First Storyboard Wrap Up and Taming the Beast

      4 Comments on First Storyboard Wrap Up and Taming the Beast


OK, so how did the first storyboard treat me? Well, not too bad.

I hadn’t boarded in almost nine months. And the show before that, I did on the computer in Flash. So I hadn’t done a storyboard on real paper for quite some time. It’s good. I like paper and the feel of the pencil on it. Digital and paper both have their pros and cons but I’m content to be doing this one the good old fashioned way.

So I had the director’s meeting and picked up my materials. Then I got home and organized all those materials. Then it was about two weeks of thumbnailing out the whole show. And I gotta tell ya, the thing turned out to be a beast.

It would have been about 250 pages for an eleven minute cartoon and that’s pretty huge. Usually an average page count for eleven minutes is 160-180 pages (remember that’s three panels per page). At least it used to be. Good thing I had my thumbnails! After some discussion with the director, I managed to cut out about the equivalent of 50 storyboard pages.

So it was gonna roll in around 200 pages. OK, I could live with that. It’s better for the show to time in a bit long than too short. Much easier to cut things out than add things in after the fact. But if I know it’s way too long, there’s no point in drawing all those extra pages knowing they will be cut out in the end. It just wastes everyone’s time.

Then it’s down to business. Drawing all those pages. Deep breath…

The best way to get through it is to keep telling yourself, “Slow and steady wins the race.” You can really psych yourself out by just focusing on how much there is to do. I set small goals of what I want to accomplish that day only and just worry about that.


I actually write all the daily page numbers on a post-it note and cross them out as I finish each page. Sounds kind of silly, but it helps to see the progress and little accomplishments. To be honest, I don’t always make it. Then it’s make-up time in ‘hell week’. Fun, fun.

I rough out the pages in light blue pencil then go over that in black, blue or purple Col-erase (TM) pencil. I chose black for this episode (no particular reason…but it does photocopy great). They have a much better feel than regular graphite pencils and don’t smudge as much. They’re close to a Prismacolor® pencil, but better.

As I complete my day’s quota, I also label those pages at the end of the day. I really recommend this. There’s nothing worse than spending eight or ten hours (or more!) trying to label a whole storyboard at the end. The spelling mistakes increase and you get pretty bug-eyed. Plus I like the idea that the pages in the ‘done’ pile are really done. I’ll get into more detail about labeling a storyboard in a future post.

So did I make it? Well, I can’t lie (plus the director might be reading)…it was officially due on a Friday and I needed “that last valuable weekend”. It’s amazing what you can pump out in that last weekend…truly. So it was all fine. First thing Monday morning…no real harm done.

I also made a photocopy for myself. But I can’t show it on the blog (or anywhere else for that matter) because of contract stuff. So I may post older storyboards when illustrating something. This is your portfolio people! Keep a copy for yourself.

Now it’s on to storyboard number two. Deep breath…

4 thoughts on “First Storyboard Wrap Up and Taming the Beast

  1. Debi

    It’s always interesting to read other peoples working methods.

    Question, do you find that your drawings are stiff on the first few pages/day, loosen up as you get into it, and then at the end, get rushed? Like you see the end of the tunnel and can’t wait to get there? That’s always my experience and I wondered if that is common.

  2. KJL

    I’m sure that’s very common. If it’s a new show and I’m not used to the characters yet, then yes, the early panels don’t look like the last.

    I try to not let myself get to that overly rushed stage. The drawings do go faster because as I find ‘the groove’, I get quicker. But I don’t let the quality go down…as much as I want to sometimes!

    I guess I feel the duty to keep it consistent. In animation it has to be, since so many other people with be working from these boards later.

    My next post will be related to this topic. : )

  3. Ivan G.

    I like them col-erase pencils. Didn’t know anything about it until one of my art teacher told me about it. When I tried it for the first time I feel like I can animate things, squash and stretch; no problem!

    My first board project was also done couple of days after the due date. I feel so sucky. It was couple of days before it’s due, and i have about couple of panels to draw and ink (w photoshop). Just right after i put my stylus, my electricity in my neighbourhood was down! And didn’t get back up two days later, which was supposedly the due date. I know this would happen (long story to explain). I told the director whether it’s cool to turn in at a later date, he understood and fine with it. I felt so down cus that was my first gig and tried to make good impression on the director. Anyhoo, shit happens.

  4. KJL

    It certainly does…see my previous post about losing my work! As long as those disasters are out of your control and you give fair warning, no one can really blame you. It’s when you’re late from really slacking off or taking on too much work at once when it’s a problem. So go easy on yourself! 🙂


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