Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fan of Children’s Books Sees Her Dream Come True

 Joey with her brand new book!
To draw her illustrations about a little Indian boy who fell in love with Chinese opera, NYP graduate Joey Ng Kai Woon spent hours watching videos on Chinese opera.  The fruit of her labour --   Joey recently realised her dream of having her illustrations published in a children’s book.

Book cover of “Little Wayang Kid”

“Little Wayang Kid” tells the story of a small Indian boy, Raja, who is energetic and active.  His parents felt Raja should channel his energies into learning dance or doing a sport.  Raja, however, wanted to learn Chinese opera.  He found a Chinese opera teacher, trained hard and eventually did his parents proud by performing on stage.

This book project was the result of a collaboration between NYP’s School of Interactive & Digital Media (SIDM) and Brainchild Pictures, a media production company.  The company had produced a DVD called “Wa is for Wayang”, and wanted a children’s book based on its storyline.  Hence, it sought out NYP to provide the illustrations for the book. The project is supported by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism.

As for Joey, her involvement in this book came about when one of her lecturers approached her to consider doing this project as part of her Final Year Project (FYP) in February 2014.  She decided to take up the project because she loves children’s books and appreciates good illustrations.
“One of my electives I did during my third year was on Children Book Illustration,” recalled Joey, who did her Diploma in Digital Media Design (Animation).  “I learnt a lot from this elective, and came up with my own children’s story called ‘Silly Molly’, which is about a little girl who decided to turn into a tree because she felt her mother did not love her.”

‘Silly Molly’ was Joey’s very first children’s book.

For “Little Wayang Kid”, the storyline for the book came from Mr Raymond Tan, Managing Director of Brainchild Pictures.  Over the next few months, Joey pored over her illustrations, under the guidance of Mr Yu Jiunn Siang, Senior Lecturer/SIDM.

Said Joey: “I did many rounds of story-boarding to fully bring out what the storyline wanted to convey.  I also watched Chinese opera videos, in order to ensure that the kind of poses Raja did were authentic. “
Joey’s sketches of the main characters in the book.

For every page which Joey created, she painstakingly did intensive research.  For example , in the final scene of the book when Raja completes his performance, Joey came up with at least 30 to 40 poses for Raja, before she selected the final one, which would best convey Raja’s triumphant first performance and successful foray into the Chinese opera scene.

Joey came up with at least 30 to 40 poses for Raja, before deciding on this particular pose.

Joey drew inspiration from Oliver Jeffers, who is well-known for his picture books for children.  “His illustrations are beautiful and very impactful,” she explained.

To gain a child’s perspective of her illustrations, she showed them to her four-year old cousin.  She said: “His views were valuable and sometimes unexpected.  For example, one of my earlier drafts for the book cover was Raja against the backdrop of a dark shadow.  But when my cousin saw it, he felt the design looked scary; he interpreted it as a monster trying to eat Raja up.  So I changed my design to look brighter and warmer, and less dark.”

“Little Wayang Kid” was officially launched on 25 October 2014 at the National Library.  For Joey, holding her freshly printed book brought her a special joy.

“What’s makes me really happy is to see others flipping through the book for the first time, taking a closer look at the drawings and appreciating them.  That brought me much satisfaction,” said Joey.

She is grateful to her NYP and her School – SIDM – for giving her many opportunities to realise her dream to become a good illustrator.  “Before I came to NYP, I didn’t have much knowledge of drawing,” said Joey, who was a Triple Science student when she was in secondary school.  “NYP was my starting point.  It was here that I learnt the important skills, including the basics like drawing and story-boarding.  In addition, my experience as a competitor in WorldSkills competitions helped me to further improve my drawing and illustration skills.”

Joey won the gold medal in the Graphic Design Technology area in 2012. She then represented Singapore in the international-level WorldSkills Competition in Germany in 2013 and attained a Medallion of Excellence.

Joey would also like to thank her SIDM lecturers who have supported her through this illustration project, and given her much invaluable advice along the way.  She is also grateful to her family and friends for their support.
NYP staff giving Joey support at her book launch (from left): Mr Daniel Tan, Director/SIDM, Mr Yu Jiunn Siang, Senior Lecturer and Mr Jacques Frety, Assistant Manager/Projects.

What’s next for Joey?  She hopes to do a degree course in The States, specialising in illustration, animation and motion graphics.

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