Theme: Empathy

I chose the Empathy as the theme.
And Self-love as the topic.
Because many of the times we are so caught up with our hectic daily life schedule, we tend to forget doing what we love. Genuinely caring for ourselves physically and mentally, such that we detach ourselves from the world and retreat to our safe haven to recharge.

User Persona

  Mood boards

Art/Style Direction

Thumbnail sketches

  1. Idea of a Bonsai plant, self love is like a growing plant, illustrated by the fusion of the girl as the plant, and the leaves as the hair.
  2. Tree layers as the compartments in a house!
  3. Girl rests in the hollow of a tree, recuperating under the embrace of nature.
  4. Girl waters herself, her hair consisting of plants and cats.
  5. Girl and cat leans back to back each other and looks at the floating plants and motifs they like ( Eg. Tea, cat food).
  6. Girl rests on a giant flying cat in the hectic external life.
  7. Girl rests inside a terrarium with a cat waterfall behind. External patterns act as noise and distractions. She is in her safe haven
  8. ‘Me-Thyme’. Cat throws ingredients into boiling soup pot which acts as a bath tub for the girl.
  9. Girl wanders off into a mystical forest (Alice in wonderland concept) from her city life.

Welcome to the second assignment posting for Illustration for Designers! 🙂
So stoked to be able to be able to work on an editorial illustration, which I find that would be greatly practical for future use!

The brief states that…

We are commissioned to create an illustration for the front cover of The Associate of Illustrators bi-annual magazine, ‘Varoom’. Each of the edition is themed and we are to choose one of the following 3 themes.

  1. Style
  2. Empathy
  3. Obsession

Before I jump into the task, let me do some research as to know what ‘Varoom’ is all about!

Varoom is the globally leading illustration magazine featuring a unique combination of industry insight and critical analysis of the field of illustration.

Varoom probes audiences to  comment and discuss on the contemporary illustrated image in depth. It features: Interviews with illustrators, image-makers and designers as well as critical articles by leading commentators.

This is just some of the cover issues of the magazine.
I realized that every issue varies so much in style and form of illustration. This may be due the fact that the illustrators are not fixed.
The brand seemed very versatile and open to various forms of editorial illustrations.
I think that as long as the illustration fits the theme and probes the audience to think in depth, it sends an indirect message on contemporary articles.

What is editorial illustration?

Every day, print media such as  newspapers and magazines print illustrations alongside their articles to illuminate some element of the concepts for the reader. Essentially, an editorial illustration is based on a theme that may  not be explicitly written out. But the contextual meaning and theme is prominent through the visuals.


Sarah McIntyre on David Roberts’ His Royal Tinyness written by Sally Lloyd Jones.

Activating your left and right brain.


During the presentation for this assignment, I was glad to see that my classmates and Ms Lisa found my composition amusing, and lovely feedbacks to improve my work was given!
I made some changes based on the feedbacks given and the main change was the color of the lizard on the meat so that it balances the composition better.
Hence, this is the FINAL submission piece for this assignment!
 I really enjoyed this assignment because I was taking baby steps to steer away from my usual form of illustration and using a Wacom tablet to draw my portrait instead of doodling and scanning in, while also doing surrealistic photo montages which is something I do enjoy!
I look forward to the next assignment! 🙂
To see my research process and my methodology for this piece, click the link below!
Seng Yi Ling

For our first assignment, we are tasked to create a stylized A3 self portrait exploring the concept of visual narrative, considering how we can best represent ourselves in order to express our personality and unique character; experimenting with stylization.



I started out by narrowing down my list of words from the mind map on things I like and things I don’t like.

My mindmap, concept and little sketches

Mood Board

Based on my mood board which I made while surfing Pinterest, my initial art direction was to use photo montage background for the things I don’t like and illustrative doodles inside my glasses for things that I do like. And then for the self portrait I would like to do it in a sketchy continuous line technique.
But while testing the fusion of the 3 different styles together: Photo, Doodling, and Sketchy lines; They look like a terrible mess.
I then tried another approach, which to abandon one of the styles and just stick mainly to 2 styles, the photo montage being one of the two.
I tried to do the doodling technique and the sketchy lines and I felt that the latter suits my theme and choice of items better.
 Hence I chose to use Photomontage and Sketchy lines to do my portrait.
Artist References

My artists references are not really fixed, but more of I went looking around and extracted things I liked from each artwork I see and I try to marry them together.

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I liked the feelings evoked from Picasso Blue period painting. The hue is already an indication of the somber mood, which reinforces the feelings evoked by the subject matter’s expression.
I liked this photo I saw on Pinterest where the subject figure is framed beautifully in the picture, the items beside her complements it really well. and I would like to emulate that composition by framing myself with the things I don’t.
And all the while, I really enjoyed making funny surrealistic photo montage compositions! @surrealismodipendenza2 being one of the Instagram accounts I drew inspirations from.
Because one of my art direction was to use photo montage, I studied how I can create depth using flat images.
I realized that for landscapes, the receding mountains are lighter in shade as compared to the one closer to us, which are much darker.

Image taken from :

And in this surrealistic photomontage, I realized that by overlapping the images, depth is also created.

Image taken from :

I used varied line thickness to create more texture and emphasis on the portrait. Thinnest lines being the light and contours on my face.
The choice of brush has a little opacity, so when it overlaps, it creates an even brighter line.
I was quite in a dilemma for the color choices and eventually I made many drafts just to see which stands out the way I want it more, and what works best.
My overall composition I wanted it to be vertically symmetrical and framed with the photo montages of things I liked and disliked. The subject figure acts as a central axis.
That initial intention to use black and white (Number 1 to 3) for the background to represent disdain for the things I like kind of drowned the whole composition, and the focal point in the glasses are really small.
Number 7 was pretty funny to me (Noodle hair and babies as my shirt), and the focus was clearer. But the line work for my self portrait was obscured :(.

Number 4 and 6 were too glaring and drawing attention away from the central figure. (A friend commented that the colors were like the after effects of taking drugs…).

Eventually I chose color composition Number 5 because the blueish hue made the overall artwork comforting to look at, sufficient attention can be placed in the central figure and the items in the glasses.
In the background, I placed images of things that I dislike: Meat, flowers, lizards, ghosts and a huge potato as a nimbus.
And in my glasses, I placed the things I like in it: Dolls, cucumber and noodles!The color pallet I eventually chose is Complementary colors  (Orange, Red and Green) with its saturation increased to create contrast against the bluish hue for the background and stand out against the white lines for the sketchy illustration.

To see the final submission, click on the link below!

This is the first post for DV2002: Illustration for Designers! I hope through this module, I will be able to be more expressive through my illustrations and adventurous in my learning journey! Lets go~

(22 January, Week 2)

We were given a class activity to draw our classmates and it was really fun! I drew my friend Rachel using continuous line drawing as we were given a short time, I figured this method was the fastest and more realistic form of illustration! 🙂

My drawing of my friend, Rachel Ng

(29 January, Week 3)

We also had some practice in class where we learnt how to critiqued effectively as a illustrator and a viewer. It was really interesting to know what we thought of each other’s randomly chosen images!

The image I randomly chose was this :And applying what was taught, this is my Visual Analysis on Image 7:

  • Lines are smooth and clean, as though created using vectors.
    The image is a front view of a bicycle and it is illustrated in its simplest form. The subject matter is vertically symmetrical.
    The negative and positive space is used to make the image of the subject matter. So much so it does not have definitive lines.
  • The color pallet is made from 3 colors: Yellow, White and Black. Yellow being the most striking color draws attention, black creates area of emphasis for this image, drawing attention to information that matters. And white creates a sense of breathing space.
  • Hierarchy of the image has a definitive order and creates visual movement for the eyes to follow based on the scale. The reader’s eyes move from the main subject figure (bike), the title, sub header and body text, and lastly the date.