So What IS A Storyboard, Anyway?

      20 Comments on So What IS A Storyboard, Anyway?

In short, it’s a bunch of drawings that tell a story in a clear and organized manner.

“Kinda like a comic book?”

Pretty close, but with some differences. It’s a visual interpretation of a story or script that depicts every scene, action and camera movement. The storyboard has to work technically and follow the same rules as a film. Comics can be looser in format (not that I’m a big comic expert, but it’s how I see it). And you don’t put the dialogue inside little ‘bubbles’…but more on that in later posts. 🙂

So what do I mean by ‘an organized manner’?

Well, a real storyboard isn’t just a bunch of pretty pictures slapped together. Labeling is just as important as the drawings. They must have shot, scene and panel numbers and be labeled with action notes and dialogue. Without that, you’ve got nothing. At least from a professional (or practical) stand point.

Because the most important aspect of the storyboard is communication, not drawings. There are many great artists who can’t do boards. Really!

But I’m not going to sugar-coat it for those who want to do this professionally…you do have to draw well. Among many other things. Future posts, my friends.

And for those of you who think they can’t draw, fear not! For your independent projects, you can do more than you think…just stick around. I’ll have plenty of stuff to show you.

20 thoughts on “So What IS A Storyboard, Anyway?

  1. Tommy Vogt


    I’m in my last term at Animation Mentor and although I should have read this last term, I am reading it now and its good stuff! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience!


  2. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi Tommy and welcome! Better late than never, right?

    Have fun poking around the archives.

    And holy moly, you’re the first person to comment on this post! It’s like my second one. Thanks for that. 🙂

  3. Level_Head

    Ah, so it IS okay to comment here? ];-)

    The reference to numbers got me thinking — perhaps the whole movie Memento came about because the storyboard artist didn’t number his cards.

    And then the stack was dropped…

    Best wishes.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  4. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Yes! Comment anywhere, I see them in my dashboard so it’s all good. 🙂

    You may be right about Memento. How funny would it be if that were the truth (or inspiration for the story at least)?

    I rather enjoyed that movie…even more the second and third time when I figured out everything!

  5. Egypt

    Dear Karen
    My name is Ashraf Hamdi, Egyptian cartoonist and trying myself in Storyboard career (for 2d animation) . I liked your blog so much and i see it’s very helpful, but i’m asking please for some written scripts and the storyboards for them as a guide , i think it’s a good way to understand the concept more clearly , where can i find some of this stuff or can you tell me about some free online sites or book to learn from ? Thankx alot Karen.

  6. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi Ashraf and welcome!

    I guess you want to see the written script and the storyboards for it side by side? I’ve thought of trying to do this is some future posts. I guess I just worry a bit about putting part of the writer’s script up here. But if I give credit, it may be OK.

    I really don’t know of other sites that might have this. And I’ll be adding books to my resources section soon, so watch for that. In the meantime, have you done an Amazon search? There are few good ones out there.

    I just got “Directing the Story” (but haven’t read it yet) and it looks pretty great. Lots of samples.

    Sorry if I wasn’t more help right now. 🙂

  7. Ashraf Hamdi

    Thankx Karen, you are sooo kind and i’m really happy for your reply,
    Yea 🙂 you got it : “”i guess you want to see the written script and the storyboards for it side by side?”” hope to find some of this stuff anywhere.

    Adding books for your resources section will be more than GREAT 🙂 So i’m waiting on fire ( as we say )

    Frankly i’m a cartoonist for some newspapers , magazines and websites , but in Egypt , drawing cartoons is completely separated from comics and storyboard fields ( beside being a dentist too ! ) so i’m working with talent only with no academic studying ( may be some self studying just to learn basics and know about different techniques )

    And today will be my first day in storyboard career ! SOOO SCARY :S i’m really shaking :S

    I read your adviced about the career “” before you work for free “” and i found that i need to work for a little money as a beginner, they need 50 frames per day( = 1100 frames per month) for 600 $ per monthly !!! Waaaaw :)))) Hahaha
    Vampires !!!

    any way i’m happy trying my self in storyboard career , and more happy for your great advices and helpful posts.

    Really Thankx
    and sorry for chatting alot.

  8. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi again Ashraf.

    $600 a month??? Remind me never to get work from Egypt! That is pretty crazy, my friend.

    Vampires is right. They are going to take *all* your blood at those rates! 🙂

    Keep me updated on how the work goes and good luck!

  9. Ashraf Hamdi

    Thankx Karen for reply,
    They changed the deal to 400$ a month for only 35 frames per day instead of 50 frames !!! my rate is 27 frames till now. and Yea 🙂 , DON’T get work from Egypt, you can add it to the career advices on your blog :)))) if it’s possible i want to send you some of my work but don’t know how.
    Thankx again.

  10. Ashraf Hamdi

    Sure Karen, i want to show you some samples but how ? i can’t upload this stuff on my blog because the Supervisor is on of my blog fans 🙂
    can you send me your e mail ?
    Thankx alot
    and i’ll run away sooon, just after training my self to work as a donkey 🙂 “i mean hard working”

  11. Ashraf Hamdi

    Hi Karen
    i want to ask you about the difference between Storyboarding and Directing! if i draw a storyboard am i a director of the the movie? what’s the role of Director then ?
    it may be a very silly question but i really wany to know

    by the way i sent you some samples about 1 week ago and waiting for reply
    many many thankx

  12. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Ashraf – Yes! I have your samples, I just haven’t had a chance to get back to you. Sorry about that! Soon though. 🙂

    Well, if you are doing your own film, then as storyboard artist, you are indeed the director too.

    But on a production it’s a little different. On a cartoon, in the live-action sense, the storyboard artist *is* acting as director and director of photography by selecting the shots and deciding what the ‘actors’ are doing.

    But in animation, the director’s role isn’t just all about that. They review the scripts, they approve all the new character, location and prop designs, they approve all the color styling, they go to all the voice recordings, the post-production stuff, as well as having final say on all the storyboards (and more).

    It’s a very big job with a lot of responsibility. It’s not just about the storyboards. That’s why the best gift to an animation director is a good storyboard artist. It makes their life that much easier.

    So no, you’re not the director. BUT you are *acting* like a traditional director by the decisions you make to tell the story. It’s a big responsibility and is appreciated by the actual director.

    I’ll be in touch soon. 🙂

  13. Ashraf Hamdi

    Thank you very much karen for your useful answer , and for your wonderful blog, i’m goning to read the new posts right now
    have a nice day.

  14. Lo Lo


    I have to do a PowerPoint presentation that storyboards an epiode of a medical drama or documentary. I have to do speaker notes with a summary or script that must occur in each scene.

    Please help, I do not know where to start, I don’t even know what storyboarding is. I have until tomorrow to turn in my rough draft.

    If nothing else, can you please tell me where to start? I am freaking out, because I do not have time to do what I do not know anything about.

    should I just fail this class, or can you help me? I definitely need specifics.


    Lo Lo

  15. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Well LoLo, you or someone else has asked me this exact same question before.

    If you are serious about getting help, you should probably go to my contact page and email me directly.

    But answer all that in a comment? By tomorrow? Sorry, no. You can certainly find out what a storyboard *is* by reading the blog.

    Sorry I can’t be of much help on such short notice. I wish you luck though.

  16. Isac Galvao

    Hi Karen! I was browsing on internet looking for more stuff to complete a workshop I am preparing, and found your page. NICE!!!
    Best wishes and keep doing the wonderful job!

  17. Lynn Magnuson

    GREAT site here.
    I’m a new film student (although I’ve been a still photographer almost since birth 🙂 and this storyboard stuff had me confused. That is until I wandered over to your website and looked at what you had on it, and the descriptions of what a story board is. Definitely NOT a comic book 🙂 Keep writing. I love it. I’ll even send you a free copy of my film when I get it done. Maybe both of them …

    I’m having fun. Going back to wandering your website now …

    Lynn in New Orleans, LA. (aka Hollywood South!)


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