Illustration for Designers: Varoom Magazine Cover (PROCESS + RESEARCH)

*My long-overdue process but still hoping it will be looked into to get graded (bless my soul I hope so)*

Hello! For this project, we dived into the cover design of a globally leading illustration magazine that features a unique combination of industry insight and critical analysis of the field of illustration. This magazine is non-other than VAROOM.

We are given 3 different choices of which theme to pick for the magazine cover design – Activism, Fantasy or Play. I picked Fantasy! Here are just some thought processes on why I picked Fantasy and who would be keen to take up a magazine on the issue.

But before diving into my process, I did some research to understand better what Varoom magazine is about.


They have an intention for each issue: “[to convey] a live reflection of what is happening in illustration at any given moment… presenting new work and giving insight into how it’s done, but also asking questions about it – why make it? – what does it mean to people?”

Varoom 36 – Rhythm
Varoom 38 – Activism

Varoom’s subject-matter helps us understand that all wider-world ideas are equally as pertinent to illustration as other creative disciplines.

Whether the work is personal or commissioned, an illustrator’s unique voice is always embedded in the work, “even a tight brief to advertise a product can tell us a lot about society and what’s considered ‘desirable’”.

Like their editor, Olivia Ahmad, said: “Illustrators have a toolkit of largely unrecognised skills that are essential for coming up with the images for which they are commissioned” and what better way than to have Varoom be a hub of discussion for the illustration community and advocate their innovative approaches to these discussions? I, as a growing creative, strongly support this.


Now we will go onto my initial stages/processes of my creation behind a Fantasy-themed cover for the magazine.

Firstly, to better showcase who my target audience is for my magazine, I created a few user personas – 1 on a negative user, 2 on ideal users of my Fantasy-themed magazine, as shown below. This was inspired and was given as a good suggestion by Lisa.

I had to narrow down and focus entirely on one user so I picked Connor as my ideal user instead. This is because I wanted to lean more towards fantasy designs for kids his age, and things related to science (but also including other weird elements) so ideas are made based on adolescents like him!

I was very inspired by the show Rick & Morty because of their bright colour palettes used in the cartoon, and the crazy bacteria elements that I love. I love weird things.

When will Rick and Morty season 4 return in 2020? | TechRadar

I have always been into body movements as well – how the human body works. So some of my inspiration came from that too as seen in the images below – even the fetus position is something worth pondering for me. There’s a beauty in the way we move and unfold ourselves.

Gefällt 1,543 Mal, 39 Kommentare - Stepha Lawson (@thelanguageofbirth) auf Instagram: „A high holy project I was commissioned for by @harvardcommon, birthed by Mrs. Lindsey Bliss over at…“

so I looked more into figure drawings, just for inspirations.

I then decided to do 12 note-pad sketches for ideation and further explore my choices.


Looking back at my scribbled sketches, I realised I lean more towards things that include germs and bacterias along with the human body as well. (The one that’s purposely sized bigger than the other 3 above!) Surrealistic, in a way. And this brings me to my overarching theme for Fantasy: a world that drug users would probably see – psychedelic human melting-bacteria.  Weird, I know.

I even did a few simple illustrations to push my idea further.

I then went on to draw what I visioned in my mind:

I went to further digitize it and then think about the colours there:

And hence, just to recap, my final! You can look into the previous post to see more as a final submission. I apologise again for this late process post but I wanted it to be close to perfect and unfortunately didn’t have time to do so before. So here you go, thank you for reading all the way if you did!


Week 2 Activities – Portrait-drawing of the other + Random geometric shapes


We’re welcoming the New Year by breaking the awkward human barrier. We drew the portrait of a person in class we’re not close to within 15 mins (hence having to look at every part of their precious facial features so that’s why it was slightly awkward but it was nice drawing Daphne)!

We had to consider stylisation while trying to capture their personality in the drawing.

I dig. Loved this activity.

Everyone has very different styles in their portraits and that’s why it was fun. Everyone had different ways of seeing and creating.

Onto Activity 2

We were told to draw any one of the geometric shapes (circle, square, triangle). Then, draw it again with rules of touching the other geometric shapes. And this goes on until we had to draw a huge shape that touches the ends of the paper.

I somewhat recalled that this activity had something to do with the Bauhaus movement – “simple but elegant geometric shapes were designed based on the intended function or purpose of a building or an object.”

I clearly do not know what I was drawing but I think the same goes for my classmates. But the outcome was weirdly extraordinary. What started off as a simple shape, became a unique form of architecture on paper.

More to create in the few weeks for our Self-portrait & Portrait of your partner. See you then!

Typography I – In-Class Activity Wk 9

WeeeewOOOO this was fun but took too much of my time trying to get the grids and layout right. Not sure whether I like this ‘baseline grid’ guy at all.

(look Mummm, I finally made my own menu page, and I even made it HALAL!)

Micro-Project 7 – Video Selfie

When we were asked to do this project, to mimic our favourite artist’s (singers, painters, actors etc) persona, I knew for sure who I wanted to be.

Melanie Martinez.

She is an American singer who became famous because of her appearance on The Voice. She has this crazy, sad, childish persona and even dressed as one in all her music videos such as Pity Party, Dollhouse, Cry Baby, Pacify Her and more.

Bits and pieces of her persona in the music video are shown in her actions such as playing with dolls, cracking their head, playing with soft toys and cutting them when she’s upset, being upset at random timing, screaming, laughing and crying. I’m in love with her music videos because her acting and emotions makes her persona so real in them. And because of that persona she portrays, she manages to bring out the meaning behind her music videos very well.

So what I did to mimic her was to dress up close to her: bright-coloured dress, piggy-tailed hairstyle that’s usually associated with some kiddy style, red lips make-up because she always has dark coloured or bright coloured full on lipstick on her lips. I decided to do fake freckles on my face too using eyeliner.

Then i did the setting in my room, on the bed with some of me and my sister’s soft toys and a knife to show how crazy I am to play with something so dangerous that can cut, along with the soft toys and myself (who can bleed).

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Now time to draw the curtains. I’m a mess.




Form and Visualisation: Sketches & Model-Making of Assignment 1

For this assignment, our task was to create a mobile phone dock where the product can not only fit the phone into it but could also function as 2 things:

a speaker, a charging port.

Below are some sketches on the initial ideas I had before choosing which one of it I want to create. My processes into designing the model are below these sketches as well.

Brainstorming ideas: 

For my first idea, it could function as stated above but I didn’t think of making the phone screen obvious for the user to check their phones once in a while when they have to. So I didn’t really like my first idea as it was not a good product design. Hence moving onto the 2nd idea below.

The design above was inspired by my spectacle box.

Instead of keeping spectacles inside, it will be the phone kept in there, especially when needed to charge. Hence the charging port will be inside the box. The speaker is designed in the outer portion of the box. It can serve as an open and close box, for safe-keeping of your phone as well!

But I wanted more of a minimalistic, unique design. A different kind of geometric form, such as an octagon.

I was excited about this idea so I tried executing it. But the first time I did it, I did it without the right measurements so it ended up bad like this:

It did not even have a proper geometric shape hence an unsuccessful attempt. So I did another attempt, using a bigger foam to form an octagon model.

However I didn’t like it that much due to the fact that it has more of a cube form than an octagon.

So I decided to swerve my thought into another idea: a Diamond form. Still a geometric form but uniquely different because of how it will end up to be.

Like the picture above, I wanted to take two pyramids from last semester’s pyramid form I made to create a diamond when attached together.

My pyramid from last year’s Foundation 3D class

It looks perfect and all but i needed to make it in a bigger size to fit my iPhone 7 Plus phone into it. This is where the real challenge starts: I forgot how to create a pyramid form.

So of course my first attempt into creating it becomes this:

Yet again, unsuccessful.

But with my friend’s help and the right measurements and learning again how to cut the cube to a pyramid by slanting the wire from the machine foam cutter, I managed to create the right ones (after 2 hours of cutting and getting it right) and form it into my diamond:

I created the slit to put my phone in it BEFORE i pasted the 2 pyramids together. Hence, i needed to really cut and follow through the right measurements of my phone to let it fit in.
Inspired by superhero movies like Guardians Of Galaxy or Black Panther to come up with the shape and colour.

And here it is, my final model for the mobile phone dock 🙂

2D EGO – Process

In addition to my previous post, I’m going to talk more on the concept for my idea behind my EGO project.


I chose to be a Moon instead of any other thing or human beings because I have always thought Moon are beautiful, despite it having their phases, just like humans. I have always associated myself with the moon, so why not be…a Moon this time? Haha.

I researched more on the Moon phases because the meaning behind each tells a significant part of a story in my life and how I can show that the Moon cycle is also a growing cycle for me. Here’s the Moon theory, a concept I use for this final project.

So the arrows pointing to the numbers in circles, is to show how i will be representing myself in the panel of that number.

For example for the 1st, I am a ‘New Moon’ because my first panel is:

Me looking forward to JC life  +  Toxic friends  = Sad me, not excited anymore

For my 2nd, I am a ‘Crescent Moon’ because my second panel is:

Me wanting to get through JC life  +  Books (Me working hard) = Happy me holding an award 

For my 3rd, I am a ‘First Quarter Moon’ because my third panel is:

Depressed me  +  Loved by friends and family = I’m slowly healing, becoming a stronger me

And last but not least, for my 4th, I am a ‘Full Moon’  because my fourth panel is:

Happy me, renewed + Met someone new that I can vibe with = Happier me, in love

So I drew out my ideas and how I would want it to look. Since I decided to do traditional illustration  because I’m better by doing things traditionally (and not digitally), now is my time to make full use of it. I chose to execute this by making a tall black board with 12 square panels to make a pop-up within each empty panel, of my illustration of the Moon (me).

And for the colour scheme…

There’s a contrast between the first moon panel, New Moon, and the last moon panel, Full Moon because one shows the beginning of my “sad” stage, and the last shows the beginning of my happier journey. Hence why the first panel the moon is in red colour, because I was a new moon, and new moon are silhouettes but here I needed to put colour so I preferred a dark colour like red. And for the 4th panel, it starts off with yellow because I’m now a full moon, supposedly glowing. There’s a difference in the analogous colour scheme in the 2nd and 3rd panel – the 2nd one is more warm as I added a green colour touch to it, supposedly to symbolise the touch of happiness and proud moment because my hard work has paid off. But the 3rd panel the colour scheme is cooler and darker, to symbolise the start of my depression stage, and the struggle to get back up.


I also wanted to make my pop-up illustration glow in the dark, because the whole idea of this was to make it seem like i’m living in space and so i thought it’d be great to have different colours glow, like how a moon does. Hence i tried using Mod-Podge Glow Paint as layer on top of my painting.

However the biggest problem here is, it only glows in ONE colour which was super annoying because the whole point of this project was to have different colours shown in harmony. I just needed them to GLOWWW.

Fret not, I decided to buy fluorescent paints that will glow when UV light is being shone on it.

Before UV light.
After UV light.
I love the effect here! After UV light.

And I was limited to 5 colours so I mixed it with each other and tested to see if they can give me different colours for the analogous effect, and glad to say for most it did.

3D Mnemosyne – Pair work process [II] and Final

In our next Mnemosyne task, we were all paired up and my partner is Alina. We were told to make use of our mnemosyne bottles to create a new work with our partner, something that is WEARABLE. HAH, that one got us shook.

For our work, we decided to incorporate a few parts of our bottle design and take that into consideration when making a new work.

This is Alina’s bottle design.
This is mine.

So we decided to create a ‘top’ incorporating the things we learnt before on planes such as twisted, bent and curved planes.

We chose to use 2 good scents:

  • caramel scented (mine)
  • argan-olive oil (Alina’s)

Our bad scent:

  • the smell that lingers in a dentist clinic

The materials we used:

  • white silk (for Dominant portion)
  • olive green cloth (for SD portion)
  • white cloth; extra
  • thin bendable gold-coloured wire (for SO portion)
Materials used that is not seen inside: gold wire as SO to attach the top together by the back in a curved loop.

So we made a mock up of our top first by using art card.

The structure of the top.

Twisted plane over the shoulder.
From the front to the back, it curves, and then the ends curved outwards into a complex plane.

Then we  began with the real thing where Alina came up with the suggestion of gluing the white silk so as to make it wearable and not flimsy.

Soaking the white silk into the load of white glue.

We also needed a hanger to clip on our silk and let it dry according to the shape we needed for our top.

We placed a hard wire behind that helps to act as the spine to our flimsy cloth, so as to create the structure for when the cloth dries up.

Folding it carefully and according to the body shape as the structure for our top.

While waiting for the cloth to dry, we did wire structuring for our SO to connect the front to the back by the shoulder.

And so made 2 of those thick wires and we pasted them in such a way that we can make a bigger surface area to create the structuring of the SD part of our olive-green cloth, over the shoulder. (as seen below)

All of the above led to the final product:


I love the outcome, happy to say that it looks legit and wearable haha, considering the planes inside too to create it.

YAY and we are done 🙂

2D Forrest Gump – Silkscreen process and Final Outcome

Ah. A new learning point again…..SILKSCREEN, YAY. It was my first time trying it out and it takes patience for the process but the outcome of it all amazed me.

Here’s the red room where most of the silkscreen processes were done.

That’s me holding my work printed on transparency paper.


Preparing to do the silkscreen.
Washing away the blue stuff on it to get the pattern out.
This is before all that blue stuff is being poured on it, also before washing them off. This is to heat it to get the pattern to sort of stay on the silkscreen material permanently.
Ready to put on clothe.


TA DAAAA ahhh see why it amazes me now?

Before doing it on all the above bags, in the previous lesson I tried it out on paper and just ragged cloth first to test it out. What I learnt was to control the amount of ink you want to put on your silkscreen, as it will affect the outcome of it – you want the ink to seep into the blank spaces  just enough to look decent on paper/cloth.

Done on the previous lesson.

So in the end, for my final outcome, this is it:

This was a challenging project because firstly I’m a beginner in photoshop and so I had no photoshop skills but I try and try and ask for help again and again in a short period of time. Although I felt that I could have done much better for the below two works printed on paper (as seen above), I knew I improved further on my works as seen on the 2 works placed above them.

Learning point to myself is: Don’t be scared to try new things and ASK for help. And maybe next time input what you learn from your presentation such as the principles of Gestalt into your projects. Take what you can from those presentations in class and use them into your works, that’s the whole point of learning new things after all.