Rochele Lim Shu Xian

Zine: Neighbourhood Explorer

This project aims to explore experimental formats and present information collected from research in a visually engaging manner. I made this zine with the idea that photos can tell their own stories. Therefore, the photos in the zine were carefully sourced in order to bring out the vintage, old-school vibe of a place.

2D II | Zine Final

We have come to the end of our Foundation 2D journey. And I have to say this zine project is by far the best – the fact that we get to go out and explore ?! It’s almost like giving you a day off from all the assignments but at the same time you ARE DOING the assignment.

Ok I think you get what I mean.

Before heading to my assigned neighbourhood, I knew what I wanted my zine to be — definitely a photo-centric zine for sure. But after a two-day exploration, I was left with SO MANY photos that I had no idea where they should go to. And I started to wonder why do we only get a 8pp zine? Little did I know, 8pp is a huge challenge.

Since we are so used to using social media these days, writing captions are just a random task we do on a daily basis – YES CAPTIONS; that’s where my idea came from. I decided to focus on some of the more interesting photos and caption them. So I started naming each of them but they didn’t really make sense after awhile when I imagined putting them together. Hence, I figured.. maybe I should group the photos according to their area, colours, texture etc and from there I could create a narrative. This made the whole thing a lot more easier.

Here is the final product, which I printed on grainy, off-white paper to maintain the nostalgic feels.

Printing was a total disaster for me! It involved tears and more tears – camping outside different printing shops just because the one before didn’t give you the right size and colours. But overall I learnt something from all the obstacles I faced –

  • Try a different type of paper may help with the colour issues or give you better, unexpected result!
  • Always remember to state what you want CLEARLY to the printing staffs; mock-ups are highly recommended!!
  • Learn to reject them if it’s not printed correctly… *cries a river for all the $$ spent*

All in all, it was a great experience! Having the opportunity to learn and explore Indesign has sparked my interest in creating my own personal zines in this coming holidays. I realised that I took too many photos on a weekly basis and I have nowhere to store?? Maybe it’s time to put them into good use.. I had a lot of fun researching about zines and their layouts. I have to stress that researching layouts is an IMPORTANT step because it helps to direct you to a focal point when/if you are lost and it also gives you more ideas that will make your zine a little more interesting. Even though I really like some of the layouts, but they don’t really fit my current zine project theme and I look forward to incorporate those into my future zines. CANT WAIT to discover what’s next for me!

And let’s just pray that I have learnt my mistakes and the printing process will turn out smoothly next time.

This ONE year has been good to me. Thank You Prof. Shirley for all the guidance and my fellow classmates from both G8 and G1 for all the fun and support.

Links to previous posts –


2D II | Zine Process


Thanks to Indesign tutorial lesson (which helps ALOT) !

Okay so, just to recap. My idea for this zine is to let the photos tell the story. With that in mind, I began to filter a ton of photos taken from Sengkang and try to look for the ones that fit the abandoned, vintage vibe I’m going for.

Front Cover

The original photos I have taken are all too bright, with pure colours which didn’t fit the theme of my photo-centric zine. I wanted dull, more muted colours to suggest a sense of melancholy, hence I desaturated all my photos and adjusted the mid-tone contrast. And ta-daaa the whole mood changes!

Some variations I made for the front cover as below.

Cover #1: Decided to make the cover as simple as possible and the lonely slipper is exactly what I needed. Couldn’t really decide on the name of my zine so AWAY is what it is at the moment.

Cover #2: Moved the paragraph text to the bottom so that it doesn’t float and tried to play around with the letters “SENGKANG”, but after sitting on it for awhile, I feel like it’s hard to read, especially to people who don’t even know the existence of Sengkang.

Cover #3: Felt that the previous font was a tad too rigid, went for font shopping and settled on this – handwritten letters, a little cursive yet readable! Changed the font colour because black makes it looks like it is screaming at me..and way too cold (??) as well as professional. Also, moved the paragraph text again to the bottom left so that the page looks less crowded with that extra white space.

[FINAL] Cover #4: Added in some elements.. and finally it’s good to go!








From top:

I started designing my layout by arranging the photos so that their colours fit well to one another on a plain white background. Felt that the visual hierarchy wasn’t strong enough, Prof Shirley suggested me to cut off the sky of the smallest photo. The photos look boring so I added a yellow colour box with about 30% opacity that cuts across the spread – to show connection between the two pages so that the photos don’t look like they are all individual entities.

Page 4 & Page 5






From top:

I did the same layout for this spread – a large photo at one page and reduces each photo size for the next page, to match the spread before this. To spice things up a little, I played with colour box again to give it a contrast and depth. Also I added the tiny cross patterns at the right bottom to make the whole spread looks slightly quirky.

 Page 6 & IBC






From top:

Here comes the final spread. I figured I need to do something different from my previous two spreads and hence I placed my photos into two big circular shapes. Initially, I used two photos (with a slight variation; taken at different angles) in two circles and made them link in the middle (?). To complement this new look, I added another yellow circle as background shape on the next page. In addition, I broke the plant photo into fragments to match my broken stool.

But it was still lacking something.

The yellow circle didn’t look pleasing to my eyes. SO I switched it to triangles instead – in the text, I mentioned “looking back”, hence it might be appropriate to place a few triangles and form the “rewind” icon. I chose pink this time to match the colour of the stool so that the whole spread have a consistent colour scheme, rather than having a yellow shape that pops out itself. During consultation, Prof. Shirley experimented with me by placing only one photo in the two circles and scaled up the circular shapes to break the spread, leaving a breathing space on the top left corner. The visual flow was so much better right now. I am pretty satisfied with it!

Back Cover

Didn’t really pay much attention to the back cover throughout the Indesign journey. Having a large photo on my front cover, I thought of including a smaller one at the back and have a brief description of what my zine is all about. The white background was a little boring, hence i added in the polka dots pattern to give it a fun-nature! LOVING IT.

Draft #1:

Draft #2: 

AAAAANNNND off to print!!!

2D II | Neighbourhood Research

When we returned from our first semester break, we were all tasked to list down one or a few places that we are familiar with. Little did I know that this was part of our 2D project – we were assigned a neighbourhood that we are UNfamiliar with to explore and find out the “interesting” features about the subject area.

I was allocated to Sengkang (secretly hoping to get Changi lol.) But oh well, let’s keep an open mind, shall we? Sengkang in my mind, was just a place almost reaching the far end of the Purple Line and it also seems like a place with parks and greens everywhere (which proved to be true too!). Literally there was nothing fun I can think of when it comes to this location. As usual, I went on to Google “things to do in Sengkang” but all I get was the typical stuffs such as riverside park, wetland, complex, food etc. 

No way I’m going to build my zine around nature theme so I decided to JUST GO there and I will figure the things out later.

As expected, all I could see is HDBs and MORE of them as I walked around; maybe just a change of colours.

  • Idea #1: A series of visuals about flats and its somewhat interesting architecture

I chanced upon Jalan Kayu (a malay term of “wooden road”) while I was exploring Fernvale. Why is it called wooden road?? I find it rather unique as compared to other areas’ name. Curious, I googled about Jalan Kayu and it opened a new door for me.

One version for the road name’s origin is that firewood used to be stacked on the roadside. Another version is that the muddy laterite roads leading to the rubber estates in the area were made passable due to logs of wood that used to cover the muddy roads, hence the term in Malay jalan kayu. -Wikipedia

Jalan Kayu itself is an one lane road. My first impression of the road was that it was just a typical road dotted with many bars and restaurants of different cuisines. My mind was completely blank. I wanted that “something” of Sengkang but I had no idea what it is and where to find it. Annoyed by the fact that I had to go home empty-handed, I walked into an alley and A HA! I found a gem.

The architecture of these shophouses wasn’t what I would have imagined it to be. It exudes a kind of 70s post-war vibe. Vintage. Retro. I thought I was transported to another era or even country. Besides, I realised that the colours are recurring.

  • Idea #2: A series of visuals about the interesting things I found along this route + play with colours

After my first trip to Sengkang, I was left rather confused, undecided on what to do for the project. Should I extend my search to another area?  And YEAP I went back again on the following week to further dissect the subject area.

It was raining the day I went back, so I took the bus instead and travelled along Jalan Kayu till the end which I then entered into the British-built military compound. Seletar Airport is just a few minutes drive away and I knew that was going to be my next spot! 

There wasn’t a single passenger there on that day. It did feel like I own the entire airport. After spending some time walking around the airport, I started wondering about my whole existence. What if I disappear right here right now? 

Onwards to my next stop – Buangkok.

I wasn’t really that interested about Buangkok area mainly because it has been a “touristy” place. Nonetheless, I decided to pay a visit and see what it has to offer. 

And then it hit me that all the photos I have taken has this same kind of vibe which I feel cold, distant, abandoned and yes LONELY.

It’s time to work on the Zine concept —



2D II | Zine Layouts


I love that the principle of hierarchy in terms of scale is being used here such that the main structure/building covers a bigger area of the page. The designer then zooms in on the details of the structure with smaller photos aside. Besides, there is a substantial negative space left around the photos which makes the elements more visible to the readers. The typefaces used are all the same size and weight, achieving equivalency so that readers’ attention is drawn to the visuals rather than text.


What’s interesting in this layout is the way designer breaks up the text or the photo so that they span across two pages. The typeface is strategically placed, giving the content ample room to breathe. I love how the text is arranged in such a way that the paragraph is aligned to the left when it is on the left side of the page and vice versa when it is on the right. “People read bigger things first” – the designer differentiates the title of each segment by altering the text’s sizing and spacing.


I love the minimalist clean look of this layout. Simple color blocking is used with just three colors – red, sand beige and black. By adding a layer of color onto the photo or part of the photo, it adds visual interest to a normal photograph. With just clean lines and airy space, the whole layout looks more chic and stylish. Color blocking chops up large pieces of content, making it more interesting than an otherwise plain page.


The typeface of this layout attracts me at first sight. I like that the titles are made obvious due to being bigger and bolder. Although all the texts are of the same typeface, visual hierarchy is being established when there is a modification of sizing and its weight. Besides, the photos are broken into grids which add visual interest. There is also a clear structure in this layout such that readers find it easy to focus on the content.


Simplicity is the focus in this layout where Z pattern is being practiced. For instance, the most important information (e.g. heading) is placed at corners and other paragraphs along the top or bottom that connects diagonally. Colors are kept to minimum – cool tones are used mainly with a dash of color in some pages. There is a clear visual hierarchy coupled with white space buffer. This helps to guide viewers through each part of the page. Placing texts on large piece of photographs helps to break up the otherwise monotonous look.

2D II | Que Sera: Final

Final four: 

Hair stylist


A simple background inspired by the barber’s red-blue-white pole is used to give viewer a clue of the job. The minimalist backdrop allows the salon elements to pop. In order to differentiate between letters and equipment, I changed the scissors into silver so that the alphabets are all in black which appeared more obvious.


Private Detective


Private detective/investigator/undercover in my mind has always been someone who is secretive with many hidden devices. Hence, I chose binoculars as the main theme here to symbolize “hiding”. I have also included a few other clues in the backdrop such as fingerprint, lipstick stain, cash as hints of the job scope. Not much of colors involved so as to portray a sense of professionalism.



Using subtle earthy hues in this composition to create a calming vibe of an unoccupied space. The white specks in the background shows that the space is in need of a major renovation and there comes the paint roller! I changed a letter’s opacity so as to make it look like it has been painted over.



My first attempt on something that is not digital.  Textured paper has been used as the base to create a kind of nostalgic feeling. A darker tone is used  to create depth, leaving the letters in white to show contrast. Watercolors are used for realism such as coffee stain on a table.


I never thought that creating a few letters can be this challenging when I was first introduced to this project and yes, this project has definitely shown me the truth.

The main difficulty in this project is to incorporate the visual elements of a job into your typeface, without having them look weird and “forced”. While this project has come to an end, there is still a long way to go. I am glad that I understand a little better on how to create a typeface using objects, without the need to twist and bend a letter. Also, I was able to try something new in this project! (aka the paper cut). Apart from that, I learnt that thumbnail sketches do help A LOT when you are suffering from creative block. Because what you sketch will always lead you to more ideas as long as you don’t stop putting down what you have in mind. Ideas will come eventually! Most importantly, I learnt that introducing visual cues into your composition instead of putting all at once can make your composition looks interesting as well as allowing viewers’ participation.

 – END –

2D II | Que Sera: Process

I started working on my sketches for the final four selected jobs.

Hair stylist

An important question I have to ask myself is – “what are the elements related to a hair stylist?”

The first thing that came up in my mind was scissors and more scissors.. comb maybe?


I love how simple the way it expresses the “cut” action. It’s like with just one look, you are able to understand what the designer is trying to convey.

I’m interested in using scissors to form part of my initials. Hence I decided to play with it with my own illustration.

Tried to incorporate the colors of a barber’s sign pole into the background, it turned out weird. Too much popping colors in one composition.

Therefore, I switched things up a little. Why does it look like a flag. (lol)

Shirley suggested that I should push the background behind by changing into narrow lines instead. Besides, the fallen hair seems unnecessary but distractions.

Finally, I went with this.

Private Detective

Next up, we have detective!

I have always wanted to be one though! I really think it’s such a cool position to be in, working as undercover. 

The common visual cues that I found in the net are pistols, handcuffs, binoculars, detective coat, hat, magnifying glass..

Not a fan of the crime scene version, I decided to use binoculars as my main subject. Since there is a kind of mystery involved in this job, so why not hiding behind the lens?

The first initial “R” was not obvious enough as the white area of the human has distracted the focal point of interest, which results in having the “R” seems broken and unrelated. After much consideration, I decided to play with the idea of using objects to form letters.

The end result definitely looks neater than the previous! Also, I filled up the background to minimize unnecessary distractions.


And then what was supposed to be cafe-related jobs has turned out to be a painter…

I got this idea from the images below:









This is the outcome. Using my own photographs taken recently to form the background of a run-down place.


Finally, we have the barista!

I  was truly excited to work on this in particular because of how much visual cues that are related to it. I decided to use the cafe setting and equipments to form my letters.


However, I was told that there are too many supporting imagery that give away the message and the fonts are not easy to read, each of the letter is “forced”. I can’t deny it after looking at it for long.

Thus, I decided to do paper cut instead, with some watercolor.

I feel that “ROCH” is a tad too long to be included in the coffee steam, hence I switched to “SX” instead.

2D II | Que Sera: Research

Project One in this semester gives us the freedom to create letter forms using both literal and abstract images to express our future jobs.

After the project briefing, I started listing down some of the jobs that I am interested in as well as deciding which initials to be used.

Short-listed jobs for consultation:

  • Banker/Wealth manager
  • Wedding planner
  • Real estate agent
  • Data analyst

I did some sketches and found some reference images, only to realise my “jobs” are way too realistic and it’s boringggg! 

Besides, I discovered that I might have misunderstood the concept of this project. For instance, I was thinking to use newspaper as the background and red bold text for my initials to express “real estate agent”. Reference images as below:


Out-of-the-world jobs please!!

After consultation, I came up with another list of jobs:

  • Hair stylist
  • Barista
  • Private detective
  • Painter (seriously??)

And of course, I went on to google a ton of different styles and visual elements that are related to my selected jobs.

It amazes me that objects can be contorted to form different characters and they are still visible as alphabets.


Loving how the end results are still looking realistic and not forceful! At first glance they look cute, but after spending a few seconds looking at them, we are able to notice the letters too!