Forrest Gump: Research, Process and Final


Fresh out from Assignment 1, we were immediately briefed on Assignment 2, Forrest Gump ( a really cool name for an assignment too btw).  As a film junkie, I was initially very excited for the assignment thinking it would be very similar to designing a film poster but boy was I wrong. The exact brief is as follows:

“In this project, you are tasked to pick four movie quotes either from one movie or various movies that you have watched over the years.

Your challenge is to create a visual narrative that expresses each quote using only symbols, pictograms, dingbats (ornaments), icons and engravings as your visual vocabulary. The old engraving imagery puts the composition into historical context. You are to manipulate, alter and deconstruct the found graphic imagery to transcend its original meaning through the creation of the indicated narratives.”

Picking out the four movie quotes wasn’t the challenge, it was the use of only symbols, pictograms, dingbats, icons and engravings as my visual vocabulary that I felt especially crippling as it greatly limited the type of visuals we could use. In addition, I had not worked on most of these elements and would not know how to apply them. This would mean extra effort for research.

I was honestly very lost during the brief, unable to visualise how the end design might actually turn out. Hence it was greatly helpful when she showed us works of previous years’ students as references.

One thing to look forward to during the assignment is silk-screen printing as we will be printing one of our final designs on a tote bag using silk-screen printing. I was especially excited as I have heard of this printing process but have never actually tried it before.

Week 1:

The first week as we officially began Assignment 2 was a technical hands-on lesson on photoshop to learn how to add effects unto our images. It was one of those lessons where I was just in complete awe (HAHA) and I’ll explain why later. To quickly summarise what was taught, the list in point form is as follows:

  • The difference between the different files on photoshop and illustrator.
  • Cropping subjects from our image using the pen tool. (which is as Ms Shirley says, the industrial standard of cropping)
  • Creating a layer mask over our desired image when editing to alter the settings.
  • Adding threshold, posterize and halftone effects on the image subject.

While it may not seem like much, I felt the step-by-step hands-on was very helpful for me as even though photoshop is a programme I feel most confident in, the step-by-step guide helped me to revisit some of my execution processes and fine-tune it to enable me to work more effectively. One example is the use of layer masking to hide areas on the layer, as well as using folders as a means to organise the workstation on photoshop.

Armed with new technical knowledge on photoshop, I embarked on my journey to complete my 4 designs. But first, the quotes!


“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” – Back to the Future, 1985

“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me” – Batman Begins, 2005

“We’re all travelling through time together every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride” – About Time, 2013

“Reach for the sky!” -Toy Story, 1995

“Then the Ugly Ducking is happy because he knows where he belongs. – Lilo & Stitch, 2002


Week 2:

Having selected my quotes, it was time to create rough drafts and brainstorm ideas. Due to time, we needed to finalise at least one design so we can start with the silkscreen process in week 3. As such, I decided to start with the quote I felt seemed like the easiest to portray.

Roads? I need roads:

Brainstorming has always been an issue of mine, and now that it’s to do with films (which I so love) the task seems even more so challenging. It’s difficult because:

  1. Quotes are made up of words and if you just break down the words and create visuals plainly on the words itself it becomes too literal.
  2. What makes those quotes so awesome is the context in which the film has set it in. To remove that context, to stray away from the main intent of the quote and to create something fresh yet embodies the same meaning just feels exasperating.

BUT being the good student I am, it still has to be done and so I decided to start with searching for Artist References and I found…

Huseyin Sahin,

A Turkish artist who is well known for his surrealistic photo collages where he combines what we are familiar with and sets it in a brand new environment. Opening doors to brand-new ideas and perspective. Here are some of my favourite works of his:

I got very intrigued by this way of collaging photos. It is done in a way that it almost feels real, but because of our understanding of nature, we know that it is not. And I thought that maybe I could explore this method of collage.

Back to brainstorming, I decided that trying to tie in my designs too much with the movie might just restrict my creativity and also, the assignment design isn’t a homage to the movie where the quote was taken from so why does it need to include it? So I thought that I would just draw out the essence of the quote and try to include ideas from the movie in my own way.

With that, I came up with draft 1 of my first design on the quote from Back to the Future.

The idea was to show a car, driving on a highway to a new adventure. (Much like what happened in the film) But instead of showing roads, I used negative space to show the roads that are supposedly there, by including the mountain features on the roadsides. The wheels of the cars are also replaced with planet cropped to look like wheels to imply that the vehicle is travelling in space. (pun intended HAHA). The symbolism of the inverted city line is to represent the adventure that the car is heading towards. With the negative space formed between the city line and the mountains seem to form a windy road connecting the two environments.

Having a clear idea of what I wanted in my head, the execution was simple and quick. (thanks to the skills picked up whoo) Anyway, comments for the design was that the wheels don’t seem to carry the message strongly across so there isn’t really a point to use planet wheels. Also, the size and position of the car can be adjusted to create a stronger visual emphasis!

(scroll bottom for final piece!)

As this was the first design completed, I decided to continue with this as my print on the tote bag for silkscreening!!



Week 3:

Production week!!! It’s the week where we got to try the entire process of silk-screening using the photo-emulsion method!!

It started with going into the dark room with our silk screen frame to apply a coat of photo-emulsion liquid. (sorry the photo isn’t straight!! )

Next, as our screens dry in the dryer, we waited and once it was done, we were to expose the photo we have (on transparency) onto the frame! We were quite fortunate to have the proper pieces of equipment for this process as watching on youtube some videos regarding silkscreen printing. Some people have to rely on the sun on its UV rays to expose the images.

Once completed (in 1 min or so?) we had to wash out the excess of the original photo emulsion paint, revealing the main design!! Here is mine!!

After this, what was left is to  do a test print of the design on the newsprint paper to ensure the design was perfect without any uncovered areas!!

Week 4:

Being recess week, all we had to do was come back to complete the above mentioned process should we mess up during week 3. I went back to class to complete 3 test prints to ensure that my silkscreen design on the frame did not peel off after washing it in week 3. As well as getting a sense of how to actually transfer the paint unto  the tote bag!

What I’ve learnt during this process is that when applying the paint, makesure to do it in 1 stroke as going repeating the motion might cause the paint to be transferred causing over-inkage. The next is to ensure that we apply sufficient pressure to ensure that it allows for the paint to be transferred. Failure to do so will cause the print to look too light or even have patches of designs as the frame is not laid straight on the table!!

But over all, I was quite satisfied with how the test print turned out. All that’s left now is to complete the print on my tote bag and finish the other 3 designs!

Week 5:

Space Monkeys

The second design cycled around Batman and  issues with his identity and juxtaposes two ideas revolving our identity – who we are and what we do. Hence I wanted to create a chracter (not batman) that in the same way causes us to ponder on the question too! And the next best alternative besides Batman is a space monkey!! So below is draft 1 of the space monkey:

With the main character of the design being the space monkey, I was faced with the challenge of deciding an appropriate for the space monkey that would help deliver something impactful yet not draw the attention away from the main character.

The result is a setting of a combination of both a forest and space. The forest represents the natural environment of the monkey, while space represents the environment we associate with an astronaut. Hence being an astronaut monkey, the character tries to find his identity and place in the world. The collision of thee two places serves to symbolise that the question of our identity does not lie simply in who we are/call ourselves to be or what we do but is actually both because both ideas play an equal significance in shaping our identities.

Comments for the design included that the pose of the astronaut seemed a little awkward and this relates to the photoshopping of him in the environment.

< Scroll below for final design>

Time Travellers

To tackle this quote, I felt that it had great potential for surrealism and thus wanted to explore the possibility of it! The idea of time travel is symbolic of the repeating clocks in a manner that looks like a road. However, the main mode of transportation is no longer by vehicles but flying turtles- as a symbol of fun. Again, for the initial drafts of this design, I had some issues working out an interesting background image for the design which would otherwise seem to lose emphasis.

Ms Shirley agreed with it as well and I adjusted the background (with the help of Ms Shirley) to create a strong halftone background effect!!

< Scroll below for final design>

Reach for Bubble Tea

I faced some major roadblocks while attempting with the final design of the assignment and I wasn’t sure if it was due to the creative juice within me running low or… was it just that I was being too literal.

The quote from Toy Story was difficult to interpret as it only had 3 words. And the association that came with the quote was very direct as well- hands towards the sky. But I did not just want to design something that seems so boring.

After consulting with Ms Shirley, she injected some fresh perspective that really helped me changed my perspective of the quote. Looking beyond what was commonly associated, I decided to explore the use of bubble tea (to represent the sky) and cranes (to show the idea of ‘reach’). However, while attempting the idea, I realised how difficult it was to incorporate bubble tea, especially the pearls into the design as they appear to be mostly black in colour which when placed in a mainly monochrome design does not seem to stand out or look interesting!

As such, I decided to use popcorn instead, with it’s fluffy outside, it looks like the clouds above! AND IT WORKS!!

< Scroll below for final design>

Tote-ally Done

With the four designs done, all that was left is to complete the silkscreening on my tote bag! Having only one tote bag, I was a little worried about how the final piece will work out. After completing a sample test print, I decided to just go with it and see how it’ll turn out. AND IT WENT GREAT TOO!! The overall design could be seen clearly on the tote (with the exception of some smaller, finer details) but I was very happy with how it came out in the end!

Final Works

Here are the final works printed for submission after the edits being made! 🙂

In all the pieces I tried to incorporate elements of surrealism for the design to feel like a window into a moment rather than a well-composed piece.


To conclude this assignment, I feel much more comfortable with breaking down ideas and finding the best way to portray them visually. And while I admit that the restrictions on visual vocabulary were extremely difficult, it did help me open my mind up to new possibilities and appreciate new art forms in the process like engravings and vintage illustrations!

Onwards to Assignment 3!!






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