01 — Inanimate Portraits (Process & Final)

01 — MYSELF

Here, is I, represented by a comic book cover of a toy pufferfish in discomfort.
My self portrait illustrates a good number of negative traits and insecurities I have about myself. It is illustrated comically, because on the surface I tend to give people the impression of being very ‘happy go lucky’ or… just… being a comical person. (This definitely doesn’t come across in class hahahahaha).

Pufferfish:
A bottler (of emotions), exploding
Body dysmorphia (fat)

A toy, not a real fish:
Imposter syndrome! I’m not real.

Bulging eyes, thick lips:
Bulging eyes because the fish is exploding, but I also do have larger eyes and fuller lips than the average Singaporean Chinese. Heh

Rope/finger pulling hoop:
Society/whoever/whatever’s pressure on me
A belt/corset, squishing my fats

Rounded puffer spikes:
I’ve had several people tell me that their first impressions of me were that I seem to be unapproachable, but once they got to know me, I’m quite… harmless.

Comic book cover:
Teri’s interview with me turned into a life-storytelling session where I just went on and on and on about my very visual/graphic stories. Hence I am a comic book, not a storybook, not an auto-biography.

10 cents:
My worth

15 Nov 1997:
My birthday

Free Poster Inside!:
Because who doesn’t want to just be famous and have ~no problems~ other than worrying about looking bad on a poster that people hang up in their rooms! Not me!

Pearl, sea star, pretty shell:
Everything that I want to be. A pretty shiny star.

Sparkles around eyes:
Either: I’m so beat up I’m seeing stars, or to symbolise my tendency of envying others.

Hand holding puffer:
Either: This poor, poor, puffer, is so obviously beat up but is still being presented as perfectly alright! Yeah! This is fine! I am fine! Or: Sometimes I just want to be held, ya kno…

ILLUSTRATION PROCESS (Click to enlarge)

I pretty much have all the negative traits/insecurities about myself etched in my mind, so it was easy to head straight into ideating and sketching those ideas out. I believe I was scrolling through Behance for an art style inspiration, when I came across an image of a pufferfish and it just felt… perfect. Like when you come across an item of clothing at a store and you just know you have to get it.

An idea I played with was with a pufferfish sitting in Cinderella’s glass shoe, symbolising my imposter syndrome. If the shoe fits, I sits. Another would also be having a hand squish the fish instead of a rope/string. I also tried out different looks for the puffer.

Image result for if it fits i sits meme

For consultation, the main feedback that I got was just to make the pufferfish look like it was exploding more by making the head bigger. I did make the head bigger, and I also thought of adding fat rolls to the puff, but I didn’t want the illustration to be overdramatic/ too obvious (with the fat rolls).

I moved the illustration back and forth through Procreate and Adobe Illustrator to vectorise, add text, and re-adjust the composition.

 

02 — TERI THE GALAXY

Here is Teri, in a grid.

I asked Teri a million questions rather than just three, so I won’t bother with a whole transcript. I also went through several stages of interpreting her to end up with the elements that I have, hence I’ll go through the relevant information I’d received and referred to whilst interrogating Teri about her life.

SHORT EXPLANATION:

“I would definitely rather save to spend on travel and invest on new experiences than to spend on other things” — Teri, 2020

  • Teri would rather spend on experiences than things.
  • Teri’s significant events both had to do with seeing the world, and making her feel small (in a good way) (travelling to NYC by herself from Canada, and climbing a >3000m high “stupid ass mountain” aka Mount Kerinci in Indonesia).
  • Teri “cannot commit” to pen. Must go in with pencil first.
  • Teri is very difficult to put together. I had to ask her a million questions, and every response I got would not be what I was expecting haaa. In a sense she’s a little hard to predict.
  • Teri is a very private person. She does not have any posts or stories on her Instagram.
  • Teri is Singaporean, but grew up in Hong Kong.

So,

Square 1: Money in hand
Teri has money!

Square 2: Vending machine of a galaxy
The galaxy represents how Teri likes to see the world, likes experiences that make her feel small, and also how I really don’t know much about Teri much like how we don’t know a lot about space. The galaxy represents how Teri would rather spend her money on an experience that makes her feel all those ways rather than on capsules (objects).

Square 3: Vending machine coin/ receiving slot
Teri puts her HK$ money in, and receives something random from the machine!
Other than representing Teri’s expenditure, the machine also represents the part about not being able to predict her.

Square 4: Galaxy in hands
Teri’s Got The Galaxy

And finally, everything is in a grid because: Teri has nothing on her Instagram, and these are the bits and pieces of what I can make up of her.

ILLUSTRATION/ IDEA PROCESS

A significant event

While I made Teri explain the whole scenario of her travelling solo for the first time (in general) from Canada to New York all by herself, what really caught my attention were the last three words that she used to describe her takeaway from the experience.

Grow some balls

From then on I knew I wanted to illustrate something with growing balls, because that was the most visual, metaphorical item she had given me. I didn’t want it to be rated balls though, because Teri is quite the innocent (or at least on the surface).

From then on I just kept thinking of what other ways I could represent balls. I randomly thought of a gum ball machine, then a vending machine of capsules. Perfecto!

I played around with different ideas like illustrating her experiences in the capsules, turning the capsules into takoyaki (one of the foods she likes), or showing a collection of her balls (because I had asked her how many balls she had before her experiences, now, and how many she would like to have by the end of her lifetime – the answer was 3, 6, 10).

Then I thought about illustrating a random grid of all the random things I know about her, because I got frustrated that everything I knew about her was all over the place. For example, she brushes her teeth in the shower, she’s insecure about the scars on her legs from excessive mosquito bites, the dachshund is her favourite dog breed of all.

Then I felt like everything was too random, and the one with the vending capsule machine had a whole story in its own square, so I expanded on that, and tada!

 

A FEW WORDS

It’s been a fun first mini project. I took this course up because I’ve been wanting to pick up illustration for the longest time but have never gotten around to practicing it. Then I thought about giving up on that idea, but then my mom got me an iPad (thanks mom) and I felt the pressure of making full use of it… so here I am. Now I have something to force me to learn the skill and it’s been fun. The last time I illustrated anything was in vectors and in my first year.

Also this assignment made me realise how much I don’t know Teri at all, even though I’ve known her for 2.5 years. What fake friends we are!

 

 

 

Look Up – Project 3. FINAL pt. II.

VIEW PART 1

GOOGLE DRIVE LINK

CONCEPT

The original inspiration came from Nuno Andrade’s Urban Geometry  series, where his compositions often contrasted urban geometry with a wide sky or space.

In Singapore, however, it is almost impossible to get a full, open view of the sky because of how much of an urban, high-rise jungle we are. Instead of a full sky, we get interrupted by tall buildings or structures, hence came about Look Up – what happens when you look up in Singapore.

 

[Click on images to open and compare]

AN OVERVIEW

 

 

TECHNICAL DECISIONS

Camera Process:
Shot on a Canon EOS 77D, EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Content:
Framing involves a clean vertical ‘half’ cut between sky-structure – images are halved in different ratios for variation. An exploration of the different ways of seeing, the varieties of what would be considered the same type of structure (e.g. housing blocks, construction works).

Real vs. Manipulate:

Real images to of course, keep it real, and image manipulations to add a compelling twist – either to add a little pop of something or to make things seem a little abstract.

 

ONE

Original

Cropped & Final
 

Technical Process
 

 

TWO

Original

Cropped & Final

Technical Process

 

THREE

Original

Cropped & Final
   

Technical Process

 

FOUR

Original

Cropped & Final
   

Technical Process

 

FIVE

Original + Additional Image (Flag)
 

Cropped Original

Final

Technical Process

 

SIX

Original & Final
  

Technical Process

 

SEVEN

Original

Cropped & Final
 

Technical Process

 

EIGHT

Original

Cropped & Final
 

Technical Process

 

NINE

Original

Cropped & Final
 

Technical Process

 

TEN

Original

Cropped & Final
 

Technical Process

Look Up – Project 3. FINAL pt. I.

CONCEPT

The original inspiration came from Nuno Andrade’s Urban Geometry  series, where his compositions often contrasted urban geometry with a wide sky or space.

In Singapore, however, it is almost impossible to get a full, open view of the sky because of how much of an urban, high-rise jungle we are. Instead of a full sky, we get interrupted by tall buildings or structures, hence came about Look Up – what happens when you look up in Singapore.

LOOK UP

  

(P.S. I put the images small so that we can see them together).

TECHNICAL DECISIONS

Camera Process:
Shot on a Canon EOS 77D, EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
I used a zoom lens instead of a wide or prime lens so as to be able to reach tall structures.

Framing:
A clean vertical ‘half’ cut between sky-structure – personal artistic style while still getting the idea across. Some images may be directly halved while others may be in different ratios for variation. Series will be better balanced with a full set of 10 images.

Technical Process:

*Types of adjustments are generally the same across all images for consistency. Specific changes are made within each type of adjustment for every image to match the tones, especially the varying blues of the skies.

Pastel is often used to portray dreamy feels, for what feels like paradise (e.g. on a vacation). In contrast to feeling negatively about having our skies interrupted – the pastel tone is used to say this is our sky, Singapore’s version of paradise.

The sky is muted as compared to Nuno Andrade’s vibrant blue, for focus on the structures’ colours instead of the sky, since that’s what we see in Singapore.

A hint of yellow highlight on top of pastel pink to suggest the sun that hits these tall structures in Sunny Singapore.

Image 1:

*Note: Stamp visible layer is made so that I could copy and paste a part of the sky on the other images to compare and match the exact colour for consistency.

 

Image 2:

  

Image 3:

 

Project 2: The Landscape

PSD File Download

Before

After

Artist Statement/ Concept

I’ve always enjoyed the look of hard light and shadows in photography, whether for portraits or for landscapes. I was walking around with a friend and really liked how the light hit this spot in the basement parking lot, and thought since both her outfit and the wall were somewhat monochromatic (albeit the wall’s yellow was too cool for my preference), I decided to give it a go.

Camera Settings

Of course, since I’m new to photography AND I’m trying to play with harsh light, the turn out was pretty wonky… But at least I can learn now.

Shot with Canon 77D, 50mm
1/25, f 3.2, ISO 100

Digital Process

Left: Before / Right: After

 

Cleaning (Hair)

I first cleaned out the hair that was flying around using Spot Heal, Clone Stamp and Dodge & Burn. I didn’t remove all the frays entirely since they’re really small when zoomed out, just did what was noticeable.

But I’ve still learned the importance of making sure your model’s hair is well combed.

Zoomed for comparison purposes:

Zoomed out:

I did remove the bottom most frayed hair in her shadow at first, but decided to leave it in eventually.

 

Cleaning (Face)

I Spot Healed and applied Separation Frequency on her skin and dark eye circles. I also didn’t go too crazy with her skin.

 

I left the walls and floor uncleaned as I wanted to keep their rustic textures.

 

White Balance

The colour balance turned the image slightly warmer than balanced, but I decided to keep it.

 

Curves

Adjusted the curves to give the light and shadows heavy contrast. Brought down the highlights as well.

 

Hue/ Saturation

Adjusted the saturation mostly to decrease the cyans and blues in the floor.

 

Selective Colour

Adjusted the yellows to be more warm than cool, lowering the cyan and increasing the magentas. Also added a bit of black to the red in her overalls.

 

Colour Balance

Added a tiny hint of green to the shadows for personal preference of a rusty look.

 

Masking

There still wasn’t enough contrast in the lights and shadows, so I created masks to separate the model and background.

 

 

Background Mask Curves

Dropped the shadows of the background. (Left: where we left off before masking)

 

 

Model Mask Curves

Then the model felt a bit too bright and looked way too washed out, so I adjusted her too.

 

Background Hue/ Saturation

Again to remove the cyans and blues in the floor… Heh

 

Background Selective Colour

Adjusted the tone of the background yellows to be even warmer.

 

Brightness & Contrast

And I know, we were told to try our best not to touch the brightness & contrast adjustment, but something just still didn’t feel right – so I brought down the brightness of the entire picture a whole lot and increased its contrast a little bit to achieve the dark, contrasty light and shadow feel I was going for.

 

Re-Adjusting Curves

Okay, I thought I was done but I just went back to crush the blacks a bit on both the background and model mask curves for a bit of fade.

 

Here’s the final comparison again.

 

 

I reaaaaally enjoyed editing for this assignment. I’ve tried editing this in Lightroom and was having troubles with it, and being forced to look at every specific part in Photoshop really helped me understand how light and colours work better. Thank you!

Project 1: The Portrait (Revised)

PSD File Download

This revised version is a continuation of the original edit! Link to original post:

Project 1: The Portrait

Original

First Edit:

Final Revision:

REVISION

All screenshots are arranged as original > first edit > final edit.

  • Skin

I went back to recolour the red patches/ uneven skin tones more, on her nose, cheek and chin. I also built up more on the lasso tool + gaussian blur all around the image, as I had previously only done like… +4.8 gaussian blur or something.

Here’s a general look of her face:

Close up of clearing up her big spots & uneven skin tone, an lightening of her moustache with dodge and burn:

  • Lips

I realised I’d previously skipped out on her dry lips entirely. I dodged & burned the lines on her lips so they’d appear less crusty. However I decided to leave their colour as they are instead of recolouring them to be more red.

  • Sweater Stain

I previously decided to only dark the stains instead of removing the whole thing, but since I’m back to revise I decided why not just try to remove it as much as possible haaaa. Not high-fashion looking (wasn’t meant to be) but at least she’s got a clean sweater now.

Spot healed, recoloured, dodged and burned with a gaussian blur on top.

  • Hair

Pretty sure I only removed one strand of hair previously, and left the rest as they are. This time I just lightened the bits of hair sticking out of her beret with the dodge and burn technique. Still chose not to remove everything because I don’t think an overly-neat hairdo would match the image as a whole, or she would look bald.

 

  • Eyes

Lightened her undereyes with dodge and burn.

  • Brows

Aaaand on top of skipping out on her lips, I also totally forgot about her brows the last time! Didn’t groom them to be on fleek, but cleaned them up a little bit by lightening some of the hair on the edges/ corners with dodge and burn.

  • Arm

Further smoothened out her arm (hence lightened arm hair) with just the lasso tool + gaussian blur.

 

  • Beret

I redid her beret entirely since I wanted to revise everything before finalising with a liquify. Just a slightly smoother (and not perfect) shape than before, and also slightly lightened frays of wool around the edges with dodge and burn and sometimes spot heal (for that one big ball of wool on the right above her ear…).

  • Grain

Lastly I added a little gaussian grain to finish up the image!

 

Project 1: The Portrait

PSD File: Download Link

FINAL IMAGES

Left: Before
Right: After

(Click to enlarge)

  

CONCEPT

I wanted to picture someone who’s somewhat exotic, with a unique personality.

You can tell Esther has her own sense of style, with the glasses, the beret, the stained sweater. She might also appear androgynous, though I’m not sure that was intentional. She’s an artist and a really tired animation student, and not to mention really awkward. Like, really awkward.

I originally posed her in more ‘conventional’ model poses with a set up of a stool, an easel and a plant, but eventually decided to capture her awkward, distressed-artist essence through a simple close up shot against a plain background.

TECHNICAL DECISIONS

Camera Settings

Canon EOS 77D: f/2, 1/1250, ISO 400, 50mm

Gotta admit I’m not the most familiar with camera settings so whether these settings are crazy or not I honestly don’t even know.

Digital Process

Spot Healing:
The first thing I did was to of course spot heal almost everything possible. I spot healed her spots as much as possible before her skin could turn plastic, then the dirty furring on her beret, then the dirt on her glasses/ eyes as well as her fallen lashes.

Separation/ Frequency:

1. Recolour
Using the brush tool, I recoloured certain spots on her face where there were redness (from her spots) and discolouration (dark spots around the mouth and chin). I also lightened the lines of her neck a bit but didn’t remove them entirely.

I decided not to fully remove the stains on her sweater because it adds personality, since it is what she chose to wore to this shoot. Without removing, I darkened the stains so that they’re not the centre of attention when someone looks at the portrait, but just a subtle touch to the model’s personality.

Similarly, I didn’t remove her arm hairs but lightened them. She’s not ~perfect~. I didn’t remove the little hairs sticking out of her beret either, only one strand that was really out of place.

  

2. Color (Lasso)

I used the lasso tool to gaussian blur for smoother skin, to lighten her pores and redness.

Liquify:
Finally I decided to change the shape of her beret a little. I didn’t liquify it to become one smooth, perfect shape because then I might as well remove the stains on her sweater and everything else too. I made the ‘bumps’ in shape slightly less abrupt and smoothened the shape out just a bit. I then rasterised the layer to colour away the fraying fur (not sure if I’m “supposed” to do that but I did).

A little fun with liquify. How ya doin’?

HOD: Manifesto

Selflessly selfish you are, I’d like to be selfishly selfless. Because art should always be created for the purpose of others, for the “greater good”, that when I make something for my own sole desire, I am deemed selfish for my work has no purpose. But if you say that my art should only be for you and never for me, have the tables not been ironically turned?

But to fight for selfishly selfless behaviour is to do exactly that – to create purpose. So you know what? Stop thinking. It’s going to get worse.

Maybe, art well made is thoughtless in its process.

It will always be better an oops.

WHAT DEFINES GOOD ART?

I refer to several art movements that no matter how unintentionally purposeful you may think they were made to be, all served a purpose one way or another.

Art Deco was purposeful, aiming to infuse functional objects with artistic touches. De Stijl was purposeful, in attempt to remake society in its aftermath of WWI, for a greater world. Dada questioned purpose as its purpose, focusing on crafting aesthetically pleasing objects that generated difficult questions about society, the role of the artist and the purpose of art. The Bauhaus obviously aimed to reunite creativity and manufacturing for its fear about art’s loss of purpose in society. The Art Noveau sought to revive good workmanship. Even Minimalism, you would think was about not being concerned about what others think of as “art”, ironically creates works that purposefully and radically eschew conventional aesthetic appeal.

So, is purpose, especially for the benefit of the public, what defines good art?

I then refer to this excerpt of an article by typographer Paula Scher, which pretty much speaks for itself:

And after thinking so much into this, I came to realise: We often beat ourselves up for not being able to come up with the most top-notch ideas, but sometimes, things that are created by chance without a care in the world, could mean so much more than those that have been crafted for long hours with its core focused on pleasing everyone’s expectations (and even when we’re trying to go against expectations, we ironically end up coming back full circle anyway!). Basically saying the more you think, the worse it gets. 

So maybe, in a similar concept to Beatrice Warde’s “type well used is invisible as type”, art well made is thoughtless in its process. 

IDEATION PROCESS

Although, already translated into text above.