Sofia Dominguez
Narrative 1

Narrative 1

Learning how to effectively tell a story using visual or auditory elements is a considerable challenge. I tackled this skill in my English, Digital Media, and Animation classes with a variety of projects, most notably my Flash Fiction Short Story, Parody Song, Illustrator Project, and Narrative Animation over the course of several months. There were many other small projects that helped advance and prepare for these skills, like in English when reading several flash fiction stories, the play Red by John Logan, and 1984 by George Orwell and analyzing how the author develops the characters and plot through language. I used a variety of tools like the Adobe apps, Pro Tools, and drawing tablet in all of my classes.

Throughout this unit, in all of my different classes, I practiced the famous phrase “show, don’t tell”. It was told to us explicitly in English; and in Animation it was implied for our Narrative Animation when we were forbidden from adding dialogue; and in Digital Media with my album cover for my short story I had to visualize my story through different elements and color choices that represented parts of the story.

We began this project in English class, reading several flash fiction stories (which are usually one to four pages long). We did several exercises and brainstorms to flesh out our character and their small world, including a full and purposely excessive list on the character we were writing in order to start shaping the personality and world, then cut down on what we wanted to show. We also thought about the character’s “wants” and “needs”: what they pursued during the duration of the story, and what they needed from that object or journey. To form the plot, we asked ourselves who or what was preventing it from fulfilling its wants or needs, and if the story ended with them fulfilling either requirement or not. I used this last technique later in my Narrative Animation project to create a strong story with motivated characters.

Exercise #1:The Big List
Exercise 2: The Plot Diagram (the handwriting is especially messy here)






Then, we moved this project to Digital Media, where we created a reading of our short story with music and sound effects. Finding the right “fwoosh” and atmospherical music is always the hardest part when adding audio, but I really enjoy this part because it feels like turning a 2D puzzle into a 4D one, and it starts to feel real.

*pretend there is an image here oops* “Here is an interesting screenshot of my Pro Tools session, where I put together all the music and sound effects. For almost every one, I tried to blend them together by fading them in or out. That is a lot of work!”

But here I present the final piece:

Star-Shaped Bones

Artist Statement:

Star Shaped Bones has one central theme: how it is like to live in a world where you are inherently different. Even though I used fantastical metaphors to, again, use “show don’t tell”, I wanted to add many real emotional aspects, never diluting a character to a black-and-white matter, at least within the amount of space I had (we had a limit of 1000 words, and my story is right around 990). I didn’t write the parents as evil caricatures, nor did I write the main character as a people-pleaser. Instead, I prioritized the exploration of the dilemma of wanting to conform but yearning to be something else at the same time. Throughout the process of fleshing out my character and their story, I thought of everything in visual terms, as if I were going to make an animation with it. It was very difficult to outline a plot for it, in fact, the early version and final draft were quite different. But I found that clinging to visual ideas like “ice”, “glow”, and “dark rooms” allowed me to portray the outside world from the character’s perspective in a more dramatic way. This also allowed me to use the fact that the main character is a child to my advantage and add the aspect of an unreliable narrator to intrigue the reader.

Full reading with music and sound effects!:


Here is the full written short story:

                          ✩ "Star-Shaped Bones" ✩

        It was born from a star. As an energetic, explosively dangerous little creature, it loved to twirl amongst the debris and roll around in the light of a neighboring sun. Every day was a chance to go further, always an opportunity to see how bright it could burn and how speedily it chased after the meteor friends that came by to visit. It played a little too roughly one day and was knocked out of orbit, thrown towards the nearest planet. As it fell with incredible speeds, the tips of its fingers and nose caught fire, and it giggled at the familiar feeling of adrenaline. It crashed through a tall tree and tumbled down a hill, leaving small trails of foot-wide burns. 
        The fallen star had caught the attention of a thirty-year-old couple walking nearby. They followed the light and were surprised to see it radiate out of the small humanoid creature. It looked so helpless yet full of wonder as it scanned their faces. They picked it up carefully, held it close, and even though it did singe their skin a bit, they did not hesitate to take it in as their own. To cool it down, they laid a sheet of metal in their bathtub and covered the feisty creature with freezing water, rubbing and smoothing out the thing's tantrumed wails and squiggly nature, until its glow was reduced to chunks of chewy yellow light in its arms, legs, and neck. 
        They baptized it under the name of Sia.
	Sia's childhood was like that of any regular human. It was taken to the town's small playground to waddle and swing around, and was fascinated by the little packets of chewy milk candy in the corner’s snack shop. And it, too, was taken to school every day in a thick little button-up raincoat and opaque leggings that were never to be folded back or taken off, not even in the summer. 
        When Sia got too excited one day while playing with its friends and its joyful glow drew out the smell of burning fabric, its parents quickly intervened and forbid it from showing its condition to anyone else. And from then on, every day it was to come home immediately, sit down on the dining table, and dip its hands in freezing water. They called this routine of suppressing the fire "Normal Class". But Sia would always end up slipping away to its bedroom and rub its hands under a small desk lamp, guiltily basking in its kind warmth.
        And when the children in school began to notice the strangeness in Sia's attire and routine breaks during class, its parents expanded the Normal Class into the weekends. They would drive to a wide concrete building, musty with its odd smell of worn out metal, filled with long rows of crickety benches and high arched windows that let in a pale squiggle of light. The building was often packed so full that the family would have to squeeze in one of the back rows, apologizing to the nearby strangers that stared at them with empty eyes, while a deep voice at the front droned on. Sia never understood how the parents could become so transfixed with the monotone sound. Its gaze would always end up backwards, to the ring of light around the misfitted door. As the evening progressed, its legs would feel like sticks of frost, and the hand on Sia's shoulder would grow heavier.
        Sia wondered how its peers had so much energy to play outside after their own Normal Classes. But it didn't ask, because it didn't want to look stupid. It reckoned that it had something to do with the "wrong behavior" that the adults loved to talk about.
        Something along those words was repeated that day, as Sia's family filed into the old building again, but this time did not head towards the benches. Sia's mother tugged at its hand, and its eyes widened as they passed through the very center of the hall, heading directly to the front. Whispers of "will be corrected" and "finally fixed" rolled around. A hundred eyes stuck to Sia, and as they walked it seemed as if the ground was sloped down and the walls curved inwards, distorting the already frail light of the windows. Sia began to shake, felt its arms cramping up and stinging. They began to swell and heat, and in a panic Sia remembered its mothers words earlier that day:
        "Sia, sweetie, today if…it… happens, I want you to take a deep breath for me and think of anything cold…"
        The words forced a torrent of frost into its buzzing brain. The memory of ice flashed back: a frigid splash on its face…
        "Take a deep breath for me… "
        The thought slipped beneath its clothing and spread to its arms and chest and legs, tiny silver worms biting and infesting…
        "A deep breath…"
        It closed its eyes, eyelashes drooped with geledity…
        The tug of the mother's hand stopped. The voices around the room blurred and lowered all of a sudden. The room was spinning, and a searing pain behind Sia’s eyes threatened. It blinked hard many times, pushing back and willing the pain not to be there, to shut up, to listen for once, to do as it's told. But the more it pushed and pressured, the more it released, and the floods were crawling all over and it stood there frozen, not knowing what to do…
        Take a deep breath… 
	…and trust yourself…
	A flash of light took hold of it suddenly, a familiar throbbing beam that tasted of smoldering dust. A golden light danced around Sia, placing little stars all around its body, which embraced it and washed away the worms. As the stars melted into Sia’s skin, it giggled at the tingling sensation. Whatever this feeling was, Sia liked it.
	It opened its eyes and let its laughter glow.


During a full month of this unit, Digital Media trained us to become comfortable with Adobe Illustrator, because it can be a very difficult but extremely useful program. It is nothing like traditional “drawing” illustration because it is vector art: which means the process and visualization is completely different. But I have grown to like it, because it makes creating graphics so much easier since it doesn’t require technical artistic skill. In fact, all of the banners of the sections including the one above were designed by me in Illustrator! Take a look at my other projects below:

Exquisite Corpse

This project was very fun: we split up in groups of three or four, and each chose a part of an illustrator canvas to work on. We made sure that we had no idea what the other people were drawing. Each person’s art connected cleanly with the next using guiding lines. At the end, we pieced together our sections and revealed the funkily put-together art. Since this was my first real drawing in Illustrator, I decided to do a very simple approach with a line-based clean style. I mostly used the pen tool and the stamp function to create repeating shapes that I could resize and play around with. The first image is mine, then is Alexis’s, then Alex’s. Enjoy!

Short Story Album Art

I mostly used the pen tool, which was a struggle sometimes because it is not like drawing traditionally, which messes with one’s sense of shape and volume and makes it harder to create images from zero. I used the shape tool as a way to reduce that, because many complicated-seeming shapes are just triangles with a wonky tail or wobbly circles. It does give a nice clean look, which I appreciate. But overall, I am not satisfied with the cover art. It looks quite messy and incoherent. I think going with a much simpler composition would have allowed me to pay more attention to detail.

“So many layers and objects…. Many elements of the picture are distorted copies of a single shape.”

Big Illustrator Project

Here, we took all our digital art skills and turned them into something… actually tangible?!

We had the choice of making several objects such as stickers, clothing patches, paper lamps, tumblers, clothing art, and more from our designs. I chose to make a design for a jigsaw puzzle, because my family really loves to make them. Then, while I was making it, I realized that it would me fun to make several versions of the design, so I made three sticker versions too!

Illustrator Screenshot: The last three palettes where the ones I made and edited for this sticker version! And always the torrent of layers in the background…
Puzzle Design
Stickers Design


I wanted to make the Illustrator project very personal to me, so I decided to make it on some made-up characters that relate to my childhood superhero drawings. Super Ardilla means “Super Squirrel”, and Super Topo is “Super Mole”. From the very start I had already decided how I wanted to format it and what elements to include, but adding a background was a bit of a struggle. The longest part of the process, however, was the color picking, because I wanted to make something vibrant yet not overwhelming, making sure that certain colors popped up more than others. Through this, I learned how to edit palettes in Adobe Illustrator using a tool that allows you to quickly replace colors, adjust them effectively, and limit the amount of colors you can use. Overall, I am very satisfied with how my project turned out. I will definitely use this technique in the future for any sort of simple flyers with a small color palette, because it’s a good guide in the middle of color theory confusion.

This is my puzzle upside down on a 376 degree(!) heat press, ready to get the ink printed on its face
Final puzzle! The colors are very bright, and it has a sparkly gloss on it


In this unit, we learned mostly how to use Pro Tools to add and edit music tracks, but didn’t learn how to produce music with instruments yet.

Song Mash-up

To get used to Pro Tools, we were first given the project of a Song Mash-up, for which we could choose excerpts of songs and learned how to put them together, based on a theme or for a certain purpose. I decided to pretend as if I were compiling songs for a little story of a sentient computer that learns how to love life and then suddenly crashes and “dies”. I wanted to make it lighthearted and fun, and also listen to many of my favorite pieces.

Here are the songs I used:

"OMORI OST" by Pedro Silva
"Hello World" by Louie Zong
"Daisy Bell" by Harry Dacre, first computer accompaniment programmed by Max Mathews.
"Fly me to the Moon" by Bart Howard but cover by Error_Toonz
"Barber Violin Concerto" by Samuel Barber, played by Hilary Hahn
"Sorry, Computer" by Louie Zong
Pro Tools screenshot: all of the excerpts of the songs I used, with big cross-fades in between

Parody Song

In Digital Media, we were instructed to take a song, remove its vocals while keeping its backing track, write alternative lyrics, and record our voice singing those lyrics. I decided to work in a group with my friends Rye D and Aditi B. As a group project, this was difficult but very fun to do. It took my us hours to decide on the theme and the song to parody, and even more to write the lyrics. But the end product was a true parody of a very famous and recognizable tune sung in an… interesting way. We decided to write the lyrics about conservatives, specifically “Karens” and self-described “alpha males” that seem to be taking the internet by storm, basing it on Queen’s song “Bicycle Race”. By combining several methods like phase, inverting, using a low-pass filter, and messing around with the volume, we were able to drown out the vocals enough for our voices to be heard. We also added a small outro with a couple of sound effects for fun.


And here I present our final song: Republican Race

Our lyrics:

Chorus sung by all: 
pick-up truck, pick-up truck, pick-up truck
I want to drive my pick-up truck, pick-up truck, pick-up truck
I want to drive my pick-up truck 
I want to drive my truck
I want to drive my pick-up truck
I want to drive it how I like

Verse 1 sang by Aditi: 
You say blue, I say red
You say wine, I say beer
You say rights, I say hey man
Feminism ain't my scene
But I do love guns

Verse 2 sung by Sofia: 
You Say Gay, I say Hell
You say choice, give me God!
You say science, I say Lord
I don't believe in the vaccine
Thick sunscreen or Halloween
Now you listen to me

Chorus sung by all:
manager, manager, manager
I want to talk to manager, manager, manager
I want to talk to manager
I want to talk to boss
I want to talk to manager
I want to talk to - the police forces are coming your way

Verse 3 sung by Rye: 
So forget all your rights but mine
Strong alpha males, they'll be lifting today
So look out for those hotties, like me
Karen babe? uh oh, no… !

*Cut Music* 
Spoken Outro: 
Karen (voiced by me): "Hello??? Hi Hello?? is anyone there????! We need to speak to an employee!!!!"
Employee(voiced by Aditi): "Ma'am, we closed an hour ago…"

Character Puppet

For this project, we had to design a character, turn it into a puppet, and make a stop-motion animation with it. I wanted to make a cute, round-ish design, so I made a character called Becca, a stuffed-animal-like bear working in a hospital wearing nurse scrubs.

Out of wire frame, plastic, tape, cut-up chopsticks, and aluminum foil, we built the frame of the puppet.

We then chose the materials to make skin, hair, face and/or clothes using fabric, clay, sequins, anything really. I decided to sew my puppet, inspired on Nicole L’s cow puppet from the previous year. I actually had to sew the puppet twice, because I used frail fabric the first time that started to fall apart. But by using tough felt fabric, I was able to re-do everything and finish by the due date. (Props to my mother for helping me a little with the sewing machine, but I did end up doing almost everything.)

What could hide behind this sweet smile?…

First, we had to make the walk cycle animation using Dragonframe stop motion software. It is a lot more difficult than it looks because every single frame needs to be in a perfect position for it to look smooth.

Then we had to make a 2D walk cycle of the character in Photoshop:

Finally, we complied both walk cycles, added shadow effects and music in After Effects:

Lip Sync Animation

This was my favorite Animation project of the unit: it was relatively simple, very fun, and very enjoyable to watch at the end. We had to choose an audio and make an animation in which we synchronized the character’s mouth to it. To do this, we would first have to draw a base and then overlay variations of a mouth making different sounds. I decided to synchronize a Canadian Goose to the song “Remember Me” from the movie Coco, because they are notorious for their cocky attitude. I imagine my animation takes places right before they migrate north and leave their poor humans in a state of despair. I wanted the character to change poses several times to make it feel more alive, which meant I had to draw three times the assets. I started in photoshop, where I made the bases for each pose, the background and lighting, the eyebrow variations, the eye variations, and the ~30 mouth variations. Then, I moved to After Effects and painstakingly synchronized every asset together, working in minuscule chunks to get every word spoken.

An assortment of geese to figure out the style: it was inspired by the famous series Creature Comforts
My favorite frame and the slivers of mouths that last for tiny tiny amounts of time…
Please turn on your volume to fully enjoy the experience!

Narrative Animation

This month long group project was the most difficult but the most rewarding so far. I decided to work with Rye D and Star S, which meant that we were a small group of three rather than a regular group of four. The most important requirement for this project was to make a story without any dialogue, which meant that every scene and shot had to be useful and had to reveal something about the characters, the plot, or the world they lived in. For each step, the three of us worked completely together, making sure that all of our voices were heard, communicating as often as possible to make sure that no one person was drowning in work. All three of us had to learn to be comfortable with asking for help, letting our perfectionism go, and supporting each other through the most difficult patches.


First, we brainstormed ideas and began to storyboard (plan out the animation in comic-style strips):

And then we designed the characters to have as much of a consistent style as possible (I am not including Rye or Star’s drawings for this, so check them out!):

We began with backgrounds, distributing them as equally as possible based on quantity and difficulty (these are a couple of the backgrounds I did):

We then started animating using Photoshop and Procreate on the IPad, since we kept running into problems with the frame rate in Photoshop. Rye primarily worked on the first half with the garden setting, while I worked on the woods and cave part, and Star helped out in both worlds.

Lastly, we put everything together and added sound effects and music in After Effects. While Star searched for the right effects and music, Rye put together the first half of the animation, while I edited the second half. To remove strain from After Effects and control as many variables as possible to make sure things export correctly, I decided to make mini-compositions (groups of clips with edits) for sections where I’d have to overlay one animation over another, for example the forest walking scene, export those out as videos, and add the videos into the big composition with all the other clips. When I finished putting the animations together with their effects, I exported that video, started a new After Effects project, and added music & sound effects to it. Although this meant that every time I changed something I had to go back and re-export everything out again, it was the only way for me to composite such a complicated project.

The text next to the orange squares on the left are smaller compositions within the project. There were several more.

And finally, our grand project was done!

Cultivating Kin

Please turn on your volume to hear our music and sound effects!