During the Junior Visual Narrative Project, I learned how to give dimension to my stories. A couple of new applications that I learned how to use this unit are Adobe Audition, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Illustrator, and Avid Pro Tools. In English, I used what I had learned about crafting a compelling narrative arc as well as a developed character profile to write my own narrative. Taking a scene and my protagonist’s character from the narrative, I created an illustration in my Design elective to provide a visual for my readers. In Digital Media, I enhanced a recording of myself reading the narrative by adding sound effects, ambient noise, and background music. I now have a better understanding of how to produce a well-rounded story to offer to readers (and viewers and listeners!).

Design Exercises:

I did three exercises in my design elective:

  • Positive and Negative Space (paper cutout)
  • Tints, Tones, and Shades (colored pencils)
  • Neutrals and inorganic and organic shapes (watercolors)

An exercise in positive and negative space

An exercise in negative and positive space


Color blending exercise with colored pencils

An exercise in blending colors using colored pencils


Exercise in organic and geometric shapes and color blending

An exercise in blending colors using watercolor as well as organic and inorganic shapes



For our narrative unit in English, we studied two types of narrative structures and wrote a narrative of our own using one of the structures. I found it challenging to incorporate physical descriptors of my characters smoothly; writing about what my main character was feeling without explicitly stating the feeling also was an interesting process.My inspiration for the story was based off of myself and many of my peers recently coming to terms with our racial identities. Adolescence is a time of great confusion and beginning to accept parts of one’s identity, and I wanted to reflect that in at least one aspect.To produce the audio version of my story, I first recorded myself reading my narrative using the Tascam Recorder. I then imported it into Adobe Audio alongside numerous special effects and ambient noise files taken from the Freestyle library. I was not able to find music that fit my story well in the Freestyle library, so I searched online for royalty free music and found a few good candidates. The purpose of the SFX, ambient, and music noise files is to enhance the storytelling experience and help the listener envision scenes more easily. After some consideration, I whittled down the number of sound files I was going to use and began placing them in appropriate places. I played around with volume levels, sped up and slowed down tracks, cut the tracks to my liking, and panned some files from the left to right ear. I value the time invested in choosing the SFX, ambient noise, and music files that would evoke just the right images for the listener. Before, the idea that there could be so many types of footsteps on different surfaces never occurred to me; I am in awe of the sheer amount of variation that sound designers must account for.

A Brief Reflection:

I am 20 feet, 10 feet away from sweet, sweet, freedom when my brother catches sight of me and loudly announces my presence.

Darn it.

Pinching the bridge of my nose, I fight off the urge to strangle him and open my eyes to see my mother holding out a container to me. Again. The half-hopeful look in her eyes is pitiful, so I grit my teeth and gingerly take the box, not bothering to look at its contents. It’s probably unappealing vegetables or noodles or rice. She beams and starts chattering away in Vietnamese about ingredients that I honestly don’t care about as I stalk towards the front door, wrenching the handle so hard that the stereotypical southeast-Asian red calendar on the wall falls off of its hook and crumples pathetically on the floor.

I burst out onto the streets, frantically scanning the sidewalk for a trash can. Praying that none of my classmates will see me, I race over to one, pry the container open, and unceremoniously empty its contents out into the trash.

Upon reaching school, I slink into my first-period classroom and begin eyeing the various world maps and propaganda posters stapled crookedly to the classroom walls. I eventually catch freshly written words on the whiteboard, and after squinting at them for some time, I’m barely able to make out that our upcoming assignment is yet another group project for the Vietnam War. Great. How much more work can the teacher milk out of that God-forsaken war? The kids around me are frantically signaling to each other to try to form their groups, but their enthusiastic whispers change to exasperated groans once the teacher projects assigned groups on the screen.

I wait for my groupmates to shuffle over to where I’m sitting before announcing that I want to research the farthest thing from Vietnamese culture, possibly something like the American military’s actions. The girl draping her jacket over the chair grimaces at the idea. Of course, she’d object – she’s Vietnamese, too.

She suggests that it would be more interesting to look into how people felt about and after the war. The other two group mates are vigorously nodding their heads along. Lovely. I’ve been outvoted by a bunch of bobbleheads. I suggest the American public’s outlook on the war.

The boy sitting to the right of me that’s been tapping his pencil the whole time interjects, saying that he’d prefer to learn about what Vietnamese people thought. We volley back and forth a few times, and I’m beginning to develop a headache from the frustration. The volume of the conversation keeps rising, the girl sitting opposite me is nearly standing over me contesting my opinion, and other groups are giving us inquisitive looks. I’ve started twisting my braid in my hands, trying to focus on how each obsidian strand gleams in the light rather than blowing up at my teammates.

“Wait, aren’t you Vietnamese?” the last groupmate tentatively pipes up. My hands accidentally slip off the hairband keeping my braid in place. I try to retie my hair as quickly as possible, but it’s too late. The braid has come loose. Lowering my hands, I mutter a low yes. As expected, the group starts bombarding me with questions, the same questions I’ve heard from virtually everyone for the past however many years.

“Do you hate yourself and your own people or something?” I open my mouth to snap back a retort, but nothing comes to mind. Despite rolling my eyes nonchalantly, I’m given away by my inflamed cheeks. My mind fumbles with the question, disconnecting and connecting it over and over again, like a puzzle. Why do I hate being Vietnamese so much? I excuse myself and fly down the hall to the bathroom. Jerking the tap open and splashing water over my face,  I shakily look up at the mirror, my brown eyes blinking worriedly back at me. They trail around my likeness in the mirror, taking in my golden-honey-colored skin, my hair the color of the midnight sky flowing gracefully down my shoulders, and finally back to the warm embers glowing in my eyes. All of these features passed down to me by my ancestors, and yet I can’t bring myself to love them because of what others have said. I rummage around for a memory of the last time that I spoke to my mother in Vietnamese, the last time that I willingly brought my traditional food to school, the last time that I could proudly proclaim “yes, I am Vietnamese.” I can’t recall.

My eyes burn and I bite my lip to assuage the sudden tight feeling in my chest. The pain I put myself through in order to be “normal” doesn’t seem worth it anymore. What even is “normal?” I relinquish the death grip I had placed on the edges of the sink and gulp in cool air, push my shoulders back, and lift my head high.

Weariness suddenly overcomes me, and my shoulders slump. I can’t go on pretending to be something that I’m not. It’s tiring. I still see a weird Vietnamese girl staring back at me in the mirror that I don’t entirely like, but maybe I should start trying to accept myself.

With those thoughts in mind, I push open the door and start the trek back to the classroom. While I redo my braid, I let thoughts of how I might start to re-engage with my Vietnamese side percolate. This project might actually be a good starting point. As I sit back down at the table, I offer a wobbly smile and ask to look into the diaspora of the Vietnamese. The girl with the jacket reaches over and squeezes my hand sympathetically.

“Hey, I get it. I’ll help you through it.” I guess I’m not so alone in this pursuit.

A screenshot of the different tracks of my audio file in Adobe Audition



Section Header Illustrations:

To create section headers for my website, I used Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Dreamweaver. The four drawings I used for my banners are related to my narrative and have to do with the protagonist’s view of her identity at various points throughout the story. To implement the banners on my website and make it so that there was fixed scrolling, I made a CSS Styles Sheet using Adobe Dreamweaver.

Website Banners in Adobe Illustrator

A screenshot of my website headers in Adobe Illustrator

Screenshot of Adobe Dreamweaver Workspace

My CSS Styles Sheet for my Website in Adobe Dreamweaver


Personal Illustration:

My inspiration for my personal illustration was the blend mode tool in Adobe Illustrator. Upon discovering the tool, my mind immediately jumped to staves (the 5 lines that western music is notated on) and how I might represent the influence of music on me. The illustration depicts the vibrancy and strength that flows from a person because of music.

Personal Illustration: The Flow of Music

Personal Illustration: Spiritoso

Digitally Designed Scene

In my Design elective, I was challenged to illustrate a scene from my narrative in Adobe Illustrator. I chose the scene where the protagonist is in the school restroom mulling over how she has chosen to interact with her culture. To represent my protagonist’s personality, I combined several creatures (fox, hawk, cat, betta fish, and deer) to create a unique character. The fox aspect of my protagonist’s personality is her intelligence, her ability to discern the reasons behind her feelings. My protagonist’s independence and stubbornness are represented by a hawk and a cat respectively. Her aggressive attitude resulting in her loneliness is represented by a betta fish; her insecurity despite her tough exterior is symbolized by a deer.There were several steps involved in the creation of my illustration. My peers and I first brainstormed animals that could represent the personality traits of each of our characters. I then sketched out several settings from my English narrative using either one or two-point perspective. After finalizing the background sketch, I compiled images of various restroom elements in Adobe Photoshop to make one cohesive background and repeated the process to create my creature; these two files would serve as references to be uploaded into Adobe Illustrator.

In Adobe Illustrator, I used the pen tool to outline both the background and the creature. Each color in my illustration is a tint, tone, or shade of 5 hues selected from a Pantone color wheel. To blend colors, I used combinations of gradients, the feathering effect, and adjusted opacity levels. For details on the creature’s main body and on its tail, I used the brush tool. As a final touch, I added shadows by manipulating shapes with the mesh tool and changing the opacity and shades.I would like to thank Ms. Parkinson as well as my Design classmates for providing me with feedback concerning the colors used in my illustration. Color psychology is something that I definitely am more aware of and will keep in mind to better convey my feelings in future projects.

Illustration of Scene from “A Brief Reflection”


screenshot of adobe illustrator workspace

A screenshot of my workspace in Adobe Illustrator