What does a Storyboard Artist do?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

A storyboard is a single panel or series of panels that show a mock-up of the sequence of action, staging, and camera shots for a video or movie production. The use of storyboards may help cut production costs by previewing ways to deal with stunts, fights, special effects, comedic encounters, and other complicated and costly production elements. The storyboards may be black-and-white or color and may tend toward the rough or the polished. They may also be rendered on paper or in a computer graphics program and in 2D or 3D. A person involved in the creation of storyboards is a storyboard artist, and there are a number of tasks that can be involved in this job.

A storyboard artist may help set up camera shots for a film or television production.
A storyboard artist may help set up camera shots for a film or television production.

A storyboard artist may apply for individual jobs or work for a studio. Required qualifications may include a BA or BS in Fine Art, Media Arts, or Animation and prior experience as a storyboard artist or a combination of training and experience. Specific requirements generally focus on conveying emotion and movement and may either require working in a variety of styles or matching a set production style. Although storyboarding has traditionally been images, animation abilities may be specifically required for certain jobs, such as preparing storyboards for stunts.

The storyboard artist's work will help film and TV producers envision story elements and potential added production costs.
The storyboard artist's work will help film and TV producers envision story elements and potential added production costs.

A small group of programs are often used by a storyboard artist. These include Adobe® After Effects®, Adobe® Photoshop®, Adobe® Flash®, and Adobe® Illustrator, as well as Autodesk® Maya® and Autodesk® 3ds Max®. In some cases, experience with a Wacom® Cintiq® drawing tablet is requested. Jobs typically move through various stages including sketches, thumbnails, and finished drawings. The resulting product from a storyboard artist’s work may be a television commercial or program, a live action or animated film, a video game, or a computer-based training application, to name some of the most common possibilities.

Storyboard artists focus on the visual presentation a film gives to audience members.
Storyboard artists focus on the visual presentation a film gives to audience members.

Besides the technical skills required, a storyboard artist needs to take direction from the Director, the Head of Story, and specifically from the Storyboard Supervisor, if there is one. Excellent listening skills are required, and the ability to turn verbal descriptions into evocative drawings. Reworking, changing, editing, and recasting initial drawings is a standard part of the process. The storyboard artist may also contribute to character development through the way characters are conveyed in the storyboards. Meeting deadlines, dealing well with pressure, and working with a wide variety of different people are also essential.

A drawing or graphics tablet will be a useful tool for a storyboard artist.
A drawing or graphics tablet will be a useful tool for a storyboard artist.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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