Drawing a storyboard is one of the key aspects of the filming process. Being on-set without it is like having a, having a, it’s like having, yes, it is like… Get the picture? We sketch the situation that needs to be acted out in order to be filmed.
Storyboarding is an excellent way to learn just about everything of the filming process; characters, environment, plot, framing, composition, lighting etc!
So today I’ll share how you can get some excellent resources, actual storyboards, which you can use to study and learn from. When I started out, I knew nothing about storyboards and this was the method I mainly used and still learn from! Whenever you have time you can just grab a coffee, sit down with them and have a blast.
So what is this available resource? Graphic novels or comic books. Why? They are basically scripts, turned into storyboards, almost ready for filming. Think about super hero movies and the books they are based on, it is basically a hard copy of what happens on-screen.
They contain a wealth of information. They are also an excellent source for learning how to write scripts, by doing some reverse engineering on the story, characters, dialogue, plot etc. Learn how to write something that best describes a scene; it should make sense to an actor that needs to act it out and the artist that needs to draw it.
Get a black and white graphic novel and you have the opportunity to do set design with colours. Also study actual set design and how it supports and builds the story and characters.
Framing and camera movement are all in there too; wide angle, medium, up-close, birds eye view and just about every other shot you can think of. A lot of the scenes are presented in portrait mode, this gives us the opportunity to frame those scenes with the right orientation and still convey the same message accurately.
Take a pencil and scribble down on every page possible lens choices, lighting diagrams, effects etc. Create detailed shot lists that can be handed to crew members. Don’t forget audio recording! Determine the kind of mic setups for dialogue, action, ambient sounds, foley etc. Plan all the gear and crew necessary for each scene. It is a HUGE source to learn from, not only for storyboarding.
If you want to draw your own storyboards, but you’re not good at drawing except for stick figures, then search on the internet for tutorials that teaches the very basics. Learn how to draw really basic shapes and how they are then used to shape objects/people. This helped me immensely. I started out with really skinny characters on my first attempt of drawing, they were all stick figures, but progressed to something a bit more pleasing after a week or two. Comic scenes don’t look scary anymore and dramatic scenes at least don’t look like a comic. At least the crew now kinda knows what we want to achieve. Some scenes from my first non-stick figure storyboard:
I use manga books as they are the easiest for me to obtain. It just takes a little bit of effort finding something without suggestive and blood filled stories. I am not into negative media, there is already enough of it out there.
I hope you have a blast learning from these professionally written graphic novels/comics. Next time we’ll concentrate on something even more exciting regarding these storyboards!