The Purpose of a Storyboard

A storyboard helps creators

A storyboard is a series of pictures in sequence that tells a story, provides instructions or shows the flow of action. Storyboards are used in making movies, cartoons and picture books to help creators know the action sequences. Chinese pictographs and Egyptian hieroglyphics are forms of storyboards. Comics use a storyboard approach and medical instructions often use sequences of illustrations to get the point across.

1 Brainstorming

Storyboards start with brainstorming. Creators come up with ideas they write down or put up on a white board, depending upon how many creators may be involved. Different creators may write on notes they stick on a board. From the different ideas, creators begin to formulate their ideas of how to approach a subject, whether this is a large movie project, an animated cartoon, a comic strip, a picture book or even a flowchart about how to organize a company. Authors use this system in working through book ideas. Brainstorming helps creators play with ideas, choosing those ideas that work well together and their ultimate sequence.

2 Finding Ideas That Work

The brainstorming process produces ideas, lots of ideas. At this stage, creators look at all those ideas written down, listed on the board or posted on notes and begin to see which ideas to eliminate. Not all ideas work together. Seeing the ideas and being able to move them around helps creators project a flowchart of organization and action. Ideas for the storyboard are codified into a flowchart for an organization or key points of action in a story.

3 Rough Illustrations

Once the storyline has been chosen and the key action sequences have been decided upon, creators use illustrations to create a rough storyboard. Each key action sequence is graphically illustrated. These first illustrations may be little more than black and white line drawings. They may be rough ideas of what the final product will look like. Once these preliminary sketches are completed, the creators go through them to see if their idea has translated into graphic form. If a picture doesn’t work, they may rework the drawing or even change a key story action at that point, replacing the picture that doesn’t work in the sequence of the story with one that does.

4 Final Storyboard

Once the creators are satisfied with their rough drawings, they do a series of full color illustrations to create a more finished storyboard. They check that each illustration uses colors, tone and hue that fit the mood of the story they plan to produce. They check the consistency of color from one illustration to another. Going through the storyboard helps creators “see” the actions they will animate for cartoons or ask actors to perform. For illustrators of picture books, this becomes a large step toward the finished product before publication.

Carolyn Scheidies has been writing professionally since 1994. She writes a column for the “Kearney Hub” and her latest book is “From the Ashes.” She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she has also lectured in the media department.