This SG TikTok User Is Drawing Singapore As RPG Characters, One Neighbourhood At A Time
STORY: Diane Lam
13 July 2021
Every now and then, we chance upon something that feels so delightfully random, we can't help wanting to share it with everyone we know.
Fashion student Eric Sim's TikTok series, ‘Drawing Different Parts of Singapore as RPG (Role-Playing Game) Characters’, infuses familiar locations with fantastical motifs, making neighbourhoods like Hougang and Yishun look like characters straight out of video games (or in Yishun’s case, like something straight out of our nightmares).
Eric, 23, who is studying for his bachelor's degree in Fashion Design and Textiles at Lasalle College of The Arts, started with Yishun because that is where he lives.
"I remember seeing an artist draw countries as people so my first thought was like, hmm if Yishun was a person, they’d probably give off insane killer vibes cos of our reputation," he told Wonderwall over email.
"So I used it as a starting point for my series. I actually didn’t expect it to blow up like it did, I was expecting like 20 likes cos it was my first video but within the first 24 hours, I went from 0 followers to 3.6k which really surprised me!"
Eric has been drawing for as long as he can remember. "My mum used to be an art teacher so she would bring 3-4 year-old me along with her to art classes and I would just sit with the other students and just participate in class. Ever since then art has been a form of escapism for me since I didn’t particularly favour academics."
Video games are one of his main sources of inspiration: "I grew up with video games and my favourite games are MMORPGS. I studied Digital Game Arts and Design in Nanyang Polytechnic so I was taught everything that had to do with the creative side of game design. Games like Maplestory, FFXIV, Epic Seven, Fate Grand Order and League Of Legends had an influence on the art style you see in my TikToks."
For his TikTok series, Eric also draws from the neighbourhood's backstory and reputation. When commenters challenged him to do Sengkang, a so-called 'boring' area, Eric took its history as a fishing port and ran with it.
There are currently 10 parts to this series, but in the meantime, here's what else this artist (and perhaps, budding Singapore historian) had to share about his creative process:
Which neighbourhood has been the most fun to draw so far?
I would have to say it’s Hougang. I love fantasy and magic. Which is why I still play Maplestory – I love the flashy and colourful skill effects. I had a lot of fun cos the design for Hougang really let me go crazy with similar flashy magical effects, and it was my first TikTok collab. I linked up with @yeoshinoya to do the voiceover since he came from Hougang and was really excited for the design hahahaha.
Which has been the most challenging?
So far I feel like I haven’t gotten to any challenging areas yet because I’m choosing neighbourhoods that I have an interest in – so if there’s an interest it won’t be challenging to me. But if I were to choose, it would be Bugis. The challenging part was really coming up with a design that would reflect Bugis’s rich history and its association with the LGBTQ+ community while remaining respectful to the community that still has a presence in modern Singapore. I had to rescript the voiceovers a few times and double checked its designs with my peers before posting the final Tiktok.
What is the strangest thing you've found out about Singapore while doing research for this series?
I think the strangest thing would be finding out how haunted Pasir Ris was. I always had the impression that Pasir Ris was this fun neighbourhood cos of the chalets and all the family-friendly extractions in the area. But once I asked friends that lived there to give me their perspective on their hometown, the flood gates opened and everyone began sharing their paranormal experiences and stories. They even backed it up with evidence and articles. So much so I had to rethink the whole concept of design HAHAHA.
How long does it take to do one of these?
The ideation process for this series is like a compressed version of my actual ideation process. From research to completion spans about 2-3 days depending on how complex I choose to make it.
Research usually takes anywhere from 2-5 hours depending on how deep-rooted the history of the neighbourhood is and its reputation, like what it’s well known for to society. From research alone, as I read, I sort of form the baseline for the character, like what abilities or weapons they have, what elements I can include or convert into the character’s design. Sometimes I create the character before the research, I would be on public transport and I would be day dreaming and have this eureka moment, like “Hey! I can do this for this neighbourhood!” And I would jot it down on my phone. And I would use the research to tie it in with the design.
I don’t usually experiment with the designs as through my research, I would’ve already formed a solid design that I like. But there were instances where I finish a design and realise I don’t vibe with it or that it didn’t represent the neighbourhood well, like my Tampines design. After posting it, my inner voice was just saying “oh my god it's so bad” like I just knew it wasn’t good. So I thought it would only be right to redesign it after doing a little more digging into the history and reputation of Tampines.
Can you give us a hint on which neighbourhood(s) you'll be drawing next?
I won’t say much haha butttttt I can share that the next 3 locations all involve the North-South Line to a degree (wink).