February 14 :
Visual Narrative II

To Do This Week

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:

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, comics pages)
  • cinema (duration, temporal frames, rhythm)

McCloud Review (part 1):

  • icons, realism < —> abstraction Rhasmagian
  • picture plane -> language -> reality   triangle  pg 51
  • blood in the gutter (panel-to-panel relationships pg. 70)
  • closure – what to leave out (the gaps in storytelling)
  • 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

The Hotel, Room 47 1981 Sophie Calle born 1953 Presented by the Patrons of New Art through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1999 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P78300


Victor Burgin


Duane Michaels


Duane, Michaels, Things are Queerthingsarequeer


Shaun Tan, The Arrival

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



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 illustrates 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

In-Class Activity:

Lynda Barry X-Page Exercise (from her book Syllabus).

Get a blank piece of paper. Draw a big X on one side.
Think of moment in your past. Something real. Something vivid. 
Respond with words and phrases to the following questions

  1. Where are you?
  2. What time of day or night does it seem to be?
  3. What season does it seem to be?
  4. Where is the light coming from?
  5. What kind of light is it?
  6. What’s the temperature like?
  7. What does the air smell like?
  8. What are you doing?
  9. Is there anyone else in that place with you?
  10. What are they doing?
  11. Why are you there?
  12. What are some of the sounds you can hear?
  13. What are some of the things you can see?
  14. What’s directly in front of you?
  15. If you turn your head to your right, what’s there?
  16. If you turn your head to the left, what do you see?
  17. What is behind you?
  18. What’s below you and around your feet?
  19. What’s above your head?
  20. What emotions are you feeling in this space?



Visual Narrative Assignment 10%
DUE March 7

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

illustrator/photoshop/AI image generation
google slides/powerpoint/html



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