Storyboard Artist: Job Description, Skills and How To Become One

A storyboard artist, also known as a story artist or visualizer, is a person who can take a script, or even just a concept, and turn those words into a visual story. Storyboard artists play important roles because they control how others perceive a project. Everyone in a production and development team looks at storyboards for reference. Clarity and energy of the panels are greatly important. Think of it this way: You’re transforming dialogue and description of a script into comic book form.

What is a Storyboard Artist? [Animation Story Group]

What does a storyboard artist do?

Storyboard artists gather information about a creative project and the goals of its production team to make storyboards. Storyboards are visual organizers that show how a narrative unfolds with multiple illustrated frames. Storyboard artists rely on scripts and communications with directors to understand how to depict a story. They might use markers and pencils or digital technologies to create their illustrations.

In the early stages of a production, a creative team might be undecided on how to style a project. Storyboard artists help them better understand their options. The storyboard also provides an opportunity to change the sequence of a narrative to make a more interesting plot.

While storyboard artists are important to most media and artistic productions, they are especially important for animated projects. The storyboard of an animated project informs the animation style used in the final product. Live action productions use the perspectives in storyboards to plan camera angles and lighting.

What is a storyboard artist?

A storyboard artist is a creative professional who produces visual representations of narratives for various media productions. Storyboard artists might work with video game makers, advertising agencies, theater production companies or film and television studios. During the planning phase of any production, storyboard artists help creative teams understand how they want to stylize, sequence and depict their project.

How to become a storyboard artist

Here are the steps to take to become a storyboard artist:

1. Develop illustration skills

The first step to becoming a storyboard artist is to develop illustration skills. Beginning artists typically take as many art classes as possible during high school and extensively practice on their own. While there are no formal education requirements for storyboard artists, colleges with a bachelors program in fine arts often require applicants to submit a portfolio. You therefore benefit from producing as much artistic work as possible before applying to higher education institutions.

Experiment with both traditional media—such as pen, pencil and marker—as well as digital ones, like graphic design and animation software. Storyboard artists often use both resources in their work.

2. Consider a degree in art

Depending on your location, skill level and financial position, earning a degree in art can further your illustrative skills and develop your professional network. Here are several art degrees you might consider:

3. Develop a portfolio

Whether you enroll in an art program or continue to develop your skills on your own, undertaking creative projects is essential. Conceiving and completing artistic projects teaches you production workflows and how to collaborate with other artists. Your portfolio can involve work beyond just storyboards, as long as it displays an ability to illustrate, tell stories and improve other peoples ideas. Opportunities for portfolio development include:

4. Develop freelance presence

Most storyboard artists work freelance, at least partially. To earn work as a freelancer, create a professional website that lists the projects you contributed to and details your illustrative strengths. You might earn your first clients by identifying businesses that would benefit from your illustrative and storytelling skills and pitching to them. Explain how you can develop and execute content that would satisfy their specific audiences.

5. Pursue entry-level openings

Once you have sufficient credentials, you can apply for formal storyboard artist positions or find an entry-level position that would expose you to the animation, production or advertising worlds. Here are several roles that can help you transition into a full-time storyboard artist career:

Skills important to storyboard artists

Here are the skills essential for storyboard artists:

Artistic skills

Most important for storyboard artists is the ability to illustrate efficiently in a variety of styles. Artistic skills allow you to interpret written or verbal instructions and produce a satisfying visual image. As your technical ability in art develops, you also become better at intuiting the perspectives and character designs most appealing to audiences.

Creative skills

Creative skills involve problem-solving, imagination and collaboration. As a storyboard artist, you not only create images, you also come up with visual solutions to narrative problems. For instance, a director may want to communicate that a character feels inspired without using dialog. Creative skill is the ability to interpret the situation and depict it in a way that is both original and satisfying to the director.

Communication skills

Storyboard artists communicate with clients, directors, other artists and writers. Their communication skills allow them to engage in active listening, ask insightful questions and share feedback respectfully. Communication skills ensure teams remain aligned in their artistic vision and equally aware of changes made during production.

Collaborative skills

Collaborative skills create positive and motivating environments by respecting the perspectives of all the team members you might work with as a storyboard artist. Collaborative skills storyboard artists use include brainstorming, negotiating between different creative visions and taking accountability. These work practices result in improved conflict resolution, greater trust and more creativity.

Computer skills

Storyboard artists use various specialized software to create their storyboards. They also often depend on hardware, such as drawing tablets, that require practice and expertise to use properly. Beyond creative needs, storyboard artists might organize freelance project information in spreadsheets, write contracts with word processors and scan completed storyboards to send them to collaborators or clients.

Storyboard artist work environment

Storyboard artists work in a variety of environments, depending on their project and employer. When freelancing, storyboard artists might work from home studios, where they have their art supplies and computers with preferred software. When beginning a new project, storyboard artists might extensively travel to attend meetings with various members of a production team. There are also several corporate settings where storyboard artists might work, including film, television and video game studios or advertising agencies.

FAQ

What do storyboard artists do?

What does a storyboard artist do? Storyboard artists help the head of story create a visual representation of the animation’s narrative. Storyboard artists translate the script and the director’s vision into pictures. They produce a series of panels of images to plan the shots and ensure continuity between them.

Is story artist and storyboard artist the same?

Skills required to become a storyboard artist
  • Ability to collaborate effectively with concept artists, writers, directors, clients, etc to visualize the story.
  • Knowledge of various styles and genres.
  • Understanding of the principles of animation.
  • Knowledge of the principles of storytelling, ie: the hero’s Journey.

What does a storyboard artist get paid?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for Multimedia Artists and Animators, which includes Storyboard Artists, is growing by 6 percent. This is expected to result in nearly 1,600 annual openings through 2024.

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