Japanese artists use Excel to make amazing art

Excel? No, you didn’t see wrongly. The Microsoft program that we know is used more commonly to create data spreadsheets. For some, hearing the word “Excel” makes you quiver, thinking of the millions of rows of mundane data to process. But who knew that Excel has such a beautiful side to it?

Tatsuo Horiuchi, a 77-year-old retiree from Japan, is known for creating pretty landscape masterpieces, not by acrylic, oil, watercolour or any common art tools, but by using possibly the last thing you would ever expect: Microsoft Excel.

Screengrab of Horiuchi’s art from YouTube.

As those who dabble in art may know, art supplies can cost quite a sum, especially when you are experimenting with new things. Creating art is also often tedious, having to spend time and effort to prepare your materials and also to clean up after that. For Horiuchi, he seemed to have found a solution by learning how to paint with Excel — a software that is already on his computer, thus killing two birds with one stone.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get better than this, another Japanese artist who goes by the username @Maruraba_2 on Twitter awed the Internet by taking Excel Art to a whole new dimension: Anime characters.


For the uninitiated, nobody would have thought his works were created using Excel.

For @Maruraba_2, it is not so much about saving money, time and effort on the art supplies. Rather, he started out wondering if he could apply the same techniques to illustrations, from his previous hobby of drawing railway maps. He also explained that depending on the size of the artwork, theme and energy, the time required to create such Excel Art varies from half a day to more than a month.


By making use of the gradient and transparency function in Excel, coupled with immense patience, completing an Excel Art can give the artist a unique and greater sense of achievement, as opposed to drawing with the usual art tools.


If you’re amazed by these paintings, it’s not too late to make a new year resolution to pick up the Excel Art skill. At least, the next time someone asks if you can draw, you can amaze them by saying you paint with Excel! Quoting Horiuchi, “Even if you don’t have talent for paintings, you can paint as long as you have Excel.”

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