2D II Project II Neighbourhood Explorer Part II: Zine (Research, Process and Final)


When I went to Chinese Garden, the place that intrigued me the most was the Bonsai Garden. I love how the bonsais are meticulously shaped that set against beautiful Chinese architecture. I was fascinated at how the twisting bonsais were set against differently shaped windows/ spaces extremely aesthetically with good design.

Then I thought about how Singapore was a Garden City, and how the greenery around Housing Estate are also very well integrated into the architecture.

So bringing forward the concept from my previous infographic about “A Piece of China in Singapore”. I decided to juxtapose Bonsais against a backdrop of Singapore HDBs – a distinctively local icon, the way it would be arranged in a Chinese garden against Chinese architecture.

In addition to that general concept, I wanted the zine to also briefly introduce the types of bonsai, in terms of shape and structure.

Here is a list of some bonsai styles:

I was thinking other than portraying an abstract art concept, the zine could also be slightly practical in terms of being that of introducing different basic bonsai styles.


As I am a result oriented worker, I decided on all the layouts first. Then I chose and picked from the list of bonsai based on shape, which was the best shape to go with which layout. This is because, in a Chinese garden, the arrangement of the bonsais were also based on design of the shape and how well it went with the architecture shape.


I known from the start I wanted the bonsais to be illustrated and the HDB to be in a photographic style. However, I had some problems deciding the colour palette of the entire zine.

I didn’t want it to be black and white with two colours as in my mind, after visualisation, I found that to be extremely boring. Thus, I initially picked a colour theme of five colours for the bonsai. This is the first bonsai I tried the colour scheme on.

However, after trying the same five colours for a few more bonsais, I found that it still looked too consistent and without visual interest. Thus, keeping in mind a general direction of neon lights against a grayscale background kind of style, I put highly saturated, complementary and contrasting colours for different pots of bonsai.

Here are some examples:

Since I did detailed line work for the bonsais, I did not want to completely fill the shapes in. However, to leave them as pure line-work would not fill the space enough, and would look sparse. Thus, I decided on duplicating the layer, filling one and leaving the other as line-work.

However, as my art direction was sort of neon lights on grayscale, I tried to make the colour brightly vivid and with neon undertones like this bonsai below:

However, I realised when it was transferred to inDesign for printing, the colours dulled down. Afterwards, I found out from Joy that it was because neon colour printing required a special kind of printer, which had a minimum bulk printing. Thus, I had to make do with the duller shades. I feel they still turned out well, because the oriental style is more zen and usually come in more calm and desaturated colours, so the dulled down neon colours are a good mix between the crazy neon lights style I was going for and the non-vibrant calm palette of oriental zen bonsais.

Some inspiration photos:

Next was the background, the art direction was to take photos of as geometric as possible a backdrop so that it’ll act as a good contrast for the organically shaped bonsai trees. Thus, there was a large focus in trying to zoom in on the angular lines of the HDB architecture.

Here are some photos I took:

I then selected them and then edited them increasing contrast, and making sure the shades are kept darker. However, after fitting them into the zine, the photography and illustrations did not feel integrated.

Thus, after consultations with Joy and several trials, I decided to outline the HDB with simple illustrative lines.

This integrates the illustration and photography well. Thus, I decided to use this style for the rest of my pages.


I chose the BAVRO typeface for headers as I felt the shape of the font had a slight element of Neon Lights. While I felt the Helvetica font complemented it well.


This is the final layout and design of my zine. It is mean to be read from left to right as that was how oriental books were arranged and I wanted to achieve that effect.

I’m pretty happy with how my zine turned out in the end, I loved my concept regardless of its abstractness and the resulting illustrative x photography style. Especially in comparison to my infographic, I think I have come a long way. However one thing I wish I could have done better was the feedback Joy gave me. I think I was still thinking in terms of artist and not so much designer. I would have to think of a better way to let my idea speak for itself, even more so because it is so abstract. This was a timely reminder at the end of the sem for me to further improve and learn for the upcoming year 2.

To conclude, I really enjoyed my time in 2D. I would like to thank Joy for being such an understanding and patient teacher. I know I wasn’t the easiest student to guide with my non-stop sprouting ideas, random artist blocks and non-design tendencies. But, thank you for guiding me through that and helping me see how I could integrate both my love for fine arts and the technicality of design. Will work hard to a achieve both in my works!!

Here are the links to my Infographic and research on Chinese Garden:

2DII Project 2: Singapore’s Chinese Garden (Final)

2D II Project 2: Research on Chinese Garden

2D II Project 2: Research on Chinese Garden

So that day I made a trip down to Chinese Garden to do some primary research. I used to go there a lot as a kid during mid-autumn festival where they would have light decorations. I was too young to remember clearly though.

History of Chinese Garden Singapore

Chinese Garden was founded in 1975 by the JTC Corporation. It is designed by Prof. Yuen-chen Yu, an architect from Taiwan meant to showcase traditional Chinese imperial gardening landscaping.

So I went there and visited the different parts of the garden.

Firstly was the Pagoda.








I found the entire architecture really interesting. The geometry and shapes of the windows were extremely beautiful.

Second, the Garden of Abundance.






The garden has statues of the twelve zodiac animals as well as small bridges here and there.

Next was the Stone boat and Tea Garden.





Then the Main House which was next to the main entrance. But I did not enter from that entrance as the MRT was located at the other entrance instead.



The ticketing counter suggests that this was once a profitable attraction that require entry fees.




Then the Bonsai Garden.










During my trip there, the things I found myself drawn to where the geometric patterns of the architecture and the organic patterns of the nature. The two contrast upon one another created an extremely interesting visual language. Especially, how the architecture was built to make full sure of the windows to frame the surrounding nature.

This research I’ve done is primary research in form of site research.

I haven’t exactly confirmed that I would be doing purely on Chinese garden or include a bit of the neighbourhood. So my next steps from here would be to conduct more in depth secondary research online, and maybe more quantitative research data as I observed that Chinese garden no longer attracts crowds as they did in the past.

As for ethnography, the study of culture, since Chinese garden, the garden itself is not really a living area, I think it might be a bit hard for me to colect such data. Therefore, I’m thinking of expanding my research base.

Time to do some more research!

Ethnography: The systematic analysis and study of people and cultures, and the presentation of empirical data of society after usually participant-observation records.

Primary and Secondary Data: 

Primary data is collected through first-hands sources like collecting surveys, first-hand observation, interviews, focus groups and case studies. While secondary data are second-hand sources, information collected by others in form of books, internet, newspaper, statistics, just to list a few.

Quantitative and Qualitative Data:

Qualitative data is something that cannot be measured in numbers. Such data are like diary entries, interviews, questionnaires, observations. While Quantitative data is data that can be put into ranking or categories used to construct statistics and graphs.


A form of content marketing and presentation that appeals to the viewer through images. Usually they turn complicated and mundane information into visually captivating and simplified, easy to view information.


An example of an infographic, the most basic form.

– https://www.discoveranthropology.org.uk/about-anthropology/fieldwork/ethnography.html
– https://www.reference.com/science/methods-primary-data-collection-86c5f86a12ed1d7
– https://www.reference.com/science/methods-primary-data-collection-86c5f86a12ed1d7
– https://www.customermagnetism.com/infographics/what-is-an-infographic/

2D II Project 1: The Process of Getting a Job

The process to which I started off this project was rather methodological. Since Joy said it was okay to have jobs that did not exist in real life, I let my imagination go wild and just wrote down everything I thought of. Here are some examples:
Sea Spirit
Grim Reaper
Ice Cream Seller
Cloud surfer
However, I realised there was no real theme surrounding these jobs. So me being my results-orientated self, I thought about some mediums I was interested in exploring. One main thing was embroidery. Inspired by this image I saw on Instagram by @whitemag_


Somehow the floral motif gave me inspiration, and I was thinking about Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Simultaneously, I did up different variations of my name and decided that I liked the format of my initials “ACH” the best. So bringing these two ideas together I got the idea of using the red A in Scarlet Letter for my name, done in embroidery to represent sexuality. From there I decided the first concept of sexuality using the job of the main character Hester Prynne, as seamstress.

Next, I decided to use the topic of of taboo in society as the overarching theme to tie my entire project together. I quickly listed out several taboos in society, some of which I could tie in with some jobs I thought of earlier.

Death to tie in with the job of a grim reaper, which I later changed to time keeper but the concept remains the same. Feminism to tie in with the job of the crow woman, a persona I created that I felt could identify as a strong female character. Lastly, the unknown to tie in with the job of a wanderer.

After deciding the four jobs, I wanted the overall arrangement to look coherent. So I went about settling the colour schemes first.


After deciding the colour I went about thinking about the compositions for each taboo.

For the sexuality + seamtress one, I decided to use the floral motif of white lilies, as an irony as white lilies are meant to symbolise purity and innocence.  I thought it would make the red A stand out more in contrast.

Here is the mock up composition I did on my computer.


And some thread colour testing.


Here is the process of embroidering.


It was my first time doing embroidering, I just plunged head first into it without any experience. The main challenge I faced, was due to the inexperience, I could not complete the amount I aimed to achieve at the start of the project. So one week before submission, I decided to change the concept into completing half a composition and to suggest the process of sewing instead.

Next, moving onto the composition of the crow woman. I was inspired by searching photos of black feathers on Pinterest certain photos look extremely metallic.


Thus, I got inspired to using metal sheets to create feathers. This would bring out my message clearly as just as how society expects women to be meek and obedient but in actual fact women are strong and commanding in their own right, feathers are normally regarded as soft and fluffy, but in this case made of strong and hard metal.


These are some mock-ups of metallic feather I did.


Digital composition mock-up.

There wasn’t much challenges faced in creating these feathers as they were relatively easily to manipulate.

While for the composition of Wanderer, I was extremely inspired by this art work I saw at ArtStage 2017.



I loved the texture and effect I saw, and decided for the composition of the wanderer I wanted to do an abstract background like this one.




How I achieved the effect was through the use of crinkled foil as a base. Then one layer of black acrylic paint, dried with a hot gun. Next, I proceeded to layer slabs of blue, white, slight purples, greys and metallic black acrylic paints onto the foil. After waiting for it to dry, I sprinkled silver and pearl blue embossing powder on several areas and using the hot gun, managed to create warped and uneven texture across the entire piece of foil.

There was quite of a challenges faced in creating this as I was never strong in creating abstract work, my first tries turned out dull and not eye-catching enough (these pieces would be stuck within the visual journal) and not textured enough. However, through my tries, I learnt to keep clean colours only strategically blending certain areas.

Lastly, the final composition. I knew I wanted to pursue a steampunk feel to the composition. However, I was struggling on how to bring out both the steampunk idea to go in line with the time keeper, and the idea of death. Initially I wanted to use the motif of Lycoris Radiata, done in metallic print within the “A”. This is because this flower is known as the flower of the other side (of living).


However, during one of the consultation sessions, Joy suggested that if I used a floral motif for this composition, my overall four compositions might look too feminine as a whole. So in the end, I went online to these sites:

After calculating my death timings, I listed these numbers out and added them into my composition within the lettering.a-numerals-01

However, the process of executing this one was extremely tedious and challenging as I had no experience working with foil. It was both fragile yet extremely tough. I spent about five hours cutting out the entire number sheet.


Next, I embossed a letter A onto black paper.



This was rather challenging as it was a large surface area to emboss and thus it ended up not being very neat. I solved the problem by pasting another black piece of paper over.

This is the process I went through in achieving my final compositions. I met with several challenges but I really had a lot of fun exploring different mediums. See you in the next post where I talk about my final product!