The theme that I’m trying to convey is ignorance towards preservation, especially poaching activities, in Labrador Park. Labrador Park is the only rocky seashore left in mainland Singapore, with abundance of marine life. Due to illegal poaching and other reasons such as safety, the beach area has recently been closed to public.

I feel that not enough people know about those aforementioned facts (or maybe they know, but choose not to be concerned about it) and that is why I want to take the theme up. However that proved to be a big challenge for me because my intention is to show the ignorance or lack of knowledge, but the zine just came out very vague (i.e. people can’t tell at all what my place is). I want to say that it proves my point that people are unaware, but I still feel a little concerned since it wouldn’t go with the zine brief.

In the end I went with something I’m more comfortable with, that is, by focusing on the narrative and flow instead of the actual layout. I’m also concerned since it looks more storybook-ish rather than a zine, and although it’s very reflective of my personality, it may not be very suited for the project.

Here is my final zine!

cover page

page 1 and 2

page 3 and 4

page 5 and 6

back cover page


So the narrative revolves around a little shell who gets poached for aquarium decoration. Since the zine is intended more for children, I want to evoke the feeling more that “sea creatures too don’t want to be separated from their home”.

About the cover page

The cover page took me way too long to make, since at first I made one row of waves and just copy-pasted everything, but my friend said it’s too repetitive so I went through the trouble to make the rows one by one so they all look more varied. To be honest I really love the colors that I used. For the pages I used different blues for the backgrounds and the blues get darker at different pages because I want the feelings to slowly become “darker”.

About the narrative

The first and last page inside kind of envelope the whole experience with narrative; I received a comment saying they wish the narrative is a bit longer. I feel that that may reduce the impact since if the narrative is too long people will get bored faster, especially children.

By the way, I tried so hard to make a rhyming poem, and I actually think they’re okay. Maybe I should’ve chosen a different font, but I actually feel like this font is enough since it fits the storybook feeling. I also received comments saying that I should have capitalized the first letter. I did that at first, but then the letter stands out (of course) and I don’t really like the overall look, so I stuck with the all-small letters.

About the pattern

As for the background pattern on the first and last page, at first I only made the sea waves pattern but after consulting, I realized that it lacks representation of the place so I added the buildings that you can view there. Some people say it adds more characters, some people say it’s kind of out of place, but I like it.

About the character

I choose orange as the shell color because I want a contrast to the blue, since I already know from the beginning I will use a lot of blue. I tried red, but I think it comes out too jarring. Orange provides a warmer, friendlier feeling while staying bright.

I choose a shell because it’s simple to make, and also I want it to blend with the sea waves at first.

About page 2

In the wave, I added different sea creatures to tell audience about the diversity. The yellow scales on the fish provides a line that people can follow to see the orange shell at the end. For the other creatures, I outlined them blue and use mainly red-dark orange-pink so they won’t draw too much attention. I want the shell to be the star of the page.

About page 3 and 4

At first I only put one sign there, and it looks very empty. So I put an excessive number of signs there instead to show that there are efforts in preserving the sea, it’s just that people choose to ignore them. In some ways, it’s a sarcastic remark to point out people’s ignorance. I put rocks right by the waves to illustrate Labrador Park’s rocky shorelines. The characteristics are also shown by the sign, which is considered pretty unique of Labrador Park, and the buildings which can be viewed from Labrador Nature Reserve. I do regret not putting in more characteristics (like the Dragon’s Tooth Gate or some of the war relics?), maybe I could have put them floating between the sea waves pattern on other pages or something.

At the right side of the page, you can see a hand dropping a shell into a bucket. The hand gesture may be a little unclear, it looks like someone is picking up something instead.

About page 5

This is the page I had the least trouble with, because I had envisioned this ending right from the start. I just now think that maybe the aquarium shouldn’t be placed right in the center of the page, but a little bit lower so the shell looks like they’re “falling” from its positioning in other pages. For this page, I made the shell’s color darker so as to say that it’s losing its vibrancy after being separated from home, and subconsciously saying that even if you take a beautiful shell for yourself to decorate your aquarium with, it won’t look as beautiful there compared to when it’s in the sea.


I’m actually really happy about how my zine turns out! Looking back, I never thought I would have made this. I like the flow of the story, however again, it feels more storybook-ish than a zine. I was worried it’s not graphic design-ish enough, but then I decided to go with something more reflective of my personality and focus on the narrative instead. I realize I wasn’t pushing myself out of my comfort zone enough and decided to play with something I know I can do better at; I definitely should have explored more.

I tried to portray the characteristics of the places more by adding the buildings, but still maybe the characteristics aren’t portrayed enough since people can’t tell about the place at all. (Which proves my point of lack of knowledge, but goes against the brief.)

For the software, I used mostly Adobe Illustrator, but I can’t make a whole page and just copy-pasted them to InDesign because I used the chalky brush stroke, and it came out very pixelated in InDesign. (Turns out it’s just my display preference, but I only noticed it later.) Because of that there’s a lot of layers in InDesign and it took forever compressing them into a PostScript file (I spent an hour at the printing place trying to make it right, fortunately the people are so nice to wait for me and even teach me what to do). My laptop is laggy especially bad whenever I use InDesign, so I have to be smart in choosing what to create in Illustrator and what to create in InDesign and I spent more time than I should have (I also took shortcuts), but luckily they turn out as I want them to.

As for the printing, surprisingly I didn’t have a lot of problems with it. I went to RJ Papers and took my time looking at different papers. I didn’t know there are so many different kinds of papers before! I was considering between using a glossy, magazine-style paper or the paper that I used in the end (I forgot the name, I think it’s Maple Bright?). Glossy paper will make my color pop up more, but it feels colder somehow, so I decided to use the maple paper to convey a warmer feeling of “home” to fit in with my narrative. I choose the 170 gsm one because I want it to be thicker, so it feels nicer to flip.

The colors come out exactly how I wanted them, except for the hand on the 4th page–the printed hand is too yellow compared to my digital illustration, but that’s fine. The different shades of blue came out brilliantly and I like them very much. I even printed an extra zine for myself to keep.

My final zine and feedback (thanks for the comments!)


Me, my zine, and cupcake


All in all, it’s a valuable experience for me. At first I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I did, and I’m proud of myself (although it actually is something that I am supposed to do so I shouldn’t be too proud of it). I learn a lot more about my style and work attitude. I also learn to ask help from my friends more, be it to comment or to guide me in using software. I was always reluctant to ask for comments because I tend to take things negatively, so I’m glad that my friends are willing to put up with my stubbornness and continued to give me insights.

And thanks to the people who say it’s cute. I think my zine is cute too.

It’s been a really fun journey!

The place assigned for me is Labrador Park. It’s my first time visiting Labrador Park, so it was a totally new experience for me. I had no idea what to expect, so I did some research before visiting it.

Labrador Park is unique since it is designated as both nature reserve and coastal park, adding on to the fact that it was formerly a fort built by the British forces in Singapore before World War II. There are a lot of interesting aspects that I take from my visit.


Labrador Nature Reserve

Labrador Park was previously known as Fort Pasir Panjang, one of coastal artillery forts built to defend Singapore’s waters since it was believed at that time that if Singapore was to be attacked, the attack would come from the sea.

It was designated as nature reserve in 2002.

The name Labrador is derived from “Labrador Villa”, the name of the residence of a prominent ship chandler, George John Mansfield. It was built in 1881.

Labrador Park contains the last coral reef and the only rocky sea-cliff on the mainland of Singapore. Although it had a diversity of marine life, it has been greatly reduced by development and illegal activities such as poaching.

The coastal walk of the nature reserve is 16.8 ha in length and is divided into three segments; Alexandra Garden Trail, Berlayer Creek Mangrove Trail, and Bukit Chermin Boardwalk.



There are a lot of species of flora and fauna there. I actually saw some birds (too fast for me to take photo of), chickens (I didn’t dare to come too close), insects, butterflies, and squirrels. Apparently there are more than 70 species of birds and 30 species of butterflies there. There’s also an animal named pangolin which I didn’t get to see, but I heard it’s special to Labrador Park.

There are also signboards in front of several trees that contain information. They’re interactive since they use first-person POV, as if the trees are telling the stories themselves.



The view from the jetty was beautiful, although there are a lot of cargo ships, and you can also see the buildings not so far away.



The park is very family-friendly. There are several toilets located throughout the place, BBQ pits, playgrounds, fitness corner, jogging and cycling trails, promenade, and shelters. There are also a lot of parking lots for cars and bicycles. Surprisingly when I came in the afternoon, the place wasn’t very packed; maybe because it was a Monday. There are some people here or there, but not as busy as Botanics Garden, for example.



I was interested in this spot because of the mangroves. There are around 14 mangrove plant species there, and a lot of stray animals. Even the trash cans there are made to deter animals from rummaging through the trash.

The swamps are directly connected to the bay, which is why there are kind of small currents on the swamps which I think is interesting (it’s not just stagnant water like I expected).



It’s the landmark in Labrador Park, and a literal translation from its name in Mandarin, Long Ya Men. It’s a rock outcrop that is shaped like a tooth. Actually the 7.5 m rock is a replica, built in 2005. The actual one was blown up by the British in 1848 to widen the straits. It was used as navigational marker for ships, and located near a white obelisk which was the original Western harbor limit.



Fort Pasir Panjang

Fort Pasir Panjang was the former name of Labrador Park. Here, I explored the war memorial areas in the nature reserve.

Due to the possibility of war outbreak in 1938, the equipment there was constantly upgraded.



There are two paths; nature path and bunker path. However I chose to go through the bunker path, which contains the monuments.

There’s a monument of 6-inch gun barrel, which could shoot down ships from 10 miles away (!) and the gunners. There are also underground tunnels which are 46 m and 63 m long and between 2.5 m and 4 m high, forts, and bunkers. There are a lot of signboards along the way, explaining a lot of things. Although they are very wordy, some of them are pretty interesting and they would make a good learning journey (in fact, when I was in the nature reserve, there’s a group of primary school students which I assumed was having a learning journey).



Zine Ideas

My first idea is to focus on the flora and fauna of the area and introducing different species. The style would be more illustrative, like a children’s book, and the background will be primarily blue and green to show the nature. There would be a character walking across the pages, to show that “someone” is exploring the place, because I want to convey my experience of “exploring” the place for the first time.



My second idea is to draw the contrast between the past and the present. I think the idea is interesting because in the past it is a fort, a war-ready place, while now it is more of an entertainment area. I was thinking of making a progressive narrative; so the pages next to each other will be very contrasting (one will be more “cheerful” and shows the park “now”, while the other will be “darker” and shows the “fort”). Another idea for the execution is to start the stories of both the past and the present simultaneously from both the front and the back of the zine, until they meet in the middle in the playground. I got that inspiration since the playground has both the machine gun monument and playground stuffs like swings there.





In the end, I realize that both of my ideas were lacking in originality. I think it’s because I don’t try to explore a specific aspect of the park itself, but rather generalizing by trying to include everything.

Because of that, I developed new zine ideas (although I haven’t really thought them through yet):

My first idea is to use the idea of signboards as the design. As I mentioned, there are a lot of signboards throughout the park; I think it would be interesting to make my pages look like signboards. I want to explore more about the informative side of the park, but I’m not sure about what to include – it could be the flora and fauna, or the monuments (but isn’t that similar to my original nature-oriented idea?).

Another idea is to explore the atmosphere there. Although we can see high-rise buildings clearly, the place feels very peaceful and “detached” from the hustle and bustle of city life.

I was thinking of combining the “atmosphere” with my idea of contrasting past and present. Instead of just seeing past and present, I want to draw as many contrasts in the place as possible; nature vs technology, serendipity vs hustle-bustle, land vs sea, peace vs war, welcoming vs pushing out. I think it’s quite interesting, but I don’t know if it’s still too broad because that way, it will be hard to “connect” all the pages of the zine.

My last idea is to focus on the idea of redevelopment and poaching that has greatly changed the sea form around the coastal area. I want to draw from the point of view of the marine life, and the style would maybe more like a comic-style.

I should do more research.




After thinking of a new theme, I finally decided to do something along the line of ignorance; how people usually are not concerned about the efforts to preserve the marine life, despite the warnings and changes.

I’m inspired by the sign because apparently in Labrador Park, the signs are pretty unique in style compared to other places.

Here are some of my initial sketches for the pages.

I realized if I do bring those sketches together, there isn’t any narrative to it; they all look very disconnected. So I decided to make a character to make the pages flow better.

At first I also wanted to use black as the base color since I want to play with more lines only, and I feel that the color comes out nicer when put against black. However considering that the zine will be intended for mostly children, it may not be too cheerful / too children-like, so I scrapped the idea.

In order to incorporate some characteristics of the place, I decided to put a part of the view from Labrador Park; rocky shoreline and the buildings that you can see from afar from the bay.


Theme aside, I look at different styles of art. I want to do something bright with different shades of blue, and some yellow and red here and there.

Some of my style ideas:


I especially like the one with a lot of lines since it gives a simple, clean look. But then since my target audience will be mostly children, I also want to give it a rougher, more playful feeling, while still being able to evoke emotions that “people have been ignorant”. To impose the feeling, I decided to write a short narrative in the style of poem. Although it may be too “complicated” for children, my intended audience will not be extremely young kids but rather around 10 years and above of age, when the children are beginning to gain maturity from understanding things that are expressed indirectly.

My final jobs are thief, barista, gamer, and watchmaker.

To be honest I was pretty disappointed after printing because:

1. The printing person stretched the image to fit A3, so the images are not A4 anymore (and I just noticed it when I was arranging them)

2. Some of the colors didn’t turn out like I hoped they would or didn’t even turn out at all. For example, my thief job supposedly has a different color for the hole on the wall and some shadow, but they’re not there.

And the worst is,

3. The barista job did not turn out well at all. The wood grain is lost and replaced by super dark brown, making it impossible to see the coffee beans. The shadows on the coffee beans are lost too.

I’ll show you the image comparisons later.

Printing aside, the images turn out pretty well for me, in a sense that I enjoyed the process of creating them and they all pretty much turned out like I had pictured them to be. I learned a lot about Illustrator and Photoshop about this project.

Without further ado, here are the end products:

1. Thief

Compared to the first draft, I made the letters three-dimensional to give more depth and added some sort of “action” to emphasize the idea of “stealing” something. I used clipping mask to make the surroundings all black to give the idea of thieves being caught in action by a flashlight.


Printed version

Although it’s not very obvious, the color of the hole on the wall is different from the printed version, and the opacity of the shadow is not shown. (To be fair, I put 95% opacity so maybe that’s why it turned out really close.)


2. Gamer

To emphasize the idea of gaming, I added the start button, the mouse, and a character (to make it look like the starting of a game). I didn’t want to add too many clouds since I thought it would be too messy, but without clouds it was too plain so I just added a few. As for the character, I made it up myself to represent “me”.


Printed version


3. Barista

Making the latte art is so. Hard. I played around with the effects and I think this quite resembles real latte art, although I have to admit the letters are not very obvious. I added coffee beans to emphasize the “coffee” idea, and I also added a wood grain texture at the back. At first I just wanted to trace a ready image of wood grain texture but apparently they’re pretty simple to make, so I just tried although it may not be THAT good.


Printed version


The printed image is… really bad. You can’t see anything in the background at all; it just looks like a dark brown background.


Zoom in to the background and coffee beans


It’s very different from the image I created. I tried re-printing it but the result is more or less the same.


4. Watchmaker

For this one, I tried to find a sort of vintage font and traced it. After that it’s just creating some different gears and putting things together. It was pretty simple actually. I chose not to add colors to emphasize the “mechanical” feel. There’s also some contrast between the letter V, which contained a wrist watch, and the letter J, which resembles a pocket watch. Both of them are watches so they still fall under the watchmaker’s expertise, but they sort of represent “modern” watch and “vintage” watch so I want to put them both.


Printed version


Some shades didn’t turn out exactly right (like the chains) but it’s still okay.


I’m the type of person who usually jumps into things before thoroughly thinking about it first (doing before thinking), that’s why I tend to go backwards when generating ideas but I realized I have to redo a lot of steps that way and it’s not very efficient.

As for techniques, I really learned a lot about digital drawing. I realized that I encountered a lot of problems because I didn’t arrange my layers nicely. Another point: I need to be tidier while working.

Lastly: I shouldn’t print in north spine again.

The four jobs that I (tentatively) chose are barista, gamer, thief, and electrician.


Initial Sketches

Those are two of my earliest sketches. As you can see, they’re heavily image-driven; so I scrapped all of them off.

I made other sketches, but this time they’re too simple (see below). But somehow I have a better view of what my idea has to be; they have to be manipulated to show the techniques, but they can’t be too picture-driven as it will take the attention away from the letters.



Final Sketches

1. Barista

Keywords: coffee, latte art, coffee cups, steam, coffee beans, coffee grinder, cafe (usually associated with wood / warm colors)

I intentionally made the latte art as simple as I could because I wanted the attention to be purely on the letters, but then it looked pretty boring and didn’t really reflect latte “art”, so I will edit the latte art. I was thinking of using a wood-colored background and add some shadow, so maybe I will try it out to see if it’s too much.


2. Gamer

Keywords: characters, start / play button, consoles, pixels

I always associate “games” with “pixels” since it reminds me of the earlier games (actually I get the inspiration from Mario Bros), so I really, really want to do pixel art for this idea. It took me pretty long but I managed to make this (thank goodness).

However just from the interface, you can’t really tell of the “gamer” idea. It can be game designer or developer as well. So I plan to add a character and a “start” button underneath to emphasize the idea that someone is playing.


3. Thief

Keywords: illegal, getting caught, shady / dark atmosphere, guns, stolen goods (money), mafia, action

I know it’s very hard to tell that it’s criminal. It kind of looks like magicians performing onstage.

My idea is to make it look like they “get caught” (hence, the spotlight) when doing something bad. I used the striped pattern to replicate the image of a prisoner (which is related to something illegal), but I think the idea is not conveyed very well and it can be a lot of things instead (people may see criminal, or prisoner, or magician probably). So I need to edit it to make it more specific.


4. Electrician

Keywords: light, circuits, battery, electricity, switch, cables, transformers, light bulb, LED, resistor

To be honest, that is a bad one.

I wanted to make out the letters using cables, but they didn’t turn out nice so I added the “glow” effect to make them like neon lights instead, but now the whole thing didn’t look like electrician at all. This one needs a lot of changes.



For most of my sketches, you can’t really tell what the exact occupation is, although you can guess something close to it. So the problem is I don’t make the pictures specific enough; I’ll have to research more about symbolism and semiotics related to the occupations I want to use.

I’ve never been very good at digital art (actually, I just learned Illustrator recently) so this is a challenge as well as a good learning experience for me. I learned more about Illustrator such as how to make glow effects, how to make clipping mask, how to unite two different things, etc. However due to this lack of knowledge I’m doing this project slower, as when there are things I don’t know how to do effectively, I still try to make them–and they either turn out bad or I wasted a lot of time doing them… or both. So I’ll have to do more research and learning about this platform I’m using as well.



After I wasted a lot of my sleeping time to think, I decided to change a few ideas of mine.

For thief, I fixed it so it looked more like “in action” by adding gold coins and a hole on the brick wall, suggesting that they’re in the middle of stealing.

Gamer and barista will stay the same; the only difference is that I’m adding background to both of them.

For barista, the latte art will be much, much softer than my process illustration since after I did some research, latte art doesn’t really have sharp edges.


My reference picture [taken from]

I also made the art more “fancy” and although (to me) it sort of takes the attention away from the letter, I think the letters are still recognizable so it should be fine.

As for the electrician, I think I’m completely scrapping the idea. I realized that from the beginning I was going backwards with the electrician job; I thought of what to make first rather than what job I want to convey, which makes me confused in the end. Because of that I couldn’t make good progress with my electrician, so I decided to just stop and start a new one. It’s probably a bit late, but I think I could manage it since now I have better idea on what to create. So,

4. Watchmaker


My idea is to simply put the letters of my name and fill in the letters with the gears of a watch. I won’t use much colors, probably just black and white and some grey.

I’m thinking of making one of the letters look like a pocket watch.


I just realized that all my four jobs have different style (kind of) of illustrations. I don’t know whether it is a good thing because it can mean that I’m flexible, but that can also show that I haven’t found my own style yet. That’s true, though–I haven’t really had my own style yet, so I think this is a good opportunity too to explore various styles for me.