The “Breathing” Self-Portrait

Hello hello! Once again I am back with another post for my school work. This time, I’ll be telling you all about my last project for my Digital Imaging class, so let’s get right into it! πŸ˜€





Ah yes, so this is where I struggled the most. I was stuck in a limbo for 1 to 2 weeks deciding on what I want my idea to be.

Initially, I was planning to draw an open world from a game, one where I’m in it because I played so many games that they became part of my life and they hold great significance to me. Bryan was excited about the idea, and so was I.

However, somewhere along the course of the project, I was not very motivated to do it. Maybe it was me getting tired or assignments, or that I simply wanted a breath of fresh air, I don’t know man. Basically, I wanted to do something travelling related, which is also what I am quite enthusiastic about. I do follow some photographers on Instagram that do a lot of travelling to places far and beyond this little island. Alas, during my consultation with Bryan, he reminded me that this project is really more about myself and what I want to portray to others, and that doing something closer to my heart would be “better” in a sense. (To be edited)

So, this led me to giving it some more thought. I started thinking about the games I played over the course of many years. I didn’t want to simply replicate a scenery from a game, which I could easily reference from open world games, which are some of my favourite types of games. I wanted to draw something that was of importance and significance to me, past or present. Then, it hit me.

Mario Kart Wii.

This was one of the first few games I played back when I was say, 12 or 13 years old, but my memories of it were strong. I remember spending many hours sitting in front of the TV, pressing down really hard on the A button that it leaves a mark on my fingers, or that I have (almost) perfectly memorised all of the 32 routes in the game, or that I can almost instinctively flick the Wii Remote at certain parts of the game to do cool tricks and stunts for my character, or that I spent hours on YouTube watching really pro Mario Kart Wii YouTubers playing in tournaments with their godlike skills that my 13 year old self cannot match (haha). But basically, you get the gist of it. This game was pretty darn fun to me.

But now, what aspect of Mario Kart shall I present for my project? My first thought was showcasing a scenery of one of the tracks that I used to play. But which one? There are like 32 of them, how the hell am I suppose to choose? Maple Treeway? Yoshi Falls? Luigi Circuit? Coconut Mall? There were simply too many to choose from. So I thought even harder, and realise there was always one that struck a chord in me.

Rainbow Road.

Ah yes, the staple of every Mario Kart game, how could anyone forget? Rainbow Road has always been a staple in all the Mario Kart games, appearing as the final course in the Special Cup, and one of the more tricky tracks. It has many boosts, ramps, bumps, and most importantly, devoid of railings, which means you are very prone to falling off the track every 2 seconds after respawning (speaking from experience, haha). The Rainbow Road on Mario Kart Wii was no exception of course. I remembered when I first saw it, I was so amazed by the colourful floating track in the middle of the galaxy, scattered with stars and the earth far far below us. It was (literally) out of this world. You can only imagine my excitement when I finally got to play the track myself, heh. It was truly magical.

13 year old me sure fell down to Earth a lot (and probably still do now haha)

And hence, I would attempt to portray me and my experience with Rainbow Road in the process below.

But before that…

Artist References


Not completely relevant, but I have been following her works for really long and I always love her (sometimes) surrealistic compositions and use of colours to suit the mood of her painting. Also, her scenery works are all insanely breathtaking and magical.Β 

Nathalie F

She’s a concept artist that I’ve been following for a while, and I love the way she uses different colours to set the mood of the scenery. I also like how she adds many details into her works to make it feel alive. Her dynamic illustrative style also stands out to me too from her other works.

And of course, the original Rainbow Road track itself from the game:

The drop in the beginning of the track, sprinkled with stars and meteorites
The rainbow cannon portion
The star tunnel near the finish line

The track has many cool gimmicks along the way (like shown above), and it’s colourful nature stands out really brightly against the endless galaxy and the earth below. Therefore I’ll pick some elements of the track to put it in my drawing.

And with the artist references out of the way, time to do a lot of work!



So first and foremost, I conjured up some possible compositions I could possibly use for my project:

Ultimately, I decided to use the very first one on top since I want to capture the thrill of playing the game and also the satisfaction of throwing a spiny shell. (A spiny shell is a homing weapon on the player that is currently in first place and deals a huge explosion, hence it is like the ultimate “HA GET REKT” item.)


Next, I sketched out my drawing in Clip Studio Paint.

The look of a scheming asshole

I added 200px horizontally and vertically to the 1920×1080 image so that I could animate the different parts. I also used a frame to indicate where the objects will be visible in the final animation.

As for the details, in the foreground is my avatar in the game, driving a standard kart in the game with one hand while holding the spiny shell in the other. I gave my avatar a Yoshi hat since I played as Yoshi the most in the game. (It’s too cute!) I added in some floating stars and meteorites since the original track had it too. I also added additional roads below the road my avatar is travelling on to make the composition look less empty. The bottom road had a split path and some overarching gates, both of which are present in the original track.

And then the process continues below:


First and foremost, I indicated in my sketches where I wanted what to move.

Unfortunately, due to my limited skills and expertise in After Effects, I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted to, but I tried my best to do as much as I can.

This is how my final workflow looked like:

I’ll be talking about what I did to each individual layer! So firstly…


I wanted to give the galaxy layer just a bit of movement since it’s in the background, so all I did was add frames to change it’s position, and added some slight rotation on the Z axis to look more like an actual spacey effect.

Lower track

I added some gaussian blur to the track since it is in the mid-ground, so less focus is on it. I also made it move from left to right and rotated it slightly along the key frames to make the movement more dynamic.

Green Arrows

As you can see from the effects control on the left side, I also blurred the arrows to match with the lower track. After that, I decided to add a little glowing effect to the arrow to make it look neon-ish like how it does in the game, so I key framed the glow radius at 2 second intervals, as can be seen in the timeline below. After that, I also tracked the position of the arrows to move in sync with the lower track as seen in the transform section below.

Upper track

This layer of mine consisted of 2 rounds of animating, so I’ll start with the broader one!

For the overall track, I moved the position of the track diagonally left downwards since it matched with the direction the kart was driving towards. And now the details:

The upper track layer is pre-composed by a these few layers, and I’ll talk about each one individually.

Meteor Upper and Lower

Firstly, I added gaussian blur to the meteors since they are in the mid-ground. Next, I wanted to make the meteors bob around a bit, like as if they are floating in the galaxy. So after playing around with the effects a bit, I found this effect called “Wiggle – position” that lets the object move around back and forth the same area, so I applied that to the meteor layer too. (The 2 effects can be seen in the bottom left.) Lastly, I also moved the meteors a bit to match the track (as can be seen on the top left side of effects controls.) Although I only took a screenshot of the top meteor layer’s effects, the same are applied to the lower layer (which is the layer beneath the road.)

Sparkling effect

This is where I got a little ambitious… so I wanted to create the effect where the track would sparkle, much like the actual glossy track in the game. So after some Googling I learnt of this effect called “CC Particle World”, and by adding it to an adjustment layer, masking only the area I need accordingly and tweak it’s properties, I can make the track extra shiny! πŸ˜€ There are some more settings that I have to change that are not shown in the screenshot to achieve this effect, but what’s shown in the effects control on the left is generally the gist of it. It was quite fun toggling between the different settings to see what it could do.

And then the upper track’s done! πŸ™‚

Track marks

These are for the zooming effect that appears behind the kart. As usual, I moved the position of it to match the kart, as well as it’s scale since it’s moving towards the front. Also rotated it slightly along the way to match the kart’s movements.

The Avatar, Kart and Spiny Shell

These 3 components were pre-composed into one to track their overall movements, so I’ll talk about that first!

As you can see, once again I moved the whole layer diagonally downwards towards the left to make it look as if like it’s driving forward. I also made the size bigger to give the feeling of depth. Now I’ll talk about the details.

There are 4 layers here but I only touched the “blue shell” and “myself” layer.

For both layers, I used the puppet pin function to achieve slight movements.

Myself (or more specifically just the left arm)

As you can see, I pinned the main moving parts of the body, however I only touched “Puppet Pin 2” to move the arm slightly out as shown in the workflow.

Blue Shell

I pinned a few spots on the shell, but my main intention was just to slightly move the wings to give it movement, hence only 2 pins were actually touched. And although not shown in the image here, the shell is also moving to synchronise with the moving hand.

In hindsight, there were more things I would have loved to animate for the kart and body, like making the wheels turn or giving the body more movement, but I wasn’t sure of how to achieve the effect and I had limited time, so I had to make do with what I did.

Some colour adjustments

Finally, I made the whole composition a bit more saturated, as well as to add a bit of exposure to the sides of the image to let the image have a better focus in the middle.

Some small saturation adjustments
And changing the exposure very slightly



Oh man this has been a rollercoaster ride from start to end… from not being able to come up with an idea all the way until the end of this OSS post (heheh)

This is my first ever attempt at using After Effects, and I genuinely had fun doing it! Although there were some hair-pulling moments (like trying to figure out for 2 hours why it’s moving the wrong way… grrr) I have definitely picked up a lot of useful skills from this assignment, and learned a new software! Although the final product could have looked better, I’m pretty happy at it nonetheless. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere after all! :”D

I am very thankful to Bryan for imparting me many useful skills and lessons these past 13 weeks, from Photoshop to Premiere Pro to After Effects, and they will definitely be put to good use in the future.

And with that, I’ll sign off here one last time from my Digital Imaging class, see you next time! πŸ˜€


“Found” Narratives – For XX

Hello! I am back with another assignment today. πŸ˜€
Hoo boy this is going to be a long post… Hope you’re ready!

1 Minute Video:

30 Second Video:

Artist Statement:
A retelling of a true story, of one where I stumble across a crime scene in my neighbourhood… which turned out to be a film set. Whooooooops.

When I first received this project, I did not have the faintest idea of what I wanted to do. Tell a story in one minute? What the hell? And in video?! Oh nooooo.Β But of course, after overcoming all the initial panic, I started to sit down and think about what I want to do.

Since I am not a very ‘deep’ person that can’t exactly tackle all the ‘deep and philosophical’ issues, I decided to do what I do best: Some (bad) comedy. πŸ˜›

I occasionally make little comics about my life shenanigans, and after scrolling through my old works I decided to tell the story of the time I passed by a ‘crime scene’ near my house. And boy was it a wild ride… haha.

After nailing down the story and getting Bryan’s approval, I originally wanted to piece together videos and images of police cars, tents and what not into my video, but either I have bad Google-fu or the images online are really that lacking of the content I need, I was not able to find satisfying footage that I needed. The pictures are usually of low quality or are taken from an awkward angle, and the videos I found would be hard to piece together to form a cohesive narrative. And thus this led me to one other option: telling the whole story by doing everything myself.

The entire process:
At the beginning, I was planning how I would want to portray the story, such that it would not give away the ‘twist’ of the plot. I then decided I would first show elements of a crime scene, such as police tents, police cars and police tapes, to mislead the viewer. Afterwards, when I go to the area for a closeup, I see the other elements, such as the boom mic, cameras and clappers. It then leads to an awkward exit away from the screen by yours truly.

Below is my low-effort attempt at trying to storyboard the story:

Small scribbles

I laid out how I want my story to go, so the next thing is to try to piece it together on Premiere Pro itself. For this, I redrew all the key frames in Photoshop and then transferring them to Premiere. I also recorded the voices I need for my work.

This was the first draft:

Picture by picture

Then to video:

Combining it with my voiceover

After I made sure the story flows cohesively, I started to work on the actual story.

I was in a dilemma about what style I wanted to portray my story in. I originally wanted to go for a more realistic style for my characters, but with the limited time I am working with, the best option would be to go for simplification, which is the style I used in the key frames I made above of the characters. This is a style that I work with quite often too, so I am also aware of the amount of work I need to do to pull this off.

Next thing was the backgrounds. After realising that I clearly don’t have enough time to draw them all out, I decided to take my own pictures instead, since I can decide my own angle and composition and shoot till my heart’s content. As for the actual location, I walked around my neighbourhood until I found a good spot to take my pictures. I snapped at all the locations I needed according to my story until I was satisfied with it.

At this point, my plan was to overlay my characters onto the photos, so I realised that the realistic looking photos against the highly stylised characters would look very jarring, so I applied a Photoshop filter, “palette knife”, to all of my images. This would make the photos look more artistic and “cartooney”, so it would be less distracting from the subject matters. I also did not really apply any colour correction or editing to my images since I felt that they look natural enough to be in the video themselves.

This was the result:


Next thing are my characters. I have never really tried to do anything animated-related so I had to try to find a way to make it look like things are kind of “moving”. After some more trial and error, I decided to draw my character movements one by one and then lining them up in Premiere.

Below is an example from the first scene of the girl walking:

It’s a bit small, apologies!

I drew the girl in a layer above the image and then coloured it in. Afterwards, I made everything transparent except the girl and saved it as one image. This is then transferred to Premiere, where I piece together the movements image by image.

As you can see, there are 2 layers of “videos” on the timeline. “bg” is the background, and the files labelled 1, 2, 3, etc. are the individual movements of the girl walking. And this was basically how I did my entire video…

There were also some parts of the video where I had to draw what was going on.

The line work was a bit too shabby for my liking… but I was running out of time ):

After some sleepless nights, Premiere crashing, Photoshop lagging, files going missing, pen stylus not responding and just all around bad luck when it comes to doing any video related assignment, I finally pieced together everything, and all that’s left was for me to add some sound effects to make the video more dramatic.

Sound effects are the only media files that I Googled for, credits at the bottom of the post! As for the sound effects themselves, as I was doing my project I kind of already had in mind what sound effect will go where, so that part was relatively simple, thankfully. And with that, more or less, my video is completed!

This is how my final timeline looks like:

I tried.

…or so I wish lol. Now the real challenge is to cut down my video to half of the original length while still maintaining the same wit and retaining all of the voiceover audio. So naturally, I shortened a lot of the parts that were voiceless, and even cutting out one scene entirely. It certainly wasn’t an easy task, but somehow I managed, millisecond by millisecond. Phew. I thinkΒ I barely made it. Woohoo!

Artist references:
I’ll admit, I’m not exactly the best when it comes to artist references in this mod. A lot of my ideas are formulated in my head before I could find an artist to reference to, so I always struggled to find someone to include in this section. I also have a very limited Photography/Film knowledge, which is probably a bit more of a fault on my part, haha… sorry Bryan ):

This time was no exception, I really had no idea what inspired me to do this style of work in the first place. But I tried to think a bit more and I went back to look at some of the animators I subscribe to on YouTube and realised that is probably my best source of inspiration for my works.

The animators I follow are all usually talking about their life stories and opinions on various issues, which are really nice to watch. Some have really sarcastic humour that I can really related to, which is a nice plus. Furthermore, I find it impressive that these animators can express a simple face so animatedly even though their character personas are relatively simple in design too. They can also present their points humourously with a witty and well-timed joke, which always gives me a good chuckle. All in all, I admire the quality and effort they put into their videos and maybe someday I’ll be like that too…

Here are some of them! They are all really good, check them out if you are interested!

  1. TheOdd1sOut
  2. CypherDen
  3. Jaiden Animations


(Scene opens with a girl walking)
(She turns her head to see something shocking)
(A police tent is shown)
(A police car is shown)
(Police tape with a crowd is shown)
(The girl dashes off toward the scene of the crime)
(She reaches the place and stops to catch her breath)
Girl: Wait… what?
(A clapper is shown)
(A boom mic is shown)
(A film set is shown)
Girl: It’s… a movie set! Ahahaha….. (her voice trails off)
(She slowly backs away from the film set)

Some reflections:

Hoo boy, I don’t know if this video was a mistake or not to be honest, haha. It was very time consuming and in my opinion, quite shoddily put together. There were many scenes where there were more that I wanted to play with, but due to time constraints I had to cut the amount of work I intended to do and come to a compromise. I knew making a semi animated short wasn’t easy, especially since this is my first time trying to use Adobe Premiere. I had to learn everything from scratch, and more often than not I couldn’t get things to work the way I want, ahaha. Coupled with some other happy little accidents, this project was a little frustrating to say the least πŸ˜›

Furthermore this is not exactly the conventional video format for this assignment, and even though Bryan gave the go ahead for my video I was honestly really hesitant throughout making it because it almost feels like I’m not hitting his requirements… but I guess we’ll see o_o

Buuuuuut I guess, in hindsight, I picked up many useful Premiere skills through this first-time experience and I hope that I would be able to use them more effectively the next time I need to produce another video. May every mistake be a lesson to be learnt. πŸ™‚

Post-presentation critique:
Bryan thought the video was pretty okay and appreciated the effort I put into this project. The story was easy to follow, and he was sad to realise that there wasn’t more suspense to the video because of the time limit, haha. Despite that, he commented that I could have put in more effort into the background, such as playing with curves or colours, which I agree with. I would have loved to do that too, but time was unfortunately not on my side πŸ™ It would have been nice to make the world look more vibrant. Thank you for the great advice! πŸ™‚

Alas, this post has gone on too long (or maybe it’s because I’m falling asleep…) but I guess I’ll end it here. If you made it all the way to the end, thank you for reading through my entire post, and I’ll see you next time! <3

Sound effects credits:

  1. The dramatic BOOM sound
  2. The ZOOM sound
  3. The brake sound
  4. People talking in the background
  5. Background environment noises are by myself



The Hyperreal Self-Portrait

Hello hello! Today I’ll be bringing you guys through my second project for my Digital Imaging class.

Title: Two Sides of the Same Coin



I was actually struggling quite a bit with how I wanted to portray myself in this project, since I couldn’t nail down the “essence” behind my work. But I knew from the start I wanted to draw something to “life”, like they are coming out from my game.

As you can clearly tell I am pretty out of ideas

I looked to some images done by artists that were featured on @photoshop on Instagram too but I couldn’t get inspired.

They are really, really beautiful though πŸ™‚

In the end, I decided that I want to have this duality between the me in real life and the me as an avatar playing games, so I Googled up some inspiration on the Internet.

Magnolia and Myosotis from Deemo by Siyouko on FB and Twitter
By chivi-chivik on DeviantArt

The artists I referenced above show 2 sides of the same character, with some small differences between them such as their expression of the character or a colour swap. My idea would henceforth be somewhat similar to those examples.

Some more (really crappy) sketches to get my ideas going:

Badly drawn stuff ):

I decided that one side would be myself and the other side should be a character I’m playing as, showing unison between the both of us and the screen keeping us apart is broken. It makes me warm and fuzzy inside to be a character in the game.

I used a Nikon D5500 and my camera settings were 18-55mm lens, f/5, 1/50s, ISO800. Firstly, I cleaned up the wall to make it look smoother and with less distractions, then I applied a mask to the background to make some minor curve changes to myself. I then applied a overall curves to the image to make it look brighter. Afterwards, I drew my character on the other side of the screen and added some drop shadow to make her stand out more against the grey-black background.

I chose to hold a 3DS in my hand this time since I also spent a lot of time playing games on it, but mostly Pokemon. The girl avatar I drew is the female protagonist of Pokemon Black 2 White 2, since I probably spent the most time on this game and I was really immersed into it. (Also I think she looks really cute…) However, in hindsight, I probably should have made my 3DS screen face the camera to show some kind of victory or triumph in battle to make the delighted faces of me and the girl avatar more significant, but it’s unfortunately a bit late for that (sad face). Me and my girl avatar are also separated by a black and white background to show the polar opposites of us in nature but I could still resonate with the fictional character (granted Pokemon protagonists are actually silent but it still feels good playing as them, also unintentional Black and White reference to the game title :P).

And so here’s the final again:

Some reflections:

In hindsight, I probably could have done more to make my image more engaging, since it feels kind of boring and flat, like as if there was no dynamic in it at all. If I had thought of my idea earlier and had more time to think through how can I compose my image better, it might have turned out quite differently and I would have been more satisfied with the outcome.

UPDATE: Critique feedback

The image was generally okay, however Bryan felt that maybe my girl avatar could have been more glossy to look more blended in like my skin, and also the shadow could have been more like my own image’s one. He also commented that I should clean up some stray hair from my face to make the image look more well thought out and presentable since they look kind of distracting coming out of my nose. He commented that I have also put in more consideration into my choice of clothes in the photo and how it can also add more meaning to my work. I could have also made my 3DS more bright and saturated to give audiences a visual cue, much like the red Pokeball that really catches the audience’s attention. Bryan also said that I could make it look like the girl avatar’s side of the image have like Pokemon like coming out towards me to show some kind of liveliness in the picture (I forgot his exact words because I have a 5 second memory but that was roughly the gist of it >_>)

Anyway, thank you for reading my post and see you guys next time! (:

The Narrative Self-Portrait

Hello everyone! New semester and new things to post and talk about πŸ™‚

So for the first project of digital imaging, we are tasked to take a picture as our self portrait. After some brainstorming, executing and editing, this was my final picture.

Title: In My Own World



Artist Statement:

My idea of this image is pretty simple, I just simply wanted to express my love for video games since it has shaped a big part of my life. Video games are so much more than games, they make you laugh till your stomach is in knots, bawl your eyes out until they are dry, and flabbergast you with their twists and turns. The feeling never changes. πŸ™‚

Camera settings: 24mm, f/4, 1/8s, ISO800

I am fairly new to using camera as a medium for capturing images, but this was the setting that I achieved after fumbling around with the Nikon D5500 for a while to capture the lighting and angle I wanted. I also used a Nikon Speedlight SB-500 to help supplement some lighting to the image, or it would be too dark.

I chose my bedroom as the setting for this image since I see it as my safe haven where I could escape from my problems while I’m busy fighting monsters in some other god knows what world. I also depicted myself with a shocked expression since I am a very emotional person and reactions like these are common whenever I play games. I also chose to use my Nintendo Switch since it is my most recent console and I’ve been having a blast playing on it.

As for post-processing, my original edit was at a subpar level, which looked something like this:

It almost looks like I’m glowing…

Yea it’s pretty terrible. I was still quite confused on how to properly mask my picture and adjust my curves to make them look realistic. Thankfully, with Bryan’s guidance and some more trial and error, the final image turned out much better (as shown above too):

I think I’m doing this right…?

I learnt how to mask with the smudge tool and this time only adjusted the curves for myself to make myself stand out more. I also slightly increased the saturation and made minor adjustments to the curves to shift the lighting around. I also darkened the edges to make the focus on me stronger. Overall, I still have ways to go, but this is certainly a step forward compared to the picture I presented in class.


I referenced some of the official images Nintendo used to promote their Nintendo Switch, such as how they promote the console and the way the models are playing on the console.

Aaaaaand that’s it for Project 1! See you next time πŸ™‚