Fall 2014 Digital Narrative Project

Fairy tales and Myths can provide a rich starting point for a digital media project. Passed down from oral storytellers through literary traditions to new media, they are always altered by retelling to reflect the needs of the storyteller and the aesthetics of the time. Because the story is so well known, it can be altered significantly and still remain resonant and recognizable to the contemporary audience. In 10 images, tell a a very old story in a new way. Final Reflections and links to webgalleries posted to comments here

Beauty and the Beast by Anna Frank

More examples of student projects… (see links in comments for more projects)


detail / Mitchell Ringness

The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was

retold as first person game


detail / Rapunzel by Erica Kachinske


Birth of Venus by Kinzie Longley


Monkey King (detail) by Va Yang


post-production storyboards / Megan Ahlberg’s Cinderella

Please post to the blog here:

Your name

Your story title

Your link to your narrative project web gallery

AND your short reflection on the project… (~150 words)

Reflect on your creative process…What drew you to this tale? How did you update this tale for the digital age? What was the inspiration for your visual look or clues to your visual treatment of this old tale. What techniques or tools did you use to create your own version of the story?


20 thoughts on “Fall 2014 Digital Narrative Project

  1. Shelby Theis

    As I was researching stories for my narrative project, Cassiopeia stood out to me because of the way she was punished in the story. She is “thrown” into the night sky as a punishment, which I think would be more so of a reward. Stars fascinate me and that is another reason why I chose this story. I updated this tale for the digital age by creating simple line drawings to tell my story. I went away from the traditional drawing with shading and took it to a more modern level. I wanted these drawings to be simple enough so that they were like the constellations in the sky. My inspiration for this project was the ideas of the sky as a globe around us. I decided to make a circle skirt to represent this idea. I then painted the images onto the skirt, so that when you turn the story is told. This relates to how stories are told in the sky. If you go outside on a starry night you can continue to turn around and see all sorts of stories that are told through the stars. I added a chiffon layer of fabric over the layer that had the imagery on it. On this layer I added gems in the formations of the constellations in the sky. If I had been able to transfer the imagery onto my fabric, this would have made my project more related to the digital age. For the look I wanted, it was easier to paint the imagery on by hand.


  2. Mitchell Ringness
    The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear http://www.d.umn.edu/~ringn002/narrative/

    I picked this particular story by the Brothers Grimm because of how interesting and adventure-orientated it was; the entire story is of how the protagonist goes off in search of fear so that he can learn how to shudder, and on his journey he experiences many things that would make most people frightened. However, he never is fearful throughout the entirety of the story, and ends up winning the king’s daughter and a whole castle full of treasure because of how naturally brave he is.
    The way that I gave this story a modern twist was that I turned the story into a video game; I made all the images first-person, and also added numerous elements to the images that one would normally see while playing a video game. Since I chose to give my story such a dramatic change, I had to compensate by altering the story slightly, and change a number of story plots that were originally in the Brothers Grimm tale. However, I did keep quite a few important areas, such as the bell-tower, the hanging men, and other more subtle points from the original story.
    For the visual treatment of the story, I used photography, as well as heavy amounts of photoshop. I used photoshop to give the images a rougher, more digital look so that it would look like it was a video game. I put in a health bar, a fear bar, and a flashlight battery bar in the bottom left corner of the images in which the character was playing the game. I used a portable lighting system to ensure that the subjects were well-lit, and that everything I shot was what I wanted.
    Overall, I was pretty happy with how it turned out, although I would have liked it better if I could have fit in a few more pictures. However, plans ended up falling through for the models I had in mind, and I had to do everything by myself.


  3. http://www.d.umn.edu~decke213/snowwhitenartive/

    I had chose to recreate the story of snow white because it is a beautiful and dark story that has been retold many times. This story can be retranslated in many ways, of a jealous woman who was supposed to protect a motherless child. Instead the woman tries to kill the girl and she is abandoned, but instead she is able to make her own way.
    I used a combination of pen drawings, paint, and photographs for my media. I then collaged them together in photoshop to not only tell the visual story, but I wanted the emotions that you should feel to be translated into the image.
    I learned a few new techniques in photoshop that I really like. I tried a filter that is oil painting that looks really cool with photographs of trees/ nature. I also tried using a mask tool to layer my images to make them a bit less dramatic. I feel that since I’ve incorporated the mask tool I’m able to create cleaner looking work that is still expressive and creative.


  4. Kinzie Longley
    The Birth of Venus

    When I first saw the Botticelli’s the Birth of Venus, it just really interested me. So when choosing a story, I thought that this would be a good story to re-tell and I would be able to interpret with my own style of work. I updated this story by making Venus a Barbie, I believe that in today’s society people favor women that look more fit and thin; while back in the renaissance era their society favored women who were a bit fleshier. I mainly hand drew all of the patterns, and then took pictures of them and put them into Photoshop. Next I would position the Barbie the way I wanted her to pose for each picture and took pictures of her too using my camera. Then I’d combine the line drawings and the Barbie together and move things around until I was content with how it looked. After that I would put the Barbie into Illustrator and add a line effect to her so she would appear as if she was drawn into the picture as well. While working on this project I learned that a simple color palette is most effective, because if I used more complex colors it would be way too busy to be able to concentrate on anything in the pieces.



  5. Kayla Collins- Sleeping Beauty

    I chose the story Sleeping Beauty because that is one of the fairy tales that stands out to me the most when I think back to my childhood. I updated the story by using actual people as actors instead of cartoons and by changing a few parts of the story. For example, instead of Sleeping Beauty dying from getting a splinter of flax stuck under her nail, in my version she dies from overdosing. To create this story, I used photography and I incorporated graphic images such as vines and smoke to add to the fairy tale look. I definitely learned a couple of things while making this story. One thing I learned is in order to create interesting and surprising images, you should change the scale of the subjects that appear in multiple parts in the story. One other thing I learned is how important it is to keep somewhat consistent backgrounds throughout the story in order for the images to flow together better.



  6. Megan Ahlberg

    As I was thinking about the different stories that I could do and in my searching I came across the Grimm Brothers version of Cinderella. In this version Cinderella’s mother died and was buried. Cinderella would go to her grave and weep at it. One day her father went to a fair and brought her back a twig in which she buried on her mothers grave. The twig then grew into a beautiful tree that would grant Cinderella’s every wish. In doing this project I decided to make a graphic novel and had a great time trying a new different style of creating the images in InDesign. I went with several simple dark but rich colors to go with the darkness of Grimm brother stories. I will also be printing it out into a little book. I tried to go with a more modern and simple style of art. It was a fun project that I tried something new with.


  7. Mary Ahlberg



    I chose to do the fairytale Rumplestiltskin for my narrative project. I chose to make a comic book, graphic novel for my project. I did the Grimm Brothers version of it; although my illustration does not really show that too well. I liked the very comic book look to it, and made it more children friendly. I didn’t know or really want to recreate it into a more modern story so I kept the original storyline. The story goes with, when a poor Millar goes to the king and tells him that his daughter can spin straw into gold, and the king takes the girl and puts her into a room full of straw and tells her to spin it into gold or she will get killed. She cries and a dwarf comes and basically spins her straw into gold for her multiple times, and saves her. In that process she offers her future child, the king is pleased. When she marries the king they have a child; that’s when the dwarf comes back and wants the child. He tells the Queen that if you can guess my name you can keep the baby. She spends days guessing and then sees him in the woods one day singing and dancing around a fire, saying his name, Rumplestiltskin. She says his name and she keeps the child, he is very upset. That’s the story in a nutshell. I really enjoyed this project, and look forward to seeing the printed version.


  8. Chase Dunbar
    “The Boy Who Cried Shark”

    I wanted to use a well-known story with a good moral to learn. As a boy, I remember being told the fable about ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf.’ This story taught me a lot about the consequences of lying, and I knew this would make a perfect story to update for the digital age. I was drawn to this story because of its universal uses in every-day life.
    I updated this story for the digital age by creating an entirely new situation. The original story has a boy looking over sheep through the night, which I find quite dull. I thought the story would reach out to people today more by having the main character doing an extreme sport. Since the boy comes up with a lie due to boredom, I changed the story to a boy bored in the water because he can’t catch any waves on his morning out surfing.
    My inspiration for digital treatment to this story was Dr. Seuss’s style of cartooning as well as the traditional Japanese ocean graphics. I really like the dark ‘doodley’ lines mixed with vivid colors to create a wacky looking world for the characters to live in. I accomplished this style of design by sketching out cartoon drawings on paper, scanning these drawings, and placing them into Photoshop. I then added all of my color, textures (such as the Japanese ocean graphics), and a few touches to the line structure. The finished product shows a design that sufficiently portrays my story, while having the imperfections of a doodle-style cartoon.


  9. Anna Frank
    Beauty and the Beast

    I wanted to reflect a sort of cartoony, comic style in my own rendition of Beauty and the Beast. The way I decided to modernize it was to switch the genders of the two main characters. This way I wanted to make people think about if the story really could have happened the same way if it was a girl keeping a guy hostage. The colors I chose were red and blue, using monochromatic swatches for each character. The art style I was inspired by was from an animated music video of the song Ghosts by Mystery Skulls. The animation itself was done by a youtuber named MysteryBen27. I was more intrigued by the ghost character and its bright color outline and wanted to use that to my advantage. I chose a gray color scheme for the backgrounds to help the characters pop out a bit more. If i was to print this I would have chose a 24×36 poster in the style of two comic pages (I included this format in my website). I wanted to use the standard comic panels but also have the characters not be bound by them, to have a more energetic story feel.


  10. Va Yang
    Monkey King; Journey to the West
    I’ve known this story ever since I was little and have watched the series over and over with my family before I can remember. Now that I’m older, I’ve seen many different versions of it. The Monkey King has been incorporated into many stories since also. I updated this into the new age by simply putting it into digital form. People who are familiar with the story could probably figure out the story eventually with the borrowed look of the costumes from the series I’m familiar with. I incorporated realistic brushes but kept the 2d effect. I was inspired to make the look of my images by looking at the original characters in the old movies and making them 2d and my own. I drew them out then transformed them into digital images using photoshop and its brushes.


  11. Chanraksar Wat
    The Frog Prince (in my own version)


    For this project of Fairy tail story, I picked a story called The Frog Prince. I was interested in this particular story because this story used to be told by my grandma as a bed time story when I was young. It is one of many stories which I can remember most and it used to be my favorite. As the story past on from person to person, I found out that different countries have different ending to the this story and that how I choose to do my story as a doodling. With doodling, I can work with hand sketching with some short of drawing to add an interesting and unique look to the story. As far as the doodling goes, I also creating this story as a puzzle like because I thought it would be fund and challenging as well as new way to approach temporally Art. For the process of creating this project, I used mostly photoshop to sketch out the whole story after I scanned my original hand sketch into my computer.


  12. Anastasiya Tokreva
    Geese- Swans
    I chose to update the story called Geese-Swans. It is a Russian story. I chose the story because it was a part of my childhood and it would provide a good base for me to use a mix of photography and painting. I used photography to show the real world in order to make it seem more real. I added painting to the parts of the story where fantasy comes in to provide a stark difference between the real and fantasy world. I used colored pencils and Photoshop to edit lines and add contrast to the pictures. I updated the story by switching characters’ genders. Also, instead of the distraction that prevents the older sibling from seeing the geese take away the younger one being playing with friend, I updated it to be playing on the computer. Lastly, instead of a flock of Geese, I only portrayed one Goose because I think having one villain is more modern. I chose to do the version of the story that does not include Baba-Yaga, because I felt having a non-human villain would be more interesting. I learned that making stories is really tedious and hard work. I have gained a new level of appreciation for people who participate in making stories.


  13. Jacqueline Walechka

    the Little Mermaid


    I chose the story of the little mermaid because it was one of my favorite stories as a kid; the thought of swimming under water freely was always a very intriguing idea. I updated it for the digital age by using Photoshop to give the pictures a crisper value of colors that will draw the viewer in to the story. I used a mix of drawing and Photoshop to complete my story, I would draw out my pictures first and then go over them in marker to make them more viewable for when I took pictures of them and transferred them into Photoshop to edit them and give them their color. In this project I learned how to create a story from a group of images and learned the importance of keeping unity within the images by keeping all the lines close in width and make sure to have reoccurring colors so that the story would tie together.


  14. Mark Sholl
    The Hare and the Hedgehog
    I chose “The Hare and the Hedgehog” because it was similar to the original tale but a little more morbid because the hare runs itself to death and bleeds out of its neck. I wanted to use a different style than my usual work by only using curly lines. Most of my work is more geometric and I wanted to challenge myself to do something different. After I created my work with the curly lines, I decided to fool around with some of the line stroke choices. I found one that was kind of funky but I think it looked more interesting then what I had before. I wanted to use colors that reflected what they may actually be in real life and it was kind of a mix of darker and lighter colors. I liked this project because it helped me try something different and challenge myself


  15. http://www.d.umn.edu/~decke213/snowwhite/
    I had chose to recreate the story of snow white because it is a beautiful and dark story that has been retold many times. This story can be retranslated in many ways, of a jealous woman who was supposed to protect a motherless child. Instead the woman tries to kill the girl and she is abandoned, but instead she is able to make her own way.
    I used a combination of pen drawings, paint, and photographs for my media. I then collaged them together in photoshop to not only tell the visual story, but I wanted the emotions that you should feel to be translated into the image.
    I learned a few new techniques in photoshop that I really like. I tried a filter that is oil painting that looks really cool with photographs of trees/ nature. I also tried using a mask tool to layer my images to make them a bit less dramatic. I feel that since I’ve incorporated the mask tool I’m able to create cleaner looking work that is still expressive and creative.

    Russell Mills is an inspiration I like to use in my art work, his work is very expressive and dark (he is one of my favorite artists)
    . I tried to incorporate some of his persona into my work.


    I also love the work of Marco Marzzoni, while he uses a softer techque, I like how he sets up his images and I enjoy what he creates.



  16. Bailey Willenbring
    The Tortoise and the Hare


    I chose the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare”because it was a story that I remembered from when I was a kid. It is such a simple story, but it can be remixed into different versions which make it so fun. I decided to add my own flare onto the narrative project. I chose to incorporate my collaging into each image.I took magazine pictures and created the background color blue and than I made a tree out of green and brown magazine pictures.With the magazine pictures I cut and pasted the images on a piece of paper and than scanned it into the computer. It worked out well because when seen digitally you are still able to see the texture of the collage. I made sure to use a lot of straight and hard edges because I have a tendency to work that way. I was able to learn a lot about illustrator and photoshop during this process because I had to use different techniques on each. It was a hard process to incorporate the collage into the digital work but I am happy that I was able to do it. I am really happy with how my narrative project turned out.


  17. Erica Kachinske


    I have always loved the story of rapunzel. However, I consider myself a feminist and didn’t want to do a typical story where the guy saves the girl.I also wanted to do a twist on the story, so the witch is supposed to represent depression. I wanted to create a graphic novel, and I think I did a good job. I really like how my project turned out, even though it took such a long time. I used photoshop and a tablet to draw everything. I started out with really rough sketches and then drew over them to get a finished drawing. Over all I am happy with how this turned out.


  18. Baylee Reinert
    Hansel and Gretel

    I was drawn to the tale of Hansel and Gretel mostly because of the setting that it takes place. I love the woods and all things nature so naturally I knew that I wanted to play around with this story in some way. I approached this project by trying to think of the most crucial points of this story. I wanted to think of the 10 most important elements that would allow viewers to understand this tale when seeing it without any words. I chose photography as my process because it is my passion and I knew I could do some interesting things with it. I didn’t want to create a typical childrens story with illustrations but I did want to keep the story light and playful. I updated this story for modern times by having Hansel and Gretel be regular teenagers lost on a walk. I had them dressed in regular clothing with a modern name brand loaf of bread.


  19. sent to me via email
    Amy Gensmer

    I chose the story of Medusa because it was one that I was unfamiliar with and wanted to learn more about. I was also attracted to the idea of drawing Medusa transforming from a beautiful nymph to a snake like creature. After reading several interpretations of the story, I decided to combined parts that I thought would be the most visual pleasing and would work best in a collage.

    The story begins with Medusa being the most beautiful ocean nymph and she would make sure everyone knew it. Everyday she would talk about how her skin was as fair as snow, her eyes green as the Aegan Sea, hair as gold and bright as the sun, and lips red as roses. All men were attracted to Medusa, including Poseidon, who was currently involved with Athena. Athena, however, would not sleep with Poseidon and this made Poseidon furious. Poseidon then deliberately took Medusa to Athena’s temple and got it on with Medusa knowingly in the presence of Athena. Athena was so outraged that she turned Medusa into a hideous snake like monster and sent her and her sisters deep into the ocean depths cursing her that if anyone even herself were to look in her eyes they would be immediately turned into stone.

    I updated my story for the digital age by making mine a collage storyboard that combined multiple mediums. I decided I wanted to combine pencil drawings with vector images and photographs and worked them in together by doing a lot of layering and cropping. By doing this, I strengthened my skill of drawing on my computer and using the pen tool and my tablet. I also learned more about filtering layers in order to make a more interesting image. The hardest thing for me in this piece was placement of the images so that they made a well-balanced, visually intriguing, cohesive piece.


  20. Sonya Nayar

    Hansel and Gretel in the City


    When I first started this story I wanted to make Hansel and Gretel my two little cousins. I made a storyboard and finished the entire project by telling the typical story of two little children getting lost in the woods and getting taken by a scary witch to her house. After I made this version I realized how predictable and unoriginal this was. I also kept thinking how not myself this was. This is when I decided to instead make Hansel and Gretel get lost in the city leaving their apartment with their mom. They get on the city bus when Gretel accidentally grabs a strangers hand thinking that she grabbed her moms hand. The kids do not notice this until the stop they get off on that they are no longer with their mom. They get kidnapped and taken to Cauldron Coffee where the stranger/witch tries to force Hansel to be a Cauldron Coffee Barista. This is a lot different than the original version where Hansel gets forced into a cage because he is going to be cooked until Gretel saves the day. In my version Gretel throws coffee on the witch, which makes her melt. The brother and sister are reunited and follow the gift cards to Mocha Sonyas (the better coffee shop) that were falling out of Gretel’s purse all the way back to their mom. I updated the way Hansel looks by instead of having him be a little boy he looks like a little hipster teenager in his flannel, cutoff jean shorts and beanie. I had a very tough time starting this project and getting a good idea of what to do so in the end I would say my inspiration for this project ended up making the story more myself for example the way Gretel looks in my story is not what she looks like in your typical children’s book. She has light brown skin and a Caucasian mom. She has long dark hair instead of the typical short hair Gretel usually has and she is dressed in a cute dress and heels. Since the diversity rate at UMD is below 10 percent, I would say I am not what the typical person at this school looks like. This was my inspiration why I should make this book different and more myself. In the real version the kids get lost in the woods. I however am not a fan of the woods and many times I have been lost in the city. The techniques I used to make this story were scanning in all my separate sharpie or pen drawings and then fixing them all on Photoshop and drawing parts of things with the brush tool.


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