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.

Author: Yeo Ying Zhi

I like to develop games.

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