Thursday, August 4, 2011

Liu Jiyou

Liu Jiyou (Chi-yu) is one of my favorite animal artists.
Quite a few years ago, then Disney visual development artist Chen-Yi Chang came back from China and brought me a booklet with Jiyou's artwork. It is breathtaking.
Later I got my hands on a couple more sizable publications, that included some information in English about his life.
He was born in China in a little village that was surrounded by nature in 1918.  His father was an established painter of animals. So he grew up with art all around him, and as they say " like father like son".
Eventually Jiyou developed his own distinctive style, combining western drawing and painting with Chinese calligraphic brush strokes.
I love the looseness in his work, based on accurate observation, and he always finds a pose that reveals the animal's characteristics. His compositions are very unique and interesting, a real master of his craft.
Jiyou died in 1983.


  1. These are beautiful, Andreas! It's interesting to see the influence Liu Jiyou has had on you... I'm no expert, but I can definitely see some of this in your earlier post titled Animal Sketchbook. It's a great book, by the way! And particularly fascinating to see follow a through-line of influence into films like The Lion King.

    Thanks again for posting these!


  2. Very impressive!!!! thanks for post)

  3. I didn't know him but his art is really outstanding. I love it. Thank you so much Mr Deja !

  4. Thank you so much for posting this! I first heard about Liu Jiyou when you mentioned him in your book...however the spelling was a little different and I dug everywhere looking for information on him but to not avail.

    Anyway thanks to your book I was able to discover Paul Jouve too.

    btw, did you ever come across Anna Hyatt Huntington's work? ...another awesome animal art master...

  5. The leopard is my favourite. The paws are so angular, you can just feel the weight! great stuff

  6. Andreas, I love how the delicate brushwork still manages to capture the fierceness of some of these animals. Great blog! I'm writing from the Palo Alto International Film Festival ( On Oct. 1, Pat Hannaway is speaking on a panel on animation and digital acting. Tom Sito will be moderating the panel. We were all hoping you'd be able to speak also, but I couldn't locate your email address- it's October 1 in Palo Alto. Please contact me at (or check with Pat) Thanks!

  7. Now, this post was incredible. I just love the way his lines flow, and the use of color is just beautiful! Thanks!

  8. Great Post... Makes me wanna hunt down these books now..


  9. I'm blown away. All of these are so stunningly beautiful! I need to print some of these out.

  10. I think I have a new favorite artist. Thanks so much for introducing me to his work! I've never seen someone capture the essence of an animal so well as this.

  11. Wow, Liu must have grown up around these animals, because he depicts them so well.

  12. These are amazing. Thanks for another fantastic post!

  13. Thanks for posting these ! I didn't know anything about the artist or his art.

  14. Beautiful work.

    I love how you intersperse these fine art excursions and artist profiles in with the focused work on Disney style classic animation.

  15. Great work!!! I love the wolf drawing in the second set of four. His understanding of the anatomy amazes me. Also, the fur in the monkey painting feels so soft.

  16. Hello Andreas,

    I'm study Animation in southern Brazil and lately I've been following your blog.

    I want to make my thanks, because I learn a lot from the excellent material you post to your blog.

    Pedro Marcelino

  17. These paintings are wonderful. The stag, in particular, reminds me of Tyrus Wong's concept arts for Bambi.

  18. Dear Andreas Dejas

    I’ve read your articles on Liu Ji You’s artworks and I am delighted to see those articles. It is an enormous pleasure and honour to know that such a great artist like you wrote them. Let me introduce myself, I am Liu Nan, son of Liu Ji You and grandson of Liu Kui Ling. I am a painter as well, I currently work in France, Belgium and China. I am fond of our traditional and modern paintings.
    I hope you’ll see this comment and it will be a great pleasure to reach contact with you. I will add a link to my official website below to let you see more.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    With kind regards,

    Liu Nan

    1. Dear Liu Nan,
      I am so amazed to hear from you! Your family's tradition of outstanding art inspires me profoundly. And your own work continues that excellence.
      I recently received a Chinese art book that features some
      of your beautiful work.
      I hope to meet you in person some time in the future.

      Thanks for writing,
      best wishes,

      Andreas Deja

    2. Thank you very much for your quick reply. It is an honour to hear from you. I am happy we could reach contact and I hope we will keep in touch.

      I look forward to meeting you personally in the nearby future and hopefully we could enrich both of our works.

      Best regards,
      Liu Nan