Animation Tips & Tricks: Storyboarding

Forums Resources Animation Animation Tips & Tricks: Storyboarding

This topic contains 0 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Animation Pagoda Staff Animation Pagoda Staff 2 years, 9 months ago. This post has been viewed 702 times

  • Author
  • #4003
    Animation Pagoda Staff
    Animation Pagoda Staff
    • Topic Count 63
    • Replies 0
    • Offline

    I can’t draw, so how can I create a good storyboard?

    Storyboards are intended to be practical guides for animators.  While it is certainly nice if a storyboard artist puts in extra effort to make a board look beautiful, they don’t all have to be works of art. Don’t worry if your storyboard uses stick figures. Storyboards just need to convey the emotions of the scene and drive the narrative along.

    Focus on the direction of camera angles and include establishing shots and closeups. Try to aim for at least twenty panels.

    Professional storyboard artists generally spend about 20 minutes planning each panel and use very loose lines and greyscale shading.  Don’t get too attached to one idea.  Revisions are common, and entire sequences can be scrapped based on feedback.

    RocketJump Film School: Intro to Storyboarding

    Walt Disney Animation: The Purpose Of Storyboarding

    Pixar: Toy Story Storyboarding

    Storyboarding tips by Rob Coo

    Inside Sony Pictures Animation – Storyboard Artist Patrick Harpin

    Academy Originals/Creative Spark: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

    Academy Originals/Creative Spark: Brenda Chapman

    Francis Glebas: Former Disney Animator, Drawing Tips and Tricks


    Don’t try telling a grand epic story full of worldbuilding in your first animated short. You won’t have time to design, model, texture, rig, light, animate, and edit all that stuff. It takes teams of people months or even years to produce those kinds of animations. Keep things simple.

    Create a relatable protagonist or antagonist, and then take that character on a short journey where they experience some form of aspiration (thesis), conflict (antithesis), and resolution (synthesis). Like everything else, it’s possible to mangle the three-act structure, but if done correctly it’s your best bet for creating a successful animation.  Gags and mysteries also work well for short-form storytelling.

    Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling by Emma Coats

    TV Tropes: Show Don’t Tell

    NoFilmSchool: Elements of Storytelling That Will Help You Write Emotionally Dynamic Scripts

    Iskander Krayenbosch: The Hero’s Journey

    Disney Pixar: Story School | Monsters University


    Visual Narrative

    It’s difficult to develop fully-rounded characters in an animated short that is only a few minutes long.  Visual clues can tell the audience a lot about a character or scene in just a few seconds.

    Every Frame a Painting: Edgar Wright – How to Do Visual Comedy


    Thumbnail Silhouettes, Expression Sheets, Character Studies

    Designing characters and scenes may seem relatively straightforward, but professionally it is a much more complicated process. Animation and Game studios go through thousands of concepts before they finalize the look of the final product.

    Making a lot of quick sketches will allow you to get some ideas on paper so you can move on to the main production process. Distinctive shapes and dynamic silhouettes should come before adding fine details. Professional concept artists typically spend anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes on their silhouettes, and about the same time for storyboard panels.

    The most time is spent on the last phase refining details for the final character turnaround, which is used as a reference model sheet for 2D animators. 3D animators sometimes base 3D models off of maquette sculpts, but turnarounds and expression sheets are still more versatile

    Traditional Animation: Model Sheet Library

    Jordan Madere: Silhouette Thumbnails

    Character Design Notes: Character Model Sheets

    Fairytalenewsblog: Early Disney Concept Art

    Buzzfeed: Pixar Concept Art

    Cartoon Saloon

    Art Style

    When creating an animated short, it is important to consider the tone and art style of the story. Your first animation probably won’t be the best animation you ever make, but the project can be salvaged for your portfolio if at least a few shots look nice. Even though the majority of the animation industry is dominated by 3D software, many studios are more interested in seeing student projects that are unique or technically accomplished.

    A word of warning is that realism takes a lot of modeling, texturing, lighting, and rendering time. Most scenes and rigged characters take months of refinement before they look as good as examples online. Anyone able to speed model has had lots of practice.

    Use any cheats possible to save time so you can focus all effort on the aspect you are most interested in, whether it be story, character design, environments, animation, etc. If you’re going to put a lot of work into a project, you might as well create something you can be somewhat happy with.

    If you can sketch a design, the drawings can be translated to 3D. Toon shading renders much faster and creates a flat cartoonish look similar to cel shading. Other stylistic effects can be achieved through camera angles and lighting, while texture overlays can be created in other programs like Photoshop and After Effects.

    Edge CGI 3D: How to Create a Toon Shader

    The Incredibles Colorscript by Ralph Eggleston


    Colorscripts are a unique form of storyboard used solely in animation. The main purpose of a color script is to establish scene color palettes and lighting guides for the rendering artists. Colorscripts can take a lot of effort to make, so they are rarely found outside of the major industry studios.

    Pixar: The Colorscript- Interview with Ralph Eggleston

    Story Reels/Pencil Tests

    A story reel is a 2D storyboard that has partial animation.  It is usually produced before a 3D animatic to test out complicated animation sequences.  Story reels generally only consist of a few short clips  and are not intended for covering the entire length of a movie.

    Andrew Saladino: How Do You Edit an Animated Film?

    Animatics and Blocking

    Animation takes a lot of time, and it isn’t cost effective to have to do reshoots. For this reason, the story and concept art needs to be mostly solidified before any modeling ever takes place. Top animation studios like Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks will create a color script that serves as a scene by scene breakdown of the entire movie. Most other studios just rely on a script or storyboard.

    From the storyboard, an animatic is created. This can be done in 2D with limited animation reels, or 3D blocking. A 3D animatic is probably more time-efficient.

    The first animatic rough pass won’t have final textures, lighting, or facial animation, and it will look absolutely horrendous. It takes multiple passes to create an animation that looks decent.

    Ratatouille: Progression Reel

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.