Graphic Novel – Empire of the Sun

Recently, I created a graphic novel panel sequence for page 44-47 of the book Empire of the Sun using Adobe Illustrator. Below is the final product (which you can click on to enlarge and take a closer look).


Graphic Novel Contribution

I have learned so much from completing this project, whether that was regarding Adobe Illustrator, or how the use of graphic novel conventions can affect the audience. Since this is a Design project integrated into English, I also learned how the two subjects interrelate and come together to convey plot and meaning to a wider audience.

The use of visuals help to reinforce a particular message, as it adds visual depth to the scene through illustrations. There is only so much one can convey using words, and an illustration makes the message more comprehendible for a wider community – art is international. Every stroke and every drop of colour could show meaning and underlying moods, if you think about it. The artistic intention is what makes up the entire panel sequence.

Technology is able to facilitate the communication of ideas, as lines, shapes and text can easily be created, while colour can easily be added. Technology is basically the simplified version of real life, meaning that tasks are less difficult and challenging to complete. In our case, we used Adobe Illustrator, which was an application used so that we did not have to draw out the panel sequence by hand.

Perspectives can definitely change through the use of visuals. The colour scheme and the use of line, text and transitions are just a few elements that can change the perspective of the audience. With a change in the visuals, the mood could change, affecting and impacting the audience in another way. One small change can make a big difference.

Throughout the Design project, I encountered many challenges, all of which had to do with the application Adobe Illustrator – which is slightly ironic, as I just mentioned how it is meant to make our lives easier. Creating an entire graphic novel panel sequence as an Illustrator newbie is not a piece of cake. All the tools in the sidebar were unfamiliar, and I had no idea what to do when I first opened it. Slowly, by clicking on and experimenting the various tools that Illustrator has to offer, I learned how each of them worked and how I could implement them into my design. I also searched up tutorials online, as people who have a lot more experience than me tend to teach their skills to the online community.

If I were to do this project again, I would spend less time perfecting every tiny little detail, and focusing on making the panels intelligible for everyone – ensuring that an appropriate amount of context is given. This is rather important, as it is necessary that the audience understands what is going on in the scene, or everything else would be utterly pointless.

Overall, this has been a great experience for me, to work with Illustrator, to show my graphic novel knowledge and to display my artistic skills. Though there were some challenges along the way, I managed to persevere and overcome the challenges; and create a final product that I am proud of.

December Music Tests – Theory and Playing

Recently in Music class, we did two summative assessments: a Theory Test and a Playing Test.

On December 11th, I did the Theory Test. Topics included key signatures, scales, intervals, triads, transposing, figured bass and 7th chords. Since I did the ABRSM Grade 5 Theory Examination a few years ago, I remembered most of the major concepts that I learned. However, I still had to brush up on aspects such as figured bass, 7th chords and transposing, and study before the test so that I could achieve a good grade. Overall, I think that I did pretty well, as I seemed to know all of the answers while I was writing the test. Though I could have made some errors and careless mistakes, I believe (and hope) that most of the answers were correct. The part that I found the easiest in the test was key signatures, scales and intervals. This is most likely because I play the piano, and have played all the Grade 8 scales, meaning that I know most of them by memory. This contributes to the test, as it made it easier for me to write out scales, even the enharmonic scales and the ones with many accidentals. On the other hand, I think that the hardest part of the test was transposing. Even though I learned it before, I was still very unsure about how to do it and the key that each instrument is in. I tried my best to remember the keys of the instruments that we learned, so I hopefully transposed the music accurately. In my opinion, I think that I obtained a level 7 out of 8 for the Theory Test.

A few days later, on December 15th, I did the Playing Test. We had to play 5 major scales of choice from memory, 1 chromatic scale starting on any note, and Number 118 from the book Standard of Excellence: “March from the Nutcracker”. For the 5 major scales, I have already learned the majority of them, as I took my Grade 5 Flute Exam in November. I decided to go chromatically from F to A (F, F#, G, Ab, A). I chose to do this so that when we do our next Playing Test, I can continue starting from Bb in an orderly manner. I got rather nervous when I was playing my scales, so on the second scale (F#), I played a note wrong and started again. I started on Eb for the chromatic scale, as it was one of the notes that I had to start on for my Flute Exam, and I had practiced it beforehand. No other errors were made for the scales, so I think that the mistake with F# major will only have a minor effect on my grade. As for “March from the Nutcracker”, I made sure to be cautious with my articulation, breathing, tempo and rhythm. I knew that the first part needed to be short and detached with the staccato notes, and the second part needed to be more connected and legato. I knew the fingering of the whole piece by heart, so everything depended on the way I executed my breath and tonguing. Reflecting back on how I played, I think that I achieved a level 7 or 8.

Now that I have received my grades for the Theory Test, I understand what areas I am strong in and what areas I need to work on. A scanned version of the marked Theory Test can be found here. Although I got 8 out of 8, the score out of 100 was not perfect (I got 94/100), meaning that there are still areas that I can improve on. I made 3 mistakes in total, two of them being careless and one due to a misunderstanding. The first two mistakes were for the scales. The error was not in the notes of the scale, but rather the clef they were written in. I mixed up the Alto and Tenor clefs, as they look exactly the same but are placed slightly differently. I believe I mixed the two clefs up due to the fact that in a choir, Alto represents the lower part for girls, and Tenor represents the higher part for boys. This cost me two marks for each clef. The other mistake was for Figured Bass, where I put a natural sign instead of a flat. This was due to the fact that the note where the flat was meant to be placed was already sharped/raised by the key signature, so I thought that a natural sign would be more appropriate to lower it down one semitone. This only cost me one mark, but since I did not get all the Figured Bass questions correct, I lost the bonus mark, taking away an extra mark. I aim to do better next time, and I will try to do this by studying for the things that I have previously learned as well, as I never know what will come up on the test or what I still remember from before.

After receiving my grades for the Playing Test, I believe that it’s safe to say that I did well too, as I achieved a grade of 8 out of 8. As expected, the F# major did take away one mark from the maximum overall scale mark of 48 (I got 47), but I was still able to obtain a level 8 for the scales. As for the piece, I got “Excellent” for all aspects, including note and rhythm accuracy, dynamics, tempo, articulation, tone, intonation, connection, air and melodic shape. This allowed me to get a good overall score. Even though I got 8, there are still things that I think I could have improved on. For the scales, I should continue practicing them at a reasonable pace, so that I get more accustomed to it and can play all the scales fluently next time. For the piece, I personally think that my dotted notes could have been slightly longer, and I could have been slightly more legato in the second part. This could have been done by practicing more prior to the test.

Overall, I’m proud of my results for both the Theory Test and the Playing Test. The tests have helped me to realise my strengths and weaknesses in music, and I will work towards these areas to achieve an even better result for next time.