Using Photoshop, create a graphic narrative of at least 10, and not more than 25, pages which tells a story with geometrical shapes (a la Molly Bang), perhaps some photographic images to serve as visual "accents," and words.

Consider "visualizing" a song lyric (if it tells a narrative), short story, poem, news report, or narrative of your own. The audience for this project should be adults, not children.


Sample Projects:


The story could be something published or something that happened to you. Take care, though, to pick an original text that tells (or can be made to tell) a story. Not all lyrics or poems do.

Produce each page (visuals and text) as a separate Photoshop file, which you'll evetually want to save (most likely) as a GIF after you're done editing and revising it.

The Grapic Narrative project works like a "picture book." That is, the story should be told primarily with the images. Any words you include should be supplemental. (In an "illustrated book," on the other hand, the words carry the story or argument and the pictures play just a supporting role.) Also make a cover for your book.

Principles of Graphic Storytelling

Here are some principles to consider in creating your graphic narrative (many of these are explained more fully on pages 42-80 of Molly Bang's Picture This).

  • be sure you're telling a story with the images alone (though it may not be the story you're able to tell when you add the words).
  • make the first and last pictures/pages of the book similar, to suggest a full circle and a sense of a change
  • take care that the turning of the pages follows natural breaks and rhythms of the story
  • use kinds of shapes (horizontal, vertical, diagonal) to evoke emotion, tone, effect
  • place objects high or low on a page for emotional effect, be aware of how balance and weight can create or dissipate tension.
  • choose the "framing" of the scene (in the middle, near the edges) to direct attention, suggest or evoke emotion, create tension
  • select background images and color (dark, light, warm, cool) for effect
  • pay attention to the shape of object and characters (pointed vs. rounded/curves) to suggest emotions attached to them
  • use colors to suggest important associations in the story (we tend mentally to connect by color rather than by shape)raven
  • make contrasts to create tension or direct attention
    size and frame objects and characters for intentional effects that help the story and its mood
  • be conscious of the visual vantage point used to see the scene and how it suggests a relationship between the reader and the characters
  • use space and arrangement to direct attention, suggest relationships, set the mood and tone
  • build verbal and visual symbolism in the story (objects and characters that accumulate meaning through repetition) to suggest meaning, and
  • use cultural coding (conventionalized symbols like the flag)
  • make a cover that represents the story well, and that attracts the intended audience

Submission Directions for the Graphic Narrative Project

A. Save the book cover design and the page images of your graphic narrative as the following file names into a new, empty folder called "graphicnarr_source" in your nonwww folder for this course. This folder should contain nothing besides the pages of your graphic narrative.

  • Save the cover as "00.gif"
  • Save the first page as "01.gif"
  • Save the second page as "02.gif" etc.

B. Create a "Web Photo Gallery" of these images by following the directions in our handout "Web-Based Documents (Not Sites) in Dreamweaver & Web Photo Gallery with Photoshop."

There are four areas of "Options" available in the second box from the top of the "Web Photo Gallery" dialogue window. Go through each and be sure to

  • to include your name in the banner,
  • to enter your e-mail address where it's called for, and
  • to display the "large images" at the "large" setting (450 pixels).

    Under the "Files" section of the dialogue window,

  • the "Source..." should be the folder "graphicnarr_source" folder in your nonwww folder.
  • the "Destination..." should be the empty folder called "narrative" in your 3220 folder (www/3220/narrative)

C. Post the "narrative" folder containing the Web Album to your "www" folder (www/3220/narrative) on the Web server using Dreamweaver (Note: if you practice creating and posting a Web Album and then modify your pictures, completely delete the old "narrative" folder on the server and replace it with the new one).

D. Send a message with the URL of your Web Album to the discussion "Graphic Narrative URLs." If you've followed my suggestions for naming and placing files and folders, the URL should be

E. Print the page images out (a black-and-white printer is fine since it saves money), making sure that each prints so that the longest side is at least 6 inches (a 4 x 6, for example). You can put more than one image on a page if you wish. Be sure your name appears on each printed sheet. You might try using Photoshop's "Contact Sheet" function (see page 388 of Weinmann and Lourekas) to create a printout of more than one image per printed sheet. Be sure the page images are big enough to read/see.

F. Annotate the printout, pointing out features of your work that reflect your understanding and use of Molly Bang's principles. See the directions for doing commentaries from the syllabus.

G. Turn in the annotated printout to my mailbox (420 Humanities).

Resources for the Graphic Narrative project



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