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This idea book is about my first year of MFA Illustration Practice in MICA

I’m from Taiwan. Before coming to MICA, I majored in

Economics in National Taiwan University. Although my major has nothing to do with illustration, I found a little voice in me yelling “I want to draw!” However, art-related job in Taiwan is very cheap, and because of that reality, I chose to focus on my economics study. Yet the voice in me was as stubborn as a little monster. It was little but it refused to disappear. After ignoring it for four years, I acquired bachelor degree in economics, but soon I found that I didn’t want to work in any related field. In the end, I got myself a job that I could draw. I entered a web game company and worked as a 2D artist. Three years passed, my little monster gradually grew bigger and bigger, and it finally became so big that I have to get a formal illustration education to satisfy it, so I came to MICA.

MENU Fall Image Harvest Sketchbook Project

Spring Words on Wheels Independent Project

Collaborative Book Project Art Market Bookbinding Paper Engineering Laser Cut

Stop Motion Handlettering Pattern


I learned a lot.

It fits me.

I had fun.

It’s challenging.

Look back into our previous works, find the elements we keep using, and make new things from them., I don’t get it at all.

Fox / I like when you smile, but I love when I am the reason behind it. Bear / I like naps and you, and your snoring.

In a narrow interpretation, I think the purpose of this project is to let us summarize from our past and clarify our own direction. But the approach doesn’t fit on me, because most of my previous works are commercial works created for others, and what I drew on my own were mostly technically practice. I have no much independent creation. Looking for elements from idols and things I like would be a better approach for me. In a broad interpretation, this project will become an independent project, which means you can do whatever you want. Because to some extent, if I want to create something, it must because I have some related experience before, which stimulates the idea of creating this project. Such experience can also be interpreted as “the past elements.” For me, the most challenging part of this project is to understand it’s requirement. After a long struggle, I decided to do what I want at the time: paper cut messages in floating frame. Besides the paper cut messages that can be easily read from the front, turn back there are some extra hidden messages.

From We have to draw on 13 sketchbooks with different given topic. One sketchbook per week and we swap, and after a semester we’ll get 13 collective sketchbooks.




1 01 / Shark 02 / Astronaut 03 / War 04 / Parts of the whole

I really feel nervous about this project at first, because I actually had little experience in nondigital drawing. Also I don’t have a habit to keep a sketchbook, sketching is surprisingly stressful for me. For the first few weeks I used color pencil only, but then I started to play with other materials. I tried mono print and watercolor later on, and felt the experiment quite enjoyable.


For this alphabet book we have to illustrate for words that have dual meanings. The obvious one is for kids, and the hidden one for adults.

This must be the least cute alphabet book in the world.






P for pussy? Then let me make this book a journey of a little cat. By this way I hope I can distract kids from finding extra secrets in the illustration. I also make an extra effort to turn them into gifs, which makes the project more interesting to me.

01 / G for Grass

04 / M for Moon

02 / F for Funk

05 / U for Uranus

03 / S for Straight

06 / X for X-ray

Creating a product is one thing, Selling it is another. This project requires us to develop our own product, from idea to cash.

We have to think in a commercial way if we want our products sell. Making a product is not like making an illustration. The later one you just make to make it beautiful while conveying correct messages, but the former one you must consider cost, price, time, possibility for mass producing. What I learned the most from these experience is that the product is for the customers. As an artist, I always think if I don’t want to buy the thing, I’m not going to produce or sell it. However, sometimes market preference is not the same personal preference. When this happens, just make things that you won’t buy, others will buy anyway.

At first, I didn’t plan to make cards. Instead, I was going to make postcards, because Taiwanese has no habits of giving cards. But then I took Joyce’s advice and made them into cards, and it turned out to be a wise choice in the end. My cards were sold out.

I have two products: cards and print. I chose to make cards because first, I’ve wasted too much time on trying to develop other products, and second, the timing of art market is close to Christmas. After finished sketching a series of little Christmas elves’ activities, it comes to me the idea of combining them together into a big scene. It would be fun for viewers to look at many details in the illustration. I also tried to make felted elf magnets, but I stopped when I finished the third one because of the pain in wrist.

Stitches and sewings, pocket, folding, Japanese bookbinding. It’s charming the process of making a book, but not with a clumsy hand.

We have lots of workshops this semester, and we have to do reaction pieces after each workshop. After the workshop, I knew immediately that I want to make a pocket book. Each pocket is a category, collects elements that belongs to it. The first idea popped up to me is Subway, that you can pick which bread and ingredients you want. So I decided to make a sandwich book! And it’s vegetarian! The process of drawing the ingredients was very pleasing...... and hungry. I want to eat a sandwich so bad!

I add the vocabulary of the ingredient at the back of each element, in case I forgot what I drew. But in the final critic I received ideas such as adding other language and make it into a vocabulary book, which I like! This expanded the possibility of my sandwich book. Maybe I’ll make vehicle book, astronomy book for my kids in the future.

I...... didn’t take this one seriously. But paper engineering can be something really big.

Basically the workshop itself was an expensive experience of trying letterpress, but we learned a lot!

I pushed so far that I created a paper scene. Light and shadow weaving in between, constructing a magical story.

I piled up layers of laser cut scene. The hollowed space in the middle is first where the trees lay before they stand, and then become the slope that leads to the lake. The most challenging part of this work is that before everything is done, I can’t imagine how it’ll look like. When designing the line works for laser cut, I could only try to put tall trees at different direction, so that it should look more balanced when they stands up.

The result was not bad, if ignoring the fact that many detail is too tiny and get burn. Besides the trees and the lake, I put a child looking at a giant fish to make it narrative. For the lake I used tracing paper, and poked little holes as bubbles. When illuminated from below, the whole scene will become magical.

I think the interaction between paper cut scenes and light is very attractive. I might want to try colored scene next time.

Two When the sun goes down, the moon comes out. When a dog dies, a new one is born. When a scientist fails, another succeeds. When a planet explodes, a new one is created. When someone dies, it rains. When there is a fire, then it pours. Things happen by two. -- Yonathan Camillo

Project with Maryland Transit Association(MTA). We have to make illustration for poems made by children. Kids are so serious.

While doing this project, I found myself not so good at editorial illustration. I spent a lot of time drawing sketches, and wasn’t satisfied with it much. Although the outcome looks okay, I didn’t enjoy the process.

Peaks and Valleys When I’m down so low there’s no hope, I wonder if it is ever going to go, That feeling of redemption, pain and loneliness, You just wanna give up and get away. Well, I’m here to say there are better days, And what you’re going through is a valley, Your peaks are just ahead, Coming at you at full strength. You may not notice, but you will see the sun come out more, Friends hang out, improved attitude, Learn from your valleys, and it will teach you to stay on your peaks. -- Destini James

Move a little, shoot. Move a little, shoot. Nooooooo, shit!!!! Forgot to move one part ten frames ago.... Let’s do it all over again.

My first time to use a stop motion stage to shoot an animation! And that was killing me! I choose to let the visual part play with music, and because 2015 is the year of sheep, shepherd and sheep becomes my topic. With the shepherd walking around and trigger things, different changes happens not only visually but also aurally. In the end it becomes rich both in scene and music, and the shepherd who completed all the task lies down contentedly.

I realized I picked a wrong story for stop motion when I started to shoot. The most challenge part of this stop motion is to match visual part with music precisely. Before shooting, I made a timing sheet to help me clarifying when to move each elements. I matched each sound for a specific visual change, for example, the sound when sheep jump, the sound when the hill was pressed. The first half was relatively simple, but when the element started to come together it became a nightmare. I have to move 5 to 6 parts every shot, and it happened often that I missed one part so I have to redo all of them again.

This work requires extremely clear thought and attention. As time passed and I got tired, I made mistakes more often. Besides that, because I didn’t change the background from the beginning to the end, trouble appeared when the camera was dead. It’s almost impossible to go back to the previous position exactly after taking off the camera for changing battery. The whole process is very time consuming. The day I finished my stop motion was the day I slept least in the whole semester...... about 30 minutes.

Although I’ve used AfterEffect to make animations before, I almost never tried stop motion. Maybe it’s because of that, I made several mistake in this assignment. First, I thought in a way more for digital animation than for stop motion, so ended up picking a story not for stop motion. It requires more effort and results worse than doing it digitally. Second, due to the fact that I was not familiar with the working stage, I picked the wrong materials for the elements. I have to spend extra time on adjusting the light to avoid reflection. If I’m going to make stop motion again, I’ll have more sense about what story will work, and I night also try drawing elements traditionally. I also have more interest in shooting 3D scenes from side than shooting flat elements with fixed camera from top.

Make three sets of font with different themes.

- Coral -

- Winter -

I was about to challenge myself with making a set of figure font, illustrating activities between lovers. I got the topic idea and a vocabulary list for each alphabet, such as K for kiss, H for hug, S for star gazing at night. But then I tried several alphabets and give up at once. It was too hard! It’s already not easy to fit figures into alphabet, and applying specific meanings to each alphabet makes it even more crazy hard. Unless I have to do only one set of font, I can spend time on it and make it very complex. So I changed my strategy, I decided to make my fonts simpler and suitable for applications.

Winter / Baltimore snowed heavily that weekend, so heavy that we even had snow break. I reviewed the movie Rise of the Guardians during the break, and made this set for Jack Frost. I adjusted the color several times. Hair Style / I’m always attracted to the elegance to lines, and enjoy drawing the flow of hair. Although for some alphabet, like H, it’s harder to fit in hair styles, most of them just came out naturally. I made two version of it as well. Coral / This set looks a little more complicated but was actually quite simple. I just open google image and search coral, drew and filled the alphabet chart directly when I saw the alphabet in the image. Because the species of coral are numerous, it’s not challenging to find 26 shapes for the alphabet. I would say the hair style is more challenging.

- Hair Style / White -

- Hair Style / Black -

I struggled. I have no idea why this stuff is so difficult to me. I’ve never made patterns before, and though this workshop I first learned how to make a pattern. While in the class we had to draw it directly on paper, and because I only had pen, I did it black and white. I would say I was in a better state that time than later when I had to make the reaction piece. Maybe I wasn’t in a pattern mood, or I was facing my illustrator’s block, or I’m just not a pattern person, I struggled for a long time and came out with some rubbish. I was so frustrated. After a road trip to Grand Canyon in spring break, I got the inspiration of seven sins from Vegas. I want to draw things that are cut into pieces and show the ingredients inside. So I started to redo my patterns. The new sins theme seems not very useful as patterns, but I felt satisfied while drawing it and looking into the details. I did five patterns, and maybe I’ll finish the rest two in the future.

I thought it simple and easy at first.

Later on I surprised myself with how clumsy I was.






We have two months to make whatever we want. I always want to try animate a story, and it’s the time to challenge myself.

I think my weakest point is story. I didn’t train myself in this part much, and I’m aware of how important the storytelling skill is for an illustrator. For the independent project, I decide to face my weakness. I also took animation class in this semester, so the idea of telling a story in the format of animation came naturally. At first I didn’t want to do frame by frame, I wanted to use AfterEffect instead to save time. But later I found myself comfortable with Photoshop animation. Although it takes much more time, the outcome is more interesting.

The story is based on the Japanese mythological creature: baku, the dream eater. In my story I create a partner for it, who is in charge of dream planting. The dream partners came to a sleeping girl, and realized that she was facing her creative block, so they try to help. I thought it’s an easy and simple story when I first got the idea, but when I start to work on it I found it’s actually quite big!

It didn’t take me too long to realize that I’m bad at time management. I spent too much time on figuring out a story idea, and then too much time again on making animatic. At first I struggled on drawing storyboard. After trying for a while making shitty stuffs, I skip directly to animatic. When I finally had my animatic all clear, it’s almost for sure that I won’t be able to finish it before deadline. I also tried two different styles, which made me even further behind the schedule. But I’ll finish it in the summer break anyway, and I’ll probably try another animation for my thesis, because I enjoy it so so much!

Feed me  

Cinyee's idea book, enjoy your meal. :)

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