Assignment 3: Dreams

The Dream Engine

brainstorming process

This project took a way longer time to conceptualize than I had expected. As I did my brainstorm, I realized that there are many different takes on the word itself: the word can refer to dreams as an aspiration; as a form of daydream where one builds castles in the sky; and also in the literal sense—where one falls asleep and the mind reconstructs past experiences. 

After narrowing down my options, I decided on taking dreams in the literal sense. Some ideas that came into my mind were sleep-walking and lucid dreaming. In the end, I chose to explore the relationship between physical processes (in the brain) and the dreams experienced by consciousness.

Concept

This is an experimental film that explores the workings of the brain during periods of dreaming. In particular, a fresh take of transitions between the subconscious (dream) state and conscious was experimented.

I interpreted dreams as an interaction of the conscious and the subconscious mind. Raw materials of dreams are sourced from our personal true experiences and are united/combined/compounded. Thus dreams are opportunities for our brains to reorganise and unravel their huge storage of memories. It is also a time where we can relieve certain penned up emotions,  and explore uncharted territories that have always held your conscious mind hostage.

Hence, in this video, the dream tracks represent our latent desires and fears that present themselves when our conscious mind is at its weakest defence. When we get transported to the dream world,  our conscious mind concedes control. Dream tracks are supplied by our subconscious mind and we have no choice of what we want but to experience them all. Our conscious mind, however, still has some autonomy because ultimately the dream tracks were only possible because of our conscious experiences (hence the part where the dream track can be skipped).

To make the memories distinct, and to characterise them, I associated each memory/ dream track with music. As you probably can tell, my film is very much music driven. Music has a strong foreboding effect right at the start and very effectively sets the mood for the dream. To me, music is something that transcends the conscious and the subconscious (I mean there must be a reason why we randomly recall annoying tunes) and is at the same time intimately related to emotion. Thus, in the video, the musical tracks defines the dream and it is the medium through which our emotional states manifest themselves in the creation of dream experiences.

The three genres that I have decided to work with are: joy, fear and love. These three deal with emotions that are very much intuitive and raw. We often encounter them in our daily lives and the expression of these emotions runs the entire gamut from us outrightly sharing them with the world to suppressing them in the deepest trenches of our heart.

On top of that, the three dream sequences are all filmed to be somewhat absurd, weird and illogical but the protagonist doesn’t feel that at all. While this adds a comedic effect to my film, this closely aligns to how we experience dreams; they can be downright impossible and we wouldn’t suspect a thing.

Script

StoryBoard

Storyboards were made prior to filming. Even though they were not followed strictly during the actual filming, I realise it really helps you better visualise scenes and choose shot angles. If you look closely at the storyboards here, some scenes are actually very different from the final film (eg brain scene) Some storyboards were even redone after I reccee-ed the site.

 

 

These storyboards are revision of scenes that were drawn already.

Production

I wanted to personify the processes in the brain that gives rise to dreams. I felt as if it was not interesting to merely depict neurons firing as the brain selects memories with which to improvise. Therefore, my preliminary idea was to construct a physical brain (either out of PLASTICINE or by animation) which selects the audio dream tracks to be “played” out in a dream. The brain will then pulse along to the beat and mood of the music. The content of the conjured dreams will adhere to the mood and genre of the track being played.

Ultimately, I chose to do away with the clay model and took to characterize the mental world in the form of a computer interface. I thought that this was more suitable for my film because transitions between “brain states’ and “dreams” can be established more clearly. This was one of my greatest concern because viewers can get confused easily if “brain state” and “dream” are too similar/stark in contrast and the transitions here and there are just like ???.

For the brain world, I wanted to have the computer (aka the brain) select files from folder to folder to play. Initially, I videoed the Windows 98 desktop to depict the brain inner workings and selections of dreams.

Screenshots of the video I made:

I wanted to include a programme to wake the protagonist up, but the simulator couldn’t do it :”)

I thought it was interesting to include the computer interface, but I eventually abandoned this idea because it didn’t serve what I want. The flow of the video was less ideal with it, especially because the ploughing through of folders within folders was all too confusing for the viewers (and I do have many things going on in my video already).  I settled with the simplified current version of a MS dos-like interface (the prerequisite to have windows), which I feel best allude to the pivotal and yet backstage roles of the subconscious mind.

The typewriter effect that I found on youtube tutorials are really troublesome to do as you need to do key frame by key frame where the next letter appear in the next key frame. That’s a crazy amount of effort for such a small scene. I also tried typing the entire phrase and then mask each letter with each key frame, which didn’t work out either because the letter will be slowly revealed from left to right instead of just appearing immediately.

To solve this, I simply used Microsoft Word with a black layout and typed the words while using screen recording from Windows Media Player. I will then fast forward the recording and match it with keyboard typing sound effect. Yay, shortcut found.

Beyond the mental world, I wanted to film scenes that are archetypical of a certain emotion, but with the quaintness and oddity of the dreamscape. I envisioned that these bizarre scenarios will be humorous as well, to better resonate with the viewer in its depiction of the absurd. As such, I decided on casting a friend in three disparate and unique scenarios: happiness, horror, and romance. These three were chosen because they were very distinct from each other.

Locations of the shooting are all within NTU :D

  • Joy — clearings near clean tech (the mosquitoes are insane there)
  • Fear — stretch of road between canteen 1 and canteen 2
  • Love — Pen & Inc bar in Northspine

As the storyboards were planned before commencing the shooting, the process was way faster than I expected. It really helps to have the backbone for the visuals to be planned out. Nevertheless, I experimented with a lot of different shot angles during the actual shoot. I guess this is why recces of films sites are needed because it will reveal different possibilities for angles that are impossible to imagine if you sit in your room and draw from your mind.

post production

I had a lot of footage to work with because while the general narrative was planned, I did not consider what I wanted for the duration of the entire film. And thus I went on to shoot each dream sequence such that it can stand alone. The sequence that was very obviously cut and shortened is the one of fear — it no longer contains my initial idea that the protagonist kept returning to the same spot when she tries to escape something unknown.

For happiness, I decided to depict the protagonist in a picnic on a sunny bright warm happy day. For the music, Tchaikovsky’s waltz of the flowers was used because it resonates with the mood and is perfect for this nature scene! In terms of colour, I opted for a more warm, saturated and yellowish scheme.

For horror, I depicted the protagonist running along dark streets, with an extreme close-up to drive home the expression of horror. I originally intended for the protagonist to run on and on, yet finds herself at where she began regardless of the turns she made. However, I was unable to add the entire sequence due to duration constraints. Instead, the sequence is shortened (or ‘paused’) and skipped to the next dream track. For the sake of mood, glitch effect is added. The footage is grainy as it was shot at night but I chose not to apply any reduce noise/grain effect on it as I feel that the emotions feel more raw and scenario more menacing with it. As for music, I began with a few bars of creepy solo piano, which degenerated into a low grinding sound in tandem with the development of the hellish character of the film. For colour, I have lowered the exposure for the entire sequence and used an eerie greenish-yellow colour to accompany the scene. 

For romance, I depicted a couple on a date. They can do none other that an excessive show of love with a perfect mix of shyness. The casting of the same actress as both the male and female protagonist lends itself to the absurdity of the dream (and low budget of film), and also adds a humorous spin to the scene. I chose a saxophone solo for the music because it suits the bar setting and is often associated with the romantic genre. In terms of colour, a reddish tint is applied to symbolise the blooming love. Colours are also more faded with green in the shadows to evoke a nostalgic feel, reminding everyone of the times they were in love :D

The film concludes with the protagonist twisting and tossing with happiness and falling off the bed. I wanted the brain to initiate a process to wake her from her dreams, but in the course of filming, I thought it was more apt for the protagonist to be suddenly awoken due to the intense lovey dovey emotions felt in the dream.

Reflection

I learned so much from this project just by playing around with the camera. I have only just discovered the manual focus function. Shooting in the dark also taught me about how low light conditions can affect the footage but I have yet to learn how to resolve this (other than post production grain removal and avoidance of high ISO levels). Perhaps the option would be to prepare another light source to be used on site (which is like… duh), but I wonder what can be done in a limited scenario such as in this case where there was just me and the actress. I’ve also played around with after effects for the first time as well albeit its just basic functions like zooming with motion blur (which isn’t even that obvious given the grain) and reducing noise.

Cutting and stringing the footage together was harder than I thought because it just doesn’t look good sometimes. Also, music was a problem: even when I pace the footage together with the music, the sequence still looks odd when I replay it. Several versions had to be made before a satisfactory one is realised. It is really tough to get the rhythm right.

 

Fear; Telephonophobia

The phobia I chose for this assignment is Telephonophobia, which is the reluctance or fear of making or taking phone calls, literally meaning ‘fear of telephones’. While I personally do not have this phobia, I can somewhat relate to the anxieties and trepidation one might feel when having to handle phone calls; because I do experience that fear sometimes (in a milder form) when an unknown caller reaches me.

Following my research, I narrowed down three causes of telephonophobia that I wanted to focus on:

  1. Anxieties associated with having to speak and converse with someone on the other end
  2. Absence of body language, thus fear of misinterpretations and misunderstandings
  3. Fear of embarrassing silences and the failure to respond appropriately

From the 3 main causes, I did a simple word map to brainstorm some ideas. Here are some keywords that I have identified through this process:

privacy (or lack thereof), disruptive, communication, voice, unwelcome, physical distance, two-way, speech

I realised that a parallel can be drawn between this phobia and stage fright, since the symptoms expressed are similar, eg nausea, sweaty palms, shortness of breath. Expanding on the idea of stage fright, I decided to portray the scene as having to give a speech, since, just like handling phone calls, making a speech requires one to ‘perform’ and use the voice as the primary medium of communication.

Image 1 (Charcoal Drawing)

Who: Performer // speaker

Where: On stage // in front of a telephone

What:

Glaring stage lights makes audience non visible to speaker -> inability to see body language

Stage ————– audience -> tangible physical distance

Speaker’s hand holds on to the cable of the telephone, giving her the autonomy to cut the phone/back out from performance or take it

Telephone cords wrap around leg and drags on ground -> resemble chain and ball, represents weight of anxiety that rests on the speaker regardless whether phone call is taken

When: Just before performer steps out on to stage // when the first ring of phone is heard

Image 1 (Coloured)

When I coloured the image, I decided to go for a more muted and dark colour scheme to more adequately express the phobia since we usually associate scary/evil stuff with darkness and bleakness. All things are cast in shadow, except the source of fear – which the speaker will inevitably have to face.

For the second image, I decided to develop the story up to the point where the speaker is about the answer the call/make the speech. As the speaker approaches the phone, the scene becomes increasingly threatening to her. The telephone cords that previous wrapped around the speaker’s legs have now turned into menacing thorny vines that crept up the entire body of the speaker, engulfing her in fear and pain. The corresponding vines around the phone receiver shows that the telephone is the source of the speaker’s misery.

Image 2

I have used the same colour scheme for both images to keep them coherent. I chose the complementary red-green colour scheme, because firstly they help viewers recognise objects in the scene (eg stage curtains and vines), and secondly the contrast lends a vibrancy to the scene, making it look even more alarming. Red-green complementary is particularly known for being able to express dark and heavy scenes and are commonly associated with villains and monsters — which is very apt in this case and further accentuates the danger the the vines pose to the speaker.

Comments from Class:

  • use an more muted/desaturated red to create a better contrast between red and green
  • Perhaps use a different perspective for the second image, and not immediately have the hand reaching out to the phone. Alternative: see the speaker from bottom up and see her gripping with fear at the vines

 

Drawing tool sets + Artist references

Drawing tool sets

Sketchbooks:

  • A3 sketchbook for figure drawings
  • A4 sketchbook
  • A5 sketchbook for convenience/ quick sketching outdoors
  • Watercolour sketchbook
  • Kraft sketchbook to study the use of highlights on toned paper

Currently, I intend improve my pencil and charcoal sketches. Thus, I am limiting myself with dry media materials and get myself to establish a stronger foundation before moving onto other mediums. At the same time, I hope to becoming faster and more confident in drawing — I work very slowly at the moment.

Tool sets:

Pencils of different softness — aiming to work on my shading techniques and to incorporate more tones in my drawings. Hoping to improve my line quality as well as be more precise with each stroke instead of roughly estimating several times.

Charcoal sticks from previous semester — hoping to achieve more confidence in handling charcoals as well as obtain a wide range of tones.

Brush pens (old and new) — have little experience working with them. I would like to use them to explore light and shading, as well as variations in line weights and how this affects the drawing

Watercolour set — not intending to use watercolour in the near future, but would love to explore and master this medium. Using watercolour for outdoor sketching/ figure drawing is really appealing to me.

Artist references
  1. Chinese classical artist Liu Bin

Asian faces tend to have gentler curves and shadows that rests more subtly on the faces. Liu Bin manages to capture this and portray Asian portraits in a realistic manner. I am interested in studying the way he handles light and shadow to achieve this effect.

2. Kim Jung Gi

Kim Jung Gi’s mastery of form is insane. Watching his sketching videos are pretty unbelievable because he seems to have the entire picture in his mind and draws straightaway without any need for construction lines/sketch. I would like to study his drawing of human forms from different angles as well as his brushwork.

3. Paul Heaston (@paulheaston on Instagram)

 

I want to study his inking and crosshatching techniques. Even though he often sketch the interior of rooms, the drawings are neat and not boring in any way. His perspective of rooms are very interesting, especially with the warp effect.

4.  Dennis Brown (@bags43)

I like his brushwork and bold use of line. He can bring out a form with a few simple strokes — something that I would want to emulate.

5. General artworks

(Sabin Howard)

(@miles.yoshida)

(@phildean1963) 

Andrew Loomis

As you can tell, I am focusing on studying the different ways of using line and light/shadows. My drawings tend to be very flat and 2D – so I’m hoping that through learning from these works, I will better understand form and tones.

May this semester be a fruitful learning journey!

 

 

2D Project 3 Ego: Process

When I first started, I sketched out a few random ideas that were in my mind. In my first brainstorming session, this was what I came up with:

From up to down,

  1. Me being very reluctant to leave the bed + Sunrise in a mountainous area = Sleepy me trekking up the mountain at 3AM while being in a sleeping bag (This is inspired by my trekking trip in Sikkim several years ago, where I had to wake up early to catch the sunrise but I was really sleepy)
  2. Greedy Me + Food Buffet = Me gulping down everything
  3. Me poor like a church mouse + shopping mall on sale = Me buying everything I want but starving for the rest of the week
  4. Me feeling cold + hot spring = Roasted but satisfied me

The reason I wanted to use architectural settings (the shopping mall and bath house) is because I was initially inspired by a illustration artist Me Kyeoung Lee who illustrated South Korean Corner Stores:

Accessed from http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/03/corner-store-illustrations-by-me-kyeoung-lee/

However, I couldn’t generate sufficient ideas that make use of architecture illustrations and had to abandon this concept as it was causing my ideation to be very restricted.

Following that, I continued brainstorming for more possible equations

Left: sleepy me + tea = me continue sleeping in tea

Right: Poor like a church mouse me + bombarded by cheap deals on online shopping sites like Taobao and Ezbuy = Delirious me digging for gold in an empty piggy bank while holding up shopping loots.

Left up: Clueless me working on assignments + Research = Even more clueless me

Left down: Unfit me + Gorgeous scenery in mountains = ‘trekking’ up to admire the scenery by being dragged by the yaks

Right up: Me being immersed in a book + a fun and highly tempting activity = me being distracted while still trying very hard to reading the book

Right down: Me feeling very hot + all things cool = me getting cooled down as if I am dissected and fitted into different sections of the fridge

Up: Scaredy cat me + big waves on a beach = me taking extreme safety measures and only daring to go to a swimming pool

Down: Me in Nature + I see cool insects = Me staring and admiring at the insect forever

Narrowing down to several ideas that I am more fond of, I decided to work on thumbnail sketches to get a sensing of the colours and composition of the equations. I have decided on complementary colours because I was not confident of handling the very versatile watercolours (especially when the paint mix to form another colour) and restricting to two colours will help a lot.

After the thumbnail sketches, I was more or less settled on the following:

  1. sleepy me + tea = still very sleepy me
  2. poor like a church mouse = shopping deals = me spending everything
  3. Me feeling very hot + all things cool = me getting cooled down

I was unsatisfied with the rest of the ideas and decided to explore further.

Left top: me in nature = cool insects = me camouflaged as the same insect while quietly staring at it, being careful not to scare it away

Left bottom: Scaredy-cat me + danger = me with extreme safety measures and living to long age

Right: I listed down traits of myself to help identify potential ideas to work on.

More sketches…

 

Here, I’ve finally decided on the final four ideas:

  1. Sleepy me + tea = still very sleepy me
  2. Scaredy-cat me + Dangers = me with extreme safety measures
  3. Me feeling very hot + a waft of cool air = blissful and contented me
  4. Me working on assignments + distractions = Procrastinating me

Moving on, I did a first draft of the illustrations to get an even better idea of what I am expecting. However, it went wrong when I used a marker to outline the drawings before painting over. As a result the marker smudged when the paint is applied, causing the colour to be a few shades darker and dirty as well. Although this made the end-colour less representative of the actual one, it was nevertheless useful in allowing me to decide which parts to be coloured what colour.

1. Sleepy me + tea = still very sleepy me 

 I used sleeping beauty because one of the most prominent feature of her is, well, sleeping; and so I thought it would be very apt to use sleeping beauty to represent the very sleepy me.

In the not-too-long-ago past, tea used to be an effective way to wake myself up. However, perhaps due to the overdose of tea as a result of many many late nights, somehow it’s effectiveness has reduced. Maybe my body has gotten used to it.

Anyway, this equation is a very apt description of myself these days, where I’m perpetually sleepy all day around, and even after gulping down tea, I still feel sleepy.

Colour: Yellow-purple. To represent sleeping-beauty (a princess), I chose to use purple since the colour represents ‘royalty’ as learned from the colour theory presentation by my peers. Yellow was a suitable colour as it suits the colour of tea.

References while drawing:

Me feeling very hot + a waft of cool air = blissful and contented me

I used a polar bear because they are very adversed to heat and warmth and they are the ones that need a cold climate the most.

In the first frame, the polar bear is so hot that it has to tear of its fur coat to reveal the black skin below. Also the lower body of the polar bear has melted. In the second frame, there is a waft of cool air, as shown by the little snowman. Lastly, it is revealed that the wind is just from the very tiny hand-held fan, but even so the small amount of cool wind is enough to satisfy the polar bear.

Colour: Orange-blue. Orange to represent the sun/warmth/heat in the first frame, and blue to represent coolness/ice bergs in the Arctic.

References while drawing:

Me working on assignments + distractions = Procrastinating me

I am usually a very slow worker, and hence I represented myself as a sloth. At the same time, I have such a wide span of interests that I often digress from my work. This include very random searches on google as well as sudden urges to read a book/watch a vid/ engage in some kind of activity. As a result, I often end up procrastinating and slow worker+procrastination= time will always fly past way too quickly than I’ll like. As seen in the third panel, I am riding on a rocket that is expelling calendar dates, signifying that time is passing very quickly while I indulge in other activities.

If you compare to the final work, you can see that the composition for this particular equation has changed a lot as I wasn’t satisfied with it.

Colour: Orangeishbrown-Turquoise. The colour is chosen so that the sloth can be more easily recognised compared to, say, a blue sloth or a green sloth.

References while drawing:

Scaredy-cat me + Dangers = me with extreme safety measures

I am somehow very imaginative when it comes to potential dangers/injuries that can occur in all sorts of scenarios, and hence even though I really like adventurous activities, I also try my best to prevent myself from landing into any kinds of danger.

In the first panel, I drew a tortoise that is hiding in its shell to show that it is scared. The second panel illustrates all the danger zones and warning signs. In the third panel, the tortoise, armed with all sorts of safety equipments like helmets, elbow guards, knee guards, as well as joss sticks for praying, floats across the danger zones safely. This is rather ironic as a tortoise already has a very protective and hard shell, yet it still needs external equipment to protect itself from dangers.

Colour: Green-red. The choice of colour is very straightforward here: green because it best represents a tortoise, and red because red colour is a very intense colour associated with energy, war, and danger.

References while drawing:

Yay!

If you notice, in all the equations, the setting (2nd panel) will have some of its elements repeated in the final panel. This is initially found in a few equations in my very early thumbnail sketches

(This one!)

Mimi noticed it, and suggested that I repeat that in every equation, thus now you can see that the tea cup, the little fan, the distractions as well as the danger signs are repeated in the last panel.

Working on the final product

Pencil sketch first…

 

Colour by colour..

The table in hall is so smal!

I didn’t take much photos while working on the final work ~(。☉︵ ಠ@)>

The final illustrations!!

I faced some problems deciding the colour for the bed frame and the mattress because I didn’t want entire bed+frame to be yellow as it’ll be difficult to tell them apart, but at the same time having a purple bed and a purple dress also result in the same problem. I end up opting for a lighter shade of purple for the mattress.

I couldn’t figure out how to show the transparency of the tea cups here :<

Here sleeping beauty hugs the tea bag as a pillow and continues sleeping while being submerged in tea. 

The orange circle at the back represents the sun, and the polar bear is frustrated by the heat. That’s why the fur coat is peeling off to reveal the black skin underneath, and the lower body is also melting.

I added snowman and snow flakes and snowballs to show that the air is cool.

The fan element is repeated here. If you look closely, the polar bear is holding a tiny fan!! This shows that when you are feeling extremely hot, even a tiny waft of cool air from a tiny fan is enough to satisfy you.

The pencil lead is broken, after only writing my surname… this goes to show my slow-ness. There are so many empty assignments at the back waiting to be worked on, yet I’m still writing my name on the first paper…

This are some of the things that distracts me: drama series, animation movies, CALVIN AND HOBBES, my phone, and fooood. I used the cloud to represent how these things are always lingering in the back of my mind, waiting for the opportunity to pounce out and steer me away from work.

The distractions are repeated here if you look closely! Also, the date of the calendar is actually the submission date, which is 15th November.  The trail of numbers that are ejected from the rocket is actually dates: Nov 1, 2, 3, 4, all the way to 14.

A scared me is depicted as a tortoise in a shell.

I wanted to illustrate danger here, but simply using the typical danger signs and human skull didn’t feel quite enough, hence I changed the human skull danger sign to a tortoise skeleton so that it ties in with the tortoise theme better.

Here, a blissful and safe tortoise floats past all dangers, while praying fervently for its safety and adopting all measures to protect itself on top of its hard turtle shell.

2D Project 2 Forrest Gump: Process

From the stash of movie quotes, I have narrowed down to work on these few:

  1. Finding Nemo: “Fish are friends, not food”
  2. Spirited Away: “I finally get a bouquet of flowers and it’s a goodbye present”
  3. Howl’s Moving Castle: “Here’s another curse for you – may all your bacon burn.”
  4. Howl’s Moving Castle: “I see no point in living if I can’t be beautiful”
  5. Ponyo: “I’ll let a fish lick me if it’d get me out of this wheelchair”
  6. Moana: “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess”

This is still more than the four movie quotes required, but I decide to just work on them first to get a better idea about which quotes have more potential to be developed.

Learning from my research on Dan Hillier, I wanted to emulate his working style in this project. Instead of sketching out clearly what I am looking for in my composition and then searching for suitable images online, I have decided to follow Hillier’s way of starting with a very vague idea and browsing through images to find associations. Only then are the images composed together — pretty much trial and error.

As I really like Hiller’s illustrations, I decide that I wanted to go with a consistent Victorian/ Old books illustration style for my compositions. However, as all my quotes are taken from animated movies, I thought that using elements from the movie itself will appear too jarring as they evoke a very modern and child-like kind of feel, which seems incompatible with the Victorian art style. Thus, for most images, I’ve decided to take the quotes out of context and interpret them simply for what they are.

Finding Nemo: “Fish are friends, not food”

When I look at this quote, the first thing I thought was that I need to convey the idea of friendship/closeness well. It is easy to bring across the idea of fishes and food, but I was worried that if I were to focus on that, I will neglect the main idea of fish are friends.

However, searching for images on ‘friendship’ did not yield much satisfactory results as the image merely look like two or more people talking to each other.

For example:

Accessed from http://www.istockphoto.com/sg/vector/victorian-male-friendship-gm170178869-23189160
Accessed from http://www.istockphoto.com/sg/vector/group-of-victorian-men-gossiping-about-a-scandal-gm538354728-95714931

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The idea of rapport/ companionship/bond is not conveyed strongly. Thus I tweaked my search and sourced, instead, for couples. While bringing in ‘love’ might not be that suitable, what I was driving at is really an intimate and friendly relationship.

This was what I found. The man looks like he’s courting the woman. I thought this image was suitable because of the physical contact that expresses the idea of ‘closeness’, while not being overtly intimate or romantic. The expressions of the woman is apt as well, as she looks like she’s challenging the notion that fishes are food/friend.

 

This is the first design I made:

By swapping the man’s head for a fish head, I wanted to bring out the idea that the man is the fish, and the close contact between the two shows that the woman sees him as a friend and not food.

Thinking that the idea of food is not strong enough, I scattered bits and pieces of ‘food’ around them.

However, I found that the entire composition does not tie in well because the food is scattered too randomly, and no idea of fish being friends and not food is being expressed. Yet, to use the original design feels too plain. Thus, I started working with the background.

I added waves here since fishes live in the sea/water. Again, the waves doesn’t deliver much meaning and are quite redundant.

Using the idea of repetition to bring out harmony, I decide to collage different species of fishes for the background to bring across the idea that “fish are friends, not food” applies not just exclusively to the ‘fish-man’, but all types of fishes. Nevertheless, the quote is still not conveyed strongly enough.

Being stuck, I decide to revisit the movie scene.

The sharks were determined not to eat fishes at the start.

 

 

 

 

 

However, when Dory started bleeding…..

 

 

The sharks forget all the talk about not eating fish and went berserk.

As we can see, there is actually a lot of ambiguity in the quote, when taken in context. Although the sharks proclaim that ‘fish are friends, not food’, their resolve is not strong, which cause them to waver between eating fishes and treating them as friends. I decide to incorporate this sense of ambiguity into my design.

By placing the man on the plate, their motion becomes uncertain: is the woman leading the fish away from the plate, or is she putting the fish onto the plate? The same idea is reinforced several times:

The half-eaten body of the fish: did the woman eat it, or did she safe the fish from being fully consumed?

The fish hook that isn’t firmly entrenched in the fish body: again, is the woman helping to remove the hook, or is she attaching it?

As I found this to be a satisfactory design, I decided to go ahead with it.

Spirited Away: “I finally get a bouquet of flowers and it’s a goodbye present”

When I was brainstorming for this quote, as it involves abstract concepts like “goodbye”, I decided to pin down first the more literal components like flowers and present.

By chance, I found this forlorn looking guy who looks like someone is leaving him and he is raising his hand as if about to say goodbye, yet the person has turned and left already. I went on to surround him with a sea of flowers to portray him as drowning in his present that is full of ‘goodbye’ and ‘farewell’ connotations. I used very large flowers to frame the sides to represent the sheer monumental impact of the goodbye left in the person’s mind.

Thinking that the idea of ‘present’ isn’t strong enough, I went on to add ribbons and ribbon bow, since presents are often adorned with them.

I thought that the ribbons were a good addition, but the idea of goodbye is still not there. Besides, I realise that flowers =/= bouquet of flowers. And so, I added a hand-written letter at the background to symbolise farewell letters that people usually write for one another at moments of departure. I also included in a bouquet of flowers to make the message stronger.

As I worked on the final design, I resized the different elements to bring more focus to the man in the middle rather than the flowers on the side. I also changed the bouquet of flowers to one that is more obvious since the previous one simply looked like a bunch of flowers held together. During the consultation, Mimi mentioned that she feels that ‘goodbye’ isn’t conveyed strong enough. I experimented with many different compositions (which I failed to save), such as having the person he is waving goodbye to at the foreground walking away/waving goodbye with one raised hand,  but they destroy the original composition (which I thought was aesthetically pleasing enough, and hence did not want to alter it). After a long process of research, I decided to add a handkerchief to the centre guy’s raised right hand.

This is because historically, whenever sailors set sail to sea, their loved ones will wave handkerchiefs towards the leaving boat as a sign of goodbye, as seen in the two photos below:

Accessed from http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/sailors-waving.html
Accessed from http://the-history-girls.blogspot.sg/2012/02/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final design for this quote:

 

 

Howl’s Moving Castle: “Here’s another curse for you – may all your bacon burn.”

This quote is among the most literal quotes. I thought it doesn’t make sense if I were to research for what symbolises, say, curses or bacon or burning, because the resultant composition will deviate too much from the original quote that it becomes unrecognisable.

For my first design, I found this illustration of Shakespeare’s play, Henry VI, where a hooded conjurer is conjuring spirits. I thought it was quite apt, because it conveys the idea of “curses” and “burning”. I added a few pieces of bacon to see how it’ll turn out.

I felt like it didn’t look too bad, but the people at the sides are way too extra. Also the part about burning should be more strongly expressed, because it looked more like smoked bacon than burned bacon. Also, I felt that just using bacon is boring. Thus, to add more flavour to composition, I added a pig (do you know bacon is made from pigs?).

I thought that having the bacon fall in to the boiling pot makes the design more dynamic because there is this idea of action. Also, it gives off the impression that the bacon is conjured up, and not brought in by someone, like in the first design.

I experimented with some backgrounds as well. I usually searched for ‘war’ images since there is often some kind of burning in the landscapes. However, as they are often too complicated, they steal the limelight of the central scene, causing the composition to lose focus. Mimi agreed that the above design with the plain background is a lot more ideal.

I was intending to go ahead with it. However, on the night before the big critique day, I chanced upon this image of a woman shrouded by smoke, with her hands thrown up as if she’s casting a curse. It was perfect. I superimposed the photo and simply love the outcome!

Howl’s Moving Castle: “I see no point in living if I can’t be beautiful”

While browsing through images online, I came across this illustration which showed a melancholic person staring out of the window. I found that it conveyed the idea of “no point of living” very aptly, and so I saved the image to work with it. I swapped his head for a peacock head, yet add a emblem/shield like thing at the side with a boar’s head, to show that this person is trying as much as possible to beautify his outward appearance, yet the truth is that he simply resembles a boar constantly haunts him. The peacock feathers further accentuate the idea that beauty is something that he can never achieve.

I found this design to be too obscure, and the idea of ‘no point of living’ is not well-expressed.

I worked on a second design, which is a lot more literal. Clearly, you can see that the skeleton is surrounded by the flowers, which means that he is consumed by the concept of beauty. The skeleton — a sulking one for that matter — conveys the idea that there is no point in living, even if he has everything on the world (since he is sitting on the globe)

While the aesthetics look fine here, I felt that it lacked the wow factor and didn’t really resonated with what I wanted.

Here, a girl in a dress has a ugly animal head and stares vainly into the mirror, adorned with a single peacock feather. She wears a troubled expression as if upset with her looks.

This design is okay to me, but a tad bit too simple. Thus I worked on a new design and borrowed elements from the previous design. I used the peacock mirror to symbolise beauty and vanity. The gloomy hippo, being upset by his appearance in the mirror, rides away on his segway. The skull, which surfaced after the hippo looked into the mirror, represents the face of death, telling the hippo that his appearance means that he doesn’t deserve to live.

Mimi mentioned that the skull is too distracting and redundant. I didn’t feel that at first, but after seriously considering her comment, I realise it’s very true. There are too many elements in the composition fighting for attention, and the skull simply dilute the focus further without contributing much.

 

Working on her feedback, I substituted the skull for a more toned-down mirror-cracks to show that the hippo’s looks are so bad that even the mirror cracks after being exposed to his face. I resized the peacock mirror larger so that there is a main focus for the composition (instead of having both the peacock and hippo the same size and have them fighting for attention)

I’ve also experimented with different backgrounds because I found it plain:

Conclusion: nah, I should keep it plain. Thus I stuck to the previous design as the final one, but added three more peacock feathers on the hippo’s head to symbolise his efforts to beautify himself, but which still failed in the end.

Ponyo: “I’ll let a fish lick me if it’d get me out of this wheelchair”

I interpreted the quote very literally. Thus I used 4 main elements: fish, tongue, wheelchair, person getting out of chair. This was the first design I did:

I tweaked the composition so that it follows a triangular shape and feels more stable and comfortable on the eye.

I found the design interesting, but too disparate and seemingly random (even though it did follow the quote). Mimi felt that the flying guy doesn’t express the idea of ‘getting out of wheelchair’ strong enough. Also, instead of the licking fish, the flying guy should be the main focus.

I worked on her comment and experimented with different compositions using the same images. However, nothing satisfactory came out, and I thought that there isn’t potential for further development. Hence, I dropped this design for the final 4.

Moana: “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess”

Although directed to Moana, this quote suggests that anyone can be a princess, as long as he/she 1) wears a dress, and 2) have an animal sidekick. I decided to play on this by superimposing an old man’s face onto a woman who is wearing a dress. I used the dancing animals as I thought they were really cute and similar to the animals in Disney movies.

To further express the idea of princess, I added a little crown on the head.

Feeling that the message wasn’t strong enough, I added waves at the background as an allusion to Moana. However, I realise that it’s a little out of place.

I decide to redo the composition and used a frog this time, as this frog gives the impression that it is eager to promote his owner, just like any other Disney princess’ sidekick. I added the Disney castle to emphasise the idea of Princess and royalty.

I experimented further and added in the waves (to allude to Moana) and twinkling stars for magical effect.

As I scrolled through old photos, I also saw several images of old encyclopedia:

Accessed from http://www.silverspiralarts.com/keyword/pincones;antique%20royalty%20free%20stock%20image;illustration/
Accessed from: http://onewomanshands.blogspot.sg/2011/11/freebie-images-encyclopedia-pages-1.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by their layout, I decided to try it out:

The apple symbolise the poison apple that Snow White ate; magic mirror used by the queen in Snow White; glass slippers worn by Cinderella. All elements point to the idea of ‘princess’. I’m actually quite fond of this design, but thought that this layout might not be too suitable for this project. And it also looks like I have no idea how to use photoshop and can only lay the elements out separately.

After the very long process of experimenting with and developing different designs, I have came up with my final 4 designs:

Check out my blogspot on my final 4 designs :D

Silkscreen printing

This is my first time working with silkscreen printing, and it involves a lot more process than I thought. I didn’t document much of the process because I didn’t bring my phone into the dark room :(

Silkscreen process:
  1. Coat the silkscreen frame with the photosensitive blue emulsion paint (try to make the coating as smooth as possible)
  2. Leave to dry
  3. Paste the transparency (the surface with the carbon downwards) on top of the frame and exposed the silkscreen in the UV machine for 18seconds
  4. Use a water gun/ running water with pressure for the transferred design to appear
  5. Use a squeegee and swipe with one confident stroke to evenly apply the black paint
  6. give yourself a pat on your back if your design turns out well, or cry (gimme a chocolate if u actually read this ?)

A rare photo of myself caught in action (thanks Loh Kee)

The design didn’t turn out very well when transferred onto the paper as the details are simply too small to be captured well. I desperately hoped at the start that it was just the first print that went wrong and the rest will be fine if I apply more paint — but sadly, no, they’re just as bad.

I definitely needed a second round of printing. For my second round of printing, I increased the size and threshold of the entire composition. This helped immensely as the lines are now well-defined.

Removing the emulsion paint
My refined design: notice that the central figures are now larger. Lines are also more clearly defined after I increased the threshold.

Test print!

Before printing on my tote bag, I did several trial runs on newsprint to get a feel on how much paint to use/how much pressure to apply, how fast to swipe the squeegee. I was so glad that most of my print this round turned out well! I just had to take note not to use too much paint, as that is fatal for a design that used many many thin lines.

I was really lucky though, my final print on the tote bag was perfect in the first round. I printed on a couple more bags for fun. I would think they would be even better since I had several rounds of experience already, but somehow the very first print on the tote is the best.

My first print on tote bag!

This is a really long post. Congrats on making it through ⌒°(❛ᴗ❛)°⌒

2D Project 2 Forrest Gump: Research

To source for inspiration and ideas for the next project Forrest Gump, here is some research that I’ve done up.

Dan Hillier

Firstly, I researched on an artist, Dan Hillier, whom Mimi suggested we look up. Dan Hillier has many interesting designs that are very befitting to this project as he works with collages of found images, masterminded by his imaginings. His designs have this vintage look and victorian style that I hope to be able to emulate. It seems like he is especially fond of having humans/portraits as the subject. His designs are dark and impacting, yet visually appealing. There’s also this mystical feel that I really like.

Here are some of his works:

Accessed from https://www.danhillier.com/artwork/undreamt—screen-print
Accessed from https://www.danhillier.com/artwork/akasha—screen-print
Accessed from https://www.danhillier.com/artwork/temple-of-the-way-of-light—screen-print
Accessed from https://www.danhillier.com/artwork/midpoint-giclee

From what I have read online, Dan Hillier typically begins with a vague idea of what he wants to make, and from that idea he would scan through old books and illustrations, finding materials that can be suitably associated with his initial idea. Without a fixed image of his outcome, his exploration is quite intuitive and flexible because he allows himself to be led by what he found.

For my own project, I think I would like to follow his style of working. Instead of sketching my ideas for each quotes before hand, I would list out the main elements or moods from the quote and try to source for materials using those key words, and then play around with what I find. Hopefully this will make for an interesting and ingenious design!

John Heartfield

John Heartfield is a German pioneer of the Dada movement and an anti-fascist collage artist who used his art as a weapon to defy The Third Reich and Adolf Hitler. His works made use of the photomontage technique (defined as: a combination of several photographs joined together for artistic effect or to show more of the subject than can be shown in a single photograph), with a touch of surrealism.

Interesting fact: more than using art as a tool to express political dissent, John Heartfield actually changed his German name Helmut Herzfeld to one that is more English-sounding as a provocative move. That’s really bold of him and makes him all the more admirable.

Some of his works:

Accessed from https://ipnagogicosentire.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/john-heartfield-and-the-anti-nazi-political-artivism/
Accessed from https://litterboxconfidential.wordpress.com/category/shots/page/2/

The caption here reads:  “Whoever Reads Bourgeois Newspapers Becomes Blind and Deaf: Away with These Stultifying Bandages!” 

This is so impactful…… but also extraordinarily simple.

Accessed from http://retroavangarda.com/john-heartfield-and-the-dawn-of-photomontage/

Deutsche Naturgeschichte translates to Natural History of Germany, and the subtitle Metamorphose means metamorphosis.

This work is alluding to Franz Kafkas’s story where the main characters evolve into insects. The heads of these insects are replaced by German politicians: Friedrich Ebert (caterpillar), Paul von Hindenburg (chrysalis) and Adolf Hitler (moth). These images are very powerful as it depicts the power dynamics that led to Hitler’s rise to power, e.g. Hindenburg, who was discreetly manipulated by Hitler, is depicted as powerless by being bounded in his cocoon.

Accessed from https://i.pinimg.com/originals/b6/07/29/b60729887cc1af29bd4e4026746be05f.jpg

Caption reads: “Hurrah, the butter is gone!”

This photomontage makes parody a speech by Nazi Party leader Hermann Göring, who demanded an increase in iron production, even at the expense of food. A quote from the speech is included below, which says: “Ore has always made an empire strong, butter and lard have made a country fat at most.”

Heartfield’s work is wrought with irony. In stark mockery, he shows a typical German family brainwashed by the Nazi ideals, celebrating the fact that they have finally finished their food and all they have now is iron.

Accessed from http://retroavangarda.com/john-heartfield-and-the-dawn-of-photomontage/

Caption reads: “Blood and Iron” (left); “Peace and Fascism”

His works are really powerful, even if the imagery is simple. Theres only 3 elements in the image on the right: a dove, a fascist bayonet, and the League of Nations building. But just simply having the dove being impaled by the fascist bayonet right in front of the building sends a strong message about the implications of Nazi Germany and the incompetency of the League of Nations.

(I really love history by the way ヽ(´ω`○)ノ.+゚*。:゚+ )

This research has been so enlightening and fruitful… I now realise how much significance embedded meanings can add to one work. Heartfield’s works were never straightforward and they force the viewer to really contemplate and ponder about what he is trying to convey. Now that I’ve learned about his works, maybe it’s time to go and revise some of my own designs (I’ve started on a few already), in hopes that I can deliver the quotes more powerfully.

That’s all for now!

 

 

 

Animal sketching

We did some sketching of animals (copied from a book). Through studying the sketches and trying to make out of the main blocks that make up the body, I gained a better understanding of how to construct an animal figure (even though it still depends on which animal). This simple exercise was more helpful than I thought.

Here are some of my sketches:

 

Prof also taught us a method of constructing hands and arms which I thought was a really great method

To draw the hand, mark out all the curves in their respective locations first (e.g. the curve of the knuckle, the curve of the wrist). Then, join the curve with lines and the hand is formed!

As for the arm, further away of the arm, it adopts a more cylindrical shape, which gradually becomes more like a rectangular block as it approaches the wrist. Always take note of where the thumb starts — it starts where the wrist ends. Hence the thumb block will start from the same edge as the palm block.

This is just for personal record ya :)

2D Presentation: Dot Line Shape

Here are the slides Charmaine and I used for our 2D presentation on Dot, line and shape :)

dot line shape.compressed

If you’re lazy to download the file, here are some important points from our research:

General Introduction:

Accessed from https://jessbens.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/dot-line-and-shape/
  • Dot, line, and shape are the basic elements of design
  • Elements are components or parts which can be isolated and defined in any visual design or work of art. They are the structure of the work, and can carry a wide variety of messages.

Dot

  • A point is that of which there is no part — No part = no width, length, or breadth
  • In pure geometric terms, a point is a pair of x, y coordinates.

Use of points:

  • Vanishing point
    • The spot on the horizon line to which the receding parallel lines diminish
    • Creates depth
  • In art: Yayoi Kusama, Benday dots (in comic illustration), Neo-impressionism movement (A Sunday on la grande jatte)
Accessed from https://hirshhorn.si.edu/kusama/
Accessed from https://georgetowner.com/articles/2013/08/15/lichtenstein-blockbuster-proclaims-power-print/

Line

  • A line is a length without breadth.
  • Graphically, lines exist in many weights; the thickness and texture as well as the path of the mark determine its visual presence.

Use of Line

  • In composition or image
    • Lines are important to guide your eyes.
    • Horizontal lines suggest a feeling of rest
    • Vertical lines often communicate a sense of height
    • Diagonal lines convey a feeling of movement
    • Curve lines can convey energy
    • Use of line to create optical illusions
Accessed from https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/1f/8d/f3/1f8df341ebeff6b434decffc666559f5.jpg
  • Use of line in Fine Art: Chua Ek Kay
Accessed from http://www.theprivatemuseum.org/index.php/exhibition/old-campus-revisited/
  • Use of line in fine art: Gene Davis
Accessed from https://www.artsy.net/artist/gene-davis

Shape

  • A surface is that which has length and breadth
  • Shapes are planes with edges.
  • When a form or shape has regular contours, when internal and external measurements are mathematically similar in multiple directions, we think of the form or shape as geometric.
  • Organic shapes and forms are typically irregular or asymmetrical.

Use of Shape:

  • We see shapes every day in logos, flags, books, clothes etc.
  • TV test screen
Accessed from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gKL_3LIK2k
  • Local Artist Yeo Chee Kiong: “Series #02, ‘A Yoga and Pedicure DIY Session on the Beach’“
Accessed from http://cheekiongyeo.com/?language=en_gb
  • Use of shape in Architecture: Louvre
Accessed from https://plus.google.com/communities/115746467979626722538/stream/62b9e0b2-17eb-434b-a8ea-f24a54624569

Point, Line and shape

  • All 3 elements combine Patterns, Compositions (Art)
  • Pattern: A regular repetition of lines, shapes, colours, or values in a composition.
  • Henry Moore’s Wallpaper Design
Accessed from http://midcenturymoderndesign.tumblr.com/post/62745744987
  • Kandinsky Composition viii
Accessed from http://www.wassilykandinsky.net/work-50.php