DesignLab

Graphic Essays and Comics

Overview   |   Recommended Software   |   Student-Made Examples   |   Other Examples   |   Instructional Video

A graphic essay (sometimes called a visual essay) uses a combination of text and images to explore a specific topic. Graphic essays can look like comics, graphic novels, magazines, collages, artist books, textbooks, or even websites. Graphic essays often first take the form of written essays and then have graphic elements added to enrich the reader experience. Unlike infographics, which also combine text and images, graphic essays are often more text-based and usually have a narrative arc or specific reading order.

Comics are a genre used to express ideas through images combined with text or other visual information. Comics can take the form of a single panel or a series of juxtaposed panels of images, sometimes called a strip. Text is conveyed via captions below the panel(s), or speech bubbles and onomatopoeias within the panel(s), to indicate dialogue, narration, sound effects, or other information. Graphic novels are often considered to be a longer form of comics, typically in book form.

A web-based graphic essay can take the form of a blog or a single page website, such as a Microsoft Sway page or an interactive Prezi. For Microsoft Sway and Prezi graphic essays, see the examples below. If you are creating a blog we recommend visiting the Web-Based Projects page .

Graphic Essay Design Tip: Graphic essays can take many forms, so we recommend being creative within the scope of your project! Get some help from DesignLab to brainstorm options and talk through the various tools available!

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Recommended Software

There are many different software programs that can be used to create graphic essays. Below is a list of the software that we recommend for making a graphic essay. We organized the software by category and put the software from top to bottom from best to worst. We recommend using a software you know well or learning the software well enough to establish an easy workflow, so you can spend less time troubleshooting and spend more time on your project. Check out our Software Support page for links to tutorials for all of these programs.

General Graphic Essay Software

Canva Logo

Web-Based Graphic Essay Software

Microsoft Sway Logo

Comic-Specific Graphic Essay Software

Comic Life Logo

Student-Made Examples

Print style graphic essay.

Becoming a Witness by Jessica Posnock

Becoming a Witness Thumbnail Image

Creative Graphic Essay

Virtual Communication by Max Hautala   *Award Winning*

visual essay types

Curb Magazine (2012) by Journalism 417

Curb Magazine Thumbnail Image

Web-Based (Magazine) Graphic Essay

Curb Magazine (Current) by Journalism 417

visual essay types

Web-Based (Sway) Graphic Essay

Language Influences Culture, Thoughts, and Identity by Kristen Luckow   *Award Winning*

Language Influences Culture, Thoughts, and Identity Thumbnail Image

Dyslexia by Maria Swanke *Award Winning*

Dyslexia Thumbnail Image

Other Examples

Web-based (blog) graphic essay.

Switch It Up: Graphic Essay by Amanda Zieba

Sceeenshot of Switch It Up Graphic Essay

Graphic Novel

Graphic Novels in the Classroom by Gene Yang

Screenshot of Graphic Novels in the Classroom

Instructional Video

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