This article interprets the repercussions of visual storytelling for art education and arts-based narrative research and, particularly, it approaches visual storytelling as a critical tool for pre-service teacher education. After reinterpreting storytelling from the perspective of visual critical pedagogy, I will narratively reconstruct the use of visual storytelling in three learning stories taking the form of students' portfolios. As a visual narrative researcher, I will examine the tactics for writing and reading that these students have developed in creating visual stories: the first narrative analyses the role of art during the reconstruction of the learning process by incorporating autobiography and reflexivity (Tanit's portfolio); the second narrative reflects on deconstruction and intertextuality in a multimedia portfolio, which mainly interrelates opera and cinema (Eulàlia's portfolio); and the third narrative introduces virtual storytelling and connects self-awareness/meta-awareness with multi-literacy in narrative learning (Sonia's portfolios). This article also views improvisations, attempts, drafts and interactions in the process of writing and reading portfolios as part of visual experimentation to fabricate learning stories, in order to analyse the opportunities that visual storytelling offers for visual narrative pedagogy. © 2011 The Author. iJADE © 2011 NSEAD/Blackwell Publishing Ltd.