How do I Become a Storyboard Artist?

G. Wiesen

The requirements to become a storyboard artist are typically more concerned with the skills you need rather than any particular education, though education can help you develop those skills and abilities. Being a storyboard artist is mainly about being able to tell a story through images, typically by visually translating the words on the pages of a screenplay, while utilizing the input from what a director has planned or desires for a scene. This means that the skills needed to become a storyboard artist are often the ability to work with others and to be a fairly talented artist with an understanding of film concepts like lighting and camera angles.

Storyboard artists may paint scenes to help production crews visualize scenes.
Storyboard artists may paint scenes to help production crews visualize scenes.

A storyboard artist works with filmmakers during pre-production and production to visually establish how certain scenes in a movie are going to look. The screenplay for a movie or television show will typically include the dialog for the feature, and some directions for scenes and brief descriptions of events. On the page, a major action set piece might only be a single, brief paragraph, but in the movie that sequence can be several minutes long and filled with complicated camera shots, special effects, and a variety of other difficult elements. The storyboard artist plots out these types of scenes through a number of drawn images to allow filmmakers to come up with ideas and anticipate problems that could arise from various aspects of a scene, before being on a set where every minute is costing the production money.

To become a storyboard artist, you should have some artistic ability. While you may not need to be able to render perfect images at the drop of a hat, you will be expected to capture the essence of a scene for the filmmakers. You may have time to work on your storyboards and refine them, but you may also be expected to quickly make changes and revisions while working with a director. It is important for someone who wants to become a storyboard artist to understand film at a fundamental level. Taking film classes to better understand camera angles, lighting, and the physical realities of a production can help you anticipate what a director might want.

Some schools, especially schools that offer programs or classes in animation, may even have entire classes devoted to learning how to create storyboards. You may consider taking some of these classes to help you gain the skills you need to become a storyboard artist. These schools can also often help you get in contact with companies that hire storyboard artists to help you get into the industry. There are also numerous behind-the-scenes books published for major film productions that often include storyboards to show how a scene came together. You should look into these books to see what artists in the industry are doing and to learn some of the techniques used by professional storyboard artists.

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