While learning the most elementary techniques of Japanese painting, such as how to use tools and prepare pigments, students practice sketching plants, followed by line drawings using sumi. They then render still lifes, and finally landscape drawings. The basic training emphasizes sketching the human figure to develop an intuitive understanding of form, and learning to make line drawings by copying classical works.
Students draw small animals such as birds and fish. By drawing moving subjects they hone their powers of observation, and learn to capture their subjects' silhouettes and distinctive features quickly. Through the process of sketching human figures and scenery, students acquire the ability to express these images as designs. By copying classical works, they deepen their understanding of the use of line in Japanese painting and their awareness of spatial relationships. They also learn traditional techniques such as gold and silver leafing, sunago, and kirigane in special workshops.
Students reach the stage at which they develop their own modes of expression, based on the techniques and approaches to handling subject matter learned in the first and second years. They improve their compositional sensibilities by drawing animals and human figures, and establish a more individualistic realm of expression by creating works that feature these subjects, as well as subjects of their own choosing. While copying classical works, students gain further understanding of Japanese painting by learning about new materials such as silk. They take a three-day sketching trip that allows them to experience the joy of drawing scenery in nature.
Students work on a large-scale painting (100cm x 220cm) on a subject of their own choosing, an important step preparing them for their graduation project.