Welcome to my Year 1 Narrative Project website! In this unit, we first wrote a short story in English, then we used it to create a graphic novel, a comic page in Design, and an animatic and eventually animation in Digital Media. Along the way, we learned how to tell a compelling story in several different ways, most of them without the additional help of dialogue. We also learned the basics of programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Animate. Each of those different interpretations of the same story is here on this website. Use the butons at the top of the page to navigate the site.

Adobe Illustrator iconAdobe Animate iconAdobe Dreamweaver icon

Over the course of this project, my most important skill was learning the different methods of storytelling, and what elements of a story were best emphasized in different mediums. I also completed my first animation, and learned about Adobe Animate's capabilities. Another important experience was learning to pace my work over a long period of time. Although we had weeks in class to work on our animation, illustration and website, I still had to utilize all the time given to us in order to complete the project on time, because all three of those were huge assignments.If I was not aware of how close to completion I was at all times, I would not have been able to judge how much time I needed, and I might not have been able to complete the unit on time.


We began the project by writing a short story in English class. I actually got the inspiration for my story in a class activity where we combined two characters (the squirrel and the oak tree) with a scenario (lost in the forest). From there, the rest of my story fell into place.

Old Oak

Rain and wind assaulted Chuck as he stumbled along the forest floor, struggling desperately to stay on his paws. He had never had to deal with anything like this before. He was a city squirrel, and city squirrels didn’t have time for this weather nonsense. The sound of leaves flailing and branches slapping against each other, the feeling of the mud matting his fur, the complete darkness that pressed in on him between flashes of lightning - these were all new to him. As a particularly strong gust of wind succeeded in knocking him over, Chuck mentally cursed himself. How could he have been so foolish as to think there was anything worthwhile beyond the city?

Lightning flashed again, illuminating a large oak tree ahead of him. He’d seen this tree before. His stomach filled with dread as he realized he was just going in circles. He got up and crawled to the tree, fighting the ever-strengthening wind. If he couldn’t get home, at least he could take shelter for the night in the oak tree.

Chuck climbed up the trunk of the oak, collapsing in a flat area between two of the tree’s limbs. As he lay there, his heart pounding from exertion and fear, he felt the tree shiver around him. That couldn’t have been the wind. It was a movement that came from the tree’s roots, not from its swirling branches. The tree shivered again, and the wood began to grow warm. Chuck watched in awe as the branches around him began to curl inward, encircling the spot where he sat. Somehow, the oak was protecting him from the storm. It dropped a few of its leaves over Chuck, forming a kind of blanket, as the branches wove a small room out of wood. Within the tree, as the sound of the storm faded to a memory, Chuck’s fears subsided and he fell asleep.

A rustling awoke the squirrel, and he looked up. The oak tree was extending its branches back into the air, allowing the light of the rising sun to sink into its leaves. Chuck stretched and looked around. The oak stood tall, but the ground was scattered with broken branches and dead leaves. With the forest looking so different, Chuck had little chance of finding his way back into the city now.

But as the oak tree hummed again below him, Chuck decided that maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing.

Screenshot of Pro Tools session This is a screenshot of my audio recording session for voiceovers such as the one above.

In Design class, we made part of our short story into a comic-style illustration. We planned our comic in our sketchbook, then drew it out onto an illustration board and scanned it into the computer, where we used Adobe Illustrator to complete it.

Comic illustration: "Old Oak"

My comic illustration was based on the rising action and resolution sequences of my flash fiction. In the story, a squirrel caught outside in a vicious storm finds shelter in an oak tree. The tree comes to life in order to fold its branches inward to protect the squirrel, and keeps it safe from the storm. The squirrel then leaves the oak to return home in the morning. I selected the rising action and resolution pieces of the story, including the part where the squirrel finds and climbs the tree, and the tree shelters it.

We created the comic in Adobe Illustrator. Within the program, there were several different methods for line art, shading, and the like. Most of the illustration was made with simple colored shapes, and lines and details were added on top of them. In some panels, I used Illustrator’s mesh tool to create gradient maps for soft shading. In others, I layered slightly darker-colored shapes on top of my main base color in order to create the illusion of cell shading. I also learned the line width tool and used that quite a bit when creating my line art to make it look more dynamic. Although I already knew the basics of Illustrator when I started, I did learn a few useful things during the production of my comic. I was also able to practice the art of visually telling a story through comics. It was surprisingly challenging to convey movement in this medium. Overall, I think I would have preferred the artistic freedom of Adobe Photoshop to the unyielding rules of Illustrator. Photoshop’s engine allows for more deliberate, dynamic strokes than Illustrator, and it also is much, much easier to shade in Photoshop, as it is simple to layer the shading between the base color on the bottom and the lineart on the top. However, I am quite proud of my comic’s end result.


Thumbnail of graphic novel
Click on image above
to view my Graphic Novel
In English class, we created a graphic novel based on our short stories. Once it were done, we scanned it and broke it apart into individual panels, which became the base of our animatic.

Play Video
An animatic is a bit like a sketch for an animation. It tests the general staging and visuals wanted in the animation without spending too much time on a potentially unsatisfactory element. It is the skeleton that the final animation should be based on.

When we were writing our flash fiction, we learned about creating engaging characters and stories, and telling them well within a short amount of time. During the graphic novel part of the semester, we learned about telling that story through dramatic visuals without dialogue. I already have experience in drawing, so I had a lot of fun creating the graphic novel. When we were creating the animatic in Digital Media, we learned the basics of animating objects in Adobe Animate, which became very useful when creating the animation itself. We also gained an idea of what our final animation was going to look like, and what we were going to need to do in order to complete it.

Screenshot of Animate File This a a screenshot of my animatic file in Adobe Animate.

For my animation, I wanted to show off some of my drawing skill, so instead of the standard Illustrator-based tween animation, where symbols are created in Adobe Illustrator and animated in Animate, I decided to use mostly frame-by-frame animation, where each individual frame is drawn separately in Animate. It is very time-consuming and frustrating without prior drawing experience, but I found it less convoluted than creating potentially dozens of nested symbols and animating those. As for the content of my animation, I decided to cut out the final part of my story in the animation, as it would make it too long and the ending I chose for the animation was satisfying as well.

I became much more familiar with the Animate interface and tools over the course of this project. I had to find a workflow that allowed me to draw quickly, easily, and repeatedly. Most importantly, I figured out the tools I needed to draw directly into Animate without too much trouble.

Screenshot of Animate File This a a screenshot of my animation file in Adobe Animate.