Ego – Process

Ego assignment is probably one of the most fun I had drawing. I always knew I couldn’t draw, but having it digitally done in a cartoonish comedic way, everything just feels a little more forgiving – and having this freedom to draw badly really made me enjoy myself.

When I first got the brief I thought about the previous assignments I’ve done and how I can make it full circle. I thought, hey, since I did malay food previously, why not do Japanese food this time?

I took to uncle google to introduce me into the various types of sushi and here I narrowed down to 4 types – Nigiri, Maki, Gunkan and Sashimi. I chose these four because they’re one of the most common types you see in the market so it’s more visually easier for viewers to notice that I’ve represented myself into various forms of sushi.

Using different types of sushi instead of just sticking to one allows me to explore various scenarios that I can put myself into – for example in panel 1, I could draw the toppings of my sushi falling out of my head and not repeat this joke in another panel.

Thus, my ideation started.


Color and Harmony Choices

Analogous Color Harmony – There was plenty of elements going on in the three frames, thus using analogous harmony allowed me to draw many things without it looking too tiring and cluttering for the eyes.

Red – It evoked a stage-like presence in the panels as there is a strong emphasis on lighting and shadow in this few frames
Gold/Yellow – There was plenty of ‘awards’ being given out in the last two frames, hence I utilized gold as
Orange – Orange seems to evoke an energetic vibes, and thus adds dynamism to the frame as though there’s so much energy going on.

This is me, overworked and sipping on my soya sauce coffee in the dead of the night of my submission day.

I played with lots of visual comedy in this frame – the apple logo is replaced with sushi and a cup of coffee is replaced by a bottle of soya sauce. During consult it was mentioned to exaggerate the comedic elements in this frame so I studied chibi expressions, pusheen the cat on facial expressions.

Of course, I had to consult the resident expert Hui En on drawing the best expressions.

Another one of the challenges I’ve faced was thinking how to include the element of it being late so I remember one of my research where Bruno Mangyoku uses ‘lighting’ to build focus.

I did this by emitting light rays from the macbook to bring focus to my extremely tired face, hence it feels late at night and also brings emphasis to how tired and overworked I am.

This is me, next to my talented friends who produce amazing artwork.

This was a challenge to do – as I had to build focus on something that is not me while also allowing myself to be in the same frame so as to provide a sense of continuity and not to confuse the audience thinking I’ve miraculously became a talented piece of sashimi sushi.

I once again incorporated Bruno Mangyoku’s technique of building focus with a ‘spotlight’ in this frame and emphasize the focus on the talented person’s work by using Gestalt’s theory and creating an imaginary frame with the applauding hands.

The comedic emphasis is pushed further by adding confetti. Because confetti is party.

This is me, still proud of my 8 hours of toiling to produce bad work

I was researching on how I could convey this and I came across this

This is essentially me finishing my assignments a night before and being semi-proud of how much I worked on it and stayed up.

To provide an emphasis of how poorly my drawing is, I also drew a dog to the front of the paper to juxtapose against the previous frame of a dog. The sparkling gold paper just represents how I think my work is still pretty decent to me because of the effort and time I spent on it even though it doesn’t look good.

“Is it a dog or an elephant,” my friend asks.
“That’s the point,” I reply.

Here are some rejected frames

These frames were rejected because they lacked comedic elements, looked weird or did not convey the message clearly.


Color and Harmony Choices

Complementary Color Harmony – The world is a sad place but I’d like to keep myself happy. So what better way to juxtapose this than contrasting colors?

Blue – The color of sad.
Yellow – The color of (naive) joy. ’nuff said.

This is me, a unicorn sushi.

When I was drawing this, I thought about Malika Favre’s work again and how she built emphasis not only with lighting but also contrasting colors.

So I built focus on myself by not only making it bigger but also using contrasting colors. Despite the busy background, I kept it simple by using clean geometric shapes, lines and textures.

When my friends pointed out this design choice reminded them of crossy road, I thought – heck, why not use that as the second frame! So I took reference from Crossy Roads…

… and mixed in the aerial perspective, diagonal lines and monochromatic colors of Tom Haugomat

I once again created photos by contrasting the colors of the main character against the background.

I ended the panel with how most crossy road games end – a game over screen. To symbolize how an innocent create like me gets destroyed by a world of dangers.

Here are some rejected panels (done mostly midway)

I was quite bummed because I really liked the left panel but it did not fit the whole isometric and blocky look of the 3 panels so I had to drop it.


Color and Harmony Choices

Complementary Color Harmony – I stick out like a sore thumb during Hari Raya cause I don’t exactly speak Malay, so I decided to show this ‘out of place’-ness by contrasting colors.

Green – It is the color of Hari Raya. Green also relates back to the color of Harmony, peace and restoration which are words commonly associated to family.
Pink – the color of Sashimi. Research has shown pink symbolizes emotional claustrophobia – kind of what I feel in awkward social settings.

This is me, a very apparent Japanese. Visually and characteristically.

I looked at Japanese drawings and icons that symbolize Japan and decided that common features of Japan included sushi (which appears already), Mt Fuji and a simple circle to represent the moon.

I originally wanted to do a simple illustration of the Hokusai’s Great Wave of Kanagawa, but I got worried it will be too much detail and inconsistent with the other 2 frames of the panel. SO i went for a more simpler approach.

This is me, palms sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy.

I found a drawing of a sushi bar online and when I looked at the cap the sushi chef was wearing I thought, hey – that looks like a songkok of Malay culture and decided to change the whole sushi bar look into a hari raya space.

Interestingly enough, it did work – in the distance it looked a little like a sushi bar complete with a chef and a platter of sushi in front of him but on closer inspection it hints of Hari Raya with ketupats dangling on the side, the chef dons a baju kurong and the kampung silhouette behind him.

this is me, drowning into a ketpuat.

I had a long discussion with my professor on how to convey this as simply as I could. We talked about semiotics and what food conveys Hari Raya. Strangely there is a difference between malay food and hari raya food, which challenged me quite a bit because hari raya food included kuehs and satay which looked bland in terms of shape and satay when i doodle it looked… just wrong. My friend suggested I try Mee Soto or Laksa but that didn’t seem Hari Raya-esque enough.

I settled for a ketupat as it was more aesthetically pleasing and could fit me drowning in it easily.



Triadic Color Harmony – I chose this to allow myself more room to explore more colors as the previous panels were less realistic as they used lesser colors. This allowed me to add a sense of realism to the images and also as there are many elements in the frame, the variety of colors helped emphasize it.

Yellow – Represents happiness and confidence. I enjoy being busy and spending my time productively, sometimes it just takes a toll. In my research it shows too much yellow can symbolize anxiety and fear, two very apt emotions when being overwhelmed.
Purple – Represents truth. Despite being happy and on the surface looking like I’m coping fine, there is a subtle hint of truth that I can’t cope.
Green – Represents balance. You can almost see the green slowly being utilized less in the 3 frames thus symbolic of me losing my balance.

This is me, an ambitious Maki.

I have this bad habit of taking part in everything because I am interested in many things. Right now, I am already involved in many camps just because I’d thought it’d be fun to be in it, silly me.

I characterized myself as a maki chef trying to cook maki – but being ambitious to cook a complex maki, I handled too many ingredients into the maki.

The struggling facial expression emphasizes the struggle I am going through. Using semiotics I added a chef hat to convey the idea of cooking. Creating a circular frame of ingredients around myself, the focus is brought to the center of the frame – which is me.

This is me, attempting to roll a good Maki and failing

When I handle too much responsibilities, I tend to note manage them very well – sometimes I even overstuff myself with responsibilities. Ownself do to ownself, I guess.

I found this image quite apt as it really showcases my management in various commitments – at the end of the day it becomes a huge mess with things everywhere. I juxtapose this messiness with a clean background to build emphasis and the rolling mat and seaweed creates a sort of frame to a messy center.

This is me, burning everything and still not achieving a maki.

When poor management kicks in and everything falls apart, it just gets worse when I lose track of time, my academic work gets pushed behind and I spend too much time sorting things out. Hence, not only do I NOT manage my commitments well, I also mess everything else in my life. Oh no.

I was very inspired by this comic that summarizes this.

and this…

I adapted it a little to showcase better my state of life once I fumble with my commitments. The mess on the sushi on the table seems minor as compared to the blazing fire in the surrounding. Yet there is me, smiling weakly with a thumbs up showing that I’m okay. Or am I? 

Perhaps the most amusing story about this was when my friend asked me “do you even use the stove to make maki?” and I replied “no”.


I’ve never really done illustration quite intensively like this before. When I received the assignment brief I was thinking to myself how I would do it using photo manipulation and collaging but I decided to challenge myself to take on illustration as it provided me with freedom to do the impossible, exaggerate comical elements and facial expressions, work more intimately with colors and probably be one of the rare few times I get to work so much on digital drawings. But I think this was a worthwhile risk!

It is here I really come to appreciate color harmony and various properties of colors better – I learnt how tones, tint and shade allowed me to achieve a monochromatic look that adds details while still allowing it to look collectively one setting.

It is also here that I learnt what comedy is, strangely. It is through exaggeration, funny situations, metaphor and unexpected outcomes that we get comedy – I tried to look into what could be the most exaggerated and dramatic way to represent myself and the outcome which resulted in me pushing the boundaries of what I would conventionally doodle into something more comedic.

There are so many things I would have drawn if I had more panels but I think these four really made me happy with the outcome for a novice illustrator like myself.

What a wonderful way to conclude 2D!

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