a big cylindrical coral on the top. And they have some dot patterns along the edges. These 2 photos are from


During researching all these tribes, they are not only giving me references for character design, but also mounts, knives, and other props.

Iranian Islamic Art Exploring

Rustam Pursues the Div Akvan Disguised as an Onager, detail of a miniature from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp, painted by Muzaffar Ali, Tabriz, 1530, 47*32cm, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto.

Rustam Pursues the Div Akvan Disguised as an Onager, detail of a miniature from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp, painted by Muzaffar Ali, Tabriz, 1530, 47*32 cm, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto.

The Joust of Fariburz and Kalbad, detail of a miniature from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp, attributed to Shaykh Muhammad, Safavid era, 1540, 47.2*32 cm, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto.

The Joust of Fariburz and Kalbad, detail of a miniature from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp, attributed to Shaykh Muhammad, Safavid era, 1540, 47.2*32 cm, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto.


Bijan_Takes_The_Rein_To_Aid_Gustaham-Shahnama-1493, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto.






Qin Dynasty(221BC-207BC)

Terracotta Warriors (221BC-207BC). Shanxi, China.




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Composition Terracotta Warriors stand in square, with commanders and horses in the front of the whole army.

Scale They’re real-human sized.

Color Black was popular during Qin. Thus their armors are black. And a large part of their body is dark. Only some skin color and a small amount of red showing the sewing seams are light-colored. Most of them lost colors within 5 min after unearthing. The color restorations now days are too pure for them.

Line Compared to Greek statues, their lines are pretty round (round shoulders, cylindrical legs, etc).

Pattern/Texture They show the detail of the armors and hairstyles precisely.

My sketches

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Sketching is a good way to learn stuff such as the costume structures, hair style and facial features. I try to draw realistically to be useful in game art, not always following their style.

See more at Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum:



The best explanation of Bauhaus is — the opposite of academism.  First, Bauhaus respect individual’s different way of making art. Some students uselight and shade, some use colors, or proportions,  materials, rhythm, sound, even abstract space. Thus Bauhaus use different way to teach each student, urging them finding their own way to express themselves. Second, Bauhaus is more about making things out not just drawing sketches. By this Bauhaus has made great development to manufacturing industry. Third, Bauhaus knows it’s important to let everyone in a team to understand the right concept of their works. Only by this can a team come out with a coherent work. And again, this has brought a great development to enterprise production.





L.Moholy Nagy, Constructions 6 Kestnermappe, 1923, lithography, 59,8 x 44 cm.


Wassily chair, Marcel Breuer, late 1920s.

When I first saw the upper picture at the age of 6, I though ,”You nuts?!” After years I realize there’s an awesome balance between faces and lines (or dimensions), light and heavy(or darkness), transparency, and movement. And all these can be used in industrial design. Such as the chair in the lower picture. And thus we can benefit from “nuts” pictures in everyday life.

Here’s a formal breakdown of  Wassily chair.

Composition It’s made of black canvas, steel. Main design focused on the part that human body touches. The bottom is pretty simple and our eyeballs are brought up.

Form It’s consist of rectangles, round corners (or one fourth of a circle), lines, and a slope. Different sizes of the canvas work very well with the thin steel. And the roundness of the corners brings softness to the chair. The slope interrupts the dull of  same shapes.

Texture The black canvas is totally different from the spectacular steel. After war years they replace the fabric with black leather (though the canvas version are still produced). Anyway it’s a lovely contrast of materials.




Alice in Bauhaus Land



Joost Schmidt, Poster for the 1923 Bauhaus Exhibition in Weimar

In the poster Joost Schmidt’s used rectangles and circles to make an Bauhaus character. As most Bauhaus works do, this picture has some nice contrast of forms, dimensions, and colors. Though the character is pretty abstract, we can still feel the movement. I’m trying to make this feeling into a popular cartoon character, which is Alice. By this way I hope the Bauhaus ideology can be understood by common audiences. ” But when, in the future, artists who sense new creative values have had practical training in the industrial world, they will themselves possess the means for realizing those values immediately.” –Art in Theory: 1900-1990, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, ed. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. 

Sketches from SAM and Frye

My classmates and I visited museums to study baroque and neoclassical paintings. For me, it’s more like having fun than serious study.

We sketched several thumbnails for those paintings. I have to say that only by sketching can you notice how they made decisions of assigning light and dark to a picture. There’re many paintings I haven’t seen before, and they give me inspirations to make new things. And the paintings look much better than those images on the internet. Study with physical materials always give me surprise.


“Saint Augustine in Ecstasy”. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
c. 1665-75.Oil on Canvas.


My favorite part of “Saint Augustine in Ecstasy”


The Virgin Presenting the Rosary to Saint Dominic. Georges de la Tour.
Oil on canvas. 123.8 x 108.6 cm. Seattle Art Museum.


The Shepherdess, William Adolphe Bouguereau.
1873 165.1×87.6cm


Part of The Shepherdess.
This is a photo I took. Much better than the upper images! And the real painting is even more fabulous!

It’s very convenient to sketch in a museum. The only shortage is there’s no color.

My sketch book:




Romantic art starts in the middle 18th century. It’s more about expressing personal feelings such as pursuing of liberty, not the eternity which neoclassicism focuses on. Painters put their attention on people’s emotions, not the form of their bodies. The pictures are often imaginations of the painter, not life observations. Topics are usually about sex, death and violence, which is totally different from neoclassical aesthetic.


The Nude Maja (La maja desnuda), Francisco Goya.
1797–1800, 3′ 2″ x 6′ 3″, Oil on canvas.

Maja ubrana

The Clothed Maja, Francisco Goya.
1798–1805, 3′ 2″ x 6′ 3″, Oil on canvas.

Composition: There’s a woman lying in the picture diagonally.

Value:  Light is focused on her and the background is dark. There’s not much effort on the values of the body forms. Instead, the painter uses value to pop out the figure. For example, her hair is almost flat black and her face is so white. Her eyebrows and dark eyes are so black that pops out her flirting look.

Color: In the Nude Maja, the bluish green sofa makes her ivory body even more attractive. Pillows are light lilac and back walls are brown, they are both desaturaed. In the Clothed Maja, Colors are more saturated. She wears a yellow jacket, and she has a pink skin, these saturated colors drag our eyes to her face. And generally colors are warmer than in the Nude Maja. The sofa became grass green; the light is so warm that makes her white clothes a bit yellow.

Texture/ Patterns: There’s little effort on texture. We can tell some clothes are slick and some are a bit fury. Different from neoclassical paintings, we can hardly see the difference between the textures of her skin and hairs. Overall the painting is rough, no elaborate contours can be found. There’re also some rough patterns on her yellow clothes and the laces of pillows. They are not the interesting point of the painter.




Color thumbnails:

Francisco Goya-22228

A Village Bullfight, Francisco Goya.
1812-14. Oil on panel, 45 x 72 cm


Portrait of Victor Guye, Francisco Goya.
1810, Oil on canvas, 104,5 x 83,5 cm.