A walter mitty nightmare

In this assignment, we explore the relationship between typography and graphic: creating a typographic portrait using our names. These names consider typeface, style, size, weight, case letter and even elements of art/ principles of design to highlight a specific occupation of our choice.




The story of Walter Mitty tells a fantastical tale of an ordinary man spending his time daydreaming. The moral of the story tells of an ineffectual dreamer who indulge in over-fantastical dreams of personal triumph. He snaps in and out of his dreams, completely oblivious to the scrutiny of strangers. He is a wartime pilot, he is a sniper, he is a surgeon, he is a criminal.


He is a     d    r    e    a     m            e                   r             . 

paying homage to Walter Mitty‘s narrative, I wanted to incorporate this theme of sequential dreaming into my typographic project. Hence, instead of sequential daydreaming, it is a sequential nightmare instead- each scene depicting a specified occupation.

N i g h t m a r e

I realised that


                        how a nightmare occurs

will allow a more consistent story-telling


                                          on my part,





                       depicting each scene of typographic occupations.

                         A nightmare occurs when a person (artsy, creative people) have a         thin boundary of mind, thus they are more susceptible to nightmares. This      causes their head to go into a metaphorical cycle, without directions, move                             from one nightmare to another, each with recurring themes from the          previous.


Conceptualising the final narrative, I decided that I wanted to tell a story of a person’s mind trapped in a sequential nightmare.

Brendy is a plague doctor who sees dead people everyday because of the nature of his job, therefore dark thoughts build up at the back of his head and nightmare occurs, The desensitisation of death creates an objectification of human flesh, made him wonder what it would be like to be a cannibal. While pushing back his dark thoughts, the glistening of blood reminded him of the stars, thinking of the limitless boundaries of space. He wants to be a milky way milkman, sending happiness to all species in the universe. However, evil ideas still creeps up to him in recurring themes, seeing patches of red everywhere. He wanted to leave this planet, turning into a formless entity that no one can control, bigger than life itself- a Planet Eater.


presentation day


plague doctor   >   cannibal    >    milky way milkman    >    planet eater


Throughout this series, I wanted to connect each typographic portrait according to the narrative, and create a more unified theme, I also strived to link the explanation to principles of design and elements of art.


From the start to the end, there will be a change from realism into something fantastical. The form changes from 3-dimensionally realistic (photography) into 2D and viscous, struggling to materialise. (graphics)

The colour scheme turns from tamed and muted colours with dots and splashes of red to vibrant and fantastical colour schemes. The gradation of colours parallels to the ascending narrative.

The usage of space increases, from a focused and narrow perspective to a wide perspective that sees the whole environment. It creates a more suspenseful theme.


Plague Doctor

Plague Doctor, final

This composition is the first of the series. It is done through photoshopping and superimposing found images on the Internet.

It is a plague doctor standing in front of a dirtied wall, with little embellishment, focusing on the plague doctor. There is use of little colours, with only black and red, red being the point of focus. There is movement created using the scratching hand, emphasising on the mask of the scarred plague doctor. The scratch lines on the plague doctor’s mask creates a visual rhythm, which brings focus to the largest scratches, which is the typography. The value used in this portrait is dramatic, with contrasting shadows and light used, seemingly shining a bright light over the shoulders of the plague doctor.

The purpose of this graphic is to incite fear and suspense, much like a mystery serial killer movie poster. It should look mysterious and almost a tint of danger.  I would reference to posters like “Friday the 13th”, where there is little embellishment, but only focusing on the main lead, which is the serial killer. It uses strong values to create the suspenseful scene.

The typography of this graphic should therefore be suspenseful and seemingly dangerous. In doing so, I used sharp lines, that are disconnected, creating a staccato effect. It is suppose to reference to the scratch marks made by the hands depicted in the graphics. The usage of different tonal values and colours (red) in the scratch marks shows a difference in pressure of inscribing. It creates the tension necessary in the thriller element aimed for this graphics. The difference in pressure should also tell of the emphasis on different weights of the alphabet. The usage of uppercase letters for the name “Brendy” allows more room for exploration of the pressured inscriptions, it also gives a stronger and sinister appearance due to the enhanced weight.


Friday the 13th
Other attempts
1st attempt of scratching

I tried to create alternate perspective of the hands clawing out the scratch marks on the plague doctor’s masks, but I realised that the usage of too many hands can be visually overwhelming, taking the attention away from the typography.


attempt of vintage look

I also experimented with a vintage theme as plague doctors are occupations that no longer exist due to extinction of time. However, I couldn’t find a better way to style the typography, losing the meaning of the narrative with it.





Cannibal, final

This composition is second in the series. From the Plague doctor typographic portrait, it has the recurring theme of using red as emphasis. The usage of texture is on a more dramatic scale. The black humour and surrealistic element used draws reference to the narrative, whereby the main character is desensitised to the idea of eating human flesh.

This graphics is done through flat lay photography with photoshop editing of the muscle fibre of real pork, drizzled with strawberry sauce.

It is a photograph of a bowl of flesh that is supposed to resemble human thigh meat, drizzled with red substance that resembles blood. It is accompanied with a comb and a ruler, in a dining room scenario. The usage of colour, as mentioned, uses red as the main focus. It is accompanied with white and blue to create a fantasy-like scene, but not too overwhelmingly jarring. The surrealistic element is brought out with the usage of a comb and a rusty ruler by the plate, implying that these tools are substitutes of the utensils. The usage of texture also transcends into the background, with a blue, weaving table mat as the background, covered with a white floral cloth, followed by a blue printed ceramics bowl. The usage of texture creates a highly detailed narrative within the photograph. There is balance in this photograph despite the comb being larger than the ruler, this is because of the usage of the blood to draw out the alphabet “Y”, which will be explained below.

The purpose of this typographic portrait is to create a visually stimulating layout, that is on the verge of dangerous cannibal and black humour. There should be a subtle element of danger, but also a humorous backdrop, this “humour” is brought about by the surrealistic element mentioned earlier. I would reference to most movie posters, but specifically “Silence of the Lambs”. It has an element of tamed silence, but it also has a strong implied narrative that audience will expect, as if more action is taking place outside of the camera’s perspective. Surrealism is also emphasised in the graphics.

We Are What We Are
Silence of the Lambs

In linking the typography and the purpose of the graphics, I wanted to use the muscle fibre to spell out the name. This uses the context (cannibal) to frame the typography, which tells the audience that the story revolves around a cannibal and flesh. The usage of muscle fibre is also easier in spelling out curvy alphabets like uppercase “B”. However, in shaping the narrative of  surrealism, I went one stage ahead by deconstructing the form of the typography. I took away the middle section of the letter “E” and even used blood to substitute the muscle fibres for the alphabet “Y”. This obvious substitution and subtraction brings focus to the elements of inconsistency that the audience should notice. The usage of blood to spell out Y, that eventually mixes in with the background, tells the audience that there is an implication of surrealism, whereby the typography is dematerialising.

Other attempts
inclusion of foot, scissors and actual utensils

In this attempt, I tried to juxtapose actual utensils that would be used in a dining scenario to enhance the black humour. There is also a foot.

set up

The usage of one light source creates a dramatic vignette.

crazy lights
spelling out with muscle fibres

I also tried to use the contouring of the muscle fibres to outline the name Brendy, but this was not obvious and it did not have the intended dramatic effect compared to the previous composition.


Milky Way Milkman

Milky Way Milkman, final

This is the third composition in the nightmare series. It has recurring themes like the shining of the stars, compared to the glistening on the red liquid on the meat. The play of texture is also apparent, comparing the movement lines to the muscle fibres of the previous composition. In accordance to the narrative of the series, the main character is denying the evil thoughts, therefore the elements of red are the resurfacing of his subconscious evil thoughts. The stark contrast of surrealism to graphics indicates his thoughts dematerialising into a fantastical genre.

This is created through hand drawn illustrations put through the Illustrator for additional paint and textured effects.

In this composition, the usage of colours becomes more loose. There are galaxy colours used, but mainly complementary colours of green orange and purple violet. This creates a fantastical environment. The usage of red, as mentioned earlier, indicates the implications from the previous composition. The orange and red portions are the main focus of the graphics as they are bright and steals the audiences’ focus. The usage of movement lines brings emphasis to the typography, which is spelt out on the side of the milkman’s van. This composition is also bolder compared to the rest with the variety of shapes and forms used, like organic shapes and geometric shapes in different scenarios. Theres an attempt to shape the udders of a cow. The idea of movement is also apparent as the scenario is in space, and the usage of overflowing milk helps to redirect the audiences’ eyes into the central, which is the typography.

The purpose of this typographic portrait is to follow through with the narrative of subverting your evil thoughts, hence, this scene has to portray a positivity that is befouled by insidious thoughts. The primary characteristics has to be the magical element of a flying van that everyone in the audience will be excited to see, but is slowly poisoned by the blood capturing it.

I am referencing to the movie “Nanny McPhee”s poster, which tells a tale of a magical nanny that travels around and teaches children the right from the wrongs. I find the composition magical and fantastical with the play of colours, using only the darker colours to highlight the main lead. The usage of floral and curvy patterns enhances this element of fantasy as well.

Nanny McPhee
ofo logo

In the typography of this composition, I wanted to reference to the “ofo” logo since they have a brilliant logo that uses the from to highlight the function. The letter “ofo” effectively becomes a bicycle. I wanted to use the letters of the typography as the form instead, creating a van with the name “brendy”. “Brendy” in this composition is spelt with small letter casing for this purpose, it is also to incite positivity, since lower case letters are visually less taunting and bold. The usage of block and thick letters create an effect of harmlessness and friendliness, as there isn’t any sharp edges in the font. The circular forms of the letter “b” and “d” goes really well to highlight the movement lines I wanted to be apparent in this composition. In particular for this graphics, I wanted to incorporate textures in the letterforms to create a linkage between the previous composition and this one, hence, I patterned the letterforms “n”, “d” and “y’ with lines and marks. There is also an emphasis using contrasting sizes, by making the “Y” bigger than the rest, and moving towards the van, it gives emphasis.


Other attempts
Vector attempt

I attempted to create the composition using vector illustration. However, I found that it did not have the desired appearance, and it was too time-consuming.

Found image attempt

I also attempted to use photoshop and found images to create a graphics, but this was difficult in terms of including the typography, although I did like the appearance of the graphics.


Planet Eater

Planet Eater, final

This is the final composition in the series, and it is the most fantastical and vibrant one out of the four, in accordance to the narrative. With the recurring themes of space, it follows the main characters thoughts of being free after being a Milky Way Milkman, thus looking into the distance of space. The colours used are the same, but in an exaggerated hue and saturation. Compared to the previous graphics, which is solid and outlined by lines, this one is flowy and viscous, enhancing the dream-like effect.

This is created through hand- drawn illustrations, thereafter painted in Illustrator and added additional effects through Photoshop and Lightroom.

In this composition, the colours are as mentioned before, much more vibrant and saturated. This gives a stronger dream-like effect. This is because as the narrative progresses, the main character is deeper into his nightmare and thus the colours are more vibrant as it is supposed to provide a positive message of freedom. There is emphasis placed on the colour green as most of the composition is predominantly purple and pink, bringing focus to the typography. There is harmony as the  entire composition is superimposed with a translucent layer of textured stars and clouds. There is also balance as the texture of the milky way is placed at opposite ends to create visual balance. The tonal values are also dramatic in this composition, with darker values to depict the deeper end of space while lighter values used to highlight the foreground and typography.

The purpose of this graphics is to incite a sense of freedom, telling the audience that the series has gone full-blown surreal. There is a strong element of dropping reality down (following the narrative), the audience is travelling into space as a formless entity. The colours used in this composition is rarely found in reality, hence the effect of otherworldliness is more apparent. However, the convergence of space, whereby the typography is trapped within a thick vignette, implies a slight sense of danger, which is one of the key point in this story.

Guardians of the Galaxy poster

In the reference of otherworldliness, I chose the Guardians of the Galaxy poster. Specifically referring to the colour scheme used, with predominantly saturated blue and purple with tints of yellow. I find the colour scheme appropriate and paid extra attention to my composition in terms of bringing out the fantastical quality.

In the typography of this composition, I wanted to emphasis on the fantasy-like otherworldly quality as mentioned above. Hence, the typography is flow and viscous, in the form of clouds to spell out the name “brendy”, in lower case alphabets. The kerning in this typography is different compared to the other three, especially the alphabets “b”, “e” and “n”, where “b” has a big space to the other alphabets, and “e” and “n” are coiling around each other. “e” is represented with the shadow of the planet while “n” is the coiling smoke. This inconsistent kerning creates a life-like quality to the alphabets, as if they are moving on their own.  This non-human touch enhances the narrative of finding freedom in space. The flowy and viscous quality I sought to represent here can only be produced by the curved parts of the lower case letters of “brendy”, hence the selection of lower case letters. The space in between “b”, “e” and “d” are also juxtaposed with stars and galaxy patterns, to enhance the theme of space aesthetics.

watercolour attempt

I really wanted to do something hands on and I gave a try on water colour, since watercolour provided a quality of chalky and blended colours that other mediums cannot provide. However, it seemed off represented when placed together with the rest of my compositions as the tonal values are a stark contrast. It wasn’t as vibrant as I would like as well, hence, I decided to stick with a digital medium instead.



Learning Point
It was difficult in linking up the narrative intended and the main purpose of the project, telling a story through typography. However, it was interesting in seeking out solutions, such as understanding how the wording are placed in a particular way or done so in a specific manner, ultimately creating the typography seen on screen. It was a whole new ball game trying to tell a story not only through graphics but typography as well.
I also learn to play with proportions as my initial drafts barely focus on the typography, instead represent a large proportion of space on the graphics, which later Joy advised me on cropping out- essentially giving a stronger focus on the typography.
Joy also pointed out that there could be more room to play with the interaction between the muscle fibre in the second piece with the comb, enhancing the element of surrealism.