The Positive Side of the ‘NOTs’

Lollipops for Debi 🙂

In the last post I told you five things that storyboarding professionally is not. In case they came off with a negative feel, I’m going to flip them and show the positive side to those five things. Because there are two sides to everything and it’s always a good idea to find the brighter one, right?

So let’s spin these suckers.

1. I said storyboarding is NOT EASY. That’s right, it’s not. But who wants easy? Do you really just want to go through life without challenging yourself and pushing to do better? You can work in a factory or flip burgers if all you want is a paycheck. Do you really want to go through your whole life like that?

Some do. I don’t.

If you have the skills necessary to do storyboarding (or any other skill), you will be sought out. If less people are good at it because it’s tough, then there’s more job opportunities for the qualified folks. That very thing has kept me employed. Be good at something. Have a niche. The harder that niche is, the more valuable you are. Embrace it. I’m glad it’s hard.

2. I said storyboarding is NOT SOCIAL. Well, I don’t always have a problem with that. Yes, sometimes not talking to anyone all day can be tough. Yes, sometimes you miss the social interaction of a studio (if you freelance from home). But you also don’t have to deal with all the political crap that can go on in a studio/office too. All the wasted time. The stress of others that can rub off on you. You may not get along with everyone you have to work with.

It can get tiresome. And commuting sucks.

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5 Things Storyboarding is NOT

I like to keep a positive feel here on the Storyboard Blog (sidenote: I have registered so it’s easier to tell your friends about it…so um, go tell your friends about it 🙂 ). But I also like to keep it real for the people who want to do this for a living or who just want to do it better.

So here are a few ‘nots’ about the craft. Not to scare off or intimidate, but to inform. Hope it’s not too doom-and-gloom-y. I may have touched on some of these before but they are always worth mentioning again.

Here are five things that professional storyboarding is NOT:

1. EASY. This can be a huge misconception in the industry itself. I have heard burned-out animators say ‘maybe they’ll try storyboarding for a while’. Like their lives will be so rosy and laid back if they could board for a living. I’ve seen veteran layout artists (a job that could be viewed as the close cousin to storyboards) give it a go. And fail miserably because it’s a different animal and not easy. It’s hard work that requires many more skills than just drawing. It can also take a toll on your time, your sleep and your sanity and it’s not an easier ride.

2. SOCIAL. If you freelance or even if you work in a studio, this is a very isolating job. You may have the occasional meeting with the director, but you will be working many long hours by yourself. It’s not much of a collaborative effort in television storyboarding (it can be more so in feature films, but not every day). If you have a hard time being in your own head for hours on end (and possibly losing contact with the outside world day after day), this job may not be for you.

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Pencil vs Pixel: A Storyboarding Showdown

So what’s better for storyboarding, the pencil or the computer?

Well, for most of my career I have used good old fashioned pencil and paper. I’m working that way right now. But for one of my jobs I did work by drawing on a Wacom tablet directly into Flash. So I do have some experience with both. I’m just going to discuss this on a basic level for now, giving my personal pros and cons for each.

In the future I’d like to give more in-depth reviews of specific software. But I’m not going to do that until I try them out obviously. And right now I haven’t used any others except for Flash.

If you’re an artist, nothing really beats a good pencil. Especially when you get that one that flows oh-so-sweetly. The feeling of it on paper is hard to duplicate. It just feels like that’s how we artists are supposed to work, doesn’t it?

Yes. Yes it does.

But then these new tools come along (yes, they ‘came along’ for me…I’m old) and they can make your life easier. You can change things at the click of a mouse or swipe of a stylus. You can fix mistakes without eraser shavings all over your desk. It’s sweet.


Those tools can also make you want to toss many hundreds of dollars worth of hardware out of your eighth story window. I have contemplated this myself.

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Why I Don’t Participate in Contests

Well, I’ve taken the Aniboom Radiohead Contest banner down. I posted about the contest a little while back here. It looked like a pretty OK contest even though I stated later on in this post that I wouldn’t enter it myself.

But since it was primarily a storyboarding contest and this being a storyboarding blog, they approached me. They offered to give me a link in their resources section if I put up a banner on my site. I did and they gave me one. It wasn’t in a very promenent place and I seemed to be in the company of only their paid sponsors. Not many links there at all. Weird, but what the hey. No skin off my nose and I got a few click-throughs.


Frankly, I’ve never really gone back to the site since. Just kind of forgot about it and then I’d take the banner down at the end of June when the contest was over.

Yesterday one of the search terms that found my site was ‘aniboom contest scam’.

Ohh-kay. Interesting.

I wondered what was brewing over there but again, forgot about it. Who knew if that person found anything about that subject, right?

Then I get an email today. Most of it wasn’t so much a message to me but a cut and paste from the Adult Swim message boards and some links to the message boards on the Aniboom site.

It didn’t look good.

They’ve picked their ten finalists that get the $1000 to make a minute of animated footage from their storyboards.

But there’s a problem.

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Really Showing You the Money

Okey dokey. This is the second part of ‘showing you your money’.

In the last post I covered the basics of starting to freelance in animation and/or storyboarding. I talked about setting up your invoices and for you Canadians, a bit about the wonder that is the GST. At the end of that I mentioned you can’t spend that GST money.

So here’s a little advice about handling the cold hard cash. Of course, you don’t have to do it this way. This is just how I did things when I started out and it worked pretty well for me. And if you’re young, you’ll thank me in your forties. 🙂

Separate your cash!

The GST you collect isn’t yours and about a third of your income isn’t yours.


That’s right. You’re going to have to pay the tax man eventually. If you think and act like all the money you collect is yours, then you’ll be in big trouble, baby. There will be nothing worse then getting the news that you owe thousands to the government when you only have a few hundred in your bank account.

You may put off paying your taxes.

You won’t sleep at night.

You’ll get dark circles under your eyes and maybe develop a substance abuse problem.

I can’t let that happen. If you want dark circles and a substance abuse problem, just keep storyboarding. 😉

But pay your taxes! Because it will catch up with you eventually.

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Show You the Money: The Basics

OK, I’m back. And I even had four days off…guilt-free. It’s a gift from above, let me tell you.

So here is the first ‘real’ post about handling finances and taxes as a freelancer after a request from one of my readers. See? I read my email and answer your burning questions! As best I can, at least.

But first, the big disclaimer:

This is meant as a general guide for beginners just starting on a freelance career in animation (or otherwise). I am in no way shape or form an authority on anything to do with your taxes or your finances. I’m pretty good with my own money but I prefer having someone else tell me what to do with it.

This is just how I do things and it’s quite possible I could be doing them better. And some of this may take a Canadian slant, so my apologies to the U.S. readers (and all you other wonderful folks). This post had some links to articles geared towards Americans so that should balance things out. I have zero knowledge about other countries on this matter.

Have I beaten that to death enough? Good.

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A Little Weekend Brain Food

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m still pooped. I survived Hell Week, but I’m pooped.

I will do the article about money and taxes but my brain can’t quite handle it yet. I’ll post it up for Monday or so. In the meantime, I’m going to post this article by the very cool Christina Merkley. She’s a personal coach that uses visuals to help her clients (see her blerb at the end of the article). So she thinks like us artist-types.

This might be a little ‘touchy-feely’ for some, but I think we can all use a little pick-me-up in this business of ours and check in with our way of thinking. Maybe you’re down because you can’t find work. Maybe you’re overwhelmed right now. Or just feel a little lost sometimes. Here’s some brain-food-for-thought for your weekend.

Hope you enjoy and I’ll be writing something in the next few days. Thanks for your Hell Week patience. 🙂 – KJL


We’ve all have them. Sometimes they last a short period. Sometimes they last weeks, months, years, decades – yikes, perhaps even a lifetime. I’m talking about downward spirals. Where negatives things pile one on top of another, until it seems that is the only reality that exists.

In the last few weeks I’ve fielded several calls from colleagues and friends who are in a down place. They’ve hit a bump, a logjam — what seems and feels like a downright calamity. They turn to me for some hope and inspiration, as they know I’ve weathered tough times and have come out the other side. So, having been through this process, I can understand it a bit and hopefully guide others about what to do and what NOT to do. So here is what I am sharing them with.

1. Recognize What You Are Doing

If you’ve got a negative spiral occurring, the first thing you need to do is recognize that you’ve got one and take responsibility. Chances are this has been building up for a while. Negative spirals don’t just come out of the blue. They are a slow build up of energy that eventually picks up speed – attracting negative situations and events like a magnet. Like attracts like. Somewhere back in the chain of events you got something you didn’t like and you really focused on it – and unfortunately, you began an attraction parade from there. Its very easy to do, and unfortunately again, our society kind of supports this way of thinking and being.

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