Storyboards: 4 Simple Steps to Creating Your First Storyboard

January 11, 2018
Will Kaye
Managing Director

If you’re planning on shooting a film or video, you might consider making a storyboard..

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If you’re planning on shooting a film or video, you might consider making a storyboard. Storyboards facilitate the filming process by mapping out your vision, providing a guide for the shots you need, and saving you time. Some filmmakers, like the great Clint Eastwood, prefer to skip the storyboard, but you’re no Clint Eastwood, so you should probably make one. Here are four essential and simple steps to creating your first storyboard:

1. Visualise Your Story

The first thing you need for a storyboard is a vision. What does your film look like? Where do the events take place? How do you see it playing out? Instead of thinking about it as a whole, think about it scene by scene, and then break the scene down into lines and actions.

2. Get a Storyboard Template

After the visualisation, you can start the actual storyboard. You can create a storyboard on the computer using a drawing application or a storyboard software program, print a storyboard template from the Internet (Google is your friend), or simply draw 4-6 even squares on a sheet of paper.

3. Sketch or Otherwise Visually Depict Each Scene or Shot

Think of each square as the video frame. Inside it, you will depict what is happening in that shot or scene. You can sketch it by hand, generate the images on a computer, or use photographs.

4. Add Lines, Notes, or Directions

Beneath each square, write the line that is said in that shot and/or a few notes describing what’s happening. You can also include notes about camera angles, movements, transitions, effects, or anything else you find useful.

Here are a few things to remember:

The level of detail in your storyboard depends on what you deem necessary for the situation. Are you trying to simply show someone a general idea of your vision? Or are you showing them how you intend to shoot the film/video? For the former case, you might be able to sketch out a general image of a scene/location in each square (say, a party scene in one square and a bedroom scene in another). For the latter case, however, you would sketch out the action/shots within a scene (say, Johny, tossing back a cold soda at the party in one square and Johnny’s hand crushing the can in another).

You don’t have to draw a detailed image. You don’t need to draw in all the props, and you don’t have to use colour. Just do your best to provide enough visual detail to get the idea across, and if you have to use stick figures, well at least you’ll have something! Just keep in mind that stick figures are less of a good idea for a professional pitch or shoot in which the storyboard is needed for the client or studio.

…And that’s the quick and dirty of creating your first storyboard! Do your best! Good luck!