February 7th :
Visual Narrative I

To Do This Week

DUE 5 story summaries (5%)

Read: Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud – pgs 2-117

Blog Prompt:
Digital storytelling may involve images in sequence (comics, slides, video), arranged spatially in an interface and/or integrated with other media such as text and audio. After reading about “sequential arts”, “gutters” and “time frames” in the chapters of Understanding Comics, how might you approach the next visual narrative assignment? What do McCloud’s ideas generate for you in your own digital storytelling? Try to think outside the box.


McCloud Review:

  • icons, realism < —> abstraction Rhasmagian
  • picture plane -> language -> reality   triangle  pg 51
  • blood in the gutter (panel-to-panel relationships)
  • closure – what to leave out (the gaps in storytelling)
  • 6 panel-to-panel transitions pg. 70
  • time frames- using the frames to express time, multi-linearity pgs101-105
  • expressing motion
  • expressive lines


overview picturing time:

  • scroll/timeline
  • nonlinear (distributed and asynchronous)
  • sequential (chronological frames)
  • spatial montage (simultaneous frames)
  • cinema (duration, temporal frames)

examples of digital graphic novels:

3D Comics: Panoply

hobolobo of hamelin



Student Work:

Alisa Koller

AI Image Generation:

Prompts 101:

  • Style (name artists, genre or describe style) – “In the style of…
  • Describe lighting
  • Describe mood and emotions
  • Describe camera angle and position (birds-eye view, etc)
  • Describe film types and stocks
  • output resolution keywords:  8K , 4K , photorealistic , ultra photoreal , ultra detailed, intricate details etc
  • use other images as prompts
  • Describe order and hierarchy of details 

Free AI Image Tools:

Stable Diffusion plugin for Photoshop: https://christiancantrell.com/#ai-ml
In-Class Activity:
  1. Partner with a classmate for a mutual interview. Think of a short anecdote you would like to tell each other about a real experience that you or someone you know experienced – it can be weird, funny, moving or scary.
  2. Tell each other the stories. Take notes/sketches of each other’s stories as you listen to them.
  3. Work separately to translate your interview partner’s story into a visual narrative with minimal text. The visuals (at least five images) can be searched photos on the web, created yourself or generated with an AI tool. 
  4. Arrange images and text into a visual story for a blog post. This can be a sequence of images with captions or the text can be placed on the images.
  5. Look at some of the stories in class and discuss the relationship of text and image to convey a narrative. Can you understand the visual narrative without the text?

Visual Narrative Assignment 10%
DUE Feb 21

We have discussed many strategies/approaches to visual narration and how story time – events and incidents, actions and reactions – can be made visible and relational in pictorial space through…

  • single frame composition
  • scroll navigation
  • nonlinear navigation
  • panel-to-panel relationships
  • cinematic sequence
  • spatial (simultaneous) montage

In this assignment, you are to use images to tell a story. The images may include symbols, shapes, colors, drawings, graphics, photos and/or video. Your images may be accompanied by text (narration or dialogue), but images and their spatial relationships should drive the narrative, not the text.  In other words, try not to make illustrations for a pre-written script. Instead, investigate new ways to organize images–on the single page and from page to page– in order to get across your particular visual story. Remember,  the pictorial frame and the user’s navigation of the frame(s) are elements of visual storytelling.

Please don’t worry too much about the quality of images. Use your pencil, phone camera, AI image-generation, public domain image downloads. Play with Photoshop or Illustrator. Use Google Slides or just load the images and captions into a blog post. Remember that you can take any of these short assignments and complete them as your final project.

Ideas for the Visual Narrative assignment:

  • an animated story
  • a short comic
  • a “collage” story book like the surrealist Max Ernst
  • a photo story

Storyboarding: download and print storyboard paper

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