A Detailed Guide On How To Make A Storyboard For Animation

Satyam Maitrai
Satyam Maitrai
Content Writer
6 min reading·

If you are in the field of animation, you will be aware of how important the stage of pre-visualization is. Unless you have a clear visual plan as to how your story will progress, you will be lost and confused all along the development process and end up with costly mistakes.

Unfortunately, way too many people do exactly that, especially when working on smaller projects. Therefore, it is extremely unwise to skip this pre-viz step, which is familiar to most animators as storyboarding. If you are new to the whole animation and storyboarding scene, we have got your back. In this post, we will tell you how to make a storyboard for animation.

So, let’s start with understanding its importance.

What Is The Importance of Storyboards In Animation?

As mentioned, storyboarding is the pre-visualization step in animation or, in simple words, planning. No project is ever successful without a solid plan to guide it. A blueprint in architecture is the same as what a storyboard is in animation. If you want your animation project to go without major bumps, build the foundation strongly with storyboarding.

Now, How To Create An Animation Storyboard?

While the fundamental components of storyboards across projects remain the same, there are always certain distinctions when it comes to each project type. However, when you are doing the storyboard for any animation project, you must take care of three essential components.

Here is how to create an animation storyboard using these components:

  • Scene - The scene or frame is the most important component in the storyboard of an animation project. It depicts how you want the actual scene in the animated video to look like. You should add only the key scenes in the storyboard, as your objective is to get the idea across.
  • Description - The scene description will help your clients get a better idea of what is going on in the scene. It is by adding a description that you can forego the addition of in-betweens in a storyboard and cluttering it up unnecessarily.
  • Directions - Directions will help convey what needs to be done to get the scene perfect according to the vision of the creator or animator. Directions help an animator take stock of what resources they have and how best they can utilize these to get the final result.

So, how to start a storyboard for animation?

Say, you know how to storyboard for animation. However, you are confused by the eternal chicken or egg question of animation: do you create your script first or should you create the storyboard first and then start anything else.

Most people will be under the impression that since storyboarding is the planning stage, it is the first thing that should be done. However, this is not necessarily true and depends largely on the size and kind of project you are dealing with.

If you have a small project like a short ad or animatic that you already have a clear idea about in your mind, it is perfectly okay to start with storyboarding. In fact, it is more helpful as you can get a better idea of dialog and action placement.

However, if you are dealing with a really large project, like a full-length feature film or even a short film, the best way to go is from the script to the storyboard. The script provides a clear sequence and direction to the story and helps you plan and visualize your scenes better when storyboarding.

Stages in how to storyboard for animation

Storyboarding for an animation project, like any other process in the world, can be divided widely into three stages. If you want to know how to storyboard for animation in the best, most planned way possible, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Planning -
    1. Create a synopsis for the story. This helps give a concrete idea about the things that will happen or be depicted in the story and the objective of the story.
    2. Make a list of the characters in your story and the role of each. This way you will know if there is any redundant role.
    3. Make a quick inventory of the resources you have in hand and the techniques you will be able to use. It will protect you from planning a scene with something that is not possible.
    4. Choose the format of the storyboard you will use, this will depend entirely on the kind of project and your own preferences.
  2. Production -
    1. The most important thing to always remember is that you must create your scenes chronologically. A lot of people start with their favorite scenes or the most complex ones. This will give rise to discontinuities and anachronisms.
    2. Depict one step in the story in one frame. Trying to cram in more will result in vital parts being missed out while trying to expand one step into too many frames will be unnecessarily time-consuming and effort-expending.
    3. Use arrows, grids, and lines to make the details of the scene clearer in moviemaking language. But do not skip out on directions and details where necessary. The visual and textual components should complement each other.
    4. Every scene must be labeled and indicated correctly to avoid later confusion.
  3. Revision -
    1. After your storyboard has been created and shown to the clients, expect feedback and constructive criticism, which in turn may lead to reworks and revisions.
    2. Whenever you make a revision, make sure that the continuity with other parts of the story is not broken.
    3. When any major rework is made, ensure that you save both versions of the work.

But, How To Write a Storyboard For Animation?

There are three things you must remember about how to write a storyboard for animation. These three texts cover all the details about each frame that will go into the execution of the scene.

  • Dialog - Dialog represents what a character says in a scene. It is the verbal representation of how the scene will be advancing. You can add it within the frame or as a separate text field.
  • Action - This describes any major step that a character takes in the scene and furthers the story visually. Any major movement that a character does that impacts the story must be added under this.
  • Staging - The staging of the scene describes how the scene will be presented. This includes the presence and positioning of characters as well as objects in that scene.

Some Tips On How To Create Storyboards For Animation

The above points must have given you a good idea about how to create storyboards for animation. Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not think of the storyboard as a shooting board and try to create a frame-by-frame depiction of the story.
  • Each scene should have a purpose in the advancement of the story.
  • Ensure that there is continuity from one scene to another.
  • Use drawing techniques and aids you need to get the message across. Do not worry about cleanliness: this is only the planning stage and is expected to be messy.
  • Use the right tool to create your storyboards. The wrong tool can make your life difficult.

Summing Up.

Storyboarding is an essential step in the animation process. MakeStoryboard makes this process easier and more professional with intuitive UI and feature-loaded design. If you are an animator, you must try it out.

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