Drawing storyboards helps plan what will be needed once filming starts, important for animation, games design or live-action. Storyboards are all about getting the essence of the action and emotion across in the frame, which may be different from the styles of drawing you have done previously. While they can be beautiful, they must be useful.
This unusual widescreen storyboard template includes a ‘top-down’ view. It can prompt us to think in 3 dimensions, suggesting character or camera moves.
The camera view is represented by a triangle, and in this Star Wars Troopers fan movie example, you can see that there are a couple more stormtroopers and an additional Jawa just out of view to the right. Perhaps one or more will run into the scene, or the camera could pan right to show them, or dolly/zoom out to a wider shot to include all of the protagonists? This top-down view is taken further by the brilliant Shot Generator in the free Storyboarder app we love… read on to get to it.
Conventional storyboard templates can lead to a kind of flat ‘Punch and Judy’ approach with characters simply arriving and leaving on the left or right edges. Here is a printable sheet with 4 storyboard screens, each 16:9 HD ratio on either A3 paper or A4 paper landscape that look like this:
Allows you to generate shots with posable figures, moveable cameras and lights, then create drawn animatics, scan in or print out, export to video editing apps…
This screen capture from the Storyboarder Shot Generator shows us adjusting the angle of a spotlight. You can drag characters, cameras, props and lights around in the top-down view at top left, and then be very precise using the slider controls. Multiple cameras allow you to switch viewpoints and close-ups back and forth as needed.
Simple online storyboarding software with free option: storyboardthat.com/
creativebloq’s excellent storyboard-tips from Imagine fx
Intro to Storyboarding
Cuts & Transitions
‘We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us, the sooner we get them out the better’*
* Stanchfield means you need to practice and practice to reach a better level. One system which might help is the concept of Solid-Flexible, useful for making animation puppets too. Drawings by Walt Stanchfield. Disney animators would attend life drawing classes run by Walt Stanchfield – his notes are available as a pdf here for free.
Drawing storyboards can be made much easier when you have some decent references. You might prefer to draw over the output from one of these applications or just use the images they create as ‘pre-viz’ – pre-visualisation, sometimes given some movement and turned into an ‘animatic’ which is a first draft version of the film, often with some basic dialogue and soundFX:
There are also phone variants (by different companies):
Solent University recommend the book Force – Dynamic Drawing for Animators by Michael Mattesi.