February 14 :
Visual Narrative II

To Do This Week

Due Diagrammatic Narrative

Read: Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud – pgs 118-215

Blog Prompt:  
Take 5 photos with your phone that uses one or more of the 6 transitions McCloud writes about in Understanding Comics. The photos could be shot around your home or out on an errand, with or without people, fiction or nonfiction. Think about how you can juxtapose the 5 images so that we can “read” a micro-story of an event, a movement through space,  a setting and/or character situation. Post these 5 photos in a sequence and write a brief statement about your photo story with ideas from McCloud.

Class notes:

Share Diagrammatic Narrative

5-photo stories – the difficulty of narrating without words, changing frame, adding words to 5-shot stories

McCloud and visual storytelling – closure, rhythm, transitions, abstraction, show and tell

Review Types of Visual Storytelling:

  • scroll/timeline (linear) (The Run, Cabin site)
  • nonlinear or multilinear (repetition, patterns)  (Cascadian Chronicles)
  • sequential (chronological frames) (Appleseed)
  • spatial montage (simultaneous frames)
  • cinema (duration, temporal frames, rhythm)

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

McCloud (part 2)

  • show and tell
  • classical division of word and image (movies)
  • collision of word and image in Modern art
  • Ads, pop culture,  tv, web
  • Idea > Form > Idiom > Structure > Craft > Surface

Photo Narratives:

Sophie Calle
Victor Burgin
Duane Michaels


Duane, Michaels, Things are Queer


Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 12.13.54 AMImage result for shaun tan clouds

Shaun Tan, The Arrival


99 Ways to Tell a Story by  Matt Madden



One Panel

Thirty Panels

Things Are Queer (After Duane Michals)



McCloud – Word & Image – pg 153-155

Word Specific Combination:

picture illustrate the words


John Balderssari, Pencil Story


Picture Specific Combination:

words like a soundtrack for visuals


Richard McGuire, Here


Duo Specific Combination:

image and words have the same message

Raymond Roussel



Additive Specific Combination:

words amplify or elaborate the the image

Humans of New York


Victor Burgin


Parallel Specific Combination:

words and images do not intersect


John Balderssari


Montage Specific Combination:

word are integral part of images

Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro, Pry



words and images work together to convey an idea each could not convey alone




Digital Comics – Erik Loyer

Story Summaries

  • Tragic structure
  • Ki Sho Ten Ketsu
  • Surreal/Fantasy
  • Anecdote

5 Panel Stories…

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 21st

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

Project Tools:
index cards – sort story segments

google slides/powerpoint
video/ loops
ibook author

Screen Capture:
iShowu – Mac only Visual Narrative workshop
Mac screen capture – no software needed

Gif Animations from video:
GifBrewery – for Mac ($5)
Gif Animator – for PC (free?)



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