How To Become a Storyboard Artist?

Satyam Maitrai
Satyam Maitrai
Content Writer
6 min reading·

How to become storyboard artist

Did you know that animation, games, and films are sketched on a drawing board before they are produced or brought to life? Well, this is the job of a storyboard artist. Moreover, most of your all-time favorite scenes started as sketches made by a storyboard artist.

A storyboard artist is one who works with directors, scriptwriters, and storytellers in a wide range of industries in the production of films, games, animation, TV advertisements, etc. Additionally, as a storyboard artist, you will need to create visualizations of scenes using drawings and sketches on paper or a computer. 

In addition, you will also have to work closely with a film or television director to understand what they want and help them achieve it. A storyboard artist's sketch is usually a guide for the director to achieve what he or she wants. Your drawing shows them what the final version of their project will look like. 

In brief, your work is not just restricted to the storyboards. Character development and details on the background are also vital, as well as collaboration with other staff.

Understanding storyboarding in brief

Before we start exploring ways to become a storyboard artist, let's quickly understand the concept of storyboarding. Storyboarding is the process of drawing or sketching the storyline of a film scene-by-scene, just like in a comic book

This idea helps media and content creators in the visualization of the actions and characters of the story. Storyboards also help in planning ways of shooting a sequence. It is therefore essential for the pre-production process of a film and helps the crew plan before shooting. 

So, how do you become a storyboard artist?

Becoming a storyboard artist is quite tedious but not impossible. If you have an interest in becoming a storyboard artist, first you need to gain experience in the areas of fine arts, animation, graphics design, or any other related field. However, to become a storyboard artist, there are other things needed which I'll be listing out in just a few steps:

Get a degree

Formal education is not necessarily required, but a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for a job as a storyboard artist. Most institutions don't offer a specific storyboarding degree, so people aspiring to be storyboard artists may pursue different artistic majors or degrees in the following areas:

  • Animation
  • Fine arts
  • Game design and development
  • Graphic design
  • Photography
  • Cinematography

Some storyboard artists initially attend an art school before going to a film school. This is so they can gain the skills needed in their chosen career field. Some have natural artistic talent and they will self-study films.

Skill development

Drawing is a required skill for storyboarding and if you are wondering how to get started, here is a deteils for you. Apart from this, a storyboard artist needs to have a variety of hands-on skills in order to excel in this profession. 

In addition, a good knowledge of perspective is needed so that camera angles can be well demonstrated. You should also be able to effectively communicate the performance of characters. 

Skills for successful storyboard artists include:

  • Artistic talent: As mentioned earlier, one should be proficient in their ability to draw.
  • Communication skills: This is needed because a great deal of collaboration with others is involved.
  • Computer skills: Most of the drawing will be done on computers; however, by using software such as MakeStoryboard, this skill can be easily mastered.
  • Filmmaking knowledge: This includes background knowledge of acting, story structure, writing, analytical skills, proficiency with editing, and public speaking skills.

Build a portfolio

A storyboard artist should create a professional portfolio demonstrating their artistic work and ability to potential clients and employers. The portfolio has to fit the level of the job being applied for. This is a common requirement for many in the artistic field.

Storyboard Artist Qualifications

A degree in fine arts or its related field is needed, but is not necessarily needed to work as an artist, especially when you want to work as a freelance storyboard artist. However, the following qualifications are needed in order to be a successful storyboard artist:

  • Should be a good storyteller.
  • Should have a very vivid imagination and the ability to visualize drawings as he/she will constantly develop stories by working closely with other creative staff and animators.
  • Must be creative and able to think outside the box.
  • He/she should be a great team worker as collaboration with directors and another film crew is necessary.
  • Time management is a much-needed skill because these artists work long hours and under tight schedules.
  • Understanding of 3-dimensional figures and shapes.
  • Creating images using paper or computer software
  • Should be a good researcher as he /she will need to conduct research for projects.
  • He/she should have the skills to read and interpret scripts.

Where Does the Storyboard Artist Work?

Storyboard artists work across a wide range of industries, using their artistic ability in sketching to make the production run smoothly. Depending on whether he/she is a freelancer or not, a storyboard artist can work in any of these establishments:

  • Home studio (an artist can graphically represent the scene on a screen from home)
  • Production studio
  • Standard office setting
  • Animation studio
  • Educational sector (as a teacher or instructor for colleges and online courses)
  • Crimes/Forensic science
  • Architecture
  • Film/Television studios
  • Game development companies
  • Government
  • Graphic designing/Advertising agencies
  • Legal departments
  • Medical and healthcare services
  • Publishing houses
  • Science labs and more

Storyboard Artist Career

A storyboard artist's career is not just restricted to a sketch board. He/she plans out the director's vision shot-by-shot and scene-by-scene. Nonetheless, a storyboard artist already knows what a film will look like before the camera starts rolling. 

A storyboard artist with a degree, whether a bachelor's degree or master's degree, and experience are preferred. However, with little formal training, entry-level roles are also sometimes given to storyboard artists with great talent and passion. 

Additionally, experience as a storyboard artist is gained through an internship or entry-level job before working as a storyboard artist. Some artists also work as animators before getting a permanent position as storyboard artists. Some even start as storyboard artists, move to the role of story supervisor, and then progress to creative director. 

How much does a storyboard artist make?

A career as a storyboard artist can be quite lucrative if you have the experience and skills. It is a job that enables you to earn while utilizing your artistic talent and doing what you love. 

The lowest hourly range for a freelance storyboard artist is between $15 and $17 per hour. Experieniced storyboard artists can  but an storyboard artist can earn as much as $35 per hour. You can easily become a pro and learn ways to create storyboards faster by following one of our blogs here

In the United States, the average salary of a storyboard artist is $98,750 per year (as per Glassdoor, April 2022) depending on his/her role and experience. That's quite a lot of money for drawing and using your imagination.

In conclusion

Every storyboard idea you have may not be perfect and agreed upon by all members of the team so you need to be able to accept constructive criticism. Absorb the feedback you receive and use it to improve your skills and make something great. 

Nonetheless, you need to be flexible and able to quickly adapt because storyboarding can be a difficult career It is unpredictable because changes might need to be made while the film is being shot or the project is executed. 

However, if you have a passion for what you do, storyboarding can be an extremely lucrative and exciting career choice. It can be extremely rewarding when a movie airs in the cinema and you know that your effort aided in the running of a great production.

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