Here are my end results for this project! Featuring: the mouse, the elephant, the banana, and the turtle.
1. The Mouse
I represent myself as a mouse because (I think) my Chinese zodiac is a rat, so my family at home sometimes refers to me as the “mouse” in the family.
The story is that the mouse wanted to get the cheese but was hindered by the presence of the cat. So the mouse began going to church and gained a pair of wings, which enabled her to overcome the problem.
This is the representation of me when I face a hindrance or problem in doing something. The “faith” here is represented by going to church, but actually it’s not necessarily a religious faith. It can also represent faith in my own abilities, since I tend to think that I can’t do things before I actually try them. By having faith, I can actually overcome my troubles in achieving what I want.
I chose to use colored pencils and markers because I wanted to work with something simple, and I wanted to give a child-like vibe. I used markers for the important objects in the panels as emphasis. As for the colors, I used similar colors (shades of brown) for the first panel except for the mouse and cheese because I wanted to emphasize their significance. The background of the second panel also has brown color to create some connection between the panels. From the second to the third panel, the mouse wore the same habit (apparently the uniform that nuns wear is called a “habit”) to create a connection.
2. The Elephant
I used an elephant because of the phrase “elephant in the room” – it’s there, but people don’t talk about it.
The story is that the elephant is so introverted that when she went to a party, she blended in right away with the surrounding and became unnoticed. It was as if she became a furniture, a part of the background.
The elephant represents my introverted and awkward side. I’m not good around strangers, and even within my circle of friends, I’m not good at interacting with people in big groups. In a sense, I’m physically there, but it feels like I “disappear”.
I used the color blue for the elephant because blue is my favorite color. The sofa in the first panel is orange to complement the blue elephant. I used yellow for the floor since yellow and orange are analogous colors. The background (the wall) is supposed to be pale blue, but the color came out a little differently than I expected. I used blue background to emphasize the feeling of the blue elephant “blending” into the environment.
3. The Banana
Banana is one of my favorite fruits. That’s why.
The story is that the banana wanted to become an acrobat. To achieve that dream, the banana worked hard to practice circus acrobat. In the end, the banana became banana split instead. (It’s a pun, because split is kind of a gymnastic movement, and gymnastic is usually related to acrobat.)
To me, it is a good representation of me when I set a goal for myself. Sometimes we dream high and work hard for it, but the end result is not exactly as we want. However that doesn’t mean you’re not successful – you still succeed, although the success might be different from your initial intention. That’s how I feel sometimes when the end result of my work is not exactly like how I want it to be, but I know I worked hard for it, and thus the journey still makes a success in the end.
I used purple background for the first and third panel to complement the yellow banana. As for the second panel, I used the red-and-white background to show that it’s a circus. I used purple juggling pins to make some sort of connection between the panels.
4. The Turtle
Turtle, in my opinion, is a very chill animal. I like it because I’m a chill person (most of the time), so I feel that I can relate to it.
The story is that the turtle, a very chill animal, was just chilling. But then the turtle ate a mysterious black pill and turned into an ink-spewing sotong. (This story sounds more reasonable in my head, but now that I wrote it down, I understand why my friend – to whom I showed my sketches – looked extremely confused.)
The turtle represents me as a person. Usually I’m very chill and somehow normal, but when I’m anxious (I represent anxiety with the black pill), I tend to overthink trivial things until they muddle my thoughts. I represent the state of overthinking with the black ink muddling the seawater. In a sense too, the sea represents my thoughts. It’s usually very calm and clear before I start getting anxious.
I used mainly cool colors like green and blue for this one since I want to give the calm vibe to represent my thoughts. I used some yellow and orange also for the seabed and the inside of the shell as green-yellow are nice analogous pair and blue-orange are complementary.
I had trouble deciding what style to go with, so in the end, I told myself, why not just try different styles?
Since I didn’t really do art before studying here, I didn’t have an idea what my style would be like. I’m not even sure what technique I’m good at. So I decided that this project can be a good opportunity to explore my options more, and see what technique or style I’m more comfortable with. It’s really fun, and it’s a really good learning experience for me. I realize that working digitally ensures a “cleaner” result (and there’s undo button as well), but it requires a lot of time (or maybe just because I’m not used to it). I spent a lot of time tracing the outline of the banana split. Also, I learned some illustrator techniques, which I find to be really fun.
Working traditionally is faster, yet since I’m a messy person, there’s bound to be some mess. Moreover, there’s no undo button, so I have to be extra careful. I think the mouse story is really messy since the colored pencils smudged a little. As for the watercolor, I actually had a lot of fun doing it. I’ve always liked watercolor, although I’ve never really worked with them. I just tried putting layers of colors and smudging them with more water. Although they’re very messy (I didn’t expect the pen lines to smudge that much), in fact, I really like how they turn out.
Coming up with ideas isn’t the hardest part – the hardest part is realizing the ideas. I realize that it’s not enough to just have a good idea; I have to consider the feasibility and the aesthetics as well.
I also learn that doing projects is not a show of skills. I’m worried at first because I feel that I’m lacking in skills and experience, and thus my work might turn out “less” compared to other people. I’m scared that my work may be too simple, too child-like – what if I look like I don’t put in enough thought or effort into this?
But then again, why should I compare myself to other people? This is my project, and I’m proud of what I have done. Looking back, I have definitely improved – from someone who never used Photoshop to someone who can create a story using Illustrator. You see, when you’re at the bottom, there’s nowhere else to go but up.
All in all, this project has been a really fun and enlightening ride.