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Narrative Animation

Joumana Ismail

Joumana is an all visual artist from Syria with a BA in graphic design. She has eight years’ experience in branding and advertising in Dubai under her belt, working on campaigns ideation, illustration and production. However, storytelling has always been her truest goal and the RCA was her first choice of honing her skills in pursuit of that passion.  

Joumana's interest lies in narrative storytelling, especially fantastical Syrian folktales. Along with documentary works focused on current societal issues engulfing the Middle East as a whole. Her curiosity in exploring various animation styles and techniques evident in all her work. Every project is uniquely inspired by different art movements and literary work. 




Degree Details

School of Communication

Narrative Animation

Joumana’s main theme of research and body of work is her Arabic culture and heritage. She aims to utilize the huge amount of literature and retell it in various forms and styles. To revisit and address those stories from a critical female perspective. Joumana’s interests lie mostly in societal stories and issues although, political and religious factors seem to often surface along. Her works also feature themes such as childhood nostalgia, female empowerment and perseverance packaged in characterful stories.

The future holds more sociologically focused work as an attempt to break through the censorship walls surrounding the Middle East. Joumana aspires to work on humanitarian causes dear to her such as refugees and children rights, the female experience and all that is culturally taboo. All while adhering to her curiosity of exploring various styles and animation techniques for every new project she takes on. 

Drawing the Line
Drawing the Line is an autobiographical documentary of the director's artistic journey. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia in the 90s where Aniconism was strongly enforced on any figurative photographs or drawings depicting humans or animals. Joumana had to pursue her passion for drawing characters under the condition of drawing a line across all their necks. It was believed that by doing so the subjects depicted will be stripped from their lives and as a result are not competing with God's power of creation.

The film takes the audience on a chronological visual journey from the earliest drawings Joumana could find to this date. Starting the conversation with her half-sister, Ghalya, as they search their memories on the topic. Ghalya never lived in Saudi Arabia and did not go through the same experiences. Together they unfold when Joumana stopped drawing the line and why. The film concludes in a reflective monologue given by the director on how she made peace with the line, and how she was able to utilize it to create the very thing she was forbidden to do; bringing drawings to life by becoming an animator.

Child- Adnan Ismail
Interview-Joumana Ismail & Ghalya Farahat

PASSWORD: drawingtheline


Mixture of 2D, hand-drawn animation and pixilation


4:04 mins

In Collaboration with:

2D animationAutobiographycomedyculturedocumentaryfemale empowermenthand drawninspirationalnostalgiapixilationstop motionwitty
The Film's Intro

The Film's Intro — A combination of Handdrawn, digital and stop-motion animation.

Act 1 - Drawing the Line

Act 1 - Drawing the Line — A combination of hand-drawn, digital and stop-motion animation.

Act 2 - When did you stop?

Act 2 - When did you stop? — A combination of 2D digital and stop-motion animation.

Act 2 - Moving back to Syria

Act 2 - Moving back to Syria — A combination of hand-drawn and digital animation.

Act 3 - It changed the way you see things!

Act 3 - It changed the way you see things! — 2D digital animation, rough keyframes.

Act 3 - Reflections

Act 3 - Reflections — 2D digital animation, rough keyframes.

"Drawing the Line"- Documentation — Shooting hand-drawn animated frames.

"Drawing the Line"- Documentation — Shooting stop-motion frames.

Collection of stills, extracts and gifs from the film.


Mixture of 2D, hand-drawn animation and pixilation

Childhood Sketchbook

Childhood Drawing

Childhood Character Designs

Syria Observations- Initial Concepts

Syria- Frames

Finale Initial Character Designs

Finale Concept Art

Finale Concept Art

A collection of inspirations, concept art and initial ideation sketches.


Mixed Media
Showreel 2018-2020
Al Hakawati “The Storyteller”
Will Power
Transform — A Rythmanalysis exercise was made with my RCA cohort Wu-Ching Chang, Chin Tan and Sanjana Chandrasekhar. Taught by Matt Abbiss.
Showreel and a couple of animated work done during the first year in RCA.


2D animation & paper cut-out animation

RCA Continuation Fund Bursary

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