Why to draw a storyboard?

Why is it important to draw storyboard for your screenplay – how to get started?

What is a Storyboard?

Storyboarding is similar to on a comic strip, and requires each shot to be drawn in a box, with writing to explain what is happening. However, storyboarding allows directors to see what angle, perspective and balance to create the shot that they want and therefore can require a lot of time and precision. For example, storyboards take into consideration whether your shot is interior or exterior, whether it is an upwards angle or downwards angle, whether your actors should be positioned in a close-up, medium or long-distance shot.

Storyboards are a series of illustrations/drawings, which are displayed in a sequence. This helps film makers, visualize their film and may help them, when it comes to the filming as they can understand what shot they can use for each section of the narrative. This makes it quicker and easier for the team to film as they know exactly what they have to film and when and everything is explained in detail, so they have something to fall back on and to rely on. This also helps team cooperation, as all of the media production team are visualizing the same thing, instead of having a different image in their head and wanting to film it a different way. A storyboard is essentially a large comic of the film or some section of the film produced beforehand to help the directors and cinematographers visualize the scenes and find potential problems before they occur. Often storyboards include arrows or instructions that indicate movement. The storyboarding process, in the form it is known today, was developed at the Walt Disney studio during the early 1930s, after several years of similar processes being in use at Disney and other animation studios. Storyboarding became popular in live-action film production during the early 1940s. Storyboards are used to brainstorm and capture all the ideas before taking action. The process of visual thinking and planning allows a group of people to brainstorm together, placing their ideas on storyboards, then arranging the storyboards on the storyboard sheet. This may make an idea more complex and effective, which benefits the effectiveness of one shot.

An advantage of using storyboards is that it allows the director or producer to experiment with changes in the storyline to have stronger reaction. Flashbacks, for example, are often the result of sorting storyboards out of chronological order to help build suspense and interest. The process of visual thinking and planning allows a group of people to brainstorm together, placing their ideas on storyboards and then arranging the storyboards on the wall. This fosters more ideas and generates consensus inside the group.

Before making our storyboards, we will begin by evaluating our screenplay and picturing it in terms of separate shots we can use for a certain parts of a narrative, which may look most effective. This is our final story board sheet. The importance of a storyboard is to see how all the shots fit together to tell your story, before you go out and shoot the video. This is like having a visual script. We looked into some conventions of a storyboard and the things we found and included in our storyboard was an image of how we pictured the shot to look like (this would be hand drawn) We also found that most storyboards have a record of the duration of each shot. A storyboard would also explain the camera instructions, as to whether is stays still, pans in/out, moves on a track such as a dolly or moves angle by using a jib. A storyboard may also explain the type of shot used, to make the production team clear, in case the picture doesn’t explain. A variety of shots are used in storyboarding, which makes the film different and may maintain the audience’s attention. Lastly, there should be an explanation of what sound should be used in each shot. For example, in our film the most sound that will be used is dialogue, which is diegetic. Therefore, we would write in the sound box, dialogue (diegetic)  If we were to have a soundtrack at the end of the film which the characters wouldn’t hear but the audience was, we would write in the sound box, soundtrack music(non diegetic).

A storyboard also has a duration time, when it comes to filming and editing. This helps us calculate the length of our film as it is important to keep it a short film. We then have a box for the image of the shot, which we can draw in. we have a box to represent the transitions we would like to use e.g. fade in and out. On the right, we will make a box next to each shot to explain the camera instructions and what type of sound is used in each shot. Lastly, at the top, we have a box to number our storyboard sheets, and an assignment name which would be the title of the film. When finished the storyboards, we will scan them into Photoshop, to add color. The design of storyboards should be simple, but look organized and neat.

 The story board will convey information such as:

 What characters are in the frame, and how are they moving?

 What are the characters saying to each other, if anything?

 How much time has passed between the last frame of the storyboard and the current one?

 Where the “camera” is in the scene? Close or far away? Is the camera moving?

 We can make changes to our storyboard before we start animating, instead of changing our minds later. We will also be able to talk about our animation and show our storyboard to other people to get feedback on our ideas.

 Most commonly storyboards are made by a simple piece of paper and pencil. Sketching out what happens scene by scene. The pictures don’t have to perfect, drawing the pictures out shouldn’t take long, only a few minutes. Make it easy by using simple shapes, stick figures and simple backgrounds.

The Finished Product

These are the things a completed page to storyboard should have-The diagrams should numbered and in order, they should have camera instructions that explain what shot they are and what sound is used as well as a drawing,. There should be also arrows drawn on to explain what is happening in the shot. An arrow with a black head shows it is the actions of the cast and an arrow with a white head shows the movement is placed there to explain the direction of the movement of the camera. The camera instructions are right to the point and explains everything that is happening in that shot, such as where the camera is placed to achieve a type of shot and when the actions of characters occur, according to the script. We thought it would be a good idea to number the script so we didn’t have to waste space in the sound box, writing the whole line down and instead writing the number of the lines being read in each shot. These should be colored in on Photoshop, so the colouring in looks more professional.

You can access storyboard service online through various websites. Various colleges and Film Institutes (not necessary arts college) provide storyboard service courses. Storyboard service is also provided by an art college student or a storyboard artist. Remember storyboard artist ideally uses a storyboard illustrator. Remember a storyboard artist is a bona fide professional and many of them draw salaries for their work.

Storyboard service and storyboard illustrator is also provided by scriptwriting software like FINAL DRAFT, MOVIE OUTLINE , etc.

However, it is a good idea to hire a professional storyboard artist from TheScreenplayWriters.com; check out the samples and pricing here


Rounding it off

 A storyboard is a séries of panels representing a shot-by-shot breakdown of a planned film.

 Make the storyboard as explicit and communicative as possible.

 Clear and simple drawings.

o Story-boards are the opposite of comics. A storyboard is a  visualisation tool while  comics are end in itself -a work of art.

 A storyboard panel must contain 3 elements: Perspective, Live action (movement), Story concept (dramatic information of the shot).

How to get started ?

Starting off for storyboarding is no rocket-science. It is as simple as sketching with your pen and paper.

• Talking about pen and paper, start with good old Pen & Paper or go high tech with digital storyboard.

• Draw what we discussed above in templates that are available online or digitally.

• You can adopt a simple or detailed approach with good old Pen & Paper.


Remember whether you go simple with good old pen & paper or hi-tech digitally ,it really makes no difference as long as you can express your shot, character, mood, and the total mise en scène expertly and explicitly to the production team.

So what are we waiting for?-Happy storyboarding! If you need professional storyboard artist, book one here http://thescreenplaywriters.com/services/storyboard-artists-storyboard-artist-storyboards-artist-storyboard-artist-studio