Chinese Zodiac Animal Wall

While I was working on the Ningbo Zicheng International School Skate Park mural there was a large 85 meter concrete wall looming in the background that the owners of the school wanted to paint for the grand opening. I showed them some of the “spirit animals” that I like to illustrate and I rendered some in a rounded and graphic style. They liked the idea and wanted to do all 12 animals of the zodiac along the entire length of the wall.

The “bonus wall”

I call it the bonus wall because it was in addition to the skate park mural that I was originally commissioned to paint. This project was a monumental undertaking and a lesson in design efficiency. In less than an hour I sketched out small thumbnails of the animals. In another hour I illustrated them in the computer. Finally I worked the palette for another hour to get it down to only 9 colors and still have enough different values to create depth. Between painting from 7:30-5 everyday and nightly meals from our hosts I had almost no time for design work.

Examples of the thumbnail sketches used to develop the animals.

The vector drawings created from the thumbnail drawings used to play around with the color blocking.

Cropped images of the final animals.

People and their zodiac animals

These abstracted animals are not what the typical illustrations of Chinese zodiac animal signs look like, which initially lead to some confusion. However, after the wall was completed small children recognized the 12 images and identified their animal. People started finding their animal to have their picture taken with them.


The painters

The man that was helping me paint seemed to be proud of what he was creating and would step back to take pictures from time to time. He took time and put care in his work. Typically these laborers are painting interior walls in flat colors, so this project stretched his imagination.