HSK Graffiti (涂鸦)

When I’m not doing Skritter work I really enjoy making art. Earlier this year I kicked off a personal project and challenge of making 150 days of Chinese graffiti (涂鸦 túyā) based on the entire HSK 1 vocabulary list. I’m just over 60 days into the project and thought I would share some of my recent works with everyone. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and I hope to create a comprehensive poster of some sort when I’m all finished. For now, I’m just focused on the daily grind.

If anyone is interested in following the daily progress, you can check out my Instagram account.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

P.S. If anyone is doing fun stuff with their Chinese (calligraphy, learning challenges, whatever!) be sure to share it here on the forum, too. 我们一起加油吧!


These are super cool, and quite a few had me scratching my head trying to figure out which character it was! :sweat_smile:

I have a little blog where I put characters from street signs, wall paintings or neon lights — a collection of sorts. The photos were taken in Shanghai a lifetime ago, and I hope they last until I return to China someday!


That’s awesome; thanks for sharing! For many years, I’ve considered running a competition where students do a kind of HSK bingo, where they fill out a grid with HSK characters with real-life photos. The only reason I haven’t done it is that I can’t come up with a good way of organising it.


Thanks for sharing the blog! I’m always fascinated by how companies play with fonts, colors, etc. on their signage. You got some nice shots, I especially love the 太 :slight_smile:

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Update: A little less than 50 words to go. Here are the first 100 altogether. Oh yeah!


Love the artwork. You must be having a lot of fun with these

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謝謝!It has certainly become a part of my daily ritual along with doing my daily skrittering :slight_smile:

You using procreate or some other program?

Procreate! Honestly, it is such a wonderful app. Just wish I had an easy way to submit feedback sometimes :slight_smile:

They’re all done on a 4000x4000 canvas (300 DPI), and each piece ends up being about 15-20 layers on average.

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I love procreate! It’s a wonderfully responsive app.

I use it way less now though, because after working digitally for a couple of years I got a craving for hands-on, textured touchable artwork, so for about a year now I’ve been working in watercolour, and am starting to get back into graphite for drawing. I’m grateful to pro create for that!

Do you do other artwork besides these? All digital? Chinese themes?

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Thanks for the blog, great collection!

You got me curious about 阿, soI looked it up some more. It’s also an endearment name prefix, put in front of words for father, sibling, pet names, childhood names etc.

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Indeed! You hear it a lot in Chinese TV dramas… though I think someone told me it’s more of a southern thing? :thinking:

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Cheers to making art in any and all forms! I’m mostly digital these days, but I also get out the sketchbook sometimes. I’m all over the place when it comes to artistic themes. I like to explore whatever I can in the moment, and usually take some courses on topics of interest. I find having a challenge and goal really rewarding, and a great way to personalize the learning process. Also, it’s always fun to step back at the end and see progress being made!

My last big non-digital project was the 2018 Inktober challenge, here’s a sample of one of the pieces from that:

For 2019 Inktober I went fully digital (breaking the rules!) and did 31 days of spaceships. It was blast!

Do you post your stuff anywhere? Would love to see what you’re working on when you’re not skrittering!


Love the inktober pieces! Will you do it again this year?

Do you post your stuff anywhere?

Thanks for asking - I’m going to post at some point - people keep saying to get Instagram, so maybe I’ll do that. For now just putting up on FB once in a while.

Started plein air watercolours in a local market last summer. Took a watercolour course this past year, doing landscapes and still lifes and the figure and learning techniques.

After COVID bought a whole bunch of online art courses dirt-cheap and plan to work through them over next six months or so. Lately working on a “fantasy” composition pen/ink/watercolour with a tiger. (the fantasy: a naked pale woman resting with a friendly Siberian tiger in a South American jungle, a unlikely scenario). Here’s a pic of it in progress. Now working on finishing all the plants.


Lovely piece! Have fun with all your new courses.

I’ll be doing Inktober again this year, for sure. It’s a great challenge, and a wonderful community event!

Update: the 150 words are all done!

As it goes with anything, things evolved. Near the 100-day mark, you’ll notice a shift into black backgrounds. This was to provide some cohesion to what I was doing, and it also allowed me to push each piece’s style a lot further with accepts, bubbles, drips, chips, and more!

The constant through it all was one rule-- each character would always have a base-color, depending on its pronunciation. The color key is such:

1st tone: red
2nd tone: green
3rd tone: blue
4th tone: purple
Neutral tone: grey
(Pleco’s OG colors, btw. I considered a few pallets, but this one had purple!)

The 10x15 layout displayed is both “raw” and also complete. It is the culmination of all my hard work. One hundred and fifty days of individual pieces brought together and essentially unedited.

It certainly tells a story, but it also feels fractured and a bit chaotic. At some point, I will bring the black background to all 150 words, and I might even play with some amalgamation of all the characters (sans-backgrounds) and see how that looks, too. Who knows. The sky’s the limit! The beauty of digital work, after all, is that it can always be changed and adapted.

Thanks for following this fun project!



I love the artwork and the new features! Bravo!

I wonder if you could try a version that continues the coloured backgrounds without losing the new features? Useful in different scenarios

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