Whether it’s a film, television program, or advertisement, storyboarding is a visual technique that may be used in all forms of visual media. In this guide, you can see how to storyboard an animation with lifelike characters in just nine easy steps.
Storyboarding guarantees that your finished animation is exactly what you had in mind, saves time, and helps to avoid mistakes. It’s okay if this is your first time creating a storyboard. You will be animated in no time as we lead you through the procedure.
What is an Animation Storyboard?
What is a storyboard in animation? The storyboard primarily consists of a chronologized set of sketches that map the major plot points. The finished animation and the narrative or general concept are connected visually via this. Typically, each doodle depicts an important shot or frame.
What is included in a storyboard? Some key things are:
- Sketches of key scenes
- Character positions and staging in each scene
- Camera angles for each scene (close-up, wide, side view, etc.)
- Any major actions or movements
- Changes in setting or location
- Facial expressions or emotions for characters in each scene
- Speech or dialog, where needed
An animation storyboard doesn’t need to be a work of art. Simple sketches and stick figures are fine. The goal is to visually work through and organize your animation sequence before animating.
Taking the time to thoughtfully create an animation storyboard will make the entire animation process easier and help you end up with a better result. Storyboards provide an essential framework and blueprint for your animation.
In the end, an animation storyboard allows you to spot any potential issues, work out solutions, and have a clear path forward to bring your animation idea to life.
Why do Animators Need Storyboards?
Animators create storyboards to visualize their ideas before starting the animation process. Storyboards serve several important purposes:
- They help determine if the story flows logically and sequentially. Animators can step back and evaluate if any gaps, redundancies, or scenes need reorganizing.
- Storyboards offer a visual, understandable overview of the animation project.
- Storyboards allow animators to work out issues with character designs, backgrounds, camera angles, and other details before the animation begins. It’s much easier to erase and redraw a storyboard panel than it is to fully render a scene.
- Storyboards serve as a blueprint for the animation team to follow. Individual animators can be assigned specific scenes and shots to work on, using the storyboard as a reference guide. This helps achieve consistency in style and quality across the full animation.
- Storyboards provide essential details for creating an accurate production timeline and budget. Animators can estimate the level of effort required for different types of scenes and shots.
- Storyboards are a tool for pitching an animation concept to studios, producers, or investors. A visual storyboard, along with an engaging script, can help convey the vision for the project and get buy-in and funding.
Storyboards are a vital part of the animation pre-production process. They enable animators to craft a visual blueprint, work out challenges, determine timelines, build consensus, and even pitch their ideas. While not always a work of art, storyboards serve a very practical purpose in bringing an animation from concept to reality.
How do You Create a Storyboard in Animation?
Gather Your Ideas and Determine the Story
So you have an animation story idea and want to get it down on paper. A storyboard is the perfect way to organize your thoughts and start mapping out how to bring your vision to life.
- To get started, jot down your story idea, characters, setting, and plot. Determine things like the key events, turning points, and endings. Even if you have just a basic premise right now, that’s enough to sketch out your first storyboard.
- Next, figure out the sequence of the major scenes. For an animation, aim for 10 to 15 key scenes that show the important parts of the story. Think about the transitions between scenes and how the story will flow. Don’t worry about dialog or camera angles yet.
- Once you have your basic scenes laid out, start adding more details. Determine the camera viewpoint for each scene. Will it be a wide shot? Close up? Birds-eye view? Add arrows or captions to show character movements and any interactions.
- Now you can start roughing in the visuals. Stick figures and basic shapes are fine. Just get the major characters, props, and backgrounds in place for each scene. Add emotion and action lines to convey what’s happening.
Finally, figure out the timing of events and how long each scene will last. A good rule of thumb is 1 to 2 seconds per storyboard frame for animation. Make any final tweaks to the flow and transitions.
Create the Plot and Structure
The plot and structure are the foundation of your animation storyboard. To create a compelling story, here are the essential elements to consider:
- Start with a theme or central message you want to convey.
- Develop an interesting character or two.
- Create conflict or tension to drive the story forward.
- Figure out the key plot points.
- Use pacing to keep viewers engaged.
- Sketch out your settings and locations.
Once you have the basics mapped out, start turning your plot outline into a visual storyboard by sketching individual scenes. Flesh out characters, add details, and build on your original outline. With a solid plot and structure in place, you’ll be well on your way to crafting an animation storyboard that captivates audiences.
Develop Your Characters
Developing compelling characters is key to creating an engaging animation storyboard. Think about both the characters’ physical attributes as well as their personalities.
Decide on details like age, height, body type, skin or hair color, and clothing style. Even fantastical characters should have distinguishing features. For example, give an alien character three eyes or a robot character a square head. Keep character designs simple enough to animate.
Define each character’s temperament, habits, speech patterns, and behaviors. Complex, multi-dimensional characters that evoke emotion in viewers are ideal.
Fleshing out these details will make your characters compelling and help determine how they should move and emote in each scene.
Develop a backstory for each of your main characters, even if you don’t explicitly share these details in your animation. Understanding where characters came from and what shaped them will make them behave more authentically and consistently. Think about life-changing events from their past and how they impact their present attitudes and behaviors.
With a bit of time and imagination, you can create memorable characters that will make your animation storyboard come alive. Keep character designs and personalities balanced, avoid stereotyping, and have empathy for characters facing difficult experiences. Complex, relatable characters are key to crafting an animation that resonates with audiences.
Determine the Setting
The setting refers to the location and period in which your story takes place. It includes details about the environment, era, and overall atmosphere you want to convey. Determining your setting early on will help guide many other decisions in your animation. Think about both the physical location and the overall mood or tone you want to achieve.
Choose a setting that sparks your creativity and complements your story. With the right combination of period, location, and atmosphere, you can transport your viewers anywhere your imagination takes them.
Break Down the Story Into Scenes
Once you have the story outline completed, it’s time to break it down into individual scenes.
Define the Setting
The location and time of each scene should be determined. Location, time of day, and duration are all parts of the setting. Think about aspects like architecture, clothing styles, and available technology that match your chosen period.
Determine the Action
What happens in the scene? Describe what the characters are doing, any events or activities, and how the characters interact. The action drives the story forward and keeps viewers engaged. Focus on including dramatic or comedic elements that evoke emotion.
Include Key Dialog
Understanding the relationships and personalities of individuals comes from their dialogue. In each scene, anticipate the dialogue that the characters will use. The dialog should sound natural while revealing aspects of the characters and moving the story along. Read the dialog aloud to make sure it flows well.
Transition From Scene to Scene
Decide how you will transition from one scene to the next. Some options include fading out, dissolving, wiping, or cutting. Using a variety of transitions keeps things interesting for the audience. Make sure the method you choose matches the overall tone and style of your animation.
Repeat for All Scenes
Follow these steps to outline each scene in your story. Breaking down the whole story into separate scenes in this manner allows you to plan out all the essential details needed to create your animation from start to finish. With a complete storyboard, you’ll be ready to start animating!
Plan the Camera Angles and Shots
Once you have your storyboard frames laid out, it’s time to start planning the camera angles and shots for each scene. This will determine how you want the viewer to see the action and characters. Keep these tips in mind:
- Vary your shots
- Choose your angles carefully.
- Plan camera movement.
- Draw simple camera-shot symbols
- Focus on continuity
These steps will help you craft an animation storyboard that comes alive with visual energy and flow.
Add Dialog and Notes
Once you have the basic storyboard frames laid out, it’s time to add the dialog and notes to bring your animation to life.
- Add speech bubbles to indicate dialog between characters.
- Include action notes around the frames to specify movement, expressions, camera angles, and transitions.
- Use the notes section under each frame to provide additional details about sounds, timing, and anything else relevant to the animator.
- Be concise but descriptive. The animator will refer to your storyboard and notes closely, so provide as much useful information as possible without being overly wordy.
Review and revise your dialog and notes to ensure clarity and flow. Get feedback from others if possible. The more details you can provide at this stage, the easier it will be for an animator to bring your vision to the screen. With some time and practice, you’ll be creating professional-quality animation storyboards in no time!
Create Rough Sketches
Creating rough sketches is a key step in developing your animation storyboard. These sketches allow you to visually plot out your story, work out the timing, and make sure everything flows properly before moving on to the final storyboard.
To create rough sketches,
- Start with stick figures.
- Focus on major scenes and transitions.
- Indicate camera angles and framing.
- Note duration and timing.
- Get feedback.
- Revise as needed.
Take your time developing rough sketches. They provide the foundation for crafting an animated storyboard that will effectively communicate your vision. With a thoughtful, well-planned rough draft in hand, creating the final storyboard will be a smooth and straightforward process.
Review and Get Feedback
Once you’ve created your initial storyboard, it’s time to get feedback. Ask others to review your work with a critical eye. Getting input from fresh perspectives will help strengthen your story and spot any gaps before moving onto the animation stage.
Share your storyboard with people who understand animation and visual storytelling. Explain the overall story or message you’re trying to convey and ask for constructive criticism. Questions to ask include:
- Does the story flow logically from scene to scene? Are there any missing transitions or connections that could be improved?
- Are the shots varied and interesting? Or repetitive and boring? Look for ways to enhance the visuals.
- Do the characters and their actions seem realistic and believable? Make sure their motivations and emotions come through clearly in each scene.
- Is there anything confusing or hard to understand? Get suggestions on how to storyboard for animation or simplify the scenes.
- Does the ending satisfy and wrap up the story effectively?
Once you’ve collected notes and comments from your reviewers, revisit your storyboard and make any needed changes. Revise scenes, add or remove shots, and tweak the details to improve your visual story.
With a refined storyboard and critical feedback in hand, you’ll be ready to move into the animation production stage with confidence, knowing you have a strong foundation to build upon. Regular reviewing and revising are key to creating a compelling, cohesive animation, so keep getting input from others throughout the entire process.
The Importance of Storyboards in Animation
Why is storyboarding important? A storyboard is essential for creating an animation. Storyboarding helps ensure your animation has a clear narrative and logical sequence of events.
Provides an Overview
A storyboard gives you an at-a-glance overview of your whole animation. You can see how to make a good storyboard for animation, with each scene flowing into the next and making sure there are no missing or unnecessary scenes. This helps avoid wasting time animating scenes you end up cutting.
Identifies Problems Early
Problems with the storyline, shot composition, timing, or flow become evident in the storyboarding for the animation phase. It’s much easier to fix issues on a storyboard than after you’ve animated the scenes. You can experiment with different ideas and layouts to find out what a storyboard is used for.
A solid storyboard means you have a clear plan to follow when animating. You know exactly what needs to be animated for each scene and shot. This avoids wasting time figuring it out as you go or re-doing work. You can also allocate time more accurately to each part of the 3D animation.
For animations created by a team, a storyboard provides direction and guidance. It ensures all team members understand the overall vision and storyline and know what they are responsible for animating. This results in a cohesive end product.
You’ll be well on your way to learning how to make a storyboard for animation if you follow these nine easy steps. The secret is to develop your main scenes with rough sketches after developing a strong plot and character. A good storyboard will make the actual animation process so much easier.