Storyboard Artist

The role, salary, software, and skills of a storyboard artist

Student work by Jack Sergeant

What does a storyboard artist do?

A storyboard artist is a visual storyteller who converts written scripts into a series of 2D images, commonly known as a storyboard. Images are created by hand or computer to map out the action, framing, and key scenes in a script, acting as a visual guide for how live-action is shot and how the animation will play out. 

Storyboards are used in film, television, advertising, video gaming, and all forms of moving media as a guide for production. This is a vital role as it must convey the spirit of the story through gesture, emotion, movement, and logical progression of action. 

Storyboard artist job description

A storyboard artist helps set out the look, timings, camera angles, and points of view of the sequences. This is a crucial part of the pre-production process as it is the first time that the script is visualized. They must be able to interpret and accurately translate the vision of the director because their storyboards will be used by the rest of the crew and production as a guide for the production process. 

Role & responsibilities of a storyboard artist in film and games:

  • Liaising with writers, animators, and directors regarding the look, style, and level of detail required for the storyboard of each production
  • Reading and interpreting scripts
  • Breaking down the script with the director to identify key scenes and plan them visually
  • Sequencing the scenes from a script into storyboard format using panels of images
  • Including special effects in the storyboard frames
  • Identifying lighting requirements and articulating circles of tension within each scene
  • Including key dialogue or scene directions within each frame
  • Briefing animators on key scenes within the storyboard
  • Amending storyboard scenes during the course of production

Skills required to become a storyboard artist

Storyboard artists need to be able to draw (people, objects, actions, and environments) legibly and efficiently and require strong visual storytelling skills to bring a script to life prior to production. Taking a 2D animation course is highly beneficial to honing your skills as a storyboard artist.

Film and game studios may look for the following skills in storyboard artists:

  • Ability to collaborate effectively with concept artists, writers, directors, clients, etc to visualize the story 
  • Knowledge of various styles and genres
  • Understanding of the principles of animation
  • Knowledge of the principles of storytelling, ie: the hero’s Journey
  • Ability to interpret the ideas of others into detailed drawings
  • Strong layout and design skills
  • Adaptability in working with different directors who will demand varying degrees of complexity from storyboards 
  • Skills in both hand drawing and computer drawing
  • Solid knowledge of camera angles and cinematography techniques

What software and tools do storyboard artists use?

Storyboard artists may work with a combination of pen and paper and computer software.

Storyboard artists may need knowledge of a combination of the following software:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Toon Boom Harmony

How much does a storyboard artist make? 

Storyboard artists fall under the category of animator pay scales, earning an average salary ranging from USD $31,000 for entry-level jobs to USD $98,000 for senior animation positions. (Source: Payscale)



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