How to Storyboard (Making an Animated Movie)

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What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is a series of drawings meant for pre-visualizing the shots of a movie. It is an essential tool for the director to get a sense of the way the movie is going to look and feel.

The Storyboard saves time on set. Since the camera angles were determined beforehand, the DP (director of photography) knows exactly what is expected of her during the shoot.

What does it look like?

There are different approaches to storyborading. Some like to use colors, some only draw the outlines, some color in greyscale (my preferred method) and some go really deep into the details.

You can watch this video tutorial, or keep reading.

How to storyboard effectively

A storyboards’ biggest role is to convey the story effectively, as close as possible to what the movie would look like at the end. That means that after someone read your storyboard they should understand the story well.

A few things to help convey the story:

  • Write captions under the drawing
  • Use arrows to show camera movements
  • Color the object to differentiate it from the background.

Storyboard structure

My preferred template for storyboarding is six boards on a single page (each one is 16×9 – HD ratio), three on top of three, with a few empty lines for writing captions under each one.

Attached is my template that I used for storyboarding LIFT UP. You can download the picture and use it for your storyboard.

My finished storyboard

Since I’m revealing my entire process of making this animated film, I’ve decided to share the complete finished storyboard for LIFT UP with you. You can watch the finished film here.

Previous step: Writing a script

Next step: Making an animatic

Making an Animated Short (FREE ebook)

A free ebook covering the process of making an animated short film from start to finish.