One Artist’s Process: The Board and The Critique Continued

Well it looks like people are digging watching me rip a storyboard to shreds before their very eyes.

I mean, can you blame them?

Weโ€™ve been following Aidan Casserly along his little journey of creating a storyboard for his portfolio. He purchased one of my fabulous Mini Critiques and is letting us all take a peek.

You can find the introduction post here and his brainstorming and thumbnailing process here.

Then It Got Really Juicy

If you look back at the previous post, you will find his original storyboards and my critique of the first half of them. All in their red-scribbled glory.

I now bring you the conclusion of said critique in more red-scribbled glory.

(Click on the images to enlarge and get a better look.)



  • Panel one, have him walk IN and let’s see him holding the bag.
  • Don’t rely only on words for gags. This could (if a real cartoon) be seen in other languages, so use visuals to support it where you can. So adding an ‘eye’ graphic on the screen will help drive home the message here.
  • Third panel. A bit more acting here would be good. How does he feel about this? Was he expecting this? Annoyed? Confident? Have some fun here with another panel or two.
  • Fourth panel, have the jar come IN to shot and the screen still with eye/required message. THEN screen changes to approved (give it the before and after poses). But we can’t SEE “approved” on that tiny screen. Consider changing this to a big check-mark (that could be green in a finished film).
  • Panel six, same thing. Maybe add a hand graphic. But hook it up by starting with the check mark, then it changes to this next request.



  • Panel one, use same shot/set up as for reaching in for the jar. Could add more acting too. Mounting frustration? Use the opportunity instead of the hand at the bag shot. But just end on him reaching into the bag (not pulling out the hand).
  • Panel two, hand comes IN to shot. Two poses with the screen still with hand graphic. Second pose changes to check mark.
  • Panel three, keep as is, then add another “Ha!” victory pose. Then it changes to panel 5 with your “Huh??” pose.
  • NOW show panel 4. But uh…use a graphic for the message. (Good luck with that one…)
  • Now REPEAT panel five’s “Huh??” pose, then add a “Grr!!” pose to it (two panels).
  • Panel six kind of ruins your hammer gag. (Unless the gag was that he was going to pull a wee-wee out of the bag…but I didn’t think he was. So it kinda doesn’t work.) I’d suggest going wider with him standing in front of the door to start. Then he could turn his back to us, faking us out that he’s going to whip out HIS wee-wee. (A “zip” sound FX could be fun…but it’s the bag).



  • NOW do the hammer gag as is, only cropped a bit closer.
  • Third, fourth & fifth panel has that perspective thing again. Even lower horizon line will help.

But from here to the end, I think could use more story help. Nothing really ‘interesting’ happens from here to the end. Shots of someone just walking (while this should be an exciting break-out) just aren’t that fun to watch.

Then the others just casually walk out of the cells. Hmm. Then it ends with what looks like a line of dialogue that isn’t included. If there is supposed to be some, add it (unless you were going to in the final version). It would be better if dialogue wasn’t needed though.


Since it’s a portfolio piece, I would play with this section some more. Can you add more obstacles for Skapula? Lasers in the room? More tricks out of his bag? Can you use more action and suspense for the final break out? Some kind of ‘time is running out’ kind of thing?

Maybe other guards are on the way. An alarm could go off after he smashes the panel with the hammer. Then through a series of short, inventive (or funny) events, he gets his buddies out in the nick of time.

This will be much more fun to look at in a portfolio. And show off your skills a bit more.


All in all, great draftsmanship with fun characters and a good grasp of visual storytelling. You just need to bring it more to “we’re making a real cartoon here” to take it further away from “comic-land”.

As I tell everyone who get a critique from me, it’s still your choice what to change and what to keep. These are just my professional and personal opinions.

(But of course, I’m right. *ahem*)

Pump up the ending a bit and you’ll have a solid piece to show off your great skills.

The pummeling ends here. : )

And there was much rejoicing.

This was really fun! (Well, fun for me because I wasn’t the one being pummeled.)

I hope to do more of these ‘public critiques’ because it’s a great way for others to learn, it gives some exposure to the artists and I get easy content. It’s a win-win-win I’d say.

And good news.

Aidan has already revised this storyboard. I’ll post that up next week so we can all take a look and see what he changed and where he said, “Uh uh…I don’tย  think so!” to my feedback.

Thanks again to Aidan for being such a good sport.

Yay, Aidan!


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8 thoughts on “One Artist’s Process: The Board and The Critique Continued

  1. Aidan Casserly

    …but if Karen ever decides to get personal, you’ll know it! (Any storyboard artists out there want to participate in a Roast of Karen J Lloyd?).

    Seriously, as I stated in the previous afterword, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. The short, dull ending here was made because I wanted the keep the overall board short and sweet…but, c’mon, this ending sucks! Wait ’til you all see what I’ve done in the revision!

    I’m definitely going to use Karen’s services again, and for all of you out there in Storyboard Land, I openly invite you to give it a try. And remember, Karen’s not the only one who can nitpick and jab; if you guys have thoughts as to how to make this board better, throw it out there! That’s what the comments section is for, right?

    My next portfolio board is going to be Something Completely Different (“It’s…”), so wish me luck as I take on boarding a drama, action sequence, car chase, dog food commercial or a sock puppet version of Rocky Horror or whatever.

  2. Chris K.

    Some very interesting considerations brought up here about trying to shy away from using actual words. The idea that the in-progress and finished product may be seen by an international audience was something i would not have thought of. Works well to practice those visual acting skills that Pixar is so great at– such long sequences without a word and still able to be a tear jerker/knee slapper~

    O that challenge for panel 4 ๐Ÿ˜› i personally really like the zipping sound effect idear!!

    Question concerning length: it seems like there would be a significant amount of boards added in the form of reaction shots and hook-up clarification. Not sure if Aidan’s revisions will exceed the number– but in order to have a more succinct story segment, would it be better to ignore the “less than 15 page” for a storyboard portfolio ‘rule’?

  3. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Aidan – Well, if it makes you feel any better…when I was teaching, a whole whack of students always spelled my last name wrong in the credits of their final film.

    I think it was revenge. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And I do want to add that if part of the criteria of the critique was to keep it under 45 panels, then I would have done more hacking. I was just trying to make it work. We can always find ways to trim. *snip snip*

    @ Chris – When you work on TV productions, that ‘language thing’ gets drilled into you (along with never using brand names to avoid lawsuits!). But you’re right about Pixar. They usually don’t just rely on dialogue for a gag. We *see* it. That’s how it should be.

    And you can see what I just mentioned about length to Aidan. Better to get it working first, then trim. And really, that “15 page rule” for a portfolio was really more taking into account of grabbing a section from a much larger storyboard for your portfolio. Not so much in creating one from scratch.

    But that is a good point you brought up. You don’t want it too long for the portfolio, either way. Like I said, I could still dig in to Aidan’s board and slice and dice it a bit. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  4. kasana

    Another ‘ WOW!’
    I got lot stuff to incorporate. Thanks a lot karen.
    I don’t know if I make sense but with corrections if you can reason it out then it would be just great. cause now I feel that I know what to do..but don’t know why to do/change.
    If I doesn’t make sense…you can leave it with Huh! pose. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    And one thing I must other than your SB tips n tricks. your way of saying things is very good.
    I’m trying to learn this too but my INGLEESH is BED ๐Ÿ™

  5. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Aidan – Maybe in the revision post, I’ll give a few suggestions. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @ Kasana – I guess I could have said more about the “why” of the changes. Sorry about that! I’ll try to talk about that more in the next post with Aidan’s revisions too.

    And your ingleesh isn’t *that* bed. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  6. Pingback: One Artistโ€™s Process: The Revisions | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

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