July 9th: Visual Narrative II


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.

video lecture:




Final Project discussions

Discuss Understanding Comics…

Review Types of Visual Storytelling:

  • scroll/timeline (linear)
  • nonlinear or multilinear (repetition, patterns)
  • sequential (chronological frames)
  • spatial montage (simultaneous frames, cycles, spirals)
  • cinema (duration, temporal frames, rhythm)

Class 5 shot stories, visualstory in 5 panels

McCloud, Understanding Comics:

comics: “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response”

  • icon, symbol, index
  • realism < —> abstraction
  • picture plane -> language -> reality   triangle  pg 51
  • blood in the gutter (panel-to-panel relatonships)
  • 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
  • show and tell
  • classical division of word and image (movies)
  • collision of word and image in Modern art
  • Ads, pop culture,  tv, web

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

Run Lola Run

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:


John Balderssari, Pencil Story


Picture Specific Combination:


Richard McGuire, Here

Duo Specific Combination:


Raymond Roussel


Additive Specific Combination:


Victor Burgin

Parallel Specific Combination:


John Balderssari


Montage Specific Combination:

Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro, Pry




Add words to 5 shot stories
Play around with other combinations

Other Student Projects:



Project Tools:

storyboard templates

index cards – sort story segments

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?)

Visual Narrative: 15%


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 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, 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, screen grabs, image downloads. Play with photoshop. Remember, you can take any of these short assignments and complete them as your final project.

Ideas for the Visual Narrative assignment:

  • create a “short film” with a sequence of still images or loops
  • create a storyboard or comic
  • sample images from the web based on a constraint and organize a narrative sequence of images with captions.
  • create a collage book that evoke strange narrative spaces/sequences. (Bosch, Bunuel/Dali)
  • Make a sequence of images that documents a single day, or a walk, or your commute. Use instagram!
  • make a short/silent video.

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