Graphic Novel

Scene: The man, furious at the fact that the tree is no longer producing fruits with precious pearls, came to cut the tree down.



Review & Critique:

Did the storyboard / story turn out as you hoped?

Yes, I am quite satisfied with the final page layout, especially because it has went through a lot of revisions. I am happy with the colours as well as I think it brings out the slightly gloomy/ foreshadowing feeling without being overly dark. However, this layout has differed from my initial expectations in the sense that I initially wanted to include the depiction of the felling of the tree as well. However, as I worked on the each panel, I realised that the story will be too condensed if I were to to include both the cutting and falling of the tree. Hence, I left this page as purely illustrating the scene where the man arrives at the tree and starts chopping it with his axe. I believe this gives the reader more room to breathe and assimilate the content.

What would you do to improve it?

I think the top few panels are not dynamic enough. The part where the shoe steps into the grass should have way more power and strength to it, as if the man is stomping down. I initially included a frog jumping away in shock, which I think would have helped to bring out the stomping effect but I couldn’t draw the frog well so.. ? Also, I think that panel transitions could be better in the cluster of panels on top as well. Perhaps this could be helped if I chose to draw from other perspectives, e.g. I feel that the snarling/smirking mouth doesn’t fit that into the big picture right now.

What skills do you need to improve?

I need to be able to draw objects from various perspectives better. In the bottom panels, drawing the axe actually took me way way longer than expected because I just couldn’t get the shape of the axe to be right.

Also, I want to improve on my background design because I am always at a lost of how to fill in the background. I have resolved the problem here by opting a simpler way of filling in colour gradients and simple foliage here and there. I do hope I can learn to draw trees and grass and bushes better.

On top of that, I hope to improve panel transitions. I didn’t include the above page layout in the final work because I feel that the transitions are not done well and seem too repetitive. I only realised this after colouring the comic and seeing it from the big picture. The repetitive chopping of the tree coupled with the tree swaying back and forth (which itself isn’t illustrated clearly) made the layout look very boring. I wonder what can be done to make the falling of the tree more dramatic and clearer to the viewer.

What are the most significant things you have learned so far?

This project was really quite challenging for me, and so it was very enriching. Firstly, I’ve learned about panel design. Deciding panel arrangement, their sizes, how close they are to the next, how they serve the story etc., these were more complicated than I thought and a lot of experimentation was done. I think it probably comes with experience to know how arrange and sequence the drawings and panels so that it tells a seamless story that readers can follow easily. I have also learned to play around with perspectives so that the panels are more interesting.

In addition, I have learned to incorporate comic elements which I was rather unfamiliar with since I don’t read much comics. Stuff like sound effects or motion lines or panel-to-panel transition were really unintuitive. For example, just figuring out how to draw motion lines in Photoshop took me hours long already…



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


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


  • 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)



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!



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 :)

Outdoor Sketching

In the afternoon following the figure drawing lesson, we headed to HASS to do some outdoor sketching and to understand the theories of perspective better. Prof demonstrated how he construct a sketch using one-point and two-point perspectives.

For one-point perspectives, there are two pairs of parallel lines, each pair established by joining the lines extended from the vanishing point; for two-point, there is one pair.

Accessed from

By determining the lines of building structures that are parallel, we can leverage on that foundation to draw the basic structures of the building.

Prof told us to always focus on the big picture first: draw out the general structure before filling in the details. Should we rush into the details and the details aren’t drawn accurately, this will subsequently affect all other structures.

Prof also mentioned that in the scenario where the perspective is particularly hard to construct (or if we are simply lazy or bad at perspective drawing), we can make use of space to cover up our weakness by placing smaller structures in front of bigger ones so that the edges of the buildings are obscured.

These are some sketches that I made that day:

I wasn’t overly rigid in my drawing in the sense that I was quite loose with plotting the construction lines. I merely got a general sense of the direction of the line and went ahead to draw it out. I guess judging by the conceptual (focus more on form) vs perceptual (focus more on what you see) distinction that Prof mentioned, I belong to the latter.

Figure drawing 2

Second figure drawing session!

Today we dealt with Chiaroscuro, learning to deal with light and shadows and knowing how to demarcate edges of a form just by playing around with tone.

Some quick sketches we did as warm up to try portraying the figure using different tones:

There isn’t quite enough tonal ranges in these sketches, but I did get a rough idea of what we are supposed to learn here.

1.5h sketch:Here, we first smeared the background with charcoal so that it is mid-tone black and then brought out the human form by using an eraser. This exercise helps us to identify the brightest and darkest parts of the human figure, and this aids us in elucidating the form accurately.

My figure is too small again….. Somehow I cannot visualise how the figure will translate on the paper, and so I couldn’t estimate the size of the drawing. Here I think I managed to mark out the form of the body quite clearly (other than the hands which I casually skipped). Some shadows are too sharp (like the one at the model’s right shadow) and some edges are rather weird (e.g. the left arm). I am very happy with the model’s left leg though!! I thought it turned out quite well :>

However, I wasn’t very successful with capturing the mood. Even though the background shades vary in tone, they don’t really give you the idea that there is some sort of air flow or movement at the back. They literally just look like different blocks of different shades in the background. I should work on this more in the future.


Figure Drawing 1

In the third week of school, we are already working on nude figure drawing! I was quite surprised as I thought we would be working more on still-life setups as well as learn the human anatomy before actual moving on to real life models.

I thought that Prof’s method of teaching was quite effective. For basics, he instructed us to focus on the torso and taught us to construct its shape by using two boxes — one representing the upper body while the other representing the pelvis.

For the upper body box, the upper edge is to be extended from the hollow located along the clavicles (collarbone) at the top of the shoulder while the bottom edge is to be aligned with the ends of the ribcage.

For the pelvis box, three points are to be first identified: two points at the ends of the iliac crest and one at the pubic bone.

Iliac crest:

Accessed from

Interestingly, when a human is standing, the upper box will be tilting backwards instead of being upright or inclining forward. This is often overlooked, even when I tried to sketch later on.

Easier said than done! Even though the theory sounds extremely simple, when I tried applying it I found that just getting the proportions of the boxes right is a big enough headache. It is difficult to pinpoint from the nude model where the boxes starts and ends and what their orientation in space is.

Quick sketches I did:

Proportions feel rather off here. Also, I did not know that the boxes should be rectangular instead of taking a trapezium shape. In the bottom right sketch, I was confused by the twisted torso of the model and thought that my boxes should be distorted as well. However, Prof told us later that we should be thinking of the boxes themselves as representing immovable blocks (we can’t twist our ribcage or pelvis after all). What gives rise to the idea of the ‘twist’ is by displacing the alignment of the top and bottom box.

We sketched for longer periods after:


I realise I have this very bad habit of sketching the model too small…

I hope there’s a lot more figure drawing sessions to come because it feels like it is very hard to master and will require loads of practice. Hopefully, through better understanding of the human anatomy and techniques to figure drawing, I will get better and faster and more confident at it :)

Foundation drawing: tones and textures

This week, we worked with charcoal to learn about textures and tones in a drawing.


Since drawings are 2d, we can only create the illusion of texture by manipulating light. For smooth surfaces, there will be a smooth graduation from light to dark; for rough surfaces, there will be sharp contrasts of light.


Varying tones is crucial feature to have in order to bring life to a drawing. Objects have no outline in reality – hence for realistic drawing, it does not make sense to have clearly delineated outlines. Hence, without outlines, the only way to portray an object will be to describe it based on its tones and how it behaves under light.

Takeaways from Prof’s demonstration of a rainy day:

  • The importance of creating a delusion, and acquiring the know-how. In a rainy day, there are no sharp shadows due the diffusion of light from the rain droplets, the ground, the walls, etc. As sunlight is still the main source of light (other sources including street lights/ lights in buildings), the ground (horizontal surfaces) will reflect the most light among all surfaces. Additionally, due to the reflection of light among rain droplets, the further the distance, the brighter it will appear. Hence, in a rainy scene, furthest objects will appear the brightest. 
  • Prof barely drew any details, yet we could tell that it is a rainy day. We could make out the forms of the cars, the people, the umbrellas….. with minimal strokes. This goes to show the importance of light and dark in a drawing – they make all the differences

We had a chance to draw a still life set up. Here is my from the session:

I am not foreign to the use of charcoal, however I had some troubles adapting to the paper I was using which was somehow quite different from what I’ve used in the past. For examples, I found that it was more difficult to erase and get a sharp edge. Also, the charcoal does not seem to adhere to the paper – when I rub on the charcoal with my fingers, the tone lightens immensely more than I intend.

I think it can be quite distinctly observed that the quality of drawing drops from the right towards the left (excluding the crumpled paper texture). This is because I am a rather slow worker. Thus I was drawing at a more comfortable pace at the start and spent a lot of time on the glass bottle. However as more and more time passed, I was pressurised to work quicker, and the rushed drawings do not fare so well.


For the ceramics, it was very difficult to capture their tones because the change in tone is very subtle under the diffused studio lighting. Prof mentioned that it was very important to ensure that the darkest parts of the ceramics are lighter than the darkest parts of the darker objects.

For the kettle, I think that my tones are changing too abruptly and the contrast is too large. Also, each band of tone (which I drew as a flat solid colour) should have a gradual change in tone within itself.

For the crumpled paper (in the background), while I did not have enough time to work on them, the portion that I did draw is too dark and the tones too flat.


Again, I found it more difficult to work with the ceramics – their textures are so hard to capture! Reflections on the kettle and glass bottle are a lot more straightforward because each change of tone is very clean and distinct. Since their surfaces are smooth, all I had to focus on was the reflection.


Even though this lesson did not focus on the drawing itself, I find that my proportions and perspectives are rather poorly done – especially the eclipses.

Personally, I love drawing. I would love to attend more drawing sessions and improve as much as possible.

Foundation Drawing lesson 1

Hello, I’m Yu Qing :) I graduated from Hwa Chong Junior College and was from the science stream. I do not have any formal art background, but I like to draw and doodle since young, so it’s really great that ADM has a foundation drawing class to help me get my basics right. As I plan to major in animation, I feel that acquiring strong drawing skills will be very beneficial. I hope to make the very best out of this class in this semester!

For our first Foundation Drawing class, our prof introduced a style of sketching that he would like us to have a go at. It is rather charming – instead of drawing objects in isolation and being obsessed with bringing out its form, his way of sketching is a lot looser.

  • Scenes are to be looked at in the overall perspective.
  • The sketch is primarily concerned with the interplay of positive and negative spaces.
  • There need not be any clear boundary of whatever we were drawing, we can simply allow one object flow to the next.

I feel that our prof’s demonstration drawing is very ‘fluid’, natural, and somehow visually comfortable. One table can morph into another table in the back, yet the front is represented by positive space while the latter negative.

Shortly after, we went down to Canteen 2 to do some sketching! Prof suggested we apply quick strokes when we are confident and slow down when we are not.

This was the very first sketch I made. I feel like I didn’t understand what Prof was trying to tell us. My sketch remains too clean and I was shading into spaces quite arbitrarily.

Some other sketches I’d made:

I wonder if I am thinking too much while drawing, or not thinking enough at all. As my mind is usually blank when I draw, I do not consciously decide which object to be represented with negative space and which positive. Perhaps this is why my sketches are still rather isolated and traditional.

This is a sketch that I was rather happy with. I feel that there is more fluidity between different objects, but the use of positive/negative space is still rather ambiguous.

After comparing my own sketches with my prof’s, I also notice that he varies the tone of shading a lot more – which may be why he is able to create more depth. Also his lines are way looser than mine – I will feel compelled to finish drawing the leg of a chair yet he can very freely leave it as nothing more than a line with a small suggestion of a cuboid structure.

Hope that with a lot more practices, I will be able to manoeuvre comfortably around positive and negative spaces!