Animation Career Paths – The Storyboard Artist

The storyboard is the visual shot-by-shot translation of a script and is the basis for the entire production process that follows, including design, background and layout, animation, and postproduction. Despite changing technology, storyboards are still mostly drawn by hand.

Storyboards represent the finished product long before great time and expense goes into a project. The storyboard artist, working in the style of the porudction, maintains storytelling continuity, breaks down the script into scenes or shots, establishes the size relationships between characters and props, and indicates the acting by hitting strong poses on each story point. In addition, the storyboard artist is often the first to rough out new background locations, characters, and props. A storyboard artist balances strong drawing skills with a good knowledge of anatomy, acting, directing, staging, and the ability to think creatively and quickly. With such commanding skills, story-board artists often develop into animation directors.

Veteran storyboard artist and co-creator of Frederator/Nickelodeon's Call Me Bessie!, Diane Kredensor, describes the daily duties of a storyboard artist, "First, you go through the script and thumbnail out your shots. Then you pitch your thumbnails to the storyboard supervisor or animation director for notes and changes. From there, you flesh it out, adding the acting, into a full rough storyboard. Some productions already have the voices recorded and the board artist will board to track. Otherwise, you create (draw) the acting and the voice actor match your board. Once your rough board is approved by the director, you make it pretty, putting everything on model, and then you're done.

What kind of training and skills does a storyboard artist need to develop to start out and to keep advancing in her career? According to Diane Kredensor, you want to be a good draftsman, able to draw the human figure in a variety of poses. " Other skills should include strong storytelling, cinematography, staging and composition. Storyboards should clearly communicate ideas to the entire production team, so strong communication skills are an important asset".

All the experts agree that the most intensive learning takes place on the job. The more experience you have out there working with other people's good boards, the better your own boards become.

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