“...what a colossus he makes of your skill and, perhaps more importantly, your heart.”
Eric Reimer

Visual Storytelling

This course is for anyone who tells stories with pictures. We begin with the old wisdom about what makes a character interesting and a story worth telling, then we get into how to compose and arrange pictures to make a story emotionally powerful. Whether you are designing shots for a film, pages for a children's book, or panels for a graphic novel, you have two problems: making the story clear, and bringing it to life. We will study how great masters of pictorial storytelling use their craft to move an audience's emotions.

Click here to see if this course is open for registration and for location details.

This course meets for a varying number sessions.

Types, Casting,
Complexity & Transitions
Structure, Unity, Reversals,
Tension & Timing
Shot Design Camera, Image, Shot Structure,
Clarity & Impact

I've taught this course over thirty times at Laguna College of Art & Design and (formerly) at Cal State Fullerton. I've also taught it to the cinematics team at Blizzard Entertainment. This is a boiled-down version of the course for professionals and beginners. The sessions will be packed with instruction, so be prepared to learn.

The first sessions are a concentrated, foundational course on storytelling. The final sessions are a concentrated course in sequential shot design. I will explain some differences between various media, such as illustrated books, graphic novels, comic strips and films, but I will emphasize the fundamental discipline behind them all: how to tell the story with pictures, not words.


Bring a sketchpad and a mechanical pencil or pen or some other non-messy point media. No charcoal or dusty media or anything that leaves shavings.


This is not a university curriculum course and you will not receive college credit for it.


“...the most valuable class I've ever taken.”
Rad Sechrist,
Author & Artist for “Flight,”
Storyboard Artist for Dreamworks
“Marshall Vandruff's Sequential Art course provided me with the most useful tools in my quest to become a proficient storyteller.”
Richard Pose
Flight” Author & Artist
“...One of the most influential and inspiring teachers I have ever had.”
Justin Ridge
Assistant Director for AVATAR,
Storyboard Artist for
“Star Wars: Clone Wars”
“Marshall's classes have been the single biggest influence on my art career.”
Israel Sanchez
Flight” Author & Artist
“When I took the Sequential Art class I realized that you really have a grasp on something... your willingness to pour yourself into a subject — not just absorbing it for your own benefit but thinking about how to translate it. You are one of the best teachers I have ever had. We students have a unique treasure in you.”
—John Donahue
Concept Artist for
“Pirates of the Caribbean”
“...your anatomy workshop and sequential class are the only few things I remember and actually use at work.”
—Mary Orario
Animator for “The Simpsons”
“... it was the most informative class i've ever taken. You are an amazing instructor, and a fountain of knowledge.”
Gary Clair
“Thank you for being the most influential teacher I have ever had.”
—Kari Stringham
USC Graduate Student in Film