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How To Make An Impressive Animation Storyboard

ben marvazi 2020

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Creating a Standout Storyboard for Animation

The ability to transform a concept into a compelling visual narrative is a skill that sets great animators apart. 

At the heart of this transformation is the animation storyboard, a tool that breathes life into ideas even before the first frame is animated. 

For animators seeking to impress clients, their boss, or simply to enhance their portfolio, mastering the art of storyboarding is not just an option – it’s a necessity.

animation storyboard from Rainbow High

Cover GIF by Rainbow High via GIPHY

In this blog, we’ll take a look at how to make an impressive animation storyboard, offering you essential insights and practical tips to create storyboards that not only convey your vision but also captivate your audience. 

Whether you’re presenting to a studio client or showcasing your work in a freelance portfolio, the techniques discussed here will elevate your storyboard from good to truly impressive.

What is an Animation Storyboard?

An animation storyboard is much more than a series of sketches. It's a visual representation of your animation script, a blueprint that guides every aspect of the production process. 

Think of it as a comic strip, where each panel represents a key scene or camera angle in your animation, accompanied by notes detailing movement, dialogue, and other important elements.

The primary purpose of an animation storyboard is to provide a clear visual roadmap for your project. It helps you plan out the sequence of events, experiment with different storytelling approaches, and communicate your ideas effectively to team members, clients, or stakeholders. 

Lab Onf storyboarding gif by alex Boya

GIF by Alex Boya via GIPHY

A well-crafted storyboard helps identify potential issues early in the production process, saving time and resources. It enables you to experiment with different pacing, timing, and sequencing without the need for costly animation revisions. 

Additionally, storyboards are indispensable for client presentations, providing a tangible representation of your ideas and demonstrating your ability to translate concepts into compelling visuals.

In essence, a well-crafted animation storyboard ensures that everyone involved in the project shares the same vision, reducing misunderstandings and streamlining the production process.

The Do's and Don'ts of an Animation Storyboard

Here are some key guidelines on the do’s and don’ts of an animation storyboard:

  • Start with a Clear Vision: Understand the story you want to tell and visualize it vividly. Your storyboard should reflect this vision with clarity and purpose.
  • Keep It Simple but Expressive: Your sketches don't need to be intricate, but they should clearly convey the intended emotion and action.
  • Include Essential Camera Angles and Movement: This helps anyone viewing an animation storyboard to understand how the animation will flow from one scene to the next.
  • Focus on Keyframes and Crucial Moments: Highlight the most important parts of your story to make sure they stand out.
an alternating animation storyboard

GIF by Alex Boya via GIPHY


  • Don’t Overcrowd: Too much detail in each frame can be overwhelming. Stick to the essentials to keep the storyboard clean and readable.
  • Don't Ignore Feedback: Collaborate with your team, clients, or mentors, and be open to constructive criticism.
  • Don’t Slack on Continuity: Ensure that your storyboard flows logically and consistently from start to finish.
  • Don’t Underestimate Annotations: Use notes to explain what’s happening in each frame, especially where visuals alone might not be enough.

Basic Template for an Animation Storyboard

Creating an animation storyboard involves a blend of artistic vision and structured planning. Here’s a basic template to guide you in crafting your own storyboard:

  1. Title and Project Information: At the top of your storyboard, include the title of the project, your name, and any other relevant information (like the date or version number).
  2. Frames: Each frame represents a scene or a significant part of your animation. These are typically drawn as rectangular boxes, akin to comic book panels.
  3. Scene and Shot Number: Label each frame with a scene and shot number. This helps in tracking and organizing the storyboard.
  4. Sketches/Illustrations: Within each frame, sketch the key visual elements of the scene. These drawings should include characters, important props, and the setting. Remember, these don’t need to be detailed works of art; they should simply convey the scene’s essential components and actions.

Video by The Design Ninja via YouTube

  1. Action Notes: Under each frame, write brief notes describing what’s happening in the scene. This includes character movements, expressions, and any significant changes in the setting.
  2. Dialogue and Sound Effects: If your scene includes dialogue or specific sound effects, include these elements in your notes. Indicate which character is speaking and any important sound cues that align with the visuals.
  3. Camera Directions: Add indications for camera movements like zooms, pans, or cuts. This guides the animation team on how the camera should move within the scene.
  4. Timing: Indicate the approximate duration of each scene or shot. This helps in planning the pacing of the animation.

Remember, while this animation storyboard template provides a basic structure, feel free to adapt it to suit the specific needs of your project. The key is to ensure your storyboard clearly conveys your vision and serves as an effective guide for the animation process.

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Industry Trends in Animation Storyboarding

The animation industry is continuously evolving, and with it, the art of storyboarding. Digital storyboarding tools have revolutionized the process, allowing for greater flexibility, easier revisions, and enhanced collaboration. 

Animators can now create a more dynamic and interactive animation storyboard, incorporating elements like motion and sound to bring their animation storyboard closer to the final animated product.

Understanding these developments is crucial for creating an animation storyboard that not only impresses but also stays ahead of the curve. Remember, full-time animation storyboarding is a career in its own right. If you’re interested in that world, here’s what to keep in mind going forward.

Digital Storyboarding Tools
a dragon drawn on a digital storyboard

GIF by slennnderr via GIPHY

The digital revolution in animation storyboarding has been transformative. Software like Storyboard That, Toon Boom Storyboard Pro, and Adobe Animate offer animators a plethora of tools to create detailed and dynamic storyboards. 

These platforms allow for easy manipulation of elements, quick revisions, and the ability to add annotations and dialogue. They also offer features like layering and 3D models, providing a more comprehensive visualization of the final product.

Interactive Storyboards

The rise of interactive storyboarding is a significant leap forward. This approach integrates elements of interactivity, like clickable areas that reveal additional information or show different outcomes. 

This kind of animation storyboard is especially useful for complex animation projects where understanding the flow and interaction between scenes is critical.

Virtual Reality (VR)

VR technology has opened up new possibilities for animation storyboard artists. By creating storyboards in a virtual 3D environment, animators can gain a deeper understanding of spatial relationships and camera movements. 

vr animation storyboard with two lenses


It allows for experimenting with different perspectives and can give a more accurate sense of how scenes will play out in the animated space.

Collaborative Online Platforms

With remote work becoming more prevalent, online collaborative tools for creating an animation storyboard have gained popularity. 

Platforms like and Miro offer cloud-based solutions where teams can work together on storyboards in real-time, regardless of their physical location. This collaboration ensures that ideas are communicated effectively and feedback can be implemented swiftly.

Incorporating Motion and Sound

Modern storyboarding often includes elements of motion and sound. This approach helps in conveying the rhythm and timing of scenes more effectively. Animators can add basic animations or sound effects to their animation storyboard, providing a clearer preview of how the scene will feel once fully animated.

Using Artificial Intelligence for an Animation Storyboard
an animation storyboard animated into action

GIF by Philippe Dubost via GIPHY

AI technology is beginning to make its mark in the field of storyboarding. AI can assist in generating layout suggestions, animating storyboard frames for preview, and even suggesting narrative elements based on the script. 

While still in its developing stages, AI's role in storyboarding is poised to grow, offering exciting possibilities for efficiency and creativity.

Environmental and Inclusive Storytelling

As global awareness increases, there's a growing trend towards environmentally conscious and inclusive storytelling in animation. Storyboards reflect these themes, with creators focusing on diverse characters and stories that resonate with a broader audience and highlight pressing global issues.

By staying informed and adaptable to these trends and innovations, animators can create storyboards that are not only visually impressive but also reflective of contemporary storytelling techniques and technologies. 

Embracing these advancements can elevate your storyboard to a professional standard that resonates with clients, colleagues, and audiences alike.

Elevate Your Animation Business With a Killer Animation Storyboard

Creating an impressive animation storyboard is an essential skill for animators looking to stand out in the industry. 

By understanding the basics, adhering to best practices, and staying updated with the latest trends, you can develop storyboards that not only serve as effective planning tools but also impress clients and enrich your portfolio. 

black and white animator animating

GIF by Okkult Motion Pictures via GIPHY

Remember, a great storyboard is the first step in bringing your animated story to life, so invest time and creativity into making it as compelling as possible.

Looking for more expert tips on taking your animation career to the next level? Our Animation Business Accelerator Program provides insights, resources, and a supportive community to help professionals navigate the evolving landscape. 

If you’re an animator who’s looking to start your own studio or grow your career, check out our blog on How to Start an Animation Studio to kickstart your animation career today or give our free Masterclass a try first if you’re curious.

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