Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit

Unit rationale, description and aim

Visual storytelling through pictures and words is the foundation on which graphic designers build effective and lasting visual messages that are empathetic, engaging and socially connected.

In this unit, students will develop design concepts and technical skills that apply and adapt a range of storytelling approaches to produce digital illustration, data visualisation, mapping and wayfinding design briefs and apply their design knowledge to a major self-directed design outcome.

The aim of this unit is to help students to gain an understanding of diverse narrative structures and contemporary design trends as well as to develop technical capability with a variety of industry design software options to produce design outcomes that utilise the influence of storytelling in creative, impactful, and innovative ways.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify design process steps in the planning and production of a narrative based design outcome (GA2, GA5)

LO2 - Articulate the design elements and principles used to communicate a design outcome’s purpose, context and message (GA4, GA5, GA9)

LO3 - Create a range of graphic design outcomes to a professional standard that apply technical competency and understanding of visual story telling in graphic design (GA5, GA7, GA10)

Graduate attributes

GA2 - Recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession

GA7 - Work both autonomously and collaboratively

GA9 - Demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media

GA10 - Utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively


Topics will include:

  • Development and use of digital illustration and storytelling in graphic design practice
  • Development of illustration skills using industry design software
  • Interpretation and presentation of design briefs
  • Content development, design research, critique and evaluation
  • Create complete graphic design projects

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an experiential learning approach. Students will learn about narrative structures and storytelling in design through the learning activities, group critiques and assessments. This will provide them with the foundation to apply design principles to the creation of their own narrative-based outcome.

Students undertake this unit in workshop classes that consist of a) an explication of the requirements and practices associated with graphic design projects, b) discussion and reflection on the standards of projects in the Australian creative industries and c) work designed to further the needs of students’ own projects.

The learning and teaching strategy and rationale for this unit is to create experiences through the assessment items that enable engagement with the graduate attributes addressing written and oral analysis and visual communication and presentation. Participation in class critique and discussion allows students to test and express values, knowledge and skills to think critically and reflectively and develop design thinking strategies.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit allows students to develop their expertise in the graphic design discipline. It provides opportunities to demonstrate skills and knowledge of the practices, materials, technologies and techniques in design practice. Students will be expected to work independently and will have the opportunity to show creativity throughout the process of developing a project brief.

The assessment strategy used allows students to progressively develop their knowledge and skills to the level of sophistication where they are able to produce their own designs for print and digital media. In order to develop this level of design capability, students first understand the design process through design briefs that further develop their understanding of graphic design concepts, techniques and software. The assessments are designed to address the learning outcomes relevant to graphic design in addition to instructional exercises in class to acquire technical design skills. This approach is designed to appeal to students with a preference for learning within a physical social environment and allows for essential skill development with expert support.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Digital Illustration: to allow students to identify and explain design process and principles used in effective visual storytelling


LO1, LO2

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA9

Digital Infographic: to allow students to further test, refine and apply design knowledge to a design outcome


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9, GA10

Major project: to allow students to demonstrate design skills by creating a self-directed narrative based design outcome.


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Bancroft, J. M., & Bancroft, B. (2015). The eagle inside. Little Hare Books.

Barnes, A. (2017). Telling stories: The role of graphic design and branding in the creation of ‘authenticity’ within food packaging. International Journal of Food Design, 2(2), 183–202.

Bladow, K. (2019). Framing Storytelling: Indigenous Graphic Narratives. Journal of Popular Culture, 52(1), 35–52.

Davies, P. F. (2018). Enacting Graphic Mark-Making: A Review of A Theory of Narrative Drawing. The Comics Grid, 8(1).

Drucker, J. (2008). Graphic Devices: Narration and Navigation. Narrative, 16(2), 121–139.

Emberley, J. (2014). The testimonial uncanny: indigenous storytelling, knowledge, and reparative practices. SUNY Press.

Grennan, S. (2017). A theory of narrative drawing. Palgrave Macmillan US.

Heller, S., & Vienne, V. (2015). 100 ideas that changed graphic design (Enhanced Credo ed). Laurence King.

Hescher, A. (2016). Reading graphic novels: genre and narration. De Gruyter.

Lankow, J., Ritchie, J., & Crooks, R. (2012). Infographics the power of visual storytelling. Wiley.

Lupton, E. (2017). Design is storytelling. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Lupi, & Posavec. (2016). Dear data. Princeton Architectural Press.

Marshall, E. (2016). Counter-Storytelling through Graphic Life Writing. Language Arts, 94(2), 79–93.

Zagala, A. (2008). Redback Graphix (1st ed.). National Gallery of Australia.

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