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Storyboard Artist

Learn about the role, salary, software and skills needed to become a Storyboard Artist

Student work by Jack Sergeant

Storyboard artist job description

A storyboard artist is a visual storyteller who converts scripts from written storyline to their visual expression.

Storyboards are used in film, television, advertising, video gaming and all forms of moving media as a guide for production. A storyboard artist will map out a sequence of events in a series of images in frames of action. 

Their work is used as reference points by key departments on a production. They specialize in clear visual interpretation as the storyboard is when the story first begins to come to life.

This is a vital role as it must convey the spirit of the story through gesture, emotion, movement, and logical progression of action. 

Role and responsibilities

Storyboard artists sketch out storyboards by hand or computer to map out the action and key scenes in a script. The storyboard sets out the look, timings, camera angles and points of view of the sequences. It acts as a visual guide as to how live-action is shot and how the animation will play out. 

The storyboard artist must be able to interpret the vision of the director, as the rest of the crew and production will use the storyboard as a guide for the production process. This is a crucial part of the pre-production process as it is the first time that the script is visualized. 

Responsibilities of a storyboard artist may include:

  • 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 

Software and tools

Storyboard artists may work with a combination of pen and paper and computer software such as:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Toon Boom Harmony

Skills required

Storyboard artists work closely with the director to give graphic representation to their vision of the script. They need strong visual storytelling skills to bring a script to life for the first time. 

Employers may look for the following skills in a storyboard artist:

  • Ability to collaborate effectively with concept artists, writers, directors, clients, etc to visualize the story 
  • Training in animation
  • Presentation skills
  • Fluency in visual storytelling 
  • Knowledge of various styles and genres
  • Talent for sketching
  • Photography skills may be beneficial
  • 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
  • Analytical skills
  • Strong layout and design skills
  • Ability to work quickly and react to last-minute changes
  • 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
  • Editing skills

Average salary

Storyboard artists fall under the category of animator pay scales, earning an average salary ranging from USD $31,00 for entry-level jobs to USD $98,000 for senior animation positions. (Source: Payscale)

 

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