OK, maybe not a million…but lots!
I’m talking about the first step in creating a storyboard. At least the first step I take…I can’t speak for everyone, of course. After getting the materials, going over the script and getting organized, I draw small.
Those little drawing are called thumbnails. Smaller versions of the panels I will eventually draw bigger, nicer and cleaner. Just as the storyboard is the plan for the cartoon or the film, the thumbnails are the plan for the storyboard.
Some artists go right to full size panels and rough out their boards. Then they clean them up. If this works for you, great. But here are some benefits of drawing small thumbnails first.
This is good because you can get it on paper almost as fast as you can think it. Drawing larger can slow down your thought process. It’s very easy to get caught up in making the panel look good. When working from a script, think now, draw pretty later.
Less lines mean stronger composition of the shot. There’s no room to fiddle with details. Just find your horizon line, place your elements and get the shot.
Don’t like it? Change it in a flash. Scribble it out, tape another panel on top or use another page…done! If you were working in larger panels, it’s a bit more of a hassle to change your mind and cut and paste a sequence. You don’t ‘invest’ as much in the tiny drawings, therefore don’t mind changing things at this stage.
You can fit the equivalent of five to ten storyboard pages on one sheet of thumbnail paper. This makes it much easier to see any continuity errors or if you’re using too many similar shots. To get the same with large paper, you might have to lay many pages out on the floor to really ‘see it’. Then your pet will use it as a bed, or you’ll spill something on it, or someone will step…well, you get the idea.
This one is huge. You’ve finished your thumbnails. You have posed out all of the shots with as many panels as you need. You now have a rough little version of your whole storyboard. Now do a little math. How many full storyboard pages do they add up to? How many days do you have left till the deadline? Do a little division and you’ll know approximately how many pages you should be drawing per day to meet your deadline. Factor in days off (these are your safety days in case you fall behind…so add them!). And however many hours you think you’ll need…double it. Trust me.
Now, can you do this when you rough out straight to the large panels? Not really. It’s very easy to lose track of time (you are an artist after all) . And suddenly you find yourself with two days and nine script pages left. Welcome to no sleep and an upset producer when you tell her you won’t make your deadline. Not good.
Thumbnailing works for me. I couldn’t imagine storyboarding without doing that first. If you haven’t worked this way before, give it a try. You have nothing to lose and a deadline to gain!
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