Tag Archives: varoom

02 Varoom — Final


Theme and Idea

My illustration for the theme of fantasy revolves simply around the story of my mother who has been trying very hard, and failing, to propagate Peace Lilies at home as they always burn into crisps under our extra hot Singapore sun.

The fantasy will consist of nothing deep, just:



(View post)



(View post)




I illustrated each plant individually and played around with tens of thousands of arrangements to see which ones worked best. I faced an issue with figuring out where the plants could sprout from, because starting them from above the text would look odd, but starting them from the bottom of the page would interfere with text legibility. So I tried adding pots, and then a flat ground. I eventually realised I could use patches of grass to cover up the stems.



I re-illustrated each and every element because all my sketches had been resized to the point of… myopia. Downside of not using vectors. (I did at some point convert all my lines to vectors but it didn’t feel right!)


I added fauna to the flora, although only subtle-ly to balance out the composition. I tried adding a hanging chimpanzee from the “a”, and also a giant dragonfly, because my mom loves those long-arms-chimpanzee toys and dragonflies, but they were fighting for attention with the lilies hence I decided with small creatures (though that is actually one giant butterfly if you compare it to the character). Amidst all my trial and errors and hundreds of layers I also have no idea where the monkey and dragonfly have gone, hence they are not pictured. 🙁


I played around with different colour palettes. I personally prefer the dark green-orange palette, but the blue-pink one tied in with the theme of fantasy the most.



I tried different characters/positions and chose the one I felt fit best. I also tried making the character hold a ‘leaf umbrella’ (pictured in the latest gif above) like in Totoro, but that didn’t work as well as holding flowers.



Added details — “shadows” and highlights, grass patches, bling blings.



I transferred the illustration from Procreate to Photoshop and adjusted the hues again. I added noise and texture, changed the colour of the masthead to match the highlights and layered it with the leaves. I initially thought of fiddling the leaves through the letters, but felt that it would also fight for too much attention with the rest of the illustration that is already very detailed.  Adjusting the hues and textures were for aesthetic, to give the illustration more warmth, and the slight ruggedness for a ‘vintage’ feel like its been well used/made by hand, much like how gardening (more like turning house plants into a forest) requires a lot of handy work and love.





Google Drive Folder HERE


02 Varoom — Two Detailed Sketches

Concept & Thumbnails

Me Mom’s Fantasy: In a world where Peace Lilies would grow in this hot sun.

Here’s an expectation vs. reality of my mom’s journey in propagating them:
(This is a new batch so they’re not all burnt to a crisp yet)

Image result for peace lily aesthetic


Refreshin’ your memory on the three selected thumbnails to work on:


Detailed Sketch #1

The first sketch is a combination of the first and third thumbnail, with the concept of the ‘dead’ flowers rising up towards the sun, but in the composition of the third tarot card thumbnail.

However, instead of Peace Lilies, I worked with a flower called the Lily of the Valley instead because I found it only fitting to flip this flower that actually grows downwards, upright.

Image result for lily of the valley



Detailed Sketch #2

The second sketch is based on the second thumbnail, of a figure in a giant Peace Lily forest. It’s currently Alice because I needed a reference figure… but I’ll change her appearance if I do end up working on this sketch.

I added another plant called the Euphorbia milii/ Christ plant, which is another species that my mom has actually been able to grow very well. It’s just to add a little variety to the composition.

I haven’t figured out how the composition will be placed, whether it’ll be boxed in the centre, whether there’ll be an imaginary box boxing it in (plants just cut off before hitting the text), or whether it’ll be incorporated into the entire cover.


Image result for christ plantImage result for euphorbia milii

02 — Varoom: Research


What do you find inspiring?
What’s inspiring is that we get to see a full range of expressions through illustrations by illustrators across the globe, across a spectrum of subjects.

What type of information is in the magazine?
Varoom is the globally leading illustration magazine featuring a unique combination of industry insight and critical analysis of the field of illustration.

Explained well by Varoom 36 Rhythm, “Varoom showcases some of the most striking image-making from the crop of 2017 art school graduates, guided by the AOI’s global network of professional bodies and educational institutions. The images are a sample of outstanding work from Kristiana to Kingston to South Korea – from children’s stories to social observation to fashion and politics, there are new rhythms emerging. Follow these young image-makers as they take the pulse of changing time.”

Who is the target audience?
Each Varoom magazine caters to a different target audience with its specific theme/topic. The target audience of each magazine would hence be anyone who can find a connection between themselves and the topic, especially if they appreciate the expression through art and illustration.



i. Victo Ngai, of course (in Fantasy)

What do you find inspiring?
Her insane amount of detail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nothing is just for decoration.

What medium(s) do they use?
I’m not sure. On paper then digitised?

How do they creatively interpret the text for the article?
To be fair, the article is about herself and her work, so it’s not much about creatively interpreting the text for the article but just explaining her own interpretation of art and her fantasies.

“Art is a space where I can be my own master – I love that within that space, I can disregard the rules of our reality, and yet manage to create worlds that people can get lost in.”

“By draping subjects in a cloak of fantasy, it becomes easier to explore difficult topics and reflect upon ourselves a few degrees removed.”


ii. Molly Mendoza (in Fantasy)

Digital Fantasy from Messy Reality
Billie Muraben investigates immersive indie games Heaven’s Vault and Telling Lies.

What do you find inspiring?
I like that Mendoza did not conform to the stereotypical visuals of fantasy, as pictured in the Google and Pinterest searches below.

What medium(s) do they use?

How do they creatively interpret the text for the article?
As described by Victo Ngai where fantasy is just looking at subjects “a few degrees moved”, I like how Mendoza takes recognisable objects and distorts them in an abstract manner to create a distorted reality.


iii. Radio (in Taste)

Cover illustration created for Varoom by Radio. 

Varoom 19 stretches the idea of Taste as visual sensation like a ball of strudel dough. The menu includes New Wave Food Mags, Literary and Aesthetic Taste, John Pasche’s Lips for The Rolling Stones, and the question that erupts, like raw chilli on the tongue – who are the new tastemakers for Commissioners? And how do illustrators respond. In his feature ‘Art Directing Taste’, Michael Salu, Artistic Director of Granta is brutally honest – illustration, “might need to do more than vocationalise aesthetics and cultivate a broader palate of profundity for its own survival.

What do you find inspiring?
Radio’s ability to portray not just a mouth, but taste, and not just one taste, through such a simple vector image.

What medium(s) do they use?
Digital vectors

How do they creatively interpret the text for the article?
The Taste issue of Varoom talks about not just the taste of food, but also on people’s literary, aesthetic, and music taste. By not using realistic food illustrations, we are directed away from believing that the magazine will talk about only food. The use of red also makes it seem like the content’s gonna be spicy.


iv. Joy Miessi (in Nostalgia)

Awareness by Joy Miessi | Aisha Ayoade talks to Joy Miessi about preserving memory in mixed media for her most recent exhibition.

What do you find inspiring?
The mad simplicity…!!

What medium(s) do they use?
Traditional, looks like crayon, maybe colour pencils? Tape, paper

How do they creatively interpret the text for the article?
Nostalgia? Crayons? Simple, rough, almost scribbly lines? About preserving memory? The art style couldn’t be more appropriate for the article.


(Not from Varoom). Katie Scott


What do you find inspiring?
I love Katie Scott’s works. She turns her research of ancient science and scientific theories about the world into fantasy-like illustrations of regular biological things like plants, animals, fungus, evolution (dinosaurs), etc. They look so normal, so calm, yet so odd, some of the time. They’re so real, yet sometimes look like they’re not from this world.

What medium(s) do they use?
Pen on paper, scanned watercolour swatches with adjusted hues 

How do they creatively interpret the text for the article?
Oops. Katie Scott isn’t from Varoom. I did this before I realised the artists were supposed to be from Varoom.