Art of Yi Ning

Art of Yi Ning

Sim Yi Ning
by YiNing on 30 May 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

Hi! I'm Yi Ning, a fresh graduate of The One Academy. I love telling fun stories and making characters look alive. I'll be showing the works I did throughout my college years.

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A personal project done during my last semester in college. Inspired by one of the ghost sketches I did for a previous collaborative project, I wanted to tell a simple story about a ghost being pestered by another ghost. I enjoyed this project a lot and plan to develop it more in the future!

The story is set in the ghost realm, where there lies an ocean named Everblue Ocean, a suicide site for ghosts who feel hopelessness. Ghosts who pass away in this realm turn into glass balls with their spirit stored in it to be sent to reborn next life.

Yuan's outfit design was referenced off Chinese fishermen. I wanted the glass balls Yuan collects to look more interesting so I made each glass ball show the emotion of the spirit trapped in it.

I didn't have a clear image of how Qii would look like, so I did some explorations with the way he would look if he was a free and easy spirit. I referenced his features from Peking Opera masks and imaged his body as a piece of thin cloth to show his lightness when he moves.

An illustration I did to show the interactions of Yuan and Qii. I tried to portray Qii's childlike nature in this scene where he steals Yuan's hidden snacks and gets caught red-handed. I used Blender as a 3D base before proceeding to 2D rendering.


A collaborative project in college where I tried applying 3D as a base in stylised works for the first time. 'Missed' tells a story about a ghost Ah Huat returning to the living world to visit his family during the Hungry Ghost Festival, but forgot his way home.  

One of the key places in this story is Arcade City, where Ah Huat used to play claw machine with his granddaughter Xuan Yue. My teammates and I came up with arcade machine designs, and I proceeded to plan out the layout, details and mood of the whole arcade.

I planned out the layout of Arcade City with the help of Blender before proceeding to details. The main focus of the arcade is the claw machine, which contains the memories of Ah Huat and Xuan Yue catching dolls together.

The carpet floor pattern of Arcade City was designed in Adobe Illustrator then brought to Blender as a texture for the floor.

I also designed of one of the ghosts from the underworld, Da Luo. He carries around a gong around his neck. He used to play the gong in a famous Chinese opera band when he was alive.

Sketches and color thumbs of Da Luo.

Some keyscenes I did for 'Missed'. The first scene shows Xuan Yue admiring the doll she caught. The second scene is where Xuan Yue runs to Ah Huat excitedly to show him a pamphlet.

The Perfect Fried Rice

A short film collaboration project, telling a funny story where David sees a cockroach during his livestream of making fried rice. As he chases down the cockroach, he somehow accidentally made the most perfect fried rice he could ever make. I did the character concept designs for the overall shape of David and the cockroach.

For David's design, I made him imitate a high-class restaurant waiter serving food gracefully when he serves up the fried rice he made. I also tried to make him look goofy and clumsy.

After discussing with the team, we decided to make the cockroach not too humanized, and also full of expressions. The cockroach's final design was designed with the thought of 'a smart and calculating personality' in mind.

I wanted the cockroach to appear like an arrogant uncle who has had many years of experience in living in the human world, and loves to judge humans. Which explains why he's so quick and hard to catch. Ballet and kungfu were referenced for the keyposes of the cockroach. I loved the process of figuring and imagining how the cockroach would act in different situations!

A keyscene I did where the cockroach dances on top of fried rice that is cooking in the wok, while dodging the ingredients thrown at it’s way.


This was my first stylised concept work I done in college, which made me realise my love for stylised art. The story is based of the well-known Chinese folkfore, Chang Er Flying to the Moon (嫦娥奔月), featuring Chang Er as Yue Er, a little girl; and Yu Tu as Yu Shen, a God on the Moon.

Exploration of silhouette and shapes of both characters.

Matte Painting

Some matte painting concepts I did by photo bashing and making simple 3D bases. This was the stage where I picked up the skill of incorporating 3D bases into 2D illustrations. I sometimes import 3D assets to help speed up the building process in Blender.

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