Project Two

Poster Comic

Due 10/31

Required Readings and Tutorials (also on class schedule):


What assumptions do you trust your audience to make? (Scott McCloud, “Understanding Comics,” Harper Collins, 1994, pg. 86)

Create a poster-size comic (11×17) that undermines the stereotypical expectations of how readers interpret time. You will do this by employing creative layout and design of frames (or panels), finding an inventive way to communicate the passage of time. Your comic should ask the reader/viewer to become an active participant, making crucial decisions about the order and/or direction in which they read your work. Your work should try to undermine the expected left-to-right, top-to-bottom reading direction of our western culture, while still giving your reader some guidance about where and how to look. (See “Understanding Comics,” pages 102-106.)

You may tell whatever story / convey whatever information you wish. Think about how your work will fit into Scott McCloud’s definition of comics. You will hand in a hand-drawn sketch of your planned comic on Thursday, 10/17.

According to McCloud, the more aware the viewer is of the art, the more difficult it is to create closure. Find the balance between too much and too little. See also pages 90-91 (Scott McCloud, “Understanding Comics,” Harper Collins, 1994, pg. 30)

You may use whatever iconography you wish (see Scott McCloud Chapter 2: The Vocabulary of Comics), but you must make it yourself with the Adobe Illustrator software. You will be gaining a basic to intermediate understanding of vector graphics as you complete this project. Seek to maintain a consistent aesthetic throughout the comic by giving careful attention to color, shape, and line quality (See Scott McCloud Chapter 5: Living in Line and Chapter 8: A Word About Color).

Things to think about as you work:

  • What shape are the frames? How are they drawn? What is their spatial relationship to one another?
  • How might you make a frame seem timeless, or linger in the reader’s mind?
  • How can you create a sense of interesting closure among frames? Is it moment-to-moment, action-to-action, subject-to-subject, scene-to-scene, or aspect-to-aspect?
  • How do line quality and color affect viewer understanding?
  • McCloud’s definition: “Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer” (McCloud pg 9)
  • If you use writing and words in your comic, remember that writing is a visual as well as a linguistic mode. What will the words look like?.

Adobe Illustrator and Vector Graphics

Vector graphics are composed of paths, or lines, that are either straight or curved. The data file for a vector image contains the points where the paths start and end, how much the paths curve, and the colors that either border or fill the paths. Because vector graphics are not made of pixels, the images can be scaled to be very large without losing quality. Raster graphics, such as digital photographs, can become blocky when enlarged, since each pixel increases in size as the image is made larger. This is why designs such as logos are typically created in vector format—the quality will look the same on a business card as it will on a billboard.

Make sure you are familiar with all the options nested under the Pen Tool. It will be helpful to learn the key commands to switch between these options.

Make sure you are familiar with all the options nested under the Pen Tool. It will be helpful to learn the key commands to switch between these options.

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics program, which has different strengths and uses than Adobe Photoshop, which is for raster graphics. Understanding paths, and how to manipulate them with the pen tool—adding, moving, and altering points along the path—is the key to getting the most out of Illustrator. The pen tool has a steep learning curve but it is worth spending time on. The files you make in Illustrator will have the extension AI, such as “”. AI files can only be opened in the Illustrator program. A more universal file format for vector graphics is EPS.

Technical Requirements

  • Your document size (the final output size for printing) should be 11×17, oriented vertically (portrait) or horizontally (landscape)
  • Draw all elements in the work yourself using vector graphics in Illustrator. Don’t use resolution-based graphics.
  • Use some color and save your colors in the Swatches panel so you can access them consistently
  • Keep your objects and paths well-organized using separate layers on the Layers panel
  • If you use the type tool to make text, convert type to outlines in the copy of the file you hand in to your instructor (Type>Create Outlines)
  • Make sure you save all your work in the Illustrator file for this project

Working Outside Class

You are expected to spend a significant amount of time outside class learning Illustrator and working on this project. Plan to use the computer labs in the evenings and on weekends. See the top of the class schedule for labs and hours. If you need help, come see your instructor during office hours or make an appointment for a different time on Wednesday.

What You Will Turn In

Before class on Thursday, 10/31

1) Put in a folder named “yourlastname-yourfirstname-project-02”:

  • AI: Your Illustrator file, named “yourlastname-yourfirstname-project-02.AI”
  • JPG: A copy of your file exported as a high resolution JPG. Name the file “yourlastname-yourfirstname-project-02.JPG” [File > Export > Export As: Choose “Format: JPG,” and have “Use Artboards” checked. Hit “Export.” In the next dialog box choose “Maximum Image Quality” and “Resolution: High (300 ppi)”. Hit “OK.”]
  • PDF: A copy of your file saved as a print quality PDF. Name the file “yourlastname-yourfirstname-project-02.PDF” [File > Save As: Choose “Format: Adobe PDF.” Hit “Save.” In the next dialog box choose “Adobe PDF Preset: High Quality Print” and  Uncheck “Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities”. Hit “Save PDF.”]

2) Zip the folder (on a Mac: right-click and choose “Compress” or on a PC: right-click > send to > compress zip folder) and submit via the assignment page on Blackboard (under the Content link in the left menu in Blackboard). Bring all these files to class and have them open on the lab computers on Thursday 10/31 as well.

3) Print a good copy of your work at 11 x17 at CougPrints (bring them the high quality PDF), or in Avery 103 if the color printer is working well (here you can print directly from Photoshop).

4) Post Blog 8: Final Poster Comic

Additional Assignments

Additional short-term assignments and blogs may be given throughout the duration of this project to help build skills, experience, and ideas. These will be passed out in class and available as links from the class schedule. You will not need to hand in the files you produce along with your assigned Illustrator tutorials, but you should save them for your own reference while you are enrolled in this class. Material in the Illustrator tutorials may be included on quizzes.


These are some examples of comics that may surprise you. You will be looking for examples of interesting closure and time frames in the graphic novels you choose to read outside of class: