Zine: Locale Part l – Process and Research

Final Video:

Location

My initial idea was to explore Pasir Ris as it is the neighbourhood I live in. It also seemed like the perfect size – not too large in scale like Tampines, but also not so small that there would be nothing to explore.

However, I later changed my location to Tuas as I wanted to explore a new area that I had never visited. Tuas in particular intrigued me as I was certain that most people, not just my fellow classmates and relatives, had not visited the area. I wanted to see if there was anything interesting about Tuas to uncover.

Survey

I conducted a survey to gather the impressions of Tuas, if they knew of certain events that had happened there, and whether they would visit if Tuas had certain facilities or was more accessible.

The questions and findings can be seen in the video and presentation slides.

Architecture

The architecture in Tuas is generally very angular and modular, made of mainly geometric shapes with the occasional cylindrical building.

Colours

Most of the colours I found there were white, blue, grey and brown due to the industrial nature of the buildings. Any colour I found to be slightly more vibrant like the pink of roof tiles or yellow of the occasional wall were still very muted in and of themselves.

Presentation of Findings

I decided to present my findings in the form of a motion graphics video as I wanted it to be visually engaging yet not just static images.

Storyboard

Storyboard Part 1
Storyboard Part 2 with cancelled frames

Style

Following the architecture of the actual buildings in Tuas, I cropped the buildings in a very angular manner. The video itself rarely featured any organic shapes other than as decorative accents. I also featured more photo images rather than illustrations to give a more realistic portrayal of the area.

In terms of colours, I allowed myself to use a slightly larger variety than what I found in Tuas, but kept the colours muted in adherence with the actual colour palette of Tuas.

For the overarching animation style, I took inspiration from this video:

I made presentation slides from the frames used to create the video. In it are the survey results.

Tuas Amenity Centre was covered in the slides but omitted from the actual video as it did not fit into the criteria I had of being interesting enough to attract the general public to come to Tuas.

Moving on from the video, below is an in-depth documentation of my trips to Tuas.

MRT Stations

Upon my trip to Tuas, the first places I documented were the various train stations.

Tuas Crescent MRT Station
Gul Circle MRT Station
Tuas Link MRT Station

All of them had very geometric designs, as visible from the ceiling and ground.

Exterior of Tuas Link MRT Station

I noticed that the MRT stations on the Tuas West Extension all had a unique feature – the pointed tip of the roof.

Raffles Marina Club

One of my first stops was the Raffles Marina Club, where the Raffles Marina Lighthouse is located. A special feature of the lighthouse is that it is rather famous for being a photo-worthy spot – there have even been weddings held there!

Entrance to Raffles Marina Club
Reverse side of Raffles Marina Club
Raffles Marina Lighthouse 
View of the pier
Close-up of a yacht at the pier
Various boats

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a proper close-up shot of the lighthouse as there was a sign that said the pier was off limits to the general public.

Tuas Amenity Centre

The next place I visited was the Tuas Amenity Centre, which as far as I knew was the only building that had any semblance to a shopping complex in the area.

 

Exterior of Tuas Amenity Centre
Another view of Tuas Amenity Centre
Row of shops on the first floor
Some snacks the shops sold
Some spices the shops sold

There was a row of shops on the first floor, and I noticed that while they sold typical goods one would find at a neighbourhood plaza like Milo packets, beer and Pringles chips, they also sold a large number of Indian spices and snacks. This is probably to cater to the demographic of the workers in the area.

Outdoor eating area on the first floor
Food stalls

There is also an outdoor eating area where patrons can sit after buying their food and coffee. It seemed as though the only food stalls there sold Indian and Muslim cuisine, once again probably to cater to the foreign workers who frequent the centre.

Hawker centre at the back of the building

However, when I went to the back of the building I discovered a larger hawker center that sold a multitude of cuisines including Chinese, Indian and Muslim food.

Men queuing to place bets

On the second floor, I discovered a betting centre. It was packed full of people waiting to place their bets. On another day when I returned to the centre, the centre was closed and the building was emptier than my first visit.

I also interviewed some of the foreign workers visiting the buildings and a couple of the shop owners. Unfortunately, my phone ran out of battery so I was unable to record them, but I wrote their responses down in a notebook.

The questions and their responses can be seen in the slides provided above.

Tiger Beer Brewery

Another location I visited was the Tiger Beer Brewery. I thought that this might be a place of interest as breweries are uncommon in Singapore and the tour had many perks for beer lovers.

Exterior of Tiger Beer Brewery
Exterior of Tiger Beer Brewery
Interior of Tiger Beer Brewery
Interior of Tiger Beer Brewery

The interior was more well lit in person than in these photographs and had a welcoming atmosphere.

I interviewed the ticketing receptionist about the brewery and managed to get an audio recording as well which would be played later in the video I was making to present my information.

Tuas Beach

I discovered Tuas Beach, which really was a secret beach in Tuas that had no official name, through various online articles such as the ones here, here and here.

Screenshot from https://theinfluencermedia.com/2015/02/04/5-things-you-can-find-in-tuas/
Screenshot from https://sg.get.com/sg/blog/5-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-singapores-beaches/

However, upon heading down to the address, I discovered that the entire area had been barricaded and was undergoing construction.

Exterior of barricade
A close-up of what’s past the barrier

At one point in the barricade there was a tiny window so I went up to that, peeped through and got a photo of the scene inside. It appeared that the beach was being transformed into a road of sorts.

Part of the barricade that extends for miles around the beach area

There was no other way to see what was happening to the beach, much to my disappointment.

Tuas TV World

Another interesting location I found was Tuas TV World – a filming location where Chinese dramas used to be produced in the past. Upon Googling, it seemed to be a historical landmark in Singapore and seemed like it would appeal more to people.

However, I found out pretty quickly that it has been closed off from the public and is now a tactical training village for the Police Force today.

A view of Tuas TV World from the outside. Image Source: http://joyloh.com/blog/?p=10882

Below are some images of Tuas TV World in its heyday.

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/77634078@N04/sets/72157631248627210/
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/77634078@N04/sets/72157631248627210/
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/77634078@N04/sets/72157631248627210/
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/77634078@N04/sets/72157631248627210/

I included Tuas TV World and Tuas Beach in my survey before finding out that they had closed down, but it was still eye-opening to see the results.

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.