How to Become a Storyboard Artist

Learn what it takes to become a Storyboard Artist in 2024, and how to start your journey.

How do I become a Storyboard Artist?

Embarking on a career as a Storyboard Artist is an exciting journey for those with a passion for storytelling and visual art. It requires a blend of creative talent, technical skill, and an understanding of cinematic techniques to translate scripts into visual sequences that guide the production team. If you're committed to pursuing a career as a Storyboard Artist, be prepared to develop your artistic abilities, gain a deep understanding of narrative structure, and build a portfolio that showcases your unique vision. This path is both artistic and technical, demanding continuous learning and practice, but for those dedicated to the craft, it can lead to a rewarding career in animation, film, television, or gaming.

Develop Your Drawing Skills

Begin by honing your drawing skills, as they are the foundation of storyboarding. Practice sketching, life drawing, and perspective to improve your ability to quickly visualize scenes. Familiarize yourself with different drawing techniques and styles. Consider taking art classes or workshops to refine your skills and learn from experienced artists. Mastery of traditional drawing tools as well as digital art software like Photoshop or Storyboard Pro is essential in today's industry.

Study Storytelling and Cinematography

Understanding the principles of storytelling, composition, and cinematography is crucial for a Storyboard Artist. Study films, animation, and graphic novels to analyze how stories are visually constructed. Learn about camera angles, shot types, and editing to effectively communicate a narrative through your storyboards. Courses in film theory, screenwriting, or animation can provide valuable insights into visual storytelling.

Build a Strong Portfolio

Create a portfolio that showcases your storytelling ability and versatility in drawing styles. Include a variety of work that demonstrates your skill in conveying emotion, action, and pacing through sequential art. Your portfolio should highlight your understanding of camera angles and your ability to create clear and dynamic storyboards that can serve as a blueprint for directors and animators.

Gain Industry Experience

Experience is key in the world of storyboarding. Start by working on small projects, such as independent films, student productions, or local commercials. Participate in internships at animation studios or film companies. These opportunities allow you to apply your skills in a real-world setting, receive feedback from professionals, and understand the collaborative nature of production work.

Network and Collaborate

Networking is vital in the entertainment industry. Attend film festivals, animation conferences, and workshops to meet other artists and professionals. Join online forums and social media groups dedicated to storyboarding and animation. Collaborating with other creatives can lead to job opportunities and help you stay informed about industry trends and standards.

Stay Current and Keep Learning

The field of storyboarding is constantly evolving with new technologies and storytelling methods. Stay current by following industry news, subscribing to relevant blogs, and exploring new software and tools. Continue to learn by taking advanced courses in storyboarding, animation, and film production. This commitment to lifelong learning will ensure your skills remain relevant and competitive in the industry.

Each step on the path to becoming a Storyboard Artist is designed to build upon your artistic skills and understanding of visual storytelling. With dedication, practice, and a willingness to continuously learn and adapt, you can turn your passion for art and storytelling into a fulfilling career as a Storyboard Artist.

Typical Requirements to Become a Storyboard Artist

Embarking on a career as a Storyboard Artist requires a unique combination of artistic talent, storytelling ability, and technical skills. These requirements are essential in the competitive field of animation, film, and television, where visualizing scenes before they are filmed or animated is crucial. Aspiring Storyboard Artists must be prepared to showcase their ability to translate scripts into visual narratives, demonstrate proficiency in drawing, and understand the dynamics of camera angles and character movement. Understanding these prerequisites is key for those aiming to secure a position and excel as a Storyboard Artist in today's job market.

Educational Requirements and Academic Pathways

While formal education is not always mandatory to become a Storyboard Artist, many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in animation, illustration, fine arts, or a related field. Such education provides foundational knowledge in art and design principles, storytelling, and cinematic techniques. Specialized storyboard training, which can be found at certain art schools or through online courses, can also be highly beneficial. Additionally, familiarity with industry-standard software such as Adobe Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, or Toon Boom can enhance a candidate's employability. Building a strong portfolio that demonstrates a range of styles, genres, and mediums is often more important than formal education and is a critical component for entering the field.

Building Experience in Storyboarding

Gaining practical experience is vital for aspiring Storyboard Artists. Many start by working on smaller projects, such as independent films, commercials, or music videos, to build their portfolios. Internships at animation studios or working as a production assistant can provide valuable on-the-job training and networking opportunities. Participation in storyboard competitions or contributing to collaborative projects online can also be a way to gain experience and showcase talent. Aspiring artists should focus on developing a deep understanding of visual storytelling, pacing, and composition, as these skills are directly applicable to the role of a Storyboard Artist.

Key Skills for Aspiring Storyboard Artists

A successful Storyboard Artist must possess a strong set of artistic skills, including a keen eye for composition, perspective, and an ability to draw consistently and quickly. They should be adept at visualizing concepts from a script and translating them into compelling visual stories. Understanding of cinematography, such as camera angles and movement, is also essential. Communication skills are crucial, as Storyboard Artists must collaborate with directors, writers, and other members of the production team. Time management and the ability to work under tight deadlines are also important. Additionally, soft skills like adaptability, problem-solving, and the ability to accept and apply feedback are valuable in this collaborative and iterative process.

Additional Qualifications for a Competitive Edge

Beyond the foundational skills and experience, there are additional qualifications that can set a Storyboard Artist apart. A strong sense of drama, emotion, and humor can help in creating engaging and effective storyboards. Familiarity with the specific genre or style of the production, such as live-action or various types of animation, can be advantageous. Continuous learning and staying updated with the latest storytelling techniques and software advancements are also important. Networking within the industry, attending workshops, and participating in storyboard and animation communities can provide insights into industry trends and lead to potential job opportunities. A passion for storytelling and a dedication to the craft are often the driving forces behind a successful career as a Storyboard Artist.

Understanding and meeting these requirements are crucial steps for anyone aspiring to become a Storyboard Artist. With dedication to developing the necessary skills and building a robust portfolio, candidates can position themselves for a successful career in this creative and dynamic field.

Alternative Ways to Start a Storyboard Artist Career

The journey to becoming a Storyboard Artist is as unique as the visual stories they help bring to life. Recognizing that the traditional path of art school or film studies isn't feasible or desirable for everyone, it's crucial to acknowledge the myriad of alternative routes that can lead to a successful career in storyboard artistry. These alternative paths not only accommodate different life circumstances but also embrace the diverse skill sets that individuals from various backgrounds can bring to the table. By exploring less conventional avenues, aspiring Storyboard Artists can find their niche in the industry, leveraging their unique experiences to shape their professional narratives in design and UX.

Building a Portfolio through Freelancing

Many artists begin their journey by freelancing, taking on various illustration or design projects that can showcase their storytelling abilities. This path allows for a flexible schedule and the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects, which can help in building a diverse portfolio. Freelancers can also gain valuable experience by networking with industry professionals and receiving direct feedback from clients, which can refine their skills and increase their visibility in the field.

Transitioning from Graphic Design or Illustration

Storyboard Artists often come from related fields such as graphic design or illustration. Professionals with experience in these areas have a strong visual foundation that can be applied to storyboard artistry. By focusing on narrative structure and cinematic techniques, these individuals can transition their skills into the realm of storytelling for film, television, or animation. Participating in workshops or short courses specific to storyboarding can help bridge the gap between general design work and the specialized skills required for storyboard artistry.

Utilizing Experience in Comics or Animation

Those with a background in comics or animation possess a keen understanding of sequential art and visual storytelling, which are core components of storyboarding. By leveraging their experience in pacing, framing, and character expression, these artists can transition into storyboard roles, often bringing a unique perspective to the visual development of a project. Engaging with the storyboard community and attending industry events can also provide opportunities to learn from established professionals and gain exposure.

Self-Education and Online Resources

In today's digital age, self-education is a powerful tool for aspiring Storyboard Artists. There are numerous online resources, tutorials, and courses available that can teach the fundamentals of storyboarding, cinematic language, and animation. Motivated individuals can create their own learning curriculum, combining online learning with practice and personal projects to develop a portfolio. This approach demonstrates initiative and the ability to self-direct one's education, which can be attractive to potential employers.

Cross-Disciplinary Experience in Theatre or Film Production

Experience in theatre or film production can provide a practical understanding of storytelling and the collaborative nature of creative projects. Individuals from these fields are accustomed to thinking visually and can often easily adapt to the demands of storyboarding. By highlighting their ability to work within a production team and their familiarity with the dynamics of scene construction, they can position themselves as valuable assets to storyboard departments.

These alternative paths showcase the multifaceted entry points into a career as a Storyboard Artist. They emphasize that with dedication, creativity, and a willingness to learn and adapt, there are numerous ways to forge a successful career in this exciting and evolving field.

How to Break into the Industry as a Storyboard Artist - Next Steps

Develop a Visual Storytelling Mindset: As a Storyboard Artist transitioning to Design/UX, it's crucial to understand the narrative behind user interactions. Craft storyboards that depict the user's journey, focusing on the emotional and psychological aspects of their experience. This approach will help you design intuitive and engaging interfaces that tell a story.

Master User-Centered Design Principles: The core of UX design is to put the user first. Expand your knowledge of user-centered design principles, such as usability, accessibility, and human-computer interaction. This foundation will guide your design decisions and ensure that the end product meets user needs effectively.

Learn the Language of Interaction Design: Transitioning from storyboarding to UX design involves understanding the subtleties of interaction design. Familiarize yourself with the principles of how users interact with digital products, including the creation of wireframes, prototypes, and user flows that facilitate a seamless user experience.

Embrace Design Thinking: Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that can be invaluable in UX design. It involves empathy, ideation, prototyping, and testing. By adopting this iterative process, you can create solutions that are not only innovative but also deeply rooted in addressing real user problems.

Build Technical Proficiency: While storytelling is at the heart of your role, proficiency in design and prototyping tools such as Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma, or InVision is essential. These tools will allow you to bring your storyboards to life in the form of interactive designs that can be tested and iterated upon.

Expand Your Understanding of User Research: User research is the compass that guides UX design. Develop skills in conducting interviews, surveys, usability tests, and other research methods. This data-driven approach will inform your design decisions and help you advocate for the user's voice in the products you create.

Network with Design and UX Professionals: Join design communities, attend UX conferences, and connect with professionals in the field. Networking with other designers can provide you with valuable insights, feedback on your work, and opportunities to collaborate on projects that can enhance your portfolio.

Curate a Compelling Portfolio: Your portfolio should showcase your ability to think critically about design and demonstrate your storytelling skills through case studies. Include examples of storyboards that evolved into user-centric designs, highlighting your process and the impact of your work on the user experience.

By following these tips, aspiring Storyboard Artists can effectively pivot their careers towards Design/UX, leveraging their unique storytelling abilities to create meaningful and user-friendly digital experiences.

FAQs about Becoming a Storyboard Artist

How long does it take to become a Storyboard Artist?

The journey to becoming a Storyboard Artist can vary greatly, as it intertwines artistic skill development with industry-specific knowledge. Typically, with a bachelor's degree in animation, illustration, or a related field, it may take 2-4 years to build a strong portfolio and break into the industry.

However, for those starting without formal education, it could take longer, as self-taught artists must often spend additional time honing their skills and establishing professional connections. Practical experience, such as internships or freelance work, is crucial. Ultimately, the timeline is influenced by individual dedication, the pace of skill acquisition, and opportunities seized, making the path to storyboard artistry a unique narrative for each aspirant.

Do you need a degree to become a Storyboard Artist?

A college degree is not strictly necessary to become a Storyboard Artist, as the role primarily depends on artistic skill, storytelling ability, and an understanding of cinematic techniques. Many employers prioritize a strong portfolio that showcases a candidate's talent and range over formal education.

That said, a degree in animation, film, or a related field can be advantageous, providing structured learning and networking opportunities. However, self-taught artists and those with experience in related fields can also succeed by building their skills through practice, online courses, and workshops. The key is to continuously develop and demonstrate your abilities to create compelling visual narratives.

Can I become a Storyboard Artist with no experience?

Becoming a Storyboard Artist with no experience can be daunting but is achievable with dedication and strategy. Storyboarding requires strong drawing skills, storytelling ability, and an understanding of cinematography. Without experience, focus on developing these core competencies through self-study, online courses, or formal education.

Building a portfolio with personal or speculative projects can demonstrate your potential. Networking with industry professionals and seeking mentorship can provide guidance and opportunities. Consider entry-level roles in animation or related fields to gain industry insight. Persistence and a commitment to honing your craft are essential to transition into a storyboard artist role.
Up Next

Storyboard Artist Skills

Learn which skills will be essential for JOBs in 2024

Start Your Storyboard Artist Career with Teal

Join our community of 150,000+ members and get tailored career guidance and support from us at every step.
Join Teal for Free
Job Description Keywords for Resumes