foo dogs on parade

I am working on a commission drawing with a fantasy China theme, and it looks like it is finally time put some serious effort into learning how to draw a foo dog, that faithful guardians of all things Chinese, at least in popular culture.  The design of foo dogs is really quite fascinating.  It looks complex, and is certainly detailed, but once you have studied several examples, the conventions of their structure start to emerge.  They have buggy eyes, curly manes, flamboyant brush tails, twin tendrils emerging from their lower jaws,  and when they are displayed as a pair, they will be in mirror image poses with one paw raised on a decorative sphere.

Here are some of the reference images I am going to be using to design my own pair of giant foo dogs, the ones which will flank the platform on which the subject of the drawing is going to be sitting.  (Or possibly reclining; I haven’t decided yet.)   As always, I am trying to use primary sources as references, rather than the work of other artists.  The images themselves come from around the world and around the web by way of Google Image Search, which is the greatest thing since sliced bread for this kind of research.

Since the foo dog is imaginary, the primary source images of “the real thing” have to be photographs of genuine (as far as a small amount of research can determine) Chinese or Tibetan foo dog sculptures, rather than drawings and tattoo art based on them.  There are apparently a lot of people walking around with foo dog ink, and some of the tattoos are really impressive.

When my own foo dogs start to take shape, I will share the sketches with you here.

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2 Responses to foo dogs on parade

  1. Wolfie says:

    Closely related are their Japanese cousins, the Komainu, which always appear as a pair flanking the entrance to the inner grounds of a Shinto shrine. The styles are myriad, but in any pair one will always have its mouth closed, the other open.

  2. Pam Bliss says:

    Finally getting to this on today’s post.

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