But I Can’t Draw!

Well, not with that attitude.

Wish you could produce your own storyboard for a short film? Not an artist? Can’t draw a straight line without a ruler?

I don’t buy it.

If you’re capable of writing your name, you can draw.

Something.

As I mentioned in a previous post, storyboards are about communication, not pretty pictures. Sure, pretty pictures help. I won’t deny that. But if these boards are just for you, or for a small group of people to work from, you can do them yourself. With some guidance and a few tips. Which you will be able to find right here…how convenient!

OK, and some practice : ).

Here’s the good news. For those of you with weaker drawing skills, my advice is to draw less. As in less detail. Plain. Simple. Clean.

Because what happens when you try to add detail? Your unskilled drawing screams, “I suck!” That’s right. You bring attention to the fact that it’s a weak illustration. You don’t want that. You want them to see your story, not just the drawings. And it’s all about the story, right?

But what happens when you draw in simple shapes? What if those shapes just represent a person, a building, a car?

The viewer forgives the drawing.

They don’t place any high expectations on it. They understand it’s just a representation of something. And now they are free to see what that drawing is trying to tell them.

You communicate with them. And that’s what matters in storyboarding.

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9 thoughts on “But I Can’t Draw!”

  1. Hi, Karen…thanks for this fantastic post! I’m jealous that you can explain such an important idea in just a few paragraphs.

    Your article is like the Strunk & White of storyboarding…especially for people that don’t think they can draw well enough to create their own storyboards.

    Keep up the great posts…I look forward to reading the next one!

    —Sherm

  2. Hey K,
    I was about to write a comment on the previous post about, well guess what, “what if I can’t draw?!”

    Since this post have explained about it, now I have a follow up question. So what if you want to do a storyboard for an animation company? How good you must be? And what sort of drawings I should have in my portfolio?

    Thank you!

    Ivan

  3. Hey Ivan,

    I’ll definitely answer your questions in a post in the very near future. This is something other people are probably curious about, so thanks. : )
    -K

  4. Karen

    I agree…I think anyone can draw…adequately. But drawing WELL takes years of practice and/or natural talent.

    People with less innate talent will just have to work harder at it, before they get “good”. And it dosent’ come over night.

    I’ve been to enough art classes where you see people that think if they practice painting 2 hours a week, for 10 weeks, they’ll start producing masterpieces.

    Takes a bit longer than that…

    When I sell my paintings, people sometimes ask how long it took me to do that.

    I’ll tell them “..about Twenty five YEARS! ” 🙂

  5. Hey Friar!

    Exactly.

    This post is for the folks who don’t think they can draw anything. But to create your own storyboard you don’t always need to draw well…you need to communicate well.

    While I do believe people can learn to draw *something* when they tell themselves they can’t, to do it professionally you need natural born talent and lots of practice!

    I learned to play the bass pretty well, but I’d never consider myself a ‘musician’…just a good learner.

    Thanks for dropping by. 🙂
    K

  6. Karen:
    Great post–it took me *months* to figure that out during my RFTV classes in college. But even after our epiphanies, a lot of my classmates still found themselves frustrated by not being artistically capable of showing what they deemed as the significant details, and found themselves drawn to storyboarding software. Many of them chose to invest in the program StoryBoard Quick and were able to easily manipulate the built-in graphics and even import images they had stored on their computers already, so they could create boards for our short stories efficiently and easily. It was pretty amazing to see some of these storyboards, especially from the few that had decided to spend a little more on the sister software StoryBoard Artist. Great tools for the detail-oriented and artistically-challenged to invest in.
    -mwatk19

  7. Hi mwatk19 and welcome!

    Hey, if that storyboarding software helps you, then great. I’m not going to tell anyone NOT to use it if it gets the job done for them.

    I would still suggest working out your shots with stick men in thumbnail form before going to the software. There’s still something about “thinking with pencil in hand” that you can’t replace with a computer.

    But if this does the job after the fact, go for it. Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve never looked into them myself because I didn’t have to. Thanks for the info!
    K

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