The second-generation Japanese American artist known as IPaintCreatures (IPC) is a professional award-winning performance poet, painter, filmmaker, Twitch streamer, and 21st-century folklorist who specializes in imaginary creatures including yokai (supernatural beings from Japanese folklore).
IPC has done everything from graphic design to commercial illustration, concept character development, and creative writing for cutting-edge entertainment and technology companies such as Lucasfilm, Intel, and Apple. In recent years, he has started converting his traditional paintings into animation with the help of Cartoon Animator 4. Below, IPC shares his creative journey from traditional paintings to digital animation.
IPC’s artistic awakening
In his youth, IPC spent several years in hospitals visiting his ill dad and dealing with sickness himself. At the time, he began to draw monsters and strange imaginative characters, which he now categorizes as “21st-century folklore.”
When a nurse encouraged him to paint for other hospitalized kids, IPC began creating fantastical creatures with stories that gave the creatures positive superpowers. IPC later learned that this is the role of folklore: to narrate the stories and hopes of common folk.
Creating an epic narrative
After recovering from his illness, IPC continued to use his art to enhance other people’s quality of life. Exploring his own heritage, he discovered that his grandmother was a poet in the Japanese “shigin” oral tradition as well as a yokai folklore specialist. This is when IPC delved deep into the world of yokai.
IPC employs yokai to tell modern-day folklore stories which deal with issues everyone goes through in life, and bring plenty of positive messages for children and parents. He has started weaving his stories — and the films he creates around them — into an epic narrative called Matsu, which is unfolding online. The main plot, for which IPC drew on his own upbringing, features a young boy named Shigin.
Bringing the yokai to life with Cartoon Animator
The more he used computers, the more IPC came to understand the power of contemporary animation technology. He came to see how it could be used, much like traditional artistic mediums, to create works that focus on epic poetry and folklore, without necessarily having to aspire to the state-of-the-art animation of Disney and Pixar. It wasn’t until IPC discovered Cartoon Animator 4 that he realized he didn’t need huge budgets and large professional teams to bring his yokai to life.
Cartoon Animator’s easy-to-use rigging system allows him to easily bring his illustrations from Photoshop into the software. He fully incorporates the pipeline features by inventing his own process of rigging unconventional yokai characters into fully animated cartoons.
The simple rigging and animation system, as well as the real-time facial mocap and lip sync, allowed IPC to progress from the initial pencil-doodle creative process to actually having a dialogue with an animated character — all in one day.
As part of his creative process, IPC incorporates ideas intuitively into his stories. Using Cartoon Animator 4, he is able to tell those stories in short films almost in real time. As a result, he has become an oral storyteller just like his grandma.