How To Storyboard A Comic? A Step-By-Step Plan for Graphic Novel Storyboarding

Satyam Maitrai
Satyam Maitrai
Content Writer
5 min reading·

Comics and graphic novels are suddenly all the rage nowadays. Enjoying a comic is like reading a story and seeing the movie at the same time. But we seldom remember the kind of labor that goes into creating these comics. There is the writing of the story, the drawing of the pictures, and the combining of the two to create an entertaining piece of media.

But before any of these, comes planning and pre-visualization. For comic artists and mangakas, storyboarding is their best friend in the planning stage. Let us find out more on how to storyboard a comic and how to use a storyboarding software like MakeStoryboard to make the process easier.

Prioritizing your planning stage

The worst mistake anyone can make before starting any project is to skip the planning process. A solid plan helps one implement the actual work better, faster, and easier. For creating comics, planning is best done using storyboards.

You might be tempted to start working directly on the comic but it will only result in failure. When you storyboard your comic first, you are able to get a prior idea of how things will look and work on the final product. You also have the chance to make the necessary changes and improvements before starting the actual work.

However, if you realize your mistakes and flaws during or after the comic has been created, you will have no option but to redo the entire work. That is frustrating and just not feasible when you are working on a really long comic.

Also, you want everything sorted and laid down beforehand so that when you start working on the actual comic, all you have to do is ink and letter - no more thinking or decisions should be required at this stage.

So, How To Storyboard a Comic- Six Things You Shouldn’t Overlook

Storyboarding is essentially creating a draft version of your comic book. It is the sketch underneath your actual art combined with the initial draft of your story. So the storyboard needs to combine the features of both when you are creating it.

These are what you need to remember on how to storyboard a comic efficiently:

  • Comics are made in the form of panels. This means storyboarding cuts out the work for you. If you make it a point to treat each storyboard frame as each panel of your comic, it will make the final work much easier.
  • Do not skip any step in the storyboarding process thinking it is easy enough to be done directly. Mistakes can creep into even the easiest parts. Most importantly, having everything in front makes it easier to notice discontinuities and errors in the story.
  • You must include the dialogs that go with a certain scene in the text or caption part of the same frame in the storyboard. Software like MakeStoryboard allow custom fields for the same. This will not only keep things clean and clear but also help you decide if you need to add more panels or remove one.
  • You do not need to expend too much effort in the art in the storyboard frames. Rough sketches are enough as long as they clearly convey what is going on. You should be able to figure out the story from the storyboard itself.
  • However, while it is perfectly okay to do rough sketches for storyboarding, you must ensure that you are not missing any essential details. That means you should not just skip the background or a side character in the sketch even if you do them just roughly. This helps prevent continuity errors, something too many comics, and even movies and animations suffer from.
  • Since storyboards conventionally have horizontally arranged frames while that is not always the case in comics, you should have the freedom of rearranging your frames in a way that suits the panel structure of your comic better.

Now, Four Tips On How To Start A Comic Storyboard Using A Storyboarding Software

Traditionally, moviemakers and comic book artists have relied on actual boards and drawing tools to create their storyboards. Many still do it, but, today, it is undoubtedly easier to storyboard on a dedicated software application like MakeStoryboard than using pencil and paper.

But before you start, you need to prepare in the right way. Here are some tips for you:

  • Most storyboarding apps allow you to customize the frames in terms of shape, size, accompanying text, and other fields. The first thing you must do is to change the necessary settings and tailor the frames to best suit your comic needs.
  • Before you start, ensure that the drawing tool you use integrates or connects seamlessly with the storyboarding app. Otherwise, you will have to keep downloading or taking a screenshot every time you need to add a sketch.
  • Even better would be if your storyboarding app has a built-in sketching tool. This would mean that you would not have to keep toggling between the two apps constantly as you create each sketch.
  • Do not forget to clearly label and caption each frame of the storyboard with the dialogs, narration, and additional instructions. The more preparation you do now, the easier your work becomes later.

Final eight steps on how to technically make a comic book storyboard

You may have encountered storyboards before. But they were probably conventional ones. Comic book storyboards will undoubtedly have some differences from them, which might be daunting for some. If you are not sure what the right way to approach comic book storyboarding is, we have got your back.

Here is a step-by-step manual

  1. Create an account in the app if you do not have one. If you do, log in to it.
  2. Start a new project or storyboard on the application.
  3. Name your project. It does not have to be the final name, just an apt indicative name would do.
  4. Choose the size, shape, and other characteristics you would want for your frames.
  5. Create a few blank frames and customize them in an appropriate manner to suit your working style.
  6. Create and add your sketches from your drawing app or make the sketches directly on the storyboarding app if it allows that.
  7. Add dialogs, narration, captions, and any other instructional comments you want.
  8. Make any corrections and rearrangements you need to improve the board.

Here is how you can use MakeStoryboard to create storyboards easily.

Summing up

Behind every successful comic book is a storyboard that went through many rounds of tinkering and improvements before being laid down in ink. MakeStoryboard makes this process easier and smoother with its roster of features and tools for every aspiring comic book artist out there. Log in and test comic storyboard software by your own!

Want to share your experience?

Become an author

Thousands of creatives tried MakeStoryboard to make beautiful storyboards

start your trial