Luke Leighfield, Content Writer
A storyboard is a visual representation of how a story will play out, scene by scene. It’s made up of a chronological series of images, with accompanying notes.
A storyboard communicates a filmmaker's vision. It sets out how you want the final piece to flow - whether it's a feature film, a novel, presentation, short film, or marketing video - and simplifies the entire creative process. Storyboarding does more that summarize your plot's most relevant details. It's a process that gives you and your team members a project's tangible, visual flow when it's time to collaborate and make key creative decisions in the pre-production process. Although it takes time to make a storyboard, it'll save you time (and money) in the long run.
All great films start with a storyboard. Try the #1 Storyboard Software built for Filmmakers.
How to make a storyboard in 4 steps
- Make a storyboard template online using storyboarding software. Or, you can even start with a piece of paper.(Video) Storyboard Tutorial 2022
Draw your storyboard frames, but keep it rough, simple and leave out intricate visual details.
Edit your storyboard to flesh out your film's most important visual cues such as time of day for a scene, lighting, composition, and layering.
Note camera movements for shots such as zooms, pans, tilts, dollies, trucks, and pedestals.
Read on the get more details about each step.
Step 1: Online vs Paper
Both methods have their place. The advantage of a paper template is it's easily accessible and doesn't require a computer. The downside is it's tricky to make revisions. Moving frames around is nigh-on impossible, as is any kind of collaboration or sign-off. Needless to say, good online storyboard software makes the process a lot simpler.
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Step 2: Draw your storyboard frames
In brief, keep it rough. This isn't a work of art.
Sketching out your frames - a process known as 'scamping' - is where you turn a script from something written into something visual. It's no place for fancy special effects or a deeply specific level of detail. Scamping is rough, messy and raw – a storyboard in its essential form.
Scamping is rough, messy and raw – a storyboard in its essential form.
A scamped storyboard’s primary function is to help you make sense of the narrative. It helps you quickly come up with ideas and make changes, without being overly concerned about visual style. You don't need to be storyboard artist - stick figures or rough sketches will do the trick.
The scamping process is a powerful thinking tool. Here are a few guidelines to bear in mind:
Choose your aspect ratio. What will your storyboard be used for? Films are often shot in 16:9, whereas social media videos are often square or even 9:16 (i.e. Instagram stories). The aspect ratio will dictate how you frame your images, so get this nailed down early.
- Keep it rough. Scamps are, by definition, rough. They're for you, not the world to see. Don't get too precious.(Video) How to Create a Storyboard for eLearning (Instructional Design)
Keep it moving. Do parts of your script feel slow? Are there leaps in time or logic? Can some sections be removed entirely? Feed these ideas back into your script.
Consider continuity. If your character is trudging through a muddy river in one shot, they’ll need to have dirty trousers in the next. Consider the chronological order of what you're writing.
Looking for storyboard inspiration? Check out our favorite storyboard examples.
Step 3: Edit your storyboard
Now that you've finalised your storyboard, it's the perfect time to consider subtler visual cues. What mood do you want your piece to have, and how can you communicate it? Framing, color, and video transition effects are all great ways to amplify emotion that might be missing from the script. Here are a few things to consider:
Choose a time of day
Setting a scene during a particular time of day will evoke a feeling in your audience. Morning is more optimistic, whereas late evening can suggest urgency or suspense.
Do a silhouette check
Silhouetting a character can be a helpful way to see if your shots make sense. Look at your scenes without any detailed linework, and you'll quickly discover whether or not your action is understandable.
Don’t upstage your character
Adding in staging elements and color helps convey the mood you're after, but shouldn’t distract from the story. Character is king.
Ensure enough variety
Vary your shot types and camera angles. Too much of the same thing will quickly become dull and repetitive. The image on the left shows a long shot, with the image on the right showing a close-up.
Think about layering
Layering is the process of setting up subjects within different layers of a frame. It helps to establish a sense of location, while also adding an element of depth to your images. Images often have a foreground, middle ground and background layer. Consider this example:
Foreground (red): The area closest to the viewer.
Middle ground (yellow): The area in the centre of a frame. It sits between the background and the foreground.
Background (blue): The area furthest from the viewer, behind both the foreground and the middle ground.
All great films start with a storyboard. Try the #1 Storyboard Software built for Filmmakers.
Step 4: Add camera movement
Incorporating a variety of camera movements into your shots is a great way to add interest to your finished production. Here are some well-known camera moves to get you started:
Zoom: Gives the impression of moving closer to or away from the subject.
Pan: Panning involves moving the camera horizontally from one side to the other along a central axis.
Tilt: The camera stays in a stationary position and focuses on upwards and downwards movements.
Dolly: A track-mounted camera moves towards or away from a subject.
Truck: Moves the entire camera along horizontally along a fixed path.
Pedestal: The camera ascends or descends in relation to a subject in the shot.
Pro-tip: Boords lets you add pre-built camera move indicators to your storyboards in seconds:
Invest in storyboarding software to streamline your process
At Boords, we want to make it easy as possible for you to storyboard and start your next project. Whether you're writing or directing a feature film, a short, TV pilot or commercial, we design storyboarding tools with your user experience in mind. See how easy it is to get started.
BONUS: Storyboarding glossary
Whether you’re just starting out with your first storyboard or you're a seasoned pro, there are some key storyboarding terms that you need to know. To help give your vocabulary a new lease of life, we’ve compiled an extensive list of the most common storyboarding terms that you’re likely to come across.
Aspect ratio: The relationship between the width and the height of an image. In essence, it defines the shape of the image. Aspect ratios are written as two numbers with a colon (:) separating them. The first number represents the width of the image, while the second number refers to the height.
Frame: A storyboard is divided into individual frames, which are represented as square or rectangular boxes. Each frame depicts a specific moment or event in the story. Your storyboard can be made up of as many or as few frames as you like – just make sure to include enough frames to make it easy to follow the flow of actions throughout the story.
Shot: A shot is a series of continuous actions and is typically made up of a sequence of frames.The most basic shot-labelling option is in numerical order (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4). In filmmaking, it’s common to see shots labelled in increments of 10 (i.e. 010, 020, 030, 040).
Scamps: In its initial stage, a storyboard should be made up of rough sketches. The process of creating these sketches is called scamping.
Script: Every good storyboard starts with a script. You’ll need to agree on a starting point before you make things visual.
Shot list: A shot list is a checklist that describes each individual shot in detail. It outlines what exactly will happen in the scene and what is required for the scene to be a success.
Voiceover: A voiceover is a person - not on screen - reading from a script. It communicates the narrative for a piece of moving image.
Dialogue: Dialogue refers to a conversation that takes place between two or more characters in a story. It can help to convey information and reveal character traits, and is often used to help the viewer experience the action through the character’s eyes. Dialogue shows us what the character is feeling, rather than simply telling us.
Style frame: A full-colour image that helps to establish the overall look of a piece of film or animation. A variety of different style frames are often produced.
Sound effects: Artificial sounds which enhance the illusion of reality in the scene, e.g. car horns, birds singing or other subtle sounds in the background.
Animatic: A series of images played in sequence, often with a soundtrack. In essence, it’s an animated storyboard. Boords turns your storyboards into animatics automatically.
All great films start with a storyboard. Try the #1 Storyboard Software built for Filmmakers.
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- Define your goals. ...
- Brainstorm your ideas. ...
- Create a timeline for your story. ...
- Begin sketching. ...
- Include additional notes. ...
- Seek a second opinion. ...
- Revise the storyboard.
Elements of a Storyboard
Each shot of a storyboard captures several key elements: subject, background, camera shot, and the camera's movement. Within a shot is the subject, the central character or object of a frame, and the foreground and background of a shot.
A storyboard is a graphic representation of how your video will unfold, shot by shot. It's made up of a number of squares with illustrations or pictures representing each shot, with notes about what's going on in the scene and what's being said in the script during that shot.What are three 3 main components of storyboard? ›
- Main Ideas. Creating a great storyboard starts by including in large, bold text the main idea you wish you communicate on each slide. ...
- Supporting Content. The next step in an effective storyboard is to include the supporting content for each slide. ...
- Design Cues.
A storyboard is a graphic layout that sequences illustrations and images with the purpose of visually telling a story. A story board is used to communicate how a scene will play out shot by shot and is often used for motion pictures, television, animation, commercials, pre-visualizations or interactive media.Should I storyboard or script first? ›
Even if you have a vision of how you would like your animated video to look, you cannot create a storyboard until you have the script completed. Trying to create a storyboard without a script is essentially putting the cart before the horse.Is storyboarding difficult? ›
It will stretch you out of your comfort zone. All the art skills apply to storyboarding. Storyboarding is hard work because it is creative work.What should I study for storyboard? ›
Education: Many storyboard artists have a bachelor's degree in animation, graphic design, digital media, or fine arts. Enroll in an art school that has an animation or illustration department to build the necessary skills.How long should storyboards be? ›
Here are the facts: every panel for a television storyboard based on a written script takes 10 – 20 minutes AVERAGE per panel WITHOUT revision time included.What comes first storyboard or shot list? ›
You should make your shot list after finishing your script, at the same time as creating your storyboard. Your shot list will help you visualise what you want. It'll make it easier to organise the cast, crew, equipment, and locations that bring your vision to life.
On average, you can expect to see at least 15 to 20 scenes in a 60-seconds storyboard. Each scene is drawn to give you a glimpse of what is happening only in that particular scene.What should a storyboard not include? ›
Avoid complicated angles
It is highly recommended that you avoid overcomplicating your camera angles. If you do not NEED to have an extreme up-shot or down-shot (again, only do these if there is a specific reason for doing so), then do not do them.
The initial step to creating a storyboard is to create a template. For this purpose, draw a series of rectangular boxes that can accommodate notes or lines of script on paper.What are the three types of storyboards? ›
Styleboard – A sampling of a frame or two, usually for animated projects. Sketchboard – A rough board of hand-drawn sketches for action in each shot. Often used for ideation. Sceneboard – A refined version of a storyboard with a square for each scene.How do you draw storyboards if you can't draw? ›
If you can't draw your storyboards, you could try photographing them. Frame up how you want each shot to look, position your actors or stand-ins, then start snapping pictures.What makes a good storyboard artist? ›
The most important thing when applying for roles in storyboarding is to demonstrate good drawing skills. You need to show storytelling skills and an understanding of film. Many storyboard artists have a degree but you don't necessarily need one as long as you have a strong portfolio and can show your experience.How many boards are in a storyboard? ›
Each panel in your storyboard represents an individual scene. That means you're going to have a lot of panels. To maximize clarity, use a grid system and 6–9 panels per page. This will ensure you have enough room to communicate your idea without getting too granular.How can I improve my storyboarding? ›
- Get your story ideas onto paper. ...
- Cut and shuffle ideas into storyboard panels. ...
- Don't linger on the opening sequence. ...
- Keep things flexible. ...
- Embrace random ideas. ...
- Explore character narratives. ...
- Make every frame count.
A storyboard is a visual outline for your video. It's made up of a series of thumbnail images that convey what happens in your video, from beginning to end. It also includes notes about what's happening in each frame. A finished storyboard looks like a comic strip.Does a storyboard need color? ›
- Most production storyboards are black and white. Sometimes they've got gray tones. But you will need to use color at times. So to find the colour palette in Storyboard Pro, click on the Tool Properties tab over on the right-hand side in our panel view area and you'll see down below the whole color palette selection.
- Start with inspiration. We hook you up with thousands of professionally designed templates, so you're never starting from a blank canvas. ...
- Remix it to make it your own. ...
- Amp up the flair. ...
- Resize to make your content go further. ...
- Save and share your custom storyboard.
The short answer is yes. A shot list is a checklist of every shot a production intends to complete on a given day of principal photography. It's also critical to a successful shoot, but a shot list is a blueprint that can only be created from the initial storyboards.How many storyboard frames do you need for 30 seconds? ›
Video is shot at 30 frames per second. For a 30-second TV commercial, the final product is 900 frames. As a graphic designer and storyboard artist, it's my job to reduce these 900 frames to a mere 12 to 15 frames to convey a simple yet visually powerful story.How many pages are there in a storyboard? ›
A storyboard is a visual narrative layout spanning all 32 pages of a picture book. Creating one will allow you to keep track of your story, and make sure your word and illustration placement is perfect.How many storyboards are in a minute? ›
A rough guideline is approximately 100 storyboard sketches for each minute of film.How many hours does it take to storyboard? ›
Depending on your style or organization's preference, a storyboard can range in complexity, though it is not uncommon for a basic storyboard to take upwards of 8–10 hours to create for a 15-minute course.Can storyboards be messy? ›
Storyboards don't have to be pretty to be useful. They only have to be pretty when they're a client-facing deliverable. Any other time they can be as messy and chaotic as you'd like as long as they are meaningful to you. A messy storyboard with lots of scribbled notes and arrows.Is storyboarding a skill? ›
Storyboard artists need to be able to draw (people, objects, actions, and environments) legibly and efficiently and require strong visual storytelling skills to bring a script to life prior to production. Taking a 2D animation course is highly beneficial to honing your skills as a storyboard artist.How many pictures should a storyboard have? ›
Having 2 or 3 panels per page is also a good idea if the sketches need to be detailed. But it can be presented in small groups. I usually find 3 panels per page as a good option as it keeps the sketches in the group, and it is also not too crowded.What are the two types of storyboard? ›
Next, you'll create two types of storyboards: big picture and close-up. Then, you'll draw your first wireframes, and you'll explore the benefits of wireframing. Keep in mind that at this point in the design process, you should have lots of ideas for designs that address real user needs.
Storyboards are shot-by-shot visual plans that show what a film will look like before the film is shot. The storyboard acts as a visual guide to the team shooting the film.How many panels do I need for a 1 minute storyboard? ›
A rough guideline is approximately 100 storyboard sketches for each minute of film.What is the first step in storyboarding? ›
- Visualise Your Story. The first thing you need for a storyboard is a vision. ...
- Get a Storyboard Template. After the visualisation, you can start the actual storyboard. ...
- Sketch or Otherwise Visually Depict Each Scene or Shot. ...
- Add Lines, Notes, or Directions.
A storyboard is a graphic layout that sequences illustrations and images with the purpose of visually telling a story. A story board is used to communicate how a scene will play out shot by shot and is often used for motion pictures, television, animation, commercials, pre-visualizations or interactive media.What comes first script or storyboard? ›
Mistake #1: Storyboarding Before You Have a Script
Even if you have a vision of how you would like your animated video to look, you cannot create a storyboard until you have the script completed. Trying to create a storyboard without a script is essentially putting the cart before the horse.
- Start with a script. Before creating a storyboard, you should start with a script. ...
- Keep it rough. A storyboard, by definition, should be rough. ...
- Provide clear instructions. ...
- Consider camera positions. ...
- Iterate. ...
- Get it out into the world.
The drawing itself can be as detailed as you want it, and you can use it to sketch each shot to a few scenes in your script. Many traditional storyboards also have written notes that describe what is going on in the scene. The best thing about this type of storyboard is that it is easy to edit.