no problem! i love answering questions that may help!
yes i do have an art degree, but since it was not close to animation, i got an ma in animation too
I got my gigs as storyboard artist by making a story portfolio i would be feel comfortable showing around and applying, and keep practicing… it means by making storyboards all the time, lots of them..and by also taking part of other parts of the animation process, after all it is a team sport :O
The path to become a sboard artist is really different for each person, and for me, it mostly depends on where in the world you are, if you can work in big studios or move close to them , if you get into your local industry…that kind of stuff, if it is a small studio you may need to know other aspects of production such as design and actual animation.
Most people won't need an ma, BUT it is necessary for you to have storyboards to show for applying to jobs. Also, you gotta think about starting from the beginning (aka as a revisionist or assistant)…
..but mostly, for being a storyboard artist you gotta truly focus on the story part of it. “why things happen and how to show it the clearest way possible”
Most senior storyboard artists and directors i have talked to do not care much if you have AMAZING illustrations if they cant see the potential storytelling…still It requires drawing A LOT so it is a plus if you are clearly comfortable with it
i am here to help! if you have any more questions about any part of it, it’s cool!
i can talk all day about storyboards …, since..it is my big passion :>
Sometimes I get questions in my art blog about studying animation and being a storyboard artist.
A bunch of of artists/animators come together to reanimate an episode of a cartoon scene by scene, a different animator for each scene. Each animator receives a random scene and can interpret it however they please.
This was a non profit collaborative project. The final video will not be monetized in any way as respect for all of artists.
Staging and Board
Reimagining the Characters from Kirby
After Effects is one of the most important softwares for Motion Graphic and Character Animation out there, and, since my practice is been based on drawing, I was really unfamiliar with it.
With any new software, my best first approach is with a step by step tutorial.
The ones I found more helpful were the ones by Jake Bartlett in Skillshare and for a week I dedicated myself to rigging puppets, and understanding the basic commands and timeline on a software I was running away from the beginning of my animating career.
I dedicated my MA in Animation at the Bristol School of Animation to truly understand what it means to be a Storyboard Artist and how to develop my artistic career as one.
This is a reflective analysis I decided to publish in 8 parts about my personal and professional practice from the point I decided to become a storyboard artist and being part of the animation industry.
Having drawing as a central point in my practice, and not limiting myself to only learning about storyboarding but being able to adapt this existing illustration skills in different projects. I’ve been involved in layout, and editing my own animatics and final projects, also and more important, develop other set of skills to further my career in animation: I was able to learn about visual narrative and storytelling into a much deeper level. This skills I developed in different projects can be adapted in different aspects I am interested but was not sure how to develop during the MA, like comics and children stories as they all share the principles of drawing and storytelling.
Although it is clear that I still have room for improvement, nowadays I can say that I can perform professionally as a storyboard artist. I have gained and applied my experience adapting several skills to new environments and performing different roles in various projects while obtaining a better idea on what aspects I need to improve. A big part of the industry is about working on teams and relying on other people’s abilities to get the most of a project, big or small. and having a broad understanding of various keyponts to not feel at lost in different situations that may occur is a personal advantage since part of the storyboard artist job as someone who extinguish fires before they happen.
Drawing is still the axis to develop my career, and being able to develop skills that are useful in more than one way is important in the industry to keep the job, but also to develop a creative voice in personal projects. Storyboard artists work with the composition, storytelling continuity and establish relationships between characters and assures the flow of the sequence. They balance “strong drawing skills with good knowledge of anatomy, staging, acting and the ability to think quickly” (Levy, 2006) A storyboard is the drawings that illustrate a narrative momentum and it is after all a tool to help visualize the film, and like that, they are often discarded to create a stronger point in a story, it is, after all, thinking in terms of visual storytelling and quickly translating those thoughts so they can be pitched, revised and dissected. For the story.
Francesca and Lizbeth – Puzzle Pieces
Storyboard Pro - TVPaint
Direction, Production and Storyboard: Luisa Cruz (2nd year MA Animation)
Animation and Character Design: Vasilena Kavanozova (Level 3 Animation), Victoria Povey (Level 3 Animation)
What the animators say about the piece:
"The conversation between the two mothers gives us an insight about their experience and after sharing their points of view it leaves us feeling uplifted.
As we aimed to show precisely this in the animation we made the little birds complement each other and at the end fit perfectly under their mother wings as they shared a warm and fluffy hug."
When I was given the opportunity to have another brief with Childrens in Need Charity and the BBC radio, I was heads on to making it. Practice is important not only in the technical aspects of animation but also at the moment of facing a production. Bsides, being a brief with only one month to get the animation to screen I was sure to be able to accomplish it if I followed a fitting schedule.
For this project I also worked in a team with two animators from third year, and assumed the role of director. At this point I already had experience doing several aspects of a production and since I had a deadline clear I organized every single task for the animators to be able to focus on animating. In our production meetings we discussed aspects of the work like design and story, and by the moment the animatic was ready, I jumped directly to work on the backgrounds and preparing the file for the final edition. Was the kind of project that requires a steady pipeline to be able to deliver what we already had promised to the BBC.
In both briefs for the BBC many groups dropped in the middle of the production for not being able to finish it but personally, the experience to bringing something to screen is far more valuable as it shows the organization and the ability to compromise to the ones that made it possible to complete the animation in such a short time.
The experience of being a director was important in many aspects, one of them being that one of the future developments in a storyboard artists career is becoming director themselves and, in the guiding environment of the academia, it was the safest way for me to try this role I feel is too far from where I am standing right now. My major difficulty was communicating with the other team members as someone in charge, to be able to drive exactly what I envisioned and, as ALSO a flaw in my storyboard skills, is also not in the animatic. Even with the stressful nature of directing a short, I tried to apply what other with more experience directing told me. Having people to ask for advice in this aspect was one of the reasons we could deliver the animation.
The animation industry and creators have a need to share their work since it is the only way to get feedback from it. Online presence is beneficial for networking and may be useful to nail freelance commissions and/or studio jobs. As a visual storyteller, it also helps to build an audience that eventually could support personal projects. The animation industry has changed in recent years thanks to artists now being able to share their work online at all time, generating an audience and hopefully also captivating the interest of specific directors. This article from Anime News Network is one of the most interestings since it reunites the experiences of american, european and australian animators that have gotten into the industry by animating and sharing what they do in social media." Learn animation. Post your work online. Take feedback. Improve. Be recruited onto a high profile project as a key animator." The feedback from the public is as enriching as watching what other professionals are doing, which can develop the critical eye on own productions. And even further, having my work organized online can contact me with studios in other countries and widen my career possibilities.
Getting in contact with people in the industry is often the most important way to get relevant feedback and sometimes even the smaller tip can change the way of approaching the same work I was doing before. The only way to get into a dialogue with people in the industry is having some work done and be able to show it, even a little. Many of the animators and storyboard artists are really happy to answer any questions about being part of the animation industry, and they are often more accessible through their own social media.
It has been the tips from storyboard artist looking at my board that have gave me a big breakthrough on the job. More than often, as storyboard artist we are so focused on the board we are doing that those small tips, like paying a little more attention to the foreground or using the negative space in a character design, are often seen as tricks and are the most difficult to see when immersing in a specific script, but they speak more about the experience of working on different type of boards and having someone reviewing them directly.
Most of the artists I reached work on projects or have online platforms that I have followed for a while. Others were recommended to me. I wrote to fifteen people and received answers from eight of them.
After speaking with them, the main lesson was an obvious one: storyboard artists work in all of the fields of visual media. Adaptability is necessary to work on the field, because the size of the crew, the production needs and the resources vary wildly among short films, tv shows, feature films and advertising for different media. Even if my main goal is to be able to work in a studio based job, I know I must learn about the characteristics of freelance jobs, since they make up for a great percentage of the offer.
The questions I send to them where:
•What was your first job in the industry? How did you get to work as a storyboard artist?
•What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
•What kind of additional skills may help a storyboard artist working in animation?
•How do you approach scripts? is it any different for short projects than for big ones?
And in the case of the directors: how their role as storyboard artists influence their role as directors.
Key points I found are:
•Each project is unique, therefore it must be approached with a brand new mindset. The job of a storyboard artist is to figure out the specific requirements of the story and the clearest way to satisfy them visually.
•Each director approaches projects in a different way and the crew operates differently according to this approach. The storyboard artist must be able to adapt and take the best of every new experience.
•Type casting is a real thing in the industry. In some features, the storyboard artist is picked to plan a specific scene that requires high skill in action or drama expression, other times, it is more about the general feeling of the entire project.
•Related to this, it is vital that the storyboard artist and the director understand each other.
•Storyboard is all about planning and a storyboard artist needs to keep all the aspects of storytelling in mind for being able to deliver. Acting, colour, composition, cuts. All must be clear in the storyboard and come natural to the storyboard artists, which is why having experience in several projects is important. Storyboard notes come very handy.
•It is important to question everything that is going to be shown to the audience: why the director wants it to be like it is, which is the best way to show it, how will the material get clear enough to make the cut.
•The simpler the better.
•Mastery comes from practice and experimentation. It is essential to try different scripts, techniques and audiences, as well as studying composition and narration in finished products like movies, ads and TV shows.
•Most of the interviewees work digitally, using mainly Adobe Photoshop and Toon Boom Storyboard Pro. Some of them consider the proficiency in the latter a requirement to work as a studio artist in the industry.
•The length of a project can go from one or two days for advertising, to two or three years for feature films.
•Newcomers normally get jobs as revisionists, where they help tying up the storyboard artist’s work with the director final needs. It is a great way to enter the industry because one can see the storyboards from professional artists and listen to the director’s commentary first hand.
I looked up for the requirements big studios have for their storyboard artists, what do they want to see in a portfolio and which skills they appreciate in an animator too, because I got from the interviews that several storyboard artists also work as animators or even concept artists and character designers.
They definitely need that the storyboard artist understands the pipeline and commits to make it flow, since a production is a team effort to put a finished product on screen and the storyboard artist is one of the critical pieces in the functioning of this mechanism. The pipeline is the tool to understand the whole process and define who needs to work at every step of it. With it, the storyboard artist can manage to make the blueprints to all the departments in time and assure everything goes as planned and the studio can be sure their money is not going to waste.
Behind the scenes documentaries for feature films are great to see this in detail, since they show how the work of the storyboard artists intertwines with the rest of the crew and how different studios approach the challenges of production. Cartoon Network, Pixar and Dreamworks have information about this online for everyone to see
For being a successful artist in an industry means to be able to develop a critical eye on your own work and how it is serving to your purpose as a visual artist. For me, the way to achieve this was to realize that I am on an entry level on the industry and the people that would hire me knows that. It means that I have to be incredible perceptive and actively look for feedback from people working on animation. Many established artist on the industry count with years of experience to have a signature style, and knowing that even if that is one of the characteristics of successful artists, they also count with the time and experience to develop it and to keep growing as artists.
The main issue with wanting to be a storyboard artist is that getting started with storyboards is not exactly easy, since there is not just one way to do storyboards. They are made for the production you are in and they all change with the type of production. Between books like Cristiano, G. (2008) The Storyboard Design Course where he approaches different points about many different aspects of storyboarding such as director notes and the difference between storyboard for animation and shooting boards.
One of my principal fears of going all the way into storyboard from the beginning was the professional opportunities that it has in the local animation industry and in the international one, as I also have to keep thinking on where i am going to be in the future and what is my professional projection.
In general, looking for professionals currently working in the industry has been very enlightening and useful since I decided to focus on storyboard: getting in touch with people working on the field I am interested in is the best way to know what to expect and how to prepare myself for it.
The interviews I have conducted through my research have influenced widely my approach to storyboarding, because the different artists I have spoken with have told me about the discipline and the importance of order and continuous improving of one’s own process. These interviews gave me great insights on how it is like to work for different clients and formats, They also let me hanging on several aspects widely on how to get out there and get a job in the industry. The information they all gave me is mainly about their own experience when they started, be it several years ago, in other parts of the world or juts with other conditions to their first job. I was still lacking on that first step.
I learnt that their advice, even if well intentioned was at some extent not helpful completely, and for the same reason following it blindly would have been a mistake . The professionals with longer trajectories coincide that the use of specialized software is not really an important tool to get into a job, while a couple of canadian storyboard artists in starting jobs, even in the other side of the world, insisted it was one of the advantages they had. After that, my own experience getting a storyboard test in a local studio showed me that they were looking for someone who was already familiar with the software, since they were already using it. People on entry jobs have to easily adapt to their new studio environment and even if learning the software on the job is a possibility, it just makes it harder on new graduates to getting use to an industry level of work and on top of that, learn a software they have used just once. Being on top of the technology used in professional environments seems to be part responsibility of newbies and ignoring it would just make it more difficult at the moment to get a job.
Friend! my my!! many thanks for asking!
What I am going to say is totally my opinion tho, so, Just.. yeah, have that in mind.
I am not going to go into the should you go to art school or not, I am going with the idea you want to get an art degree :O
Let’s see: Money is pretty important in the matter of living :’’)) and i know Calarts and the big usa schools can be hella f expensive, even more for ~~internationals~~ SO, yeah that is a big factor why i never choose to go there..
But also here in the UK can be really good schools and studios imo. One of the reasons to even spend money going to study abroad is, by far, the options of getting real experience from studios and animators and is a good idea to go to a country that actually produces animation you know?
My decision was something like: if you are going to invest THAT much money (as any art school is)…it is a good idea to be realistic about how much you can spend, and later how you are going to pay for a loan if you need one. and a place that has an animation industry is the best option.
Here is the thing: california has A LOT of the animation industry BUT also is way too expensive.
For me the option will always be something rational about paying in the future bc drowning in debt is NOT a good thing to enjoy my career…
The other thing is if you want to go to calarts for the sake of going to calarts or if you want to work in places like cartoon network or anywhere where the calarts graduate ppl go. Calarts have all the good connections and netwroking in this industry is like big part of the success… but also there are a lot of good artists that end up working in the same places because they are good, and not necessarily by studying in calarts
one of the things my mentor said to me is that is your personal work the one that matters, and that I should be looking at the portfolios from ppl from gobelins and calarts bc that is what the industry is looking for and aim for that level of professionalism. he never said style or anything like that, just that my portfolio should be able to compete with theirs… bc we will be aiming for the same jobs.
At the end is something that you can do by studying them from anywhere in the world.
Having good mentors and teachers you can ask the basics and that can sit down with you and really help you develop your skills is what you want and there are so many good teachers in the UK it is amazing tbh, i really like it here in that aspect :>
(you know, most teachers really want to share what they know, and finding some student that really want to learn is what keep them alive. vivan los profesores tbh)
Sorry for the long answer, I hope i t helps: but yeah, in conclusion:
I would not recommend drowning in some debt just to go to renown school and maybe better aim for a mid term goal of working alongside them, since you dont really need a specific school to develop skills, but what you gotta do is study what they do, recent graduates, portfolios, that kind of thing. you can do that and end up working with them and even better have also a different perspective in some things, and that may be the things that lands you a spot with them.
remember that animation is a team industry and you work with many many artists in a single project, and that is great imo <3
good luck tho, this is such a big decision, if you have any more questions about it or just need someone to bounce ideas, yeah, im here to help ;v;
Sometimes I get questions in my art blog about studying animation and being a storyboard artist