Graphic Form Project 1: Image Making Through Type

 

Initial job ideas for this project included maze maker, pixel artist, video game designer, dreamscape engineer, architect, motion designer, letter writer and professional sleeper.

I also decided that while there was no overall theme, there would be a manifestation of myself in the form of a cat reacting to being in these jobs, most of the time not doing so well.

Maze Maker, Video Game Designer and Motion Designer (scrapped ideas)

Sketches of layout experimentation for Maze Maker
Sketch of draft for Maze Maker

I did up a few drafts for the Maze Maker job, but later scrapped the idea as it had no message that I wanted to convey.

Sketches of Motion Designer

I also created a few variations for the job of Motion Designer featuring the Adobe After Effects interface, but I was trouble incorporating that into the letter forms so I scrapped that idea as well.

Sketches of Video Game Designer

I made sketches of the Video Game Designer as well, utilising video game consoles and old-time video games like Pacman and Tetris to form the name. However, I could not find a message I wanted to convey as well, so I moved on from this idea and focused on the other job options.

Dreamscape Engineer

Sketch of Dreamscape Engineer

For this job, I had a certain mood and landscape in mind. After looking at several references, I was greatly inspired by Victor Mosquera’s Surreal Dreamscapes illustration series, which aligned with my visions for the look of this piece.

The concept I had in mind was of an uppercase ‘A’, forming a face/mask of sorts, meant to represent my assigned identity (as it is the first letter of my surname). This ‘A’ would be levitating to reveal the uppercase ‘N’ (the first letter of my name) beneath, a symbol of my actual self. Inside the ‘N’, which forms a tunnel, lies a cat which is the manifestation of my self, frantically coding on a laptop which is supposedly linked to the dreamland surroundings.

Dreamscape Engineer Version 1

After consultation with Joy, she pointed out that the message is rather ambiguous as the face is not obvious and the overall meaning of the piece was not clear enough, which I agreed with as there was no concrete message that I had though of, only that this was supposed to be a landscape in which my mind was freed. She also mentioned that the letterforms were not being utilised to fit the job, hence I decided to make a few tweaks to try and fit the brief better.

Dreamscape Engineer Version 2

I changed the uppercase ‘N’ to a few lowercase ‘n’s to utilise the shape to form a tunnel, and adjusted the uppercase ‘A’ to look more like a face, changing the protruding lines into hair and the hole into a nose.

However, as I was ultimately unable to draw a link between both letterforms and their utilisation together, I sadly decided to let go of this idea and work on something else that fit the brief.

Architect

For this job, I was inspired by these images found on Pinterest which depicted unorthodox building structures.

However, I did not want to simply construct a building without a message, so I put more thought into developing the concept. As I have always found the HDB buildings in Singapore to be rather boring with their modularity and plain colour schemes, I realised this was a good opportunity to create a response using the letterforms.

I decided that the final image would be of a HDB building, but with elements all topsy-turvy and things in places they should not be, even being in impractical positions. I chose to go with an isometric style to maintain some semblance of order as I knew the combination of elements could get rather chaotic.

Sketches of Architect

I started with using an uppercase ‘N’ at first as that allowed me to add slides using the diagonal line in between and include more elements as well. Later on, I changed the letter to an uppercase ‘A’ as that allowed me to utilise the pointy top as a roof for the building and add HDB elements as the line in between in the ‘A’. I would have the cat hanging on for dear life from a part of the structure as I wanted to convey that although it was more fun and innovating to have the elements in places they shouldn’t be, too much impracticality can have consequences as well.

Architect Version 1

In this first uncoloured version, I made the block number signage as what formed the line in between, with the edges of the building elements and tree coloured in shadow to make the letter ‘A’ more obvious.

Feedback from Joy was that she recommended the bamboo poles to replace the signage’s position as having the poles indoors would convey that sense of impracticality too.

Architect Version 2

This was the second outline I completed and I was satisfied with the usage and placement of the elements, but it looked rather flat, so I decided to add shadows.

Architect Version 2 without grid with Shadow

With the outline confirmed, all that was left was the colour scheme. In line with my concept of the anti-HDB, I decided on colours that were as vibrant as possible that would still meld well together.

Architect Version 3 with Textures in progress

This is the final combination of colours that I decided on that had a nice balance of vibrancy and slightly darker tones. I made the background yellow to add to the bright atmosphere and designed textures to be applied to certain elements so as to give the piece a more playful vibe.

Architect Final

The final piece included a cat dangling from the tables to show the dangers of impractical architecture, as intended. I also added an orange border as that made the piece look more complete.

Professional Sleeper

While researching interesting jobs, I found this one which I thought would be fun as it was reflective of my actual perpetually sleepy self.

Sketches of Professional Sleeper

The initial idea for this job features a cat lying on the surface of the uppercase N, turned to form a Z to allude to the ‘zzz’ sound of sleeping. However, Joy asked to utilise the shape of the ‘N’ more to show the job, rather than using the cat character. Hence, I tried to develop more iterations to utilise the letter form.

Various Iterations

3 is the next iteration that I came up with, with the idea of the N as a divider. The cat is supposed to be so good at their job (sleeping) that it can sleep upright and while exposed to bad weather (the rain). The other line of the N forms the roof under which the scientist observes the cat. Joy mentioned that this makes it seem more like the main job is that of the scientist, hence I dropped this idea.

5 is another iteration in which the cat is so good at their job that they can sleep upside down, but this version felt rather forced and hence I dropped it.

2 and 4 are iterations where I tried to make the uppercase ‘N’ a bed and meld the cat’s body to the shape, showing that it can sleep in any situation, even where its body contorts.

1 is where I exaggerated the shape of the ‘N’ to dramatise the concept of 2 and 4 to have a greater effect.

However, Joy pointed out that these ideas did not utilise the unique shape of the uppercase ‘N’ – the concept of the cat’s contorting body could be applied to any other letter. At this point I was having trouble grasping the brief and its specific requirements of having to utilise the letter form as well as have a concrete message, hence the multiple failed iterations.

 

New iterations for Professional Sleeper using the letter T

Therefore, I decided to change the letter entirely to something else that would be more feasible – an uppercase ‘T’. With this new letterform I came up with another idea as well – a Trapeeze Artist. Joy approved of both ideas and hence I decided to stick with the Professional Sleeper.

This new idea consisted of a very thick top line balancing on top of a very thin pole. The thick line makes up the bed the cat is sleeping on and is tilting at an angle, making the cat about to slip off, showing that even in precarious situations the cat is able to sleep, and is hence good at its job.

Professional Sleeper Version 1

I decided to incorporate the dreamscape setting from the previously scraped ‘Dreamscape Engineer’ job as it fit this job as well.

I selected a gradiented style and softer colour scheme that incorporated darker colours to contrast the pastels, which would suit the dreamland setting. This first iteration utilises more dark colours.

Professional Sleeper Version 2 (Final)

This second iteration utilises more pastel colours and I decided to stick with this scheme as it suited the dreamland setting more. I also added a blanket and pillow to make the top of the ‘T’ look more like a bed. This version would also be used as my final.

Sushi Chef

More ideas for the letter N

Keeping on with the idea of using the uppercase ‘N’ as a divider, which is unique to this letter, I came up with more ideas on how this could be utilised. The sushi chef features the cat chef on one side, with the letter forming the conveyor belt, and the diagonal line in between forming a divide between the kitchen and the dining area.

The fake Facebooker (another job I researched upon that seemed rather unique) features the cat on their computer on one side, with the ‘N’s diagonal line forming a divide between the cat and their screen showing the job. However, as the message was rather unclear for this job, I decided to go with the sushi chef idea.

 

Sushi Chef Version 2

I then decided to change my letter from an uppercase ‘N’ to an uppercase ‘A’. This is because I thought I could do more with the concept I had in mind, which was to have a kitchen too small so as to have more space for the customers. The ‘A’ would be more effective for this, and I adjusted the hole in the ‘A’ to be squished and small, with the chef cat struggling to get its ingredients all in the small space. The lines below formed the dining area for plenty of customers to fit. The letter itself formed the conveyor belt by which the sushi travels.

Sushi Chef Final Version

In the final version, I decided upon a cut-out paper style to reflect a more ‘Japanese’ aesthetic since it was supposed to be a sushi restaurant, and paper crafts are common in Japanese art. The colour scheme I chose also featured turquoise and salmon and beige to reflect actual sushi restaurants.

Robot-building Robot Operator

Robot-building Robot Operator Sketch

Above is a sketch of a Robot-building Robot Operator. I first came up with the idea of utilising the diagonal line in between to form the arms of the robot, and when thinking of items the robot could build, I thought it would be amusing if the robot was building another robot.

Due to the structure of the ‘N’, the arms are unable to properly balance and support the robot being built, resulting in the robot’s components falling out and the robot bracing for dear life with its legs. The cat is controlling the robot from an operating room located in the side of the ‘N’, about to panic.

Robot-building Robot Operator Version 1

The first style I tried was a cartoon-y style with outlines as I felt that it suited the fun, ironic mood of the piece. The colour scheme also featured red, yellow, green and blue to add an association to the toy-form of the robot.

Robot-building Robot Operator Version 2

The second style I tried was one without outlines as I felt that the one with outlines looked really tacky. I felt that this worked, but it was missing something.

Robot-building Robot Operator Version 3

The third style I tried was one that leaned towards a more Noir style, with the whole robot thrown into shadow and everything in solely black and white. While I really loved this iteration, there were many details that became unclear because of the style, and hence I could not go ahead with this.

Robot-building Robot Operator Final Version

I decided to change up the style to look more like crayon was used for the edges and adjusted the colour scheme to better suit the ‘toy robot’ theme I envisioned.

Final Thoughts

Out of all these pieces, I am most satisfied with the “Architect” piece as it was my first time trying out the isometric style. It was challenging but rewarding to arrange the pieces together and complete it.

It was also fun to do the “Sushi Chef” piece as I could add little details of a sushi restaurant like the customers putting the plates back onto the conveyor belt after eating, or eating the sushi halfway and returning it.

This project was one of the most challenging ones I have encountered in the 2D/Graphic Form vein as I had a lot of trouble grasping the purpose of the brief. It was especially tough to figure out ways to utilise the uniqueness of the letterforms and yet incorporate an intended message inside. Given more time, I would have liked to develop my ideas further and add more details to the pieces.

Zine: Locale Part ll

Process

In the survey, I asked the participants what facilities they thought could be in Tuas, other than industrial buildings. One unorthodox answer was a theme park, and Joy suggested that I draw upon this and reimagine Tuas as a theme park for the zine. Another option was to create a guidebook for all the picturesque spots in Tuas as some of my research included such spots.

However, as some of said spots were no longer open to the public or not as accessible, this idea was not very feasible. I also much preferred the idea of reimagining Tuas as a theme park, and hence decided to go with that instead.

Concept

I had two ideas regarding the theme of reimagining Tuas: the first being the various areas of Tuas being “repurposed” to become elements of a theme park, e.g. industrial metal piping becoming slides, a lighthouse becoming a helter skelter, part of the amenity centre becoming a carousell etc.

The second idea would be to reimagine Tuas as various landmarks including a theme park, shopping mall, ice skating rink etc. However, I was not too sure about this idea as it may be going down the vein of commercialising the area too much.

I wanted to utilise paper pop-outs and paper layering in the spreads. The purpose of having these layouts is to reflect the hidden surprises and create wonder within the viewer/reader with regards to the reimagined Tuas.

In the end after consulting with Joy, I decided to go with my first idea of the various areas of Tuas being “repurposed” to become elements of a theme park. However, in the interest of time, I had to scrap the experimental layouts I had in mind and stick to a completely digital layout.

Looking at the ideas I had as to what to feature in the zine, I decided that the zine would take the form of a guide book to the highlights of the reimagined Tuas theme park.

Style

As the main aim was to draw out the elements of Tuas and what makes the location unique and bring them into the zine, I planned for the style to be mostly geometrical with minor organic shapes as detailing. This is an ode to the largely angular and modular architecture in Tuas as most of the area consists of industrial buildings.

I decided on using photos that I had taken of certain landmarks, cropping them in an angular style and illustrating upon them to transform them into their reimagined state. This was to show the difference and contrast between the existing aspects of Tuas and the reimagined aspects.

Colour Scheme

The initial colour scheme I came up with followed the common colours seen in Tuas closely – greys, tans, and muted blues. However, having this colour scheme killed any inspiration or motivation I had to work on the zine as it looked utterly dull and boring. After consultation with Joy, she mentioned that the colour scheme depended on my intentions in designing the zine. If I wanted to take on a more realistic stance and have the zine have a somewhat ironic note on how it is supposed to be a theme park but is dull, then I could stick to the original colour scheme. But if I wanted it to be completely imaginative, then I could also choose to go wild with the colour scheme.

In the end, I decided to go for a more vibrant colour scheme, but I still wanted to retain some element of Tuas. Hence, I decided to use the blues of the buildings, yellows of some of the walls, and pinks of the roof tiles and bricks and appropriate these colours to a more amped up, vibrant version to suit the theme of an amusement park.

Motifs

Common motifs I noticed in Tuas would be the orderly formation of windows on the multitudes of industrial buildings, as well as corrugated metal from multiple construction sites. I decided to reinterpret the windows into grids and corrugated metal into stripes, which I would later repeat in my spreads as either part of the illustrated elements or incorporated into the background.

WIP

Page 8-1 (Ticket)

Sketch of front cover

The idea I had for the cover page would be a ticket to enter the theme park. Joy suggested that the back page could be the ending of the progression in the zine, and that it could show the ticket at the end of the participant’s day at the theme park. This was a great idea and I decided to incorporate it into the zine. The sketch I did was for a horizontal layout, but I later changed it to a vertical layout as that was more seamless with the rest of the zine.

Ticket Front Version 1
Ticket Front Version 2
Ticket Back Version 1 & Ticket Front Version 3

The ticket went through many redesigns, but I finally managed to settle on one I liked and thought was suitable.

Ticket Back and Ticket Front Final Versions

The dates convey the time from which I started working on designing the zine, to the time it was due in class. As the theme is of reimagining Tuas, the idea is that this amusement park will only exist in my imagination for the time that I am working on it.

I also included a chop stating “Leaving Singapore” on the front and “Returning to Singapore” on the back as a satirical statement on the inaccessibility of Tuas, and the area being so distant from civilisation that it seems like a separate part from Singapore entirely.

Page 2-3 (Industrial MRT Rollercoaster)

I came up with the idea of turning an industrial plant into a rollercoaster ride as during my research process in Tuas, my friend and I passed by a huge metal structure of intertwined pipes and she said that it looked like a theme park from far. Hence, I decided to have a rollercoaster reimagined from pipes as my first feature in the zine.

Image Source: Pinterest

In terms of layout, the spread would have folded paper textures to enhance the form of the images as it will be 3D on top of 2D images. Above is an example of what I mean.

Sketch of Industrial MRT Rollercoaster Version 1

Version one features a horizontal spread, with a part of the rollercoaster cut-out to adhere to the layout I had in mind with the folded paper textures.

Sketch of Industrial MRT Rollercoaster Version 2

Version two features a vertical spread, with a part of the rollercoaster cut-out as well, as part of my layout exploration. I also added an explanation box to add to the guidebook theme. In the end, I decided to go with the horizontal spread and remove the cut-outs in the interest of time.

Sketch of Industrial MRT Rollercoaster Version 3

I briefly considered a comic strip layout as well, but decided that it did not suit the guidebook theme.

As the MRT stations in Tuas (Gul Circle, Tuas Link, Tuas Crescent and Tuas West Road MRT) all feature an architectural aspect unique to the Tuas West Extension – the pointed tip of the roof – I thought that it would be necessary to include the MRT station in my zine. It also looked like it could be the station where people get on and off rollercoaster rides, hence I decided to reimagine it as that.

Something unique about Tuas Link MRT station is that it is the only MRT station in Singapore where the station is above ground, but commuters have to go downwards from the concourse to the platform instead of upwards. As a nod to this feature, I decided to place the station in the upper section of the spread, with the rollercoaster tracks going downwards from it.

Having pipes connected to the MRT station looked rather odd, so I decided to have a hybrid of pipes and MRT tracks to form the rollercoaster in the end.

Industrial MRT Rollercoaster Version 1 WIP

The page on the left shows the pipes and the right shows the MRT tracks. In the background, I set a paper texture that was akin to the concrete often seen in Tuas, as well as a grid pattern as part of the motifs I wanted to include. However, I greatly disliked the colour scheme and was extremely unmotivated to continue. The colours combined with the geometric, angular style made the piece look very flat and boring, which I hated.

However, after consulting Joy and changing my colour scheme to something more vibrant, I was inspired once more to continue developing my design.

Industrial MRT Rollercoaster Version 2 WIP

I decided to adopt  a blue-yellow-pink palette as previously mentioned in the Colour Scheme section above. I made the background yellow at first for the whole spread, but later changed it as I wanted a bit more contrast since the pipes and MRT tracks were 2 different materials to form the rollercoaster. I also used negative space on the side with the pipe in white to include a tidbit about the ride.

Industrial MRT Rollercoaster Version 3 WIP

After completing the colours, I was afraid that the lines connecting the pipes and tracks may not align perfectly once the zine was binded. To combat this problem, I added a white border with rounded corners on each page to match the style of the rollercoaster. I also included the motif of stripes in the railings and tracks of the ride.

Industrial MRT Rollercoaster Version 4

After adding the border, my original idea was to place more emphasis on the highlights of the ride. To do this, I decided to have the whole spread in black and white and only place the important parts of the ride in a circle/ellipse of colour.

However, I much preferred the colours in their full glory, hence I decided to scrap the idea of the coloured circles.

Industrial MRT Rollercoaster Version 5

Joy also mentioned that the body text in bold drew more attention than the title text of the ride which was only in an outline. Hence, I changed the title text to be filled instead of outlined, and the body text to medium weight instead of bolded, as can be seen in the image above.

After printing, the yellow colour came out really pale, so I had to adjust it to become more saturated, which can be seen later in the final piece.

Industrial MRT Rollercoaster Final Version

Page 4-5 (Map)

In a very early stage of planning the middle spread, I intended for it to be a third theme park akin to ones that had transportable rides, almost similar to a traveling circus. It would include rides like the amenity center carousel, Tiger Beer snack shop, factory Haunted House, and other attractions.

Image Source: Pinterest

I planned for the layout to be like the image above, the spread having a foldout piece to form the “bottom” of the image, creating a 3-D like space like the previous spread.

Sketches of Page 4-5 (middle spread)

I intended for the foldable sheet to have scenery elements, but had to do away with the whole idea of a foldable sheet in the end due to time constraints. Instead, I decided to utilise the middle spread not having any alignment problems and design a map of the theme park instead.

I planned to separate the map into three sections according to category: water theme park, industrial theme park and miscellaneous facilities.

I flushed all the facility locations to be on one side of the map, making it really inconvenient and inaccessible if this were a real theme park, as a nod to how the facilities in Tuas truly are quite out of reach. There are also much fewer facilities than a normal theme park would have, yet again as a reference to how Tuas only has one amenity centre in the entire area in real life.

The shape of the map itself also follows the actual shape of Tuas.

I added foliage to the corners to help direct the viewer’s eye to the center.

Map Version 1 WIP

In this first version, the island contains more texture and patterns, similar to the style of the Zine: Locale Part 1 final video.

Map Version 2 WIP

I did a second version with a different background as I thought it resembled water surrounding the island, emphasising the isolation from the rest of Singapore.

I much preferred the first version as the black background helped the colours pop more, but Joy mentioned that it did not really fit the vibrant overall look of my zine and I agreed. Hence, I went ahead with the second version.

Later on, I added a border as well to keep the consistency throughout the spreads in the zine.

Map Version 3 WIP

I adjusted the surrounding foliage so that there could be more focus on the island.

Map Final Version

I also changed the actual style of the island from the textured look to a more vectorised, flat look to keep consistent with the rest of the pages.

Page 6-7 (Water Theme Park)

This was the spread I had the most trouble with, due to not really knowing what to do about the composition and layout.

Image Source: Pinterest

I wanted the third spread to feature several layers cut along the top of the image’s outline to give the image some depth, in a similar fashion to the image above. In the end, I also scrapped this idea due to lack of time and decided to stick to a fully digital image.

The rides I wanted to feature were a yacht turned into a viking ship ride, and a lighthouse transformed into a helter skelter ride. The lighthouse is one of the more significant landmarks in Tuas due to being very picturesque. I also chose the yacht as while yachts are not unique to Tuas, it is interesting that there is a place featuring such leisurely activities in an area that everyone assumes contains nothing but industrial buildings.

Sketches of Water Theme Park

In the sketch, I experimented with a vertical layout, but later changed to a horizontal layout to match the rest of the zine as the planning of the other spreads was finalised by then.

The image of the lighthouse I used is the only image in the zine not taken by me. I was unable to get a clear, close-up photo of it as the pier leading to the lighthouse was not opened to members of the public. Hence, I used an image from  https://untouristsingapore.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/raffles-marina-club-its-johor-strait-lighthouse-a-hidden-find/ .

Water Theme Park Version 1

At this point in time, I had not come upon the idea of turning this section into a water theme park – I just knew this part of the theme park would be near the sea to stay true to the actual monuments I was reimagining. I had not confirmed my style at this time as well, experimenting with paper textures to form waves and sand and sky. As I had also not confirmed my colour scheme (this piece was made before consulting with Joy in person, hence nothing was really confirmed), I found the piece a bore to work on and hated the look of it.

After I had consulted Joy and confirmed my colour scheme, things began to look up. I also confirmed the idea that this area would be a water themed park instead of just a usual one.

Water Theme Park Version 2

I used the negative space of the border to form a wave as a device to help direct the viewer’s eyes towards the ship. I made the background blue but it still looked rather plain.

Water Theme Park Version 3

I tried another version with layers of waves and gradient sky to make the imagery more dynamic. I also adjusted the text to match the look of the rest of the zine. I included the motif of stripes in the pier and winding slide around the lighthouse

Water Theme Park Version 3.5

While I found the gradient to be beautiful, I felt that it did not match the rest of the zine that much as everything else had clean lines marking the changes in colour. Hence, I tried to change the sky to match this style and it had quite a nice effect.

Water Theme Park Version 4

I decided to swap the pages’ sides as the Industrial MRT Rollercoaster had its negative space tidbit on the left side as well. Changing this spread would move the wave to the right side, which I thought would be nice for a bit of balance for the zine’s overall look. I also changed up the water to a cleaner style that I thought fit better with the other spreads.

My classmates commented that the previous version did not really look enough like a water theme park, so I added floats and more water slides in linework in the background of the “Lighthouse Helter Skelter” page. I did away with the multicoloured sky so more focus could be on the slides.

Water Theme Park Final Version

I really enjoyed the look of the sky in Version 3.5, so I decided to stick with that instead. Joy also mentioned that I had to be careful that the water slide linework did not look like escalators as the currently did – so I just did away with them. I added water splashes to add to the effect of a water theme park.

Final

This is the final zine.

Front and Back cover

The front and back cover feature a connected background and lighting in the foreground. The front cover shows a ticket to the Theme Park. The back cover shows the ticket after a day at the theme park, corner somewhat warped after getting wet at the water theme park.

Page 2-3 (Water Theme Park)

I decided to shift this spread to the front, to follow the map’s progression of water theme park > industrial theme park > facilities.

Page 4-5 (Map)

The map was chosen to be put in the middle spread as I would not have to worry about aligning the middle.

Page 6-7 (Industrial MRT Rollercoaster)

I decided to shift this spread to the back, as it came after the water theme park.

In terms of the material, I considered a glossy material harkening back to theme park brochures one would typically come across. However, upon looking at the material at the printing shop, the glossy material seemed like it would cheapen the look of the zine. Hence, I opted for a sturdier material instead – High White 135gsm.

This is what the zine looks like in person (colours are more saturated in person):

Front Cover
Pages 2-3
Pages 4-5
Pages 6-7
Back cover

 

Final Thoughts

Through a ton of experimentation, I learnt a lot about the contributing factors to an effective layout. I also learned how to incorporate motifs in abstract forms and utilise colour to add to theme of the zine. While I sadly did not get to experiment with different formats like the pop-outs and paper layering, I still learnt how to come up with an interesting format for the spreads.

I also learnt how to compromise on the colour scheme instead of continuing to work using a scheme that was uninspiring. All in all, it was a great experience and I am happy that I did not settle until I was proud of how my zine turned out.