I couldn’t help it, I’m Canadian.
This is an introductory post I’ll expand on in the ‘Production Journal‘ and ‘Storyboard Like a Pro‘. If you want to do storyboards for a living and have no idea what it takes, I’ll break it down for you. No sugar-coating…you deserve that. Here we go:
Do you have to know how to draw? Yes. How good? Pretty darn good. Do you have to be drop dead amazing? No. I’m nowhere near amazing, but I’m pretty good and get the job done. As I’ve said before, the drawings aren’t the most important thing in a board. But to work professionally, you need good solid drawing skills. And hey…amazing can’t hurt.
Do you need formal training to be able to work professionally? I’d like to say ‘no’, because anything is possible, but I’d be more inclined to say ‘yes, you do’. Any kind of formal art training is great to grow as an artist. Take classes in drawing, painting or life drawing if that’s what you love. Will that alone make you a storyboard artist? Nope. If you want to work in the animation, film or gaming field, you need some training in that field. You can’t produce storyboards for an industry if you don’t know how that industry works. You must know how a cartoon is produced or a film is shot in order to storyboard for a production effectively. Even if that training is reading everything you can gets your hands on…you need it. It’s expected.
As much I’d like to say working in animation is one big, fun party all the time…it ain’t. Sure, it’s a lot different than a traditional office and you get to be creative and casual and all that good stuff. But it’s a business. And in this business are deadlines and schedules to keep. This is no place to be a flake. The professionals (who keep working) get the job done, don’t lie to the client or studio and meet their deadlines. If you’re not the type of person who can do that, think twice about professional storyboarding. And being organized really helps (though I’m sure there are many pros out there who are admittedly not…it’s an artist thing).
This means personal discipline. If you freelance, the vast majority of storyboard work involves working alone. So very alone. Even if you work in a studio, it’s still a very solitary process. Lots of thinking and drawing at a desk. You have to be able to work in your own time frame, which on one hand is a fabulous thing and on the other, very tough. It’s very easy for a day to get whittled away with distractions and procrastination. Storyboarding involves many long days and nights working by yourself. You’ve been warned : ).
I’ve said that drawing isn’t the most important skill for a board artist to have, so what are the others? There are many. As a professional board artist you have to be:
I’ll write more about these other skills and the traits mentioned above as time goes on (even the nuts part). But for now, they’re things to consider. Do you think you possess some of these skills? Are you willing to learn about the ones you don’t have? Does it excite you to think “Hey, I might be able to do this”? Cool. Looking forward to telling you more.
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