Blue Zoo CG Character Animation Production Studio, London UK

Top ten storyboarding tips

14 June 2017

What is a storyboard?

Put simply, a storyboard is a visual representation of a script, typically shown as a series of drawings that illustrate the layout and composition of each shot. A good storyboard is so much more; it takes the written words and depicts the best interpretation of the story so that everyone understands what's going on, everyone gets the jokes and everyone wants to see how the story ends.

A great storyboard resolves all continuity issues, works out that complex action sequence, ensures the characters are where they need to be, reflects their personalities, and makes those three pages of dialogue come alive.

A superb storyboard goes even further; building on what’s in the script, pushing the emotion of the characters, and honing the action sequences so that when the animatic is cut everything runs effortlessly from scene to scene. A storyboard done like this should truly inspire everyone else working on the show to produce the best results possible.

Our top tips

Without further ado, here are our top tips to approaching storyboards from our Animation Director and storyboard expert, Chris Drew.

1. Read the script

You need to read the script and read it lots! You need to know it better than anyone else - you are now responsible for the script and its development, and you need to be able to lead the audience accordingly.
Top ten storyboarding tips

2. Be prepared

Turn up to the briefing prepared with questions, solutions to foreseeable issues, and loads of ideas. No director will be disappointed with an artist who’s well-prepared and ready to get stuck in.
Top ten storyboarding tips

3. Have a thick skin

Don't take it personally when the director wants it done their way, it’s not a criticism of your talent. You can offer your advice and expertise, but they get the final say.

Top ten storyboarding tips

4. Thumbnails

It’s essential to thumbnail the entire script first. You’ll expose any problems, finalise your action scenes, and be sure everyone is in the right place at the right time. Best of all, if your thumbnails do need fixing it’s quick and easy to do.
Top ten storyboarding tips

5. If in doubt, check!

If you aren't sure about something, double check. And don’t take any shortcuts – cover all bases. It'll save you from fixes later down the line.

Top ten storyboarding tips

6. Focus on composition

Every shot needs to be considered and weighted. Look at your negative space, show depth, give your characters’ room to breathe, and above all make the shot relevant to the moment.
Top ten storyboarding tips

7. Don’t do the impossible

Don't make the characters do things they won't be able to. If you cheat something it’ll create problems for the animators.
Top ten storyboarding tips

8. Be clear

Make sure the board is numbered, noted and easy for anyone to use. More than one person will work with the board.
Top ten storyboarding tips

9. Manage your time

It’s all in the planning. Make a list, work out priorities and set realistic deadlines. No one likes working over the weekend!
Top ten storyboarding tips

10. Fixes are inevitable

You are going to get fixes. Get over it.
Top ten storyboarding tips


To find out more about our Storyboard Training Course please visit here, and keep an eye on our social channels for information about future courses.