August Nguyen

August Nguyen

Visual Communication Designer

Week 22+12: Artwork Refinement

1. Change of Style

It is clear from the Mid Review that my artworks are too small, too sketchy, and the colours were not nice; all of which renders a lot of room for improvement.

While Malayan Life was totally stunning as a still mural, the style that inspired from it cannot communicate dycamism and vibrancy well. Therefore, the first step to refresh my works is to look for an alternative palette of inspiration.

One of my significant discover after the Mid Review, and also my second-biggest inspiration to date, is The First Journey by KAA Illustration. Making use of the same subject, the style and subject matters it brought have greatly inspired my image-making process. Nevertheless, Mekong, 2100 is still a very different project due to its target (environmental problems), approach (a space-time journey of an omnipresent narrator), and audience (young adults); while The First Journey communicates about the people’s difficulties living in the area to small children using a physical journey to school of a young boy.

The First Journey by KAA Illustration. Source

The other inspiration to my drawing style is artworks from Victo Ngai. Victo’s style are notably Asian, a result of delicate linework, details and grainy texture, which resemble Japanese Edo paintings.

Artwork by Victo Ngai. Source

2. Change in Composition

Following the shift from the previous style, which honours the folk-painting, still life vibe, the compositions also have to be more dramatic, unconventional and dynamic, moving away from from static and stable set-ups, especially where needed. This will help retain the visual flow longer and highlight the message better.

Below are some examples of such changes and the rationale behind.

The composition used to have a focal point at the eye level, from where the school of fish swims toward the edge of the canvas, into the deeper cave. All fish swim at a distance from POV. In reality, riverbed doesn’t look like a cave at all, and such composition, unwantedly, leads the visual flow out of the frame.

The redrawn composition has a focal point up high, and the fish swim from the edge of the canvas (also the edge of the POV) to it. This composition creates better immersive feeling, avoid leading eyes out of frame, looks more like under river, and has a more noticeable positive meaning.

The old composition was rather static because the river was not very winding. The POV was higher, providing a bird eye view that cover almost everything, hence rendered a flat view that was lack of depth. The eroded cliff didn’t communicate a positive message.

The new one has a lower POV which creates more relatable feeling, more depth. The river is more dynamic, and the green hills definitely looks more appealing.

The old composition for this scene were so similar to the one before it (the one above), and the cultures weren’t depicted well due to the small size of the figure. The visual flow led by the river was avoiding the figures, and was rather simple.

The redrawn composition demotes the background and highlight the figures. The visual flow led by the river is more dynamic and involves the figures as well.

Before redrawing, there was no object-of-focus in the canvas. Everything was just ground and water, the visual flow was undeniably flat and confused.

It was later revamped to have rice sprouts growing, and the flows led by the ground go back to the sprouts, hence highlight the message better.