Introduction

This website displays the projects that I produced over the course of the Narrative Unit. Each tab has a project that I worked on over the course of the unit with a description of the project itself and how I made the final product. Over the course of the Narrative Unit I wrote a Flash Fiction, drew a graphic novel on paper and a Comic in Adobe Illustrator, and made an Animatic and an Animation all based on the Flash Fiction I wrote. To complete my projects, I used Adobe Illustrator, ProTools, Adobe Animate, and Dreamweaver.

Over the couse of the Narrative Unit I learned and struggeled with a number of new skills, from storyboarding and creating an animation to using sound effects loops in ProTOols to enhance my Flash Fiction recoding. I learned Adobe Animate and Illustrator, got more comfortable in DreamWeaver and Protools, and used Photoshop here and there also.

Story

I was originally not excited at the prospect of writing Flash Fiction even though I love to write. Most of the writing projects that I have worked on that are narrative based inside and outside of school have been at least the length of an essay, and most of my personal writing projects are much longer. The idea of writing Flash Fiction, which is generally below a thousand words, but usually much shorter, was daunting because I wasn’t sure how to write a cohesive story arc within the confines of such small parameters. How could I write a story with interesting characters, a logical introduction, a compelling conflict, and a satisfying resolution within the space of five hundred words or less as mandated by the guidelines for the assignment? The answer to that question is not terribly simple: it lies in a combination of picking the right characters and story to tell, ensuring that the story arc is very focused, creating a specific conflict scaled for the story, and restricting the story to a more narrow viewpoint than one might if one was writing a longer story.

The first step I took to write my story was to decide on a narrative idea. I decided on the premise of my story after a conversation with my dad, who suggested that I write a simple story about a bacteria or another similarly blobby creature that would be simple to draw. My strength lay in writing, not drawing so I adopted the proposed bacteria as my main character. I named her Morbelle. Then, considering that bacteria aim to spread around as much as they possibly can, I decided that Morbelle would want to ride a train. Based on those ideas, I wrote the story below.

Morbelle's Magnificant Adventures!

Morbelle was a bacteria. She was grown-up now and she was traveling the globe. As a young bacteria she had listened intently to the stories of other older, more sophisticated bacteria who had traveled the world and now she was living her dream.

Morbelle gazed with rapt attention at the city she was approaching on the top of a large boat floating in the harbor of a great city. The cityscape was almost too much to take in as salty gusts buffeted her. She gazed in awe at the massive structures that dominated the city’s skyline. There was so much for her to explore! [a]She quickly began to compose a list of all the things she wanted to do while she was here. First on her list was riding the subway.

Contrary to other bacteria, she had always been more fascinated by the gigantic engineering marvels created by Sapiens than the Sapiens themselves. As the boat docked and the Sapiens began to disembark, she rolled down off of the smokestack she had been perched on.[b] She let herself be picked up by the breeze, rolled and spun around until she had her bearings at which point she deftly switched currents until she floated gracefully down the stairs to the subway platform.

She landed on the hat of an unsuspecting Sapien who was waiting to get a train, just like her, but probably for different reasons. It didn’t seem like these creatures rode the amazing things they’d created for the fun of it. On the contrary, they stood around as if bored. Morbelle couldn’t understand[c] how could they be so apathetic when they got to ride on this amazing transportation system that wove through the bowels of their city![d] Well, Morbelle was certainly excited enough to make up for their disappointing dispassion.

She waited expectantly in the midst of the crowd for the train to come so that she could get on and see what it was like and how it worked. Time passed and she began to grow impatient. After what seemed like hours she heard sounds that signaled the approach of the highly anticipated subway cars. She leaned forward to get a better view, and was thrilled to see the lights of the train approaching. The train screeched to a halt at the platform where the crowd of Sapiens, including the one that Morbelle had hitched a ride on rushed forward to board the train. Morbelle watched in fascination as the doors opened and Sapiens streamed out.

The loud babble of talking and train announcements filled the platform as the waiting passengers surged onto the train. Morbelle was on the train! She could barely contain her excitement as she flipped and twirled down onto the tall pole that served as a handhold for the thousands of Sapiens that rode this train every day. For a wondrous hour she watched the ebb and flow of the Sapiens passengers as they bustled between the different parts of the city. Soon she realized that she was the only one riding the train. Morbelle had the whole place to herself! She was a little tired after her long day, so she [e]relaxed on the pole that she was already sitting on[f]. The train slid to a stop, and a subway worker got on. Morbelle didn’t pay much attention to what the Sapien was carrying, but when she got closer, Morbelle realized that the Sapien was carrying antibacterial spray and a cloth.

Morbelle started to panic; she was a bacteria and the stuff that the Sapien was carrying was specifically engineered to kill her and her kind. Maybe all of the Sapien’s engineering marvels weren’t as marvelous as Morbelle thought.

The Sapien began to draw nearer[g], spraying and wiping poles and handles down as she went. Morbelle fled, sliding down the pole and dropping onto the floor where she scrambled to get to the grooves right in front of the subway car’s door. She cowered, shaking, in the dirty groove as the Sapien sprayed and wiped down the pole that she had just been on. This world was different than she thought, more dangerous, more hostile. Her thoughts raced while the train slowed and Morbelle climbed up the steep side of the groove to make the leap from the train car to the platform. The subway train ground to a halt, the pistons of the doors hissed, and the doors slid open. Morbelle threw herself off of the edge of the train. She flew over the gap between the train and the platform. The seconds seemed to stretch longer and longer as Morbelle closed the distance to the platform. Morbelle slammed into the stone of the platform as the train started to move. She moved back from the edge of the platform as she watched the train blast by. Wind whipped Morbelle, and the train, along with the Sapien, the cloth, and the antibacterial spray, disappeared into the tunnel.

This is a screenshot of my ProTools Flash Fiction recording session. This is a screenshot of my ProTools Flash Fiction recording session.
Illustration

The Illustration Assingment I was given in Design was to draw an eight panal Narrative Comic in Adobe Illustrator based on the Flash Fiction and Graphic Novel that I wrote.

This is my narrative comic that I drew in Adobe Illustrator.
The Magnificant Adventures of Morbelle the Bacteria

I created my comic, entitled Morbelle’s Magnificent Adventures in Adobe Illustrator. Using Illustrator to draw my comic proved to be a true learning experience. I had been both curious and apprehensive about Illustrator because it has a bit of a reputation for being a challenging program with a steep learning curve and the potential to make seemingly simple tasks be convoluted and confusing. At the beginning of the Narrative Unit, I began to learn Illustrator in class and I found that it was not as intimidating as I expected. This turned out to be a premature judgment, because when I began seriously working on my project later in the Unit, I discovered the horrors of unorganized layers and confusing tools. I also had trouble getting used to Illustrator’s interface because when I started on the comic I was so used to working in Photoshop. However, the more I worked in Illustrator, the more I was able to get used to Illustrator and gain a working knowledge of how to use it to finish tasks efficiently. I hate having things unorganized so I learned to keep my Illustrator layers, of which there are often hundreds in one file, very tidy. To do so for my comic, I grouped all of the layers of a panel together. Then I nested layers under the umbrella layer of a given Panel by what was being drawn, e.g. the background of the first panel would go in the “Background” layer under the layer “Panel 1”. Then the stairs in the first panel would be nested inside the “Background” layer. Without good layer organization, Illustrator would have been a lot more painful for me to use than it and it’s learning curve are on their own. In addition to learning Illustrator, I am pleased with how I was able to translate my comic from its original form as a work of Flash Fiction to a Graphic Novel, to its final form as an eight panel Comic. Creating the Flash Fiction and the subsequent Graphic Novel and Comic based on my writing taught me how to preserve a story while simultaneously changing the form it’s told in.

The Narrative Comic Illustration was a challange for me because in order to communicate my story as clearly as possible, I ended up drawing some complicated backgrounds that proved to be time consuming. I used the pen tool all the time, in addition to using the line, gradient, and various shape tools to draw my Comic.

Screenshot of Adobe Illustrator file where I made my Narrative Comic.
Animatic

Thumbnail of Graphic Novel panal
Click on above image
to view Graphic Novel.
The Graphic Novel on the right is the product of a an exploration of telling stories in somewhat unconventional formats. As a project in English, I drew my Graphic Novel based on a very short story that I wrote. The story was required to be 800 words or less. Over the course of the Narrative Unit, I went on to use my Graphic Novel as a storyboard for both the animatic and the fully fledged animation that I created in Digital Media.

Play Video
In order to make the jump between my Graphic Novel drawn on paper and my animation, I made an animatic. An animatic is the rough form of an animation or movie that artists produce in order to pitch their idea and outline what the end product will be like. Animatics consist of a rough sketches of possible scenes, and a soundtrack to accompany the illustrations. The rough sketches are animated to move in a similar way to how they would in the final product, and give viewers a basic idea of what to expect from the project. I used the panels of my graphic novel as the drawings in the animatic, which I animated. To make the rough soundtrack, I used a song in the Creative Commons that fit the story.

As a result of writing the Flash Fiction and transforming it into a Graphic Novel, I learned a lot about the differences between telling a story in prose and telling a story through sequential art. I realized that when storytelling in the form of a Graphic Novel, every detail counts and that an incredible amount of care and thought goes into each panel. In using my Graphic Novel to produce the scenes for the Animatic, I learned that although some scenes made sense in the context of my Graphic Novel, not all of them fit for my Animatic, and more than a few had to be cut. All of the precursor projects, i.e. my Flash Fiction, Graphic Novel, and Animatic made it possible for me to produce a cohesive Animation that communicates the main points of my story.

Screenshot of Adobe Animate file where I made my Animatic.
Animation

My Narrative project started with my Flash Fiction, and ended with the Animation below, which is quite the transformation for one little story to undergo. Through this process, my story morphed from being told with word to pictures to more sophisticated pictures, thanks to Illustrator, to being told in the form of an animation. Making an animation is a serious undertaking, regardless of the length of the end product. I thought up the storyline, I drew everything you see in the animation, I put together the soundtrack, and I edited my Animation. I started with sketches of my story and finished with Illustrator drawn sets, characters, and props that I went on to bring to life in Adobe Animate. I took the plot line of the Flash Fiction that I had originally written and tweaked it to fit what I wanted my Animation to be like. I based the drawings for my Animation on my Graphic Novel, Animatic, and Narrative Comic. Once I had used the precursor projects to my Animation to draw the parts that I needed for my final product, I started to animate.

My personal experience in producing my animation was not terribly positive. When I started drawing animation parts, I was not used to Illustrator and I could not work as quickly as I needed to. Additionally, the backdrops and props I needed to draw were a bit complex for someone not familiar with Illustrator and facing harsh deadlines. Despite this, I was able to draw everything that I needed to. After I finished drawing, I started animating. Adobe Animate is quirky and difficult to work with. Sometimes things work find, and other times I would come up against baffling problem. For instance, after adding my audio to its designated layer and putting it on the desired settings, there was no sound. Turns out that if one puts the audio on the second frame of one’s animation instead of the first, then the audio will play. As a result of annoying issues like the Audio Weirdness mentioned previously, making my Animation was frustrating and time consuming, but also a learning experience and a period of personal growth.

Screenshot of Adobe Animate file where I made my Animation.