Tag Archives: mark making

[2D] Final: My Line is Emo

2015 to 2017 // My story

These 6 emotions represent the most significant events in my life from 2015 to 2017, chronologically.

1.Frustration – August 2015

The story starts in August 2015, right before my promotional examinations in J1. My mom is very spiritual and religious, so she went to see a fortune teller about how I would do for the exams.The fortune teller told her that God would grace me with good luck should I cultivate the habit of praying everyday. And so, before I went to school, my mom would make me pray in the morning.

This made me feel very frustrated because I’m not particularly religious, but I kept it contained inside and tried not to express my frustration as I knew she thought she was doing it for good.

Hence, I used thunoor, the powder that she would have my put on my forehead after I prayed in the morning, to make the base paint. I mixed thunnoor and glue together; the mixture has the distinctive scent of the powder. I then made angry marks over the base thunnoor paint with charcoal, to express the frustration I had towards being made to pray and put the thunnoor on my forehead.

2. Anxiety: September 2015

It was time for my promotional exams. I was super anxious about physics, my weakest science subject – I would obsessively write and rewrite my notes over and over again to try and lessen the amount of anxiety I would feel looking at physics formulas.



I used my own physics notes instead of the lecture notes as I felt the strip would better reflect anxiety should it portray my reaction to anxiety on top of giving me anxiety, as well. I felt that it personalized the strip, with my handwriting and hand-drawn physics diagrams.

The strip is darker at the bottom to signify the heavy, sick feeling I get at the bottom of my stomach when I’m anxious.

In my sketchbook, I initially used the physics notes photocopied in the same size, but realized it gave a more anxious feeling when the words were smaller, like ants crawling up your skin. I hence photocopied my notes at 50% (reduced the size) and used this to make the paper mache.

3. Surprise – November 2015


My friends and family threw me a surprise birthday party for my 17th, with streamers and balloons hung up in my room with baby photos of me tied to the string. The feeling I experienced when I walked through the door and they popped streamers was pure surprise – the good kind.



I hadn’t had a surprise party since I was 12, and the baby photos tied onto the balloons further brought me back to my childhood. I aimed to convey this nostalgia that came along with the surprise by the use of the printing press with streamers, and the melting of oil pastel and the usage of drawing block as I used to scribble in the drawing block I had all the time with me with oil pastel.

I found the high contrast  with black and white to be most applicable after a range of experiments earlier, which you can read about in my sketchbook.

4. Melancholy – April 2016

I hit my lowest point in April 2016, when I broke up with my boyfriend of two years. I remember being in a state of sadness so encompassing that I felt very numb. I’d start crying in class for no reason, out of nowhere, just because the sadness would hit me. I felt empty, and the worst bit was not knowing when I was going to get better. It felt like the sadness was going to go on forever.

I expressed this sense of the sadness going on and on through the composition – the single line running through the strip. I used watercolor paper to my advantage, the texture representing the static I felt in my head.

5. Euphoria – May 2016


One of the best moments in JC followed shortly after my lowest point. In our soccer semi-final against Tampines JC, we were tied 0-0 until the last few three seconds where our striker made a shot, and it went in.

The whole game up till that point was generally fast-paced, and we were all so, so tired, with the hot sun blazing in our faces. The moment when the ball went in was the singular most euphoric moment I have experienced recently.

I aimed to convey the movement in the soccer game with the short, choppy strokes in the background, overlaid with textured patches of paint to convey the burst of emotion.

6. Lust – July 2017

I finally felt ready enough to start dating again in July 2017, when I went overseas for three months. This strip is the expression of the lust I felt when I dated then.



[2D] Process: My Line is Emo

 Mark-making Session 1 

For the first session, I scavenged around my hall and brought some items with interesting textures to experiment with.

  Mark making with cereal

Whenever I’d eat my Banana Nut Crunch cereal in the morning, I’d find the texture of the cereal really cool. I’d take a piece and run it between my thumb and index finger, feeling all the tiny bumps.

Hence, it was natural that I’d bring it along for our first mark making session.

I tried rolling over the ink with a roller, but very little of the ink ‘stuck’. Hence, I resorted to spreading chinese ink over the cereal.

I manipulated the cereal by using it whole, as well as crushed into tinier bits.

 Experiments in cling wrap

For ‘frustration’, I tried to get a “glass shard’ effect using cling wrap, block ink and the printing press. The first time I tried it, the print came out too light. I tried again using more ink, and the print came out a lot more distinct. I wasn’t too pleased with the overall effect, though, and vowed to retry using cling wrap should I deem the glass shard effect the final effect I was aiming for.

 Experiments in foam 

I tried using foam to create some marks for “surprise”.  I experimented with a variety of spacings – spacing the foam close together and wider apart to create a range of “explosions”.

I also ripped the foam apart into big and small chunks, hence experimenting with the “weight” of the explosions I was trying to create.

Experiments in wet tissue – printing press

Experiments in wet tissue – manual hand pressing

I also tried soaking the wet tissue in chinese ink and manually pressing over it to see if I could get another type of print from it. It was questionably successful – it did look like cloth, but not to the detail I wanted. I think its texture would be better expressed by using the printing press.

Mark making session 2

Marbling experiments

I tried spreading some white paint on a plate, swirled some black paint over it, and used a palette knife to make the mixing more chaotic in certain areas, like a burst of emotion for euphoria.

I then placed the drawing block over and lifted it off, creating very intricate patterns. I really enjoyed the intricacy and dynamism of this (refer to sketchbook), and decided I wanted to incorporate this in some way atleast.

I tried marbling with the paper from my sketchbook, drawing block, watercolor paper, and newsprint, with chinese ink and diluted black acrylic paint. I got the best results from newsprint, which seemed to take up the intricacies of the swirls the most.

I also experimented with the amount of ink used i.e. how “dark” the marble was, which affected the intensity of it. I felt that for lust, the darker marbles would be more suitable for the headier, sexual nature of the emotion.

 Experiments with Salt


I thought about I felt very weak, and dehydrated, when I was feeling melancholic. Hence, I thought about which materials soak up paint, as a metaphor for energy, and it immediately hit me – salt. It dehydrates, sucks the energy out of you (the paint) – I sprinkled some salt on paper and had it form patterns.




As the previous manual pressing with wet tissue was hardly satisfactory, I tried again with gauze, which has a more distinct cloth-like pattern than wet tissue. Again, it did not imprint well enough, leaving me to finally decide against this method.


 Experiments with palette knife

Having had used palette knives for some of the earlier exploration with white paint and swirling, I decided to try using the palette knife for making marks itself. It created fluid, stable lines, which wasn’t suitable for any of my emotions which were unstable in one way or another.




For frustration, I tried scratching the splotches of paint with the paletten knife to create straight, even scratches. I prefer the more “raw”, not straight scratches as I feel that they convey the instability you feel when you’re frustrated.




 Experiments with glue

I wanted to convey the feeling of emptiness you feel when you’re melancholic with an empty background, literally, as white glue dries clear. Acrylic paint broke up into tiny pieces when mixed in with white glue, giving the effect of the fuzziness and buzzing you feel in your head when you’re sad. I really enjoyed this effect, and made a bigger strip to compare against other “Melancholy” composition strips to make a final decision.




 Alginate experiment (failed)

To get the skin texture, I tried covering my hand and pouring alginate over it. Initially, I inserted my hand into a small plastic container, but it turned out to be too small. I then used a bigger pan and completely covered my hand with alginate, to be used as a mould later.

I initially wanted to fill mould with terracotta clay but it dried up, even though the pack was unopened. I then filled the mould with glue, but for some reason, it didn’t dry even after 3 days. I didn’t try again because on consultation, I realized that the cast would cross over into the 3D realm.

Detergent & milk experiments

I’d read about how detergent causes ink drops to travel outwards in a swirl in milk, due to the detergent breaking down the fat in the milk. I tried it with diluted black acrylic paint, but it gave a completely different reaction – instead of swirls, the paint “broke” into smaller bits and travelled outwards. I feel that this would be more appropriate for surprise.

Foam block experiments

I’d also bought a small foam block as I thought that the surface texture could be interesting. First, I spread black acrylic paint on the block, then did a usual pressing down of the block on paper. I enjoyed the print it gave – there was something really rough and raw about it, which might make it a good texture to incorporate into parts of “frustration” or “melancholy”.

Then, I spread some white paint on it into small ovals as I hadn’t done that yet so far for “surprise” – I had made marks that looked like explosions, but nothing that looked like small spots of surprise. The resulting was very interesting, especially with the foam’s texture overlaid on the white spots.

Lastly, I spread some glue on the foam, knowing it would melt it. Indeed, it did, and when I pressed down the foam block on white paper, the resulting print had a bumpy, 3D texture as well. It looked like splatters, but as predictable as the splatters I was used to seeing – the lines were stretched in more random directions, came in clumps – it was a visual treat on the eyes.

Mark making session 3

I went back to the Foundation 2D studio for about 3 hours to experiment more with different materials, as well as try a new range of gestures.

Frustration: punching and scratching

I thought about the actions I associate with frustration: violent ones, such as punching and scratching. I either want to punch someone or scratch my skin out (two different levels of inflicting hurt: either hurting others or hurting myself) so I hence spread some block ink on my knuckles and punched a paper – various times, as different intensities and ways of punching produced different results.

My scratching attempt was wholly unsuccessful and did not look as frustrated as I wanted to be as I had short nails, and hence most of the paint went on my fingers themselves, so I figured it would be better to scratch onto a surface which is already painted.

For frustration, overall, I figured that scratching would be better as personally, when I’m frustrated, I try to contain the emotion and hurt myself by trying to contain it rather than releasing my frustration and hurting others.

 Making my own mark making tools

Washed some milo cans I’d drunk out of and made my own “pens” with satay sticks, masking tape, and aluminium from the milo cans to make more innovative marks.

I felt like I needed marks that were more staggered, unsure, uneasy – for this purpose, I chose to make my own mark making tools. I cut up two milo cans and made five “pens”, some of which are pictured above.

 Other process photos

Gauze Fan brush Potpourri
Chinese ink Melancholy (1)

Process for folded paper

Melancholy (2)

Marbling of Tissue paper

Mark making session 4

Streamer prints

Melting oil pastel with heat gun Making of Thunnoor paste Anxiety – making of paper mache

Image transfer experiments (failed)

The image transfer didn’t work with hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, or aerosol spray – in hindsight, I should have used xylene ( ; ω ; )