Illustrating Asian Characters

Artwork by Jim Lee

Artwork by Jim Lee, an artist originally from Seoul


Andy Kubert’s work from the 90’s on an asian character

Originally written on 4/4/2014 on my website and transported over to this blog…

“Over the past couple of days I’ve been looking through many of the old comic books I used to have stored away in the attic from my teens and it’s stirred a lot of memories. For the past few months now Christine and I have been working on the Cultural Revolution Tarot and it is the first time I’ve ever drawn Asian characters extensively.

As a young man I was inspired by artists like Andy Kubert and Marc Silvestri in the 90’s and as I looked through the illustrations, particularly of the Asian characters, I remember a time when I would examine the various way these comic book artists handled Asian features, particularly the eyes. These artists were illustrating x-men related characters but i remember when i would attempt to draw Asian features, i could never truly get it to look convincing. In fact, even to this day i am still completely unsure what exactly it is in terms of an actual “process” to create believable Asian features in characters, though Christine tells me i tend to do a good job.

We’ve been working on the Sun and Ace of Cups the past wee while in between projects for Portstewart and Bushmills. I think over the past few projects i’ve really learned a lot in terms of using layers because when you work on artworks with any number of people, you always want to accommodate their vision. When it comes to designing tarot cards or maps or signage, often you’ll be called to shift things around, reduce items in size or blow them up bigger than what they originally are, colour particular layers, such as the background we’ve been doing for the Ace of Cups especially.

Artwork by Chris Bachalo, Marc Silvestri and Frank Miller respectively

Artwork by Chris Bachalo, Marc Silvestri and Frank Miller respectively

Getting back to the old illustrations of Asian characters, i’ve always been inspired by Chris Bachalo’s illustrations but i feel that when it comes to Asians, they aren’t necessarily too Asian looking at times, though that could be a combination of style and also that the characters themselves are sometimes a mix of two nationalities. Frank Miller’s extensive work on Japanese characters in the 80’s have a very differnt look from that of other artists like Silvestri and Kubert.


Our characters in the Cultural Revolution Tarot depict not only the Asian look, but whimsical ideas like pandas and koi fish and astronaut dogs. Children feature in our images extensively, bringing a bright cheery optimistic look to our cards.

All in all it has been quite rewarding artistically to work on illustrating Asian characters as it’s something i have never really attempted before at length.”


The Cultural Revolution Tarot can be found on our site for 40 U.S dollars (at the time of writing). For the brits, this relates to little over 26 pounds. Go buy our controversial kick ass work of art and you won’t be dissappointed


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