Late 77-year-old's work helped 'Spirited Away' win best animated feature at the 2003 Oscars

Michiyo Yasuda, the artist who coloured some of Studio Ghibli’s biggest films, has died at the age of 77.

She worked with iconic animator Hayao Miyazaki on 13 animated productions including My Neighbour Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Her work also helped Spirited Away win best animated feature at the 2003 Oscars.

Fans have been paying tribute on Twitter. “Studio Ghibli’s colour designer, Michiyo Yasuda, has passed away. Rip, thanks for all the beautiful moments!” one fan wrote.

Another said: “RIP Michiyo Yasuda, legendary animation artist. Thank you for making our dreams more colourful.”

Yasuda first worked with Miyazaki in 1968 on The Great Adventure Of Horus, Prince Of The Sun, when the two were employed by Japanese animation studio Toei Doga.

Miyazaki founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and Yasuda worked with the company from the start. Ghibli was celebrated for using hand-drawn elements in their productions, long after digital animation became the norm in animation.

She was responsible for bringing characters such as Chihiro (the lost little girl in Spirited Away), Kiki (the optimistic young witch in Kiki’s Delivery Service) and the iconic Totoro (My Neighbour Totoro) to life on screen.

Totoro became the logo for Studio Ghibli and even made a cameo appearance in Disney’s Toy Story 3.

She also worked on critically acclaimed 1988 war movie, Grave Of The Fireflies, widely considered one of the most emotional animated movies ever made.

Yasuda retired in 2008 but returned to work with Studio Ghibli on 2013’s historical drama, The Wind Rises.