Ego Part 3 – Execution + Time Lapse

This is part 3 of 4 of my entire Ego assignment and outlines the execution process. To see how I came up with ideas and how I chose the colours, you may look at my previous post hyperlinked below:

For ideation: see part 1

For colours: see part 2

For bonus and reflection: see part 4

Mediums / Technique

All the 12 images were drawn, taking about 1-2 hours per frame, depending on the complexity of the frame.


Mediums/software used:

  • Digital medium
  • WACOM drawing tablet
  • Photoshop (for Row 1 to 4)
  • MS Paint (for Row 5)


Here is a time lapse video of the entire execution process of my 12 frames.

During execution, I constantly referenced the source images I had chosen earlier, as well as the colours I had already prepared beforehand. (You can see how I chose the colours in Part 1). Since everything had already been planned out nicely, and colours already decided, the execution process was pretty smooth and straightforward for me. I think this is the first time I actually planned everything out so nicely that the execution was made seamless and less problematic.

It really took a long time to draw everything. The video above is played at 64x speed, which means that for every second you watch in the video, slightly over a minute of real time had passed. Of course, the video excludes the breaks that I took as well as transition time when I move from one image to another.

Final Outcomes


With text:

rowff1 rowff2 rowff3 rowff4 rowff5

My favourite ones are the one with Darth Vader, as well as the wishing tree, which turned out too dark during the printing process:


I think this image emoted perfectly what I wanted to communicate.

Continued in Part 4 here.

Ego Part 1 – Ideation & Narrative Development

The process of ideation is not a straightforward one. One has to first brainstorm the ideas, and further develop the concept, such as exploring colours and narrative, before finally planning how they are all going to be laid out. I will write about the ideation process in detail here. As the entire process is very long, I have decided to split it up into four parts for better organization. This is Part 1 out of 4 parts of my entire assignment.

For colours: see part 2

For execution: see part 3

For bonus and reflection: see part 4

Assignment Brief

20161118_070454 20161118_070508Apologies in advance as there is lots of text, I tried my best to include as many images as possible. Without further ado, here we go! The journey starts with… brainstorming!



When I read about the assignment, I first started with brainstorming my ideas. For the most part, I wanted to make sure that I was on the right track, and also to generate many ideas so that I can narrow down to what I really want.

egodraftsAbove are the drafts that I started out with. They are mostly very conceptual, some of them being very simple and some others not fitting the assignment brief very closely.

Some of them had a stronger narrative than the others, and some had a more solid idea and more conceptualized than the rest. These ideas were the ones I picked out to develop further on. I also chose to elaborate on the stronger ideas that had more narratives to it.

The first idea I worked on was the Penguin.


The other idea I had was a tree.


Drained me + Solitude = Recharged

First frame: Withered plant

Second frame (on the right): Basking in sunlight

Third frame (in the middle): Recharged

The story is about a withered plant (drained), but after he gets some sunlight (shown by the plant silhouetted against sun), he grows into a big tree, and his trunk contains a battery as a visual metaphor of being recharged, like a full battery on your phone.

Here are sketches of my other ideas on my sketchbook:


From top to bottom, after the penguin, they are:

Me + Home = Recharged

Dying me + Sunset solitude = Rejuvenated

Game Developer + Obstacles/levels = Powerups / Skills

Hopeless me + ADM = Artistic me

In the end however, I felt like I could do more and push the ideas further. This was something I realised after the second consultation in Week 13, which made me feel that I had a lot to improve on. Here was what I had at the end of the second week, at the stage of execution.


Looking at the first row, in one aspect, the penguin could be improved a lot on – the posture could be better used to emote the character, and the backgrounds could be more detailed. The other problem was that the penguin suddenly turned into an eagle in the third frame, which did not make much sense. So one thing I took note of was to have a consistent character.

So also after encouragement/motivation from my classmate Brian (thanks Brian!), I decided to incorporate a theme – turtles, as well as form a visual narrative with all my rows, sort of like in a comic book style.

I drew a collage of several turtle emotions, focusing mostly on its expressions first, at the top of the sketchbook image below:

“Up the cuteness factor” – Mimi

In the bottom half, I started to sketch more of postures, looking at how I can dynamically draw a character to emote him more, make him a more lovable character, and how to make him appear more pleasing to the eye or cute.

Image result for pingu
“You MUST watch this”

I used a penguin character, Pingu, as a reference (more on references below later.)

I also wanted, if possible, to have a theme colour for each row/outcome, and also to make each row very distinguishable and unique. (eg don’t have two rows depicting happiness or have two rows with the same underlying theme, in terms of narratives and colour)

Something like that.

So the goals I had set for myself now were:

  • Strong visual narrative flow (continues from one row to another if possible)
  • Strong colour theme that emotes & communicates to audience
  • Each row must be unique (have a certain vibe or feel)

These made the assignment a whole lot harder, but at the same time it would be very rewarding if I could execute it correctly. I was a little nervous actually and was thinking to myself, will I be able to do it?

1) The Main Character

I started out with emotions (throwback to first assignment!). And I had a lot of emotions basically.

(Wait…some of them aren’t emotions?!)

Basically, I had drawn lots and lots of turtles. They are mostly fun emotions of what I can feel (eg tired), or representations of what I want to become (eg Macho) but there are very personal ones that represent me and emote to me, so don’t mind the Jedi turtle holding the lightsaber on the right, which expresses my love for Star Wars!

I decided to use the turtle as a main representation of myself, so this turtle was going to be my main character for my narrative.

I chose to have a main character as I needed to have a strong narrative, and having a main character would give the audience a figure to look at and emote with, and gives the entire outcome a person (or animal in this case) to be the frame of reference.

Keeping in mind what I had learned from my penguin outcome, I know I have to draw the character poses more interestingly and more dynamic to give that emotive vibe.

2) The Narrative

The next thing I had to get out of the way was to decide the storyline and the flow of the narrative. This was a little bit challenging, and I spent quite a bit of time on this. As a result, by the time everyone else had started on their execution, I was behind and still working on the concept of my 12 frames.

“You still conceptualizing?!” – said someone to me.

After spending a good amount of time, I finally found some inner peace in deciding the first frame of my four rows. The emotions and representations that I chose were:

  • Curious me + ?? = ??
  • Tired me + ?? = ??
  • Hardworking me + ?? = ??
  • Sad me + ?? = ??

Definitely, some of the above would be later changed to flow better with the narrative. (For example, sad me was changed to underperforming me). I worked on completing the ideas for the rest of the frames, adding in a setting in the middle frames, and the outcomes in the last frame of each row.

So here were the draft drawings I had made of my narrative concepts! I was really excited at this point because I finally had something that I was contented with!!!



row4If you take a closer look at the concept I had drawn above, the rows actually flow from one row to another, forming a complete narrative where the final frame of one row leads to the first frame of the next.

Therefore as an example, the consequence of the third row, which is me skipping school to play games, ends up leading to me failing my drawing test (first frame of the fourth row) and thus, underperforming/sad me.

You can see them as a single row if you like.

While thinking of the ideas, I wanted to be a little more creative and I wanted the outcomes to be something unexpected (Go Home to study leads to me sleeping). Therefore, being abducted by aliens in the last row may not have made sense in a logical perspective, but in a goofy point of view, I felt it was perfect in delivering some humor, and I want the viewer to  get involved in and smile at my work.

I was really happy when I finally arrived at this stage because I feel that I had achieved what I set out to do, and the 12 frames could form a complete story. The turtle draws a flower in the first row, and this flower appears in the second and final row as a continuous object that lives within the story.

Adding semiotics also helped. Having a single, easily identifiable object like the flower was also something I felt helped to link the story from one frame to another, and you can see this clearly in the transition from the first to second row). I felt that it was something important to think about – the need to establish to the audience that the rows all link to one another.

Now, it came to the next hardest thing for me, Colours, which I will write about in Part 2.

Click here to continue in Part 2.

A Dream – Picture Story

This is a short picture story about a kid with a dream. I made this and chose this story in hopes that it will be something that people can relate to, whether you are studying in the arts or not – as everyone has a dream that is greatly linked to one’s motivation.

A Hero’s Journey

The story follows the Hero’s Journey and 3 ACT structure:


Prior to learning about the Hero’s Journey, I had a rough story that I had drawn the storyboard for. But after taking a look at the 3 ACT structure and the Hero’s Journey which we had learned, I made changes based on it to improve the story, like adding in another layer of ‘problems’ that the main character (hero) would have to face and resolve, to raise the stakes and to give the story more depth than before.

Visual Structure

I also saw how a story can be communicated more effectively through visual structure.


I used warm hues to represent the happier moments in the story -when the hero first enters his dream university (ADM) in ACT 1, when he sees his turtle at the end of ACT 2, and for his final resolution in ACT 3.

I used blue hues for moments when the character is feeling  depressed and at his lowest point (after he receives a phone call that he is going to lose his scholarship and school placement).

Lastly, purple hues represented the flashback scene.


I also used tone, something which I had not explored previously. I increased the contrast gradually as the story’s intensity increased, and is most noticeable in the chiaroscuro lighting used in the drawing scenes.


I also wanted to use deep space to represent that the character was in deep thought, when he looks back at the school that he is about to be expelled from in ACT 2.


Finally, I used horizontal lines to imply tension -seen in lines in the curtain and the staircase. I think this is a detail I could have explored more and trained my eyes to notice when shooting pictures for my story.

Lastly, I also played with repetition, by repeating the same scene in a different act of the story (ACT 1 vs ACT 2), to show the contrast in the character’s mood (motivated vs demotivated) and exaggerate the difference between the scenes.



boardofstories boardofstories2

A storyboard that I had drawn, highlighting in colour tones I wanted for certain scenes.


As for research/inspiration, I remembered that in class, there were mentions of directors who turn to real life to get story inspiration as they are very close to the heart and are thus very authentic in the emotions they can evoke. Thus, this was how I decided to get my inspiration for the story I had created for my hero – A Hero’s Journey.


Additionally, here are some extra credits to thank the following people who appeared in the video and were not mentioned in the video’s credits (my apologies!):

Nevin as Niven

Ruyi as Yiru Secondary School

Thank you for watching my picture story!


A Turtle on the Beach

This story is about an object that is close to my heart, and the object is none other than a turtle.

Say Hi

But this turtle is more than just an object, it is a representation of something bigger.

When I was young, in Primary 4, they used to have these “assemblies” on Wednesdays where everyone in the school would gather in the hall, and usually someone from outside would present on stage to us – the items vary a lot and usually have no relation to school – from sex education, to performances.

One day there was man who came in, and a huge projector screen draped down behind him. He sat in front of the projector and he took out a sheet of blank paper.

He took out a pencil and we all could see on the screen what he was drawing – and it was a turtle. Turns out the guy is a cartoonist!

He began to draw another variation of the turtle, explaining “If you want to make the character cute, you draw the head bigger than the body”.

I was fascinated.

He then continued to draw more turtles, illustrating how changing the eyebrows and the eyes convey different moods and emotions.

Around me, people were getting bored, but I was just sitting there listening. I took out my book and I remember trying to follow his drawings and taking notes. “Head bigger than body”

When I got home, I started to draw turtles, inventing my own emotions and style. I started with characters, then I would cut out these characters and form a story with the different turtles – a turtle was happy, he met a girl turtle, he got rejected, he became sad, then he went on to train up and be strong, but the girl found another turtle. I started to draw comics based on these and I still am drawing comics now with turtles as my characters. Since then I’ve used turtles as characters in comics and even in games that I made.

So this turtle is a representation of me. Without it, I would be a very different person and I might even question whether I would be here at ADM.

It’s all thanks to the cartoonist and his turtle that made me the way I am today. I still draw turtles today, and use turtles in the comics that I draw and even used a turtle as a main character in a story driven game I had made.

And so, on my trip to the beach recently, I decided to bring my little friend along.

I think back to the time we first met each other, curious and excited.
And the strong friendship we had forged in the time that we had spent together.
It has been years but here we are. There were tough times, but together I believe we can conquer what is to come!

The Beach


The beach had always been a kind of peaceful retreat for me. When I was really young, my parents would bring me to the beach and some of my childhood memories came from that place. I remember there was one Art and Craft activity in Primary School where the teacher wanted us to draw a place based on what we feel. I said I was going to draw a beach and the teacher presumed that I was happy and joyful, which wasn’t wrong. To the teacher, the beach is a lively place where families spend time together, being happy and together. But my impression of the beach is more like a haven that I go to spend time with myself. A place where I can be alone. The beach and the sea is a very unique place and I believe everyone has different interpretations of the beach.

On the beach, I feel carefree, and when I’m there, I allow myself to not worry about the problems of life or its stresses. I can sit in the sand and just reflect endlessly. I clear my thoughts and get rid of a lot of “junk” in my head. Because I hadn’t gone to the beach in a long time (and actually failed to plan a trip there prior to the start of Uni), when I was actually there I saw kids building sandcastles and I actually had the urge to build sandcastles, just to go back to those happy childhood times.


And here are some of the pictures I took when I was there.

The sea is a magnificent place. It has several different interpretations to people, just like how it was for my Arts and Craft teacher years ago. To me, I wanted this shot to show the vastness of the sea and how I can sit there reflecting and thinking endlessly.

Watching the sun set timelessly

Sunsets are special. They leave us in awe, are inspiring and the colours just evoke special emotions within us. While I was there, capturing other photos of the beautiful sunset, so were other people. The sunset is a timeless moment that suspends us. To me, looking into the sunset is like taking a peek into the future – it’s magical and you never know what will happen tomorrow and what possibilities await you.


The final photo is of me looking back into my past which I have chosen to present with a long shadow that drapes behind us when we turn back.

Just to end off, this was a bonus picture I was taking, just out of fun:


I was playing with depth of field with this one. I personally liked it but I felt that it might not fit the assignment brief of it being “My World” as the world was not being made the focus enough.


Above is also another shot omitted from the final three I had chosen, composing of a pair of brightly coloured flocks as the focal point and subtle footprints in the sand leading out from it toward the sea.

Learning Outcomes

This assignment made me learn that body language plays a big role in portraying a particular message, such as using it to convey friendship in the 3 pictures with my turtle.

Looking at some of my peers’ work and references below, I also saw how colours could be used to bring out and stir certain emotions within us, and how a colour palette can even be used to give your work a certain style or flow. It was definitely helpful and insightful to look at everyone’s work pinned up in a gallery-like way and see the different thought processes put into them.


To help me in my process and also post review work, I decided to look up some references on how I can improve myself. I looked at animated films for this work.

That turtle is famous, dude!

I had done some research and above you can see how the colours used in a Pixar film like Finding Nemo are more bright and vibrant to appeal to its target audience. After reviewing my original photos, I had realized that my colour palette was not sufficiently vibrant so I had to improve it.


Above is a famous scene from Lion King when Simba is lifted into the air. You can see the reference in the third picture with my turtle where I lift my turtle into the air against the grand sunset.

As a reward for reading all the way to the bottom, I leave you with this (hopefully) inspiring picture of the sunset which I had taken on the beach on my trip there!

Best reward ever, agree? No? Alright…

I was a little late and had to run with my tripod and camera so I had missed some potential shots with the sun higher up before setting below the horizon.

The Shadow


Genre: Mystery, Psychology

As a person who takes a lot of time to warm up to people and talk to others comfortably, I think there’s a lot about me that people may not know or be bothered to know as a result. I believe we all have our own hidden stories and ‘shadows’.

If I made a movie about my life, the premise would likely be about a person who sits in the “shadows”. He’s alone, afraid to come out, and he has to find out why, maybe even dig deep into his past and confront the things he may be afraid to see. Will he one day find the key to the door that takes him out into the light? Or will he remain in his own shadow, cast into the darkness and forgotten?

The poster uses tones to create a stark contrast of the character who stands silhouetted against the lighter tone of the staircase behind him in the background. The scene resembles a narrow alley with a one-point perspective for depth.