On Facebook, Emmy Award-winning animation director (among many other talents) Mike Milo offered some advice for people interested in storyboarding as a career. Here it is:
Someone asked me to give ‘words of wisdom’ on how to be a storyboard artist so I wrote back and I figured I might as well post it here in case it IS useful to someone new at storyboarding. If you want to add to it feel free.
For me, storyboarding is all about three things….Clarity, staging and excellent drawing skills.
Part of the clarity can come from the drawings themselves, good silhouettes, clear poses and good solid acting. But staging adds a tremendous amount of clarity as well. By staging I mean place everything in such a way so you can direct the viewer to what you WANT them to see not let them decide for themselves.
As a board artist, you constantly need to ask yourself, Is the joke clear?
Do we understand the drama?
Is it easy to tell what’s going on?
Am I clearly telling the intent of the story?
For me most of what makes something clear, is often the amount of drawings used to convey that action. that may sound crazy but the truth is that many artists can be lazy and they cut corners to get the job done and it’s not always clear what’s going on in their boards. Humans use a lot of nuance to show emotion and in their communication and it usually can’t be displayed in a few drawings.
A lot of new board artists simply do not draw enough poses to show what’s happening, thinking that someone else will fill in the blanks. The truth is that the buck stops at the storyboard artist. There IS no one else. It’s the last line of communication. Some think the animators will ‘fix’ it and make it clear.
The animator’s job is to simply clean up what’s there and inbetween it, not figure action out. that’s the job of the board artist. Many seasoned board artists might argue that it’s not their job to do so much work and they’re right but the fact remains it’s essential in this day and age.
If you want to be a good board artist, you have to be able to draw well, be able to act well, have excellent draftsmanship skills, understand perspective, know how to draw backgrounds, props, design characters, as well as be able to set up a joke clearly, and understand WHY we’re cutting to a close up not simply doing it because you feel it’s time. You also need to understand pacing, staging and good layout. It’s a hard job and it’s not for everyone but if you work hard and pay attention to the disciplines above you can do it.