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13 Best Storyboarding Software for Animators

ben marvazi 2020

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When you’re building a successful career as an animator, making excellent animated videos should be your top priority. To do that, you have to use a storyboard.

Animation storyboards will help you step by step in creating remarkable stories that satisfy your animation clients. In creating storyboards for the animated stories of your clients, you can choose between going traditional or digital.

While professional animators have been making storyboards traditionally, this step has taken them a lot of effort and practice to perfect. The process can be time-consuming and physically exhausting overall, especially with the possible inconsistencies in your drawings.

Plus, in most cases, you’ll have to create a digital copy to present to your client anyway. Fortunately, a wide range of software for digital storyboards has been created, making the entire storyboarding process more straightforward by saving time and effort.

More specifically, it allows you to cut, duplicate, resize your different characters, add voice-overs, and revise your entire storyboard frames in a matter of minutes. It also helps you smoothly share your storyboard files with your team and your animation client.

It can sometimes be challenging to find the right storyboarding software. In this blog post, we have provided a list of the free and paid 13 best storyboarding software for animators.

Presentation Software

While presentation software is typically used for presenting pitches and delivering reports, these digital tools can also be adapted into animation storyboarding software. They are sometimes a more convenient tool as they are usually already installed on your laptop or desktop. 

Additionally, presentation software includes a presentation mode that allows you and your team to view your storyboard on full screen. The two common presentation software are Microsoft Powerpoint and Google Slides.

1) Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft Powerpoint software

Image by Microsoft PowerPoint

With Microsoft PowerPoint, you can easily insert notes, sketches, 3D objects, and embed animated videos on the different slides. 

In the latest version of PowerPoint, there’s a storyboard feature that helps facilitate visualization and mock-ups of any kind. The storyboard feature includes a wide variety of shapes accessible through the “Storyboard Shapes” icon. These shapes are easy to modify and revise according to the brief of your client.

However, the storyboard feature of Microsoft PowerPoint is not pre-installed, and you will need Microsoft Visual Studio to download it.

2) Google Slides 

Google Slides website

Image by Google Slides

This presentation software is free, web-based, and offered by Google when you sign up for an account. The advantages of web-based presentation software are the efficient collaboration among your team members and the ability to edit and monitor revisions in real-time. 

Like Microsoft PowerPoint, you can add different shapes and texts in designing your storyboard frames. It is much simpler than storyboard-specific applications and software as it does not involve sketching. Instead, you can upload stock images or custom graphics to be used.

Google Slides can also be used to make storyboard templates that you can download and export into another storyboarding software.  

iOS Applications

Suppose you’ve been using iOS devices like iPads in making your animated projects. If that were the case, there are a number of mobile applications you could use when deciding on an animation storyboard tool.

3) ShotPro 

ShotPro software

Image by ShotPro

This iOS storyboard application is often used by production houses, universities, and creative groups or individuals to conveniently pre-visualize animated videos.

What makes the ShotPro storyboard application ideal is its LiDAR scanner and photogrammetry. A LiDAR scanner allows you to scan and capture tangible objects, materials, and even backgrounds, and paste these elements on your storyboard frames. 

Additionally, the application’s photogrammetry processes the various angles you’ve captured of your subject and turns them into a 3D prop for your storyboard.

4) Astropad Standard

Astropad Standard software

Image by Astropad Standard 

If you own both a Macbook and an iOS device, you can download Astropad Standard as your digital storyboard software. The application requires you to be connected to the internet and allows you to draw on your Mac using your iPad.

Through Astropad Standard, you can draw directly into different creative tools on Mac, such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, among others. This application is optimized to provide a natural drawing experience with high-quality image resolution. 

5) Cinemek Storyboard Composer

Cinemek Storyboard Composer software

Image by Cinemek Storyboard Composer

Cinemek Storyboard Composer is the world’s first mobile storyboarding application. With its simple design, it’s suitable for those who are still starting. In no time, you can insert photos, backgrounds, and other storyboard elements like movements and script notes to visualize your animated story.

Additionally, using this application doesn’t require you to draw as it relies on stock images and videos for its storyboard content.

Graphic Design Software

While illustrators primarily use graphic design software for drawing and designing creative outputs, that doesn’t hinder their ability to become an ideal space for storyboarding.

Animators and animation studios can use the following graphic design software to help visualize and build their animated stories:  

6) Clip Studio Paint 

Clip Studio Paint software

Image by Clip Studio Paint

Clip Studio Paint is generally intended for illustrators and graphic design artists. But you can still use this software to create storyboards and assemble thumbnails for your animated video.

The software boasts its optimized brush engine and offers over a thousand new materials every month, so you can conveniently pick and choose the designs and styles that best satisfy your client.

You can download the free trial to test out the reimagined drawing experience.

7) OpenToonz 

OpenToonz software

Image by OpenToonz 

OpenToonz is a free 2D animation software tool customized and utilized by animation studio, Studio Ghibli. Using this software for storyboarding allows you to draw high-quality and detailed illustrations and add different kinds of effects.

Additionally, OpenToonz has no copyright restrictions, enabling your animation studio to use the different illustrations for all kinds of purposes, including commercial work.

8) Adobe Spark Post

Adobe Spark Post software

Image by Adobe Spark Post

With Adobe Spark Post, you can customize and explore professionally designed storyboard templates or make your own from scratch. 

The very advantage of using Spark Post is the library of stock images and graphics available. If you prefer to customize your graphics, upload your own pictures, or go traditional by printing out a blank template, you have the option to do so on Spark Post.

The software is free and is also available as a mobile application, making it more convenient for you and your team to monitor your storyboard.

9) Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator software

Image by Adobe Illustrator

While commonly used for vector graphics and illustrations, Adobe Illustrator can help you create the scenes in your storyboard frames. 

Unfortunately, you don’t have as many options for photo manipulation but you can still paint and sketch over photographs creating characters, backgrounds or entire frames for the animated story.

10) Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign software

Image by Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is popularly considered a digital tool for layout and page designs, but the software can also make different types of storyboards. There are even downloadable storyboard templates online that can be used by animators on Adobe InDesign.

With this software, you can create storyboards faster by dragging and dropping images from your Adobe Creative Cloud library or an external folder and formatting the different frames on InDesign to “fit content to frame”.

You can try out their free trial and experience the latest version of Adobe InDesign.

11) Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop software

Image by Adobe Photoshop

Similar to Adobe Spark, Illustrator, and InDesign, Adobe Photoshop allows you to digitally create and edit the storyboard frames needed to visualize the animated story of your client. 

Using Photoshop, you can draw storyboard characters and backgrounds by overlaying them on actual photos and video stills, making the entire process of illustrating scenes faster.

Plus, if you use any of these Adobe products, you’ll have access to the Adobe Creative Cloud, allowing you to connect with your team and collaborate on your various storyboard files in real-time.

Online Storyboard Software

Storyboard software is typically used and created online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good digital tool online.

12) Boords

Boords software

Image by Boords

Boords is an online storyboarding software where you can create, revise, and share animation storyboards with your team quickly. 

With this online software, you can better visualize the animated story for your client with its one-click animatics that present the timing, music, sound effects, and subtitles of your storyboard frames. This can either be shared online, exported into an MP4 format, or imported directly into Adobe After Effects.

Boords is also complete with online sharing and frame-specific comments which will help you easily navigate and check off any revisions coming from your team or client.

You can try using Boords storyboarding software online for free during a free trial period.

13) StudioBinder

StudioBinder software

Image by StudioBinder

This storyboarding software is collaborative, free, and easy to use for your animated storyboards. 

With StudioBinder, all you have to do is drag and drop the images you need, and the rest is handled by the software, saving precious time and effort. You can set and rest aspect ratios, paste shot list details, add reference images or sketches, and insert any other specification in only a matter of minutes.

Like the presentation software mentioned earlier, StudioBinder also has a presentation mode that you can use to lay out your vision to your team or client in full screen.

If you’re working remotely, the StudioBinder storyboarding software operates through a cloud-based system that lets your team view your work wherever they are and whenever they can.

The Best Storyboarding Software for Animators Like You!

Choosing your storyboarding tool is crucial for your animation studio when creating animated videos. It serves as the space you will design and create the first and most essential step in your clients’ animated videos.

There’s a wide variety of storyboarding software available to help you efficiently create your animation storyboards — each one with its share of advantages and features. 

That is why you must choose one that’s not only comfortable, cheap, and time-efficient but that will help you improve your work and skills as a creative individual.

Among the best are Powerpoint, Google Slides, ShotPro, Astropad Standard, Cinemek Storyboard Composer, Clip Studio Paint, OpenToonz, Adobe Spark Pro, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Boords, and StudioBinder.

With the list of storyboarding software we have presented, you can opt for the free software or free trials before choosing which digital tool best suits you and your animation studio.

For more tips on developing your skills as a freelance animator or animation studio owner, join our informative and free masterclass and download a copy of our free marketing handbook

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