There is no set path to becoming a storyboard artist – some people come from an animation background, but many (like me) take a very wiggly route to get there. My introduction to storyboarding was on the set of the Teletubbies. I started out there as an art department assistant, chasing rabbits, helping out with props and generally getting in the way on set. After a while I got the chance to try out storyboarding and I jumped at it. I drew all the boards on yellow post-it notes and the director would lay them out on the wall of his portakabin. These days I draw on a digital tablet but the principals are still the same (and Teletubbieland is still my favourite place to work EVER!)
The articles, notes, books and podcasts listed below explain what it takes to be a storyboard artist a lot better than I ever could. Some of them veer off into illustration, animation and comics but they all feel relevant. I’ll keep adding to the list and if you think anything is missing, please let me know! – Ad x
(Storyboards pictured above are from ‘Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’).
Storyboards: What it Takes – Great series of short articles by animator, producer & director Larry Latham, based on a course he taught at Walt Disney TV Animation. Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3.
Animation Meat – Animation and storyboarding notes from Disney, The Simpsons, Brad Bird, Walt Stanchfield and more. This is a gold mine!
Dreamworks story & design notes – Some great animation storyboarding notes from Rob Koo.
DC Cartoon Archive – Huge collection of storyboards, model sheets and backgrounds from the animated Batman, Superman and Justice League series.
Character Design – Interviews and design examples from leading animation artists & designers.
Guide to Camera Shots: Every Shot Size Explained – A great breakdown of the different types of camera shots used in films and TV. You really need to know the difference between a close-up, a medium and a cowboy…
Idea Generation – An interesting guide to idea generation for illustration by Jillian Tamaki – great NY based illustrator.
Super Obvious Secrets That I Wish They’d Teach In Art School – Super obvious secrets from illustrator & cartoonist Phil McAndrew.
Comic Strip Artist’s Kit – Carson Van Osten’s excellent notes on staging and thumbnailing for comics.
Wally Wood’s 22 panels that always work!! (Or some interesting ways to get some variety into those boring panels where some dumb writer has a bunch of lame characters sitting around and talking for page after page!)
Videos, Interviews & Podcasts
The Art of Storyboarding with Ridley Scott – In depth interview with director Ridley Scott, discussing storyboards & filmmaking.
Storyboarding Blood Simple – 5 minute interview with the Coen Brothers (and Frances McDormand) about the role storyboards play in their process: “We’re more comfortable if we have a plan”.
Animation Podcast Archive – Audio interviews with some of animation’s greatest talents.
The Pegbar & Grill – Tim, Sam & Max from The Line talk to some of their favourite filmmakers and animation creators.
I’ve found all of these books helpful and inspirational (none of them are too expensive):
The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams – an understanding of animation principles is essential to a career in storyboarding and this is the bible of animation.
Comics and Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative by Will Eisner – Probably the best books I’ve read on illustrated (comicbook) storytelling. Packed with examples and just 150 pages long, these are really worth a look.
How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul by Adrian Shaughnessy
How to be an Illustrator by Darrel Rees
Best of Draw! Volume 1, available at Twomorrows Publishing – packed with interviews and articles on comics, animation art and drawing.
‘The Art of Storyboard’ by Don Bluth & Gary Goldman (This one is out of print but you can probably find a PDF version online if you dig hard enough!).