Storyboarding for Film or Animation | Siobhan Twomey | Skillshare

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Storyboarding for Film or Animation

teacher avatar Siobhan Twomey, Artist, Illustrator, Instructor

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

23 Lessons (1h 48m)
    • 1. Learn to Storyboard

    • 2. Introduction

    • 3. What you need to get started

    • 4. 7 Simple Drawing Tips

    • 5. The Storyboard Template

    • 6. Storyboard Terminology

    • 7. Drawing Dynamic Poses

    • 8. Drawing a Basic Male Character

    • 9. Basic Female Character

    • 10. How to Draw in Perspective

    • 11. Camera Angles and Shots

    • 12. Overview of the Process

    • 13. Blocking Out a Sequence

    • 14. Drawing Thumbnails

    • 15. Refining

    • 16. Thumbnails Part 2

    • 17. Refining Part 2

    • 18. Intro to Visual Language

    • 19. Principles of Composition

    • 20. Storytelling Shots

    • 21. The 180 Degree Rule

    • 22. Drawing Camera Moves

    • 23. Wrap Up and Review

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About This Class

This class is an introduction to the art of drawing storyboards for Film, TV, or Animation.

It covers everything you need to know to about the creative process of Storyboarding for Film or Animation. You will learn concrete skills such as how to draw characters, how to draw in perspective, what camera angles and shots to use for your scripts, and how to make your shots and scenes flow together.

As a Storyboard Artist you get to draw the film, shot for shot. It's by far the most creative job in the whole production process. Whether you are interested in gaming, animation, sketching, comic books or filmmaking, the concepts and techniques in this course will get you started on the road to professional success. You can begin to build a portfoliofrom right within the course, or you can start storyboarding your own projects now to a professional standard. I've packed this course with only the most relevant and detailed material. I've distilled everything I've learnt in my 15 years as an animation and film professional into each lesson.

Meet Your Teacher

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Siobhan Twomey

Artist, Illustrator, Instructor

Top Teacher

Hello, I'm Siobhan :)

My background spans the disciplines of drawing, painting, filmmaking and animation. I studied film in Dublin, and at the Tisch School of the Arts, at NYU in New York. I later studied drawing and animation. Since 2005, I have worked in studios in Vancouver and Dublin as a professional background artist and environment designer. I've also worked as a storyboard artist, concept artist, and I have directed a number of short animated films. My studio practice revolves around portrait painting and figure drawing, for commission and gallery exhibitions.

All in all, I've worked for 20 years as an Artist, Illustrator and Animation Professional. 

My passion is to teach others the whole spectrum of Art Skills that I’ve learned and develope... See full profile

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1. Learn to Storyboard: Hi there, I'm Siobhan, I teach animation and storyboarding. I have over 15 years experience working as an animation professional and this class is my ultimate storyboarding course. I've distilled everything that I know and have learned from working on the job into this class and I've designed it specifically so that you can learn the exact skillset that professional storyboard artists use in the industry. You don't have to have any prior knowledge of storyboarding. You also don't need to be super skilled at drawing. I'm going to teach you how to draw for storyboards. You don't even have to have fancy software or drawing tablets. You can use a pencil and a piece paper. All you really need is an interest in film and animation and in the art of visual storytelling. Here's what you will learn with me over the next few hours. To start out, I'm going to give you my top seven tips on drawing for storyboards. These are the tips that you need to know about to ramp up your drawing skills fast. I'm going to teach you common animation shorthands for easy drawing. You'll learn how to draw male and female characters, how to draw scenes and backgrounds, and you'll also learn how to draw in perspective. Next, you're going to learn the basic building blocks of film. These are the camera angles and shots that every director uses to make film or animation to basically tell any visual story. Once I've covered these basic elements, I'll teach you how to break down a script. I'm going to show you how to thumbnail it and draw a fully finished storyboard. I'll share with you a script that I wrote specifically for this course so that you've got something concrete to work with and I'll explain the exact process that you're going to work in from start to finish. This storyboard is something that you can include in your portfolio if you want to show it to a studio and possibly land a storyboarding job. Finally, in the last section, I'll expand on everything that I've taught you and give you a proper grounding in visual language. This section will cover principles of composition such as the rule of thirds or symmetry. I'll explain what these rules are, why they work, and when to break them. You'll also learn all about specific storytelling shots about how to use advanced technical aspects such as the 180 degree rule, and also you'll learn about moving camera angles and how to draw them. Throughout this class, I'm here to help you to answer any questions that you have and to give you feedback on your work. I hope you decide to join us to upgrade your skillset and to take your first few steps on this exciting journey to becoming a storyboard artist. 2. Introduction: Welcome to this course. I'm so glad that you enrolled and I can't wait to share with you everything that I know about the creative art of storyboarding. In this course, I'm going to break down the entire process and show you how to storyboard a script from start to finish and I'm also going to explain how to do this really effectively. I'll be explaining how you can start to think about a story in visual terms, from compositional techniques to what kinds of shots are best used to tell specific story points. I want you to walk away from this course with concrete real-world skills that you start using today. To do that, I've included a one-page script that we're going to look at together and I'll show you how to break down any script or idea or even any concept. By the end of the course, you will have the skills to start drawing your own boards and to build up a portfolio so that you can show to studios or producers or even prospective clients. Let me start the whole thing by saying exactly what a storyboard is. A storyboard is a series or a sequence of drawings that visualizes the action of a script, so that the director can see the flow of shots and make big directing choices before a huge budget is spent. The other crucial important thing about a storyboard is that once it is locked and decided on, then it becomes a blueprint for the entire production. What that means is that everybody in the crew who's working on that film can refer to the storyboard as the foundational document and see what is going to happen in each and every scene. You do get different types of storyboards. For example, a storyboard for a live-action film is very different to a storyboard for an animated film. Again, both of these are very different to a storyboard for a commercial. In live-action, there's more of an emphasis placed on the types of shots or movements or big action sequences. Whereas, in an animated film, the emphasis is on the character's poses and the acting. For this course, I'm going to aim for the most part to focus on storyboards for animation for the simple reason that animation storyboards are the most comprehensive and the most inclusive type of board. They are much broader and more detailed in scope, and therefore, they'll cover every topic that you need to know, even if you're interested in just doing storyboards for live-action. If you are interested in animation, then this course will be a fantastic introduction into the whole animation process. Up next, in the next video, I'm going to explain what you need to get started in this course, and then we'll dive into some drawing drills, and I'll show you my top seven tips for drawing. 3. What you need to get started: In this lesson, I'm going to cover what you need to get started at storyboarding and specifically what you need to get started in this course. Now, I said before, you don't need to have a lot of fancy equipment or software. You can actually get started with just a sketchbook and a pencil. That's all you need to start jotting down thumbnails and quick sketches. I'll be going over exactly what thumbnails are later in the course. But I just wanted to point out right now that if that's all you have access to, that's perfectly fine. The next level up then is to scan your drawings in and bring them into the computer so that you've got digital version of your storyboard if you want to email it to a client. You could also scan your drawings in and work on your drawings in software such as Photoshop or Krita. Then finally, if you do have access to digital tools, then you can just start drawing in Photoshop. But Photoshops not the only drawing software. There are tons out there. There's Krita, there's Procreate for iPad. There's also software that I really like called Sketchbook Pro, that's totally free to download. There's also a software package called Storyboard Pro. This is specifically geared towards professional storyboarding. It has everything you need all in one program. You can easily keep track of numbering your panels, your scenes. That's all totally automated. It's a very good way to work, but it might be very complex for a complete beginner. If you wanted to, you could follow along with me in something like Photoshop or Procreate. Now, if you are working digitally, the other thing that you need is a drawing tablet. You can look into other options that are out there for your drawing tablets. I personally use Wacom Intuos Pro. My setup is very simple. It's not a big tablet at all. It's a nice, small Wacom Intuos Pro medium with the stylus obviously. Something like that. But there's also a lot of cheaper options other than Wacom, if you didn't want to spend a lot on your drawing tablet. In this course, I'm going to be doing all of my demos in Photoshop because it's the easiest for me to just draw panel by panel and what I normally use is a storyboard template like this. I've left you a few different options in the project files that you can download and test them out. That's all that you really need to get started. Hopefully you're all set up and ready to go. Meet me in the next lesson. I'm going to share with you my top seven tips for drawing for storyboards. 4. 7 Simple Drawing Tips: Before we dive deep into the world of storyboarding, here are my top seven tips for how to draw when it comes to animation in general and storyboard in particular. My first tip is always warm up. When you sit down to start drawing, just a few minutes of warming up will help you a lot to loosen up and get drawing fast. The whole idea is that you need to be able to draw your ideas on paper very quickly. So these warm-ups are great. Simply draw lines and circles, but keep it going and aim to fill a whole page with circles or a whole page with lines. The second tip is to draw rough. This is another one that's not immediately what you might think of when it comes to drawing, but I always encourage people to try and keep your initial drawings as rough as possible. This will help you obviously to draw loose and fast, but you won't get bogged down in details and start to lose your way. My third tip is use a grid. I'll be explaining perspective grid in much more detail later on in this course. But just be aware that by simply adding a horizon line and then these radiating lines from a central point can instantly give your drawings great composition and context, plus it will eventually help you to draw in perfect perspective, so it's good to get used to using this grid right away. Number 4, keep your faces simple. Even if you are working with detailed model sheet for characters, you can draw heads using a simple circle or oval shape and indicate the eyes and the nose like this. You basically draw a line down the center to indicate the nose and then a line across this that will indicate where the eyes are. Once you have this in place, you can actually use this to really effectively show which way the head is turning without having to get into details of the features of the face. Number 5 is all about the eyes. The eyes are going to be one of the most expressive features of your character so know which shorthand is going to work to convey emotion. For example, normal eyes are usually drawn like this. We usually just see the lower half of the pupil, but not the top. If you wanted to draw angry eyes, you obviously would have the eyebrow scaling downwards like this. Surprised or frightened eyes, you can usually see the whole pupil. Maybe for frightened eyes, you can just angle the lids going upwards. There are a bunch of shorthands for eyes and get to know them and practice drawing your eyes. For my sixth tip, it's all about the mouth shapes. There are a lot of standard mouth shapes in animation that convey letters and they are very widely used when it comes to dialogue and you want your characters to be seen to be saying a certain line, so get to know mouth shapes. These are just a couple for you. You don't have to get too detailed at all growing in the teeth and all of that. Just one or two lines will correctly and effectively market your mouth shapes. My final tip is for drawing hands. A lot of people will skip over drawing hands or avoid drawing them because they can be quite complicated. But you can keep it very simple by just drawing a block to represent the palm of the hand and then the four or five fingers, whatever you want. A really good professional insider tip is to make sure that you don't have the fingers all looking the exact same. Try to vary their positions a little bit if you ever are drawing hands. It just gives a lot of life and a lot of character to the hands. That's it. Those are my top tips for drawing an animation and storyboarding in particular. I'd encourage you to take time right now and practice some of these tips that I've gone through. I'd love to see any of your drawings. If you want to share them with me or with anybody else in the course, feel free to post them in the discussion board. 5. The Storyboard Template: In this video, I'm going to show you some sample boards so that you can become familiar with how a storyboard is set up. There can be a lot of technical details that go into a storyboard like numbering and sequencing. I'll get into all of that much later on in the course, but for now, I just wanted you to be aware of what goes where on a storyboard template so that you know ahead of time. This layer here is the standard typical format for animation storyboards with three panels laid out here like this. I have few lines of text below, but you might also see storyboards that look something like this with the panels going down the side and the text on the right. These are typically used in live action or for adverts or games. For the purposes of this course, I'm going to stick with the animation setup. Let's have a look at this template. Basically, this panel here is where you're going to draw all of the action. From here on out, this frame is your primary tool for expression and everything that you'll be drawing or visualizing in your head that you've picked up from your personal reading of the script has to fit into this frame. You can think of this frame as both the final screen that the viewers will watch the movie on and also think of it as the camera angle that's filming the action. As I said, these lines down here are reserved for any dialogue or action notes. The director might write in some notes down here or any special effects that need to occur in the shot. Those notes will also be put in down here. Up here, you can fill in the production details like the name of the show, the scene number, the panel number, things like that. If you are using software such as Storyboard Pro for example, a lot of this information like scene shot sequence, it's all automated and you set that up at the start of your storyboarding process. It'll update as you go along, which is really, really useful because once you do start adding in drawings or taking drawings out, your numbering might get messed up very easily and that can be a bit of a headache to have to go back in and change, but we will address those issues down the line. In this video, I really just wanted to give you the intro to what the layout of a storyboard looks like, what it's all about, the technicalities of it just so that you know what goes where. In the next few videos, we're going to focus on drawing, specifically drawing for animation and drawing for storyboards. 6. Storyboard Terminology: I'm going to elaborate a little bit further now on the terminology of shots, scenes, sequences, and panels because it can get a little bit confusing. I want to explain the main difference between live action and animation storyboards before we move into the next part of the course. I'm aware that this might be getting a bit too technical too early, really I want to focus and place the emphasis more on getting you comfortable drawing stuff before you get caught up in technical aspects. But it is good to talk about these things now, just so that there's no confusion and you're at least aware of the main differences. When it comes to talking about scenes and shots on storyboard templates, you need to know that there is a difference between live action boards and animation boards. If you're working in live action, and by that I mean a feature film or a short film with actors, not an animation production, then you're dealing with scenes and shots. A scene is where the action will take place during a specific duration of time and in a specific location. When you go to another location, that's a new scene, and within that scene, you're going to have all of your different shots that describe the action that takes place in that scene. If we take a look at this scene, this is all one scene, but each of these panels represents a different shot or a different camera angle. In a live action film, those would be called shots within the scene. Let me take a quick look at an animation storyboard. This is the one that I'm using for this course and you'll get to see me working on this a little bit later on. But essentially, in animation you have one sequence that's made up of scenes. In animation, the terms are used differently. Instead of having a scene that's made up of shots, you have a sequence that's made up of scenes. As animators, we just use the word scene to mean a camera shot or a camera setup. But for example, this is one sequence where this character here climbs out. He's been digging in the ground and he climbs out and he's really angry. Well, this is made up of two scenes. This scene here has two panels, so showing him standing beside the hold on the ground and scratching his head and getting really angry. Then you have a cut to a different camera angle, which is a close up, and that's a new scene. Just to sum up, a panel contains your drawing. In animation, a scene refers to the camera angle or the type of shot, and a sequence refers to the duration of time or the location where the action is taking place. In live action, a shot refers to the camera angle or the type of shot that's being used and the scene, it refers to the location or the duration of time. 7. Drawing Dynamic Poses: The next few videos in this course are going to tackle basic principles of drawing simple characters and scenes. It's just to give you a few pointers and to get you started in case you are thinking that you're drawing skills aren't up to scratch. You'll quickly see you don't have to draw detailed scenes or characters at this point. I hope you're enjoying the course so far and that you've had a bit of an introduction to the art of storyboarding in the last few videos. Please, I just want to say, don't hesitate to send me a message if there's anything that's unclear or if you've got questions of any kind. Send me a message and I'll definitely help you out. Also a quick note, I just want to mention before I forget that if you are enjoying the course and if you do, or if you do have any feedback, please do leave a review. So far, I've been emphasizing drawing rough, and part of the reason for this is to get your drawings and your ideas down fast and furious. The other reason is that the more gestural your drawing style, the more expressive it is. That's ultimately your goal when you're drawing characters. You want to have your characters to be expressive and dynamic and have life. Now, a standard starting point when you're drawing characters is to start with a gesture line, or what's called a line of action. A line of action is basically a line that goes from the head to the toes of the character. It tells you immediately the direction that the character is leaning in and the gesture of the pose that he's taking, and it describes basically the whole pose in one line. You start out as I'm doing here, just draw a line of action, and then on top of that, start building up the pose by adding the head and the limbs. The line of action definitely helps to give dynamic qualities to your characters. Whenever you want to push a pose further and get more energy out of this, just try to push the line of action. Say you've got a character punching somebody like this, so drawing it like this, you can push the pose from the line of action and then you get something like this. In storyboarding, especially some you can get away with drawing stick figures until you're more comfortable drawing characters on model, and there are a number of shorthand techniques for characters. For example, round head, square shaped body, easily signifies a male character, or triangle shapes for female characters. In the next lesson, I'll get into more anatomical drawing and go a bit deeper with that and show you some pointers for effectively drawing people. When it comes to drawing a scene, you can also keep it very rough and loose, and even if you wanted to, you could just block in areas of shading to delineate the scene where characters are standing. Bear in mind for storyboarding, you don't need to draw a fully finished layouts or background art. Especially in animation, the most important thing is getting the energy and the dynamic quality of the poses between characters that needs to be spot on. I would say work on that more than working on drawing up very nice backgrounds and detailed street scenes or things like that. 8. Drawing a Basic Male Character: Most likely when your storyboarding for a studio, you'll be given very detailed model sheets. A model sheet is essentially a diagram of the characters that you're going to be working with in your storyboards. In case you want to put some storyboards together with characters of your own inside of them, I want to show you in this class exactly how you can draw realistic-looking human figures. In this video, I'll talk about drawing a realistic male figure, and in the next video, we'll look at how to do the same thing, the same construction for a female figure. Let's start out with the heads. The first thing you want to do is just really lightly draw in a circular shape or as close to circular as you can get it. Then from the sides, just draw lines coming down maybe slightly going inwards like this and squaring off for the bottom of the chin. At this point, divide your entire shape up into thirds so that you've got a line running across the center horizontally, and then the top half divide it again, and the bottom half divide it again. These three lines will give you the brow line, or I should say the hairline, the eye or eyebrow line, and the line to where the mouth will go. To draw the eyes, I don't want to get too detailed. Like I said, all of these are pretty much just construction lines. I'm just trying to place features of the face to this drawing, so I'm just going to make very rough marks. Then about halfway down from there is the nose, and halfway between the nose and the chin, the line of the mouth. Sometimes you can get away with just drawing the line of the mouth and a tiny little line underneath like this to indicate the lower lip. There, you've pretty much got your features in the right place. Now, this might not look like an exciting character. It might look a bit bland, but once you know where the features of the face go, then you can pretty much adapt to different characters and to different emotions within a character. It's all about getting your proportions right and these steps through these construction lines really, really help you. Now that I've put in the hair, you can see exactly how the eyes are in the right place. I'm going to push this guy over here and just do a couple more. If you were to draw the head, say from the side or from a three-quarter view, the eyes are still, you place them around the bottom edge of this circle, and then you could draw the nose to give you a good indication of where you'd want to go with the chin, draw the mouth. Again, you want to be able to make the jawline a bit square, so nice and angular, and the line back there will indicate the back of the neck. Then if you like, go back in and define the eyes. I'll move this guy over here and I'll just do one more. Let's see. I have this guy facing the other way. Once you get used to this, you can really block in things much, much quicker and just put a few lines down to show you where the direction of the head is tilting, the jawline, the nose, and the mouth. Sometimes in storyboarding, you don't need to get much more detail than that. As long as you can bring a little bit of dynamic quality into your linework and infuse your character with a bit of life, you don't have to draw a detailed portrait, hyper-realistic-looking drawings. For storyboards, this is a really good technique. Now I'm going to just quickly run through basic anatomy for drawing a full figure of a male character. This is for a somewhat realistic-looking male character. I just want to give you general anatomical references that you can use. The first one I want to show you is you just basically draw the torso. You can draw it like this; like a square or a rectangle. Sorry, I should say. You can draw it like a rectangle. That's the upper torso, and then the pelvis if you want to block out like this kind of a square shape, you've pretty much got the core of the figure down. Then the legs can be no more complicated than two cylindrical objects coming down. Similarly the same with the arms. The really good thing about breaking the anatomy up into cylindrical shapes or into square shapes like this is that it helps you to see how the figure is built, how the figure fits together, and how it moves. It will really help your drawings to make it look realistic and in proportion. Taking that a little bit further, I'm going to quickly plot in a rough drawing of a standing figure over on this side based on these anatomical markers. I always like to put in the shoulders so that I know how wide the figure's shoulders need to be. Generally, I don't do them wide enough. I'm going to keep it simple for the torso, just a shape like this; the arms coming down. The elbow of the arm should actually be where the waist is. If you check on yourself, you'll see that your elbow comes about your waist. That's a nice marker to have when you're drawing. Then just make sure that you make legs long enough. Think in terms of blocks and generalized easy shapes to work with because you can always go in afterwards and add details, and even erase out your underdrawing completely once you've built it up. But it's really nice to be able to get the proportions correct by using this system of using rectangles, cylindrical shapes, circles, just to get the construction lines down. 9. Basic Female Character: For female heads again, start with a circle. I think I'll just put a central line down the middle like this just to give myself an idea of where I need to go and that's my halfway line. About there's the bottom of the chin. Lines coming down the side and tapering in gently and we'll give you the sides of the face, and then you can go in and plot out the eyes. Again, not getting too detailed although it's very hard not to get sucked into doing details at this point. I tend to want to draw the details of the eyes a lot here. Really this is just about staying rough and loose and getting the features down where they're meant to be. One of the problems with drawing like this, I just want to point out, I'm doing this as a demo, but you should be aware that it's never great to just draw out of your head. It's much better to always have a reference. Now, unfortunately, I don't have a reference, but I would encourage you to search for reference online and just try to copy the images that you find and learn how to draw that way. It's a really good practice. I can make any adjustments that I want now to the sides of the face. I'm going to just correct this line. It's coming in a bit too thin, making the chin a bit too pointy. But that is generally how you would place down the features of the face for a female character. Then you can put the ears and the hair in like this. I might just go and zoom in a little bit and fix up the eyes. They're jumping out at me as being a little bit too weird. A good thing to do is you can lower the opacity of the layer that you're working on, add a new layer above it, and then come in over that and start to refine the details. When you're drawing female eyes, a nice approach is to draw the upper lid quite dark and heavy and leave the lower lid super super light, even very understated, but a darker upper lid defines the eye very well. Once you've worked around the whole face and done all of the adjustments that you need to and changing it up, then you can just get rid of the under-drawing, delete it or hide the under-drawing layer, and you'll have a nice clean finished layer on top. That's a very basic approach to drawing female heads. To draw the full figure of a female character, let me first of all break it down into the basic shapes. When you start out, you will draw a head as a circular or oval shape. The torso can be broken down, as I said before, and the ribcage and the pelvis, then that will ensure you've got enough space within the midsection of the character so that everything is in proportion. Get that right. Then the rest, the legs are easy, just cylindrical shapes going down. Break those shapes up at the knee and at the ankle and then the same with the arms. Very simple cylindrical shape to the elbow and then down to the wrist. That's the best shorthand that I know of to draw full figure of a female character and I hope that it's useful to you if there's anything that's unclear, do let me know. But once you get a handle on these proportions and drawing in this way, any other character will be very easy to do, and you can actually even abstract from this even more and make things more stylized and more cartoony if you want to. But knowing the very basic anatomy is going to be really really useful for drawing characters. 10. How to Draw in Perspective: In this video, I'm going to show you how you can make sure that your drawings are always correct in perspective. Once you know how to work with the perspective grid, you'll never draw incorrect perspective again. It is really useful for helping you to compose interesting and detailed shots. The basic concept of perspective is that the horizon line that you always join first is actually the eye line of the camera. Say for example that you set up a camera here and you're capturing a scene that has two trees just like this. This is how you would see it from the side and this is how you would see it in the perspective view. The scene looks like this, with one tree in front and the other one far away in the distance. In this example, it's pretty much a horizon line that's at eye level. I would say that the horizon line's probably in the middle of the frame here. But you can also have the camera at different heights and so if I just copy this scene and drag it down and I'll show you exactly what I mean. I'm going to take the camera out. Well, I'm going to take the camera and just tilt it so as if it's looking down from above almost like a bird's eye view, what's known as a high angle. Here you're looking down really on the trees and your perspective drawing would look a little bit like this. The front tree will show you way more foliage and you'll barely see the trunk beneath it tapering down towards the end to the ground. I'm going to copy this down again and show you if you had the same scene setup, but with a very low angle, your camera would be down almost at the ground looking up, almost like a worm's eye view. In this instance, what you would see in your frame is something a little bit like this. Now my drawings are very, very rough, but I'm just trying to give you an idea of how you can change the horizon line in any given drawing simply by changing the camera angle. This becomes very useful later on when you're trying to use camera angles and shots to underscore the narrative. I'll be talking a little bit more about that when I get into composition and storytelling shots. But basically, a low angle will imply that the point of view is from a very small diminutive place, looking up at things around a setup very very big. This is what that drawing would look like from a low angle. I can just plot or I'll just throw in with a different color, the different horizon lines and you can see what I mean. This is the standard horizon line. In this drawing, the horizon line is nearly almost at the top of the frame, which means that the objects within the scene, we're looking down on them. With a very low horizon line like this, we're looking up at any objects in the scene. That's the general concept. But I want to show you a very good exercise to start practicing drawing in perspective. Working with the perspective grid either in 1-point perspective or 2-point perspective and it's really all about just getting comfortable and familiar with drawing blocks and shapes on this grid. Here's how you set yourself up to do something like that. Draw a horizon line across the center of the page if you want to work on a standard 1-point perspective grid like this. From one single point on the horizon line, just draw straight lines radiating out from that point. In Photoshop, you can hold and shift when you're drawing a line, I tap on one point, hold and shift and tap on the second point and that creates a straight line. Then what you do is you draw parallel lines, pretty much moving from that horizon line towards you. This is your perspective grid. What you can do is, the way I like to work is I'll drop the opacity of this layer down or come over to the layer stack and drag the opacity down. Then you can lock that layer and create a new layer above it and this is where you can start drawing. Then just start drawing blocks and squares and rectangles on this grid. A handy tip is to draw in your base first, then draw your lines going up to where the full height of the box or rectangle and then join those sides up to form the top of the box. You can also have a box that's above the horizon line altogether. You get the idea. You've probably done this a million times anyway. But I wanted to point out that it's really good practice. You'll see how it can apply to a scene later on when I draw a background scene for you. But I would highly recommend using this way to just warm up and get used to drawing in perspective until it becomes second nature. Now if you wanted to do a drawing with 2-point perspective, it can be a little bit more tricky. This is how you go about doing that. I'm going to use a standard horizon line again, across the middle-ish of the page. Then you mark two points on this line. For 2-point perspective, it's actually good to have them as far apart as you can so that things don't get squashed. You're going to draw radiating lines for each of these points. This part is a little bit laborious and time-consuming. You have to spend quite a bit of time setting up the grid. Now in this situation, you don't have to draw parallel lines coming towards you. Because there are two vanishing points, each of those lines form the grid itself. You're drawing blocks that are basically in three-quarter perspective if I can put it like that. Sp you're not looking straight onto the box from the front of it, you're looking at it from the side. So you see both sides of the square or the rectangle. Again, just work with this grid, start to fill up the whole page. Try and do as many boxes or rectangles as you can. You might find this really fascinating or completely boring. But either way, if you commit to working with the grid like this, your drawing will definitely improve, I guarantee it. Let me show you a very rough, very quick way of how that might apply in your storyboards. I'm not going to get too detailed. This course isn't specifically geared towards teaching you how to draw layouts. By layouts, I mean fully rendered background, line drawings. For a storyboard artist, you rarely need to do that. All you need to do is be able to confidently and comfortably draw a scene where a character or characters are interacting. Say for example I wanted to draw that street scene from our made-up script, the Western that I've left for you. Say I wanted to draw the street where the cowboy is walking down the street, something like that. Here's how you could very quickly and easily sketch that out in a storyboard format. Lightly and loosely, just block in some perspective grid lines like this. I'm going to bring the opacity down so it doesn't interfere with my drawing too much because this is more or less a thumbnail and then on top of that, I can just very easily sketch in buildings that are in complete perspective and it gives the impression that we're on a street.[MUSIC] Over here maybe I'll put it in the silhouette of the cowboy coming in from the screen right. If I turn off the grid now you can see how it works really well. Everything looks realistically in perspective with each other. Everything matches up. The drawing goes off into the distance and you get a sense of the scene in perspective. That's a very quick roundup of how to draw in perspective. Let me know if you've got any questions after this. After this, I want to move into the process of storyboarding and tackle the script and show you how you might just start jotting down thumbnail ideas and moving through a script in an orderly fashion. 11. Camera Angles and Shots: Shots and camera angles are the language of film and as a storyboard artist, they're your building blocks. Every panel that you draw is essentially describing a camera angle. It's like you're almost deciding what the camera's going to be filming. In this video, I'm going to get you familiarized with the main shots and angles that you'll come across. You'll probably know all of them already if you're at all interested in film. It's something that should come as second nature. Camera angles are often mostly described as being either eye level, high angle, low angle, or what's called Dutch, which basically means tilted. A camera shot refers to the size of the camera view. The six most common shots are the establishing shot, the wide shot, the long shot, and then medium, close-up or extreme close-up. There aren't too many more angles or shots than these and any other ones that you come across are usually just a variation on one of these. These last six shots really represent the main storytelling shots in all of cinematic language. I'm going to look at each one. The establishing shot establishes the scene. It's very wide. It shows the audience where the action is taking place. Most obviously, most commonly, this shot is used at the beginning of a film but bear in mind, it can also be used at the beginning of a sequence. After the establishing shot, you can use the wide shot for re-establishing the scene. It's not as sweeping or as grand, but it's wide enough to give general information about where we are for storytelling purposes. Very often, a director will cut back to a wide shot after it has been a succession of close-ups, say for example, in a dialogue scene. The next four shots are really more oriented towards character than the previous, establishing or wide shot. Think of those first two shots as specifically referring to the landscape or the geography of the action, and the next four refer to character. The long-shot is a shot that will, if there is a character within it, you will see the head and feet of the character. So you will see the full length of the character or however many characters are there. Then as you move closer in you get the medium shot. The medium shot is literally shows the character from waist to head. After the medium shot, you have the close-up. The close-up is probably one of the most important shots in all of film just because it's the one shot that you can use to really focus in on a character. It helps audience identification, which I'll be speaking about much more later on in the course. But just think of it for now. The close-up is the head and shoulders of a character. Then after the close-up, you've got the extreme close-up, which as it implies, usually hones in on just one area, like the eyes or features of the face. But you can also have an extreme close-up of someone's hand or a detail like that. Later on, in this course, we'll be talking about camera movements, how to indicate camera movements on your storyboards, as well as other shots like over the shoulder shot and point-of-view shot. But for now, just get to know these six main shots and of course the main camera angles. You'll quickly start to see them if you're watching film or shows, or anything like that, you'll begin to pick them out and see how they're used within a context. 12. Overview of the Process: In this video, I want to give you an overview of the actual process of storyboarding. What will you be doing? Where do you start when you're faced with this huge, massive script? I've basically broken it down into five steps. Step 1 is you will be given a script and if you're not given a script, then you're given a treatment. But either way, you'll start out with the story in a written format. Your job at step 1 is to read the script. Probably read it a few times, more than twice, three or four times is good and then as you read it, you start to visualize what you're reading and see it play out as a movie in your head. Then step 2, you'll have a discussion with the director. You'll sit down with them and they'll give you more or less some direction to go in. They'll discuss the sequences and the main camera angles that they're thinking of. Then step 3, you'll break down the script into beats and start thumbnailing. Think of a beat as a story point. When you're reading the script, any moment in that script is a beat and that leads on to the next moment which becomes the next beat. The purpose for doing this for making a beat board or thumbnailing is to draw out your options for camera angles. You'll show these thumbnails likely to the director and get approval and once you've gotten approval, then you can start dialing into the details of each sequence, and that's step 4. Then step 5 is cleaning up your drawings when you've got a finished sequence and sending that off for approval and then you move on to the next sequence. It's a really good workflow. It helps you to not get so overwhelmed by this daunting task of drawing in unlimited number of frames. If you break everything down into chunks and approach each sequence of the script, then you'll be able to progress through it a lot more efficiently. Once your work is completed, where does your storyboard go? Well, in animation, the process, the production pipeline, it's very clear cut. Your board is taken off to the editor who will sit down with the director and the two of them will match your board panels up to the audio track. This then will give the director a completely timed out version of the film based on your storyboards and it's called an animatic. An animatic is basically a movie version of your storyboard. This is an essential piece of the production pipeline because it's timed out. The director knows exactly how long each scene is and then they can cut that down into chunks and send each scene off to the animator who will then animate the scene out and the background artist will then add in background art work and once all of those are approved, that comes back to the editor and they match the finished animation and background art backup to the storyboard. Now you can begin to see how important the storyboard is in the whole production process. Think of the storyboard as the anchor, or literally the foundation of the film. 13. Blocking Out a Sequence: The process of blocking and breaking down a script into sequences enables you to approach your work in small, manageable chunks so that you can work through the whole script easily and efficiently. For the next few lessons, I'll use this sample script that I wrote as an example. It's just a couple of pages of a completely made-up script that I wrote, but we'll just use it in order to explore the process of drawing a storyboard. So a script might look to you at first glance like a continuous story unfolding. But as you know, it's actually a series of scenes, interior, exterior, night, day, things like that. So the best way to break down the script is to identify these scenes and then identify the beats within these scenes. As you read through, just mark off each part of the script that feels like a beat in the story. So for example, let's look at the script. It says the sun is beating down on the scorched earth. Well, that's one beat. Then a lizard darts in and blah, blah, blah that's another beat. Camera puns, that's a third beat. Then we see Reinholdt digging, and that's another beat. So we can now mark up some initial ideas for shots right here. Obviously, we can start with an establishing shot because we want to show the audience that, where we are, where the action is taking place out in the desert the sun is at high noon, things like that. Then we can have maybe a close-up of a lizard darting out from under the rock because you won't be able to see a lizard on a long, a wide shot, or a long shot. You could use that as the starting point for the pan, keeping low to the ground. So you could have a camera pan. The camera pans in the direction of off-screen noises. Then possibly at this point cut wider and suddenly we see that Reinholdt is digging a hole in the ground. That's obviously a medium shot. Then I would think you could cut back to a long shot when he climbs out and throws his shovel down, he says his line. Maybe to finish it off, you could end the sequence on a close-up of him shaking his fist. What I've done there is basically block at the scene in terms of what shots could work to tell the story. These choices are by no means the only choices you could make in terms of camera angles. There are countless combinations that you could go to. For the sake of this class, this is how I would approach it on a first pass anyway. Let's just keep going. The next scene is exterior town day. Again, you can start off if you like with a bit of a wide shot to re-establish where we are or in the main street of the town and the Sherriff is walking, crosses the street, and walks up the steps of the saloon. So that could all actually be in just one wide shot, showing him crossing over and going into the saloon there. Then we cut to the interior of the saloon. You got a couple of options. You could follow the Sherriff through the doors and go have a panning shot going in. Or you could establish the camera already within the saloon and we see him walking in. So I think I'll go with that. So I'm going to go for a or let me write down, what did I say? That was a wide shot. I'm going to go through a long-shot here and opening the door, coming into the saloon. You could actually pan then as he walks across the saloon over to the bar. If you chose that option, it would almost be like the audience was already inside the saloon and watching the action that brings the audience right in. So let's just do a panning shot. As he walks across to the bar, you could see that these notes probably wouldn't make any sense to anybody who just picked up the script and started reading them. But these thumbnails and notes are excellent for getting your ideas down, and they only really need to be able to relate to you and your understanding. Now this next sequence you're going to notice is dialogue sequence between the Sherriff and the bartender. In film and in animation, there are standard setups and standard shots that you can go to for dialogue. One is called a shot-reverse-shot. Another is over-the-shoulder shot and the point-of-view shot. In the next section of videos, I'm going to go much deeper into storytelling shots, like the over-the-shoulder shot and the point of view shot. So to give this section a first pass, I would probably start off with what's called a two-shot, which shows both characters in the frame. So it's going to be medium and it's going to be a two-shot. Then once the dialogue starts going, I would give each character a single. So in other words, the camera would just be on one person while he says his line, and then a reverse shot showing the second character saying their line. So that's called a single when you have one person, and then you could do an over-the-shoulder shot. So the dialogue continues onto the next page. So these are all pretty much single mediums or close-ups. We can figure that out when we go to actually draw the storyboard. But this last line here is the queue for a third character to enter. So I might cut back to a medium two-shot of both characters because it'll be nice to see them looking off-screen, and that can queue this third character entering. Then for Gretta's entrance into the scene says from the outside side bar, Gretta appears and walks up to the Sherriff. You'd probably want to cut back to a long shot at that point. You could have a bit of an over-the-shoulder of him still in-frame and showing her walking up to him. Then it says she slides a small velvet pouch across the bar in the direction of Tucker. He puts out his hand and catches it. So that would be a close-up definitely because you want to see the object, and then her line, that's what you're looking for could be you could have her line coming in over this close-up, or you could cut to a close-up of her saying it. Then he says, Tucker opens the pouch and empties a small pile of diamonds into his palm. For that last shot, I would go with an extreme close-up. That's the end of our sample script. So we've got all of our sequences worked out, all of the beats and all of the shots. We've noted them down. The next step is to bring all of these into a beat board or basically a page of thumbnails, and just start jotting down the visual ideas that we've indicated here. So I'm going to tackle that in the next video. 14. Drawing Thumbnails: Now that we've blocked out the first part of the script and identified the shots, it's time to start drawing. When you first sit down to storyboard a script, because you'll be drawing very rough just don't worry at all about making perfect drawings. What we're talking about here is almost stick figures, rough lines and it's all about keeping it loose and rough at this stage. The first shot that I identified as an establishing shot, let's do that. I'm going to draw it but it's going to be a very wide sweeping view of the whole landscape. I'm going to come over here and I'm just going to really roughly sketch out some ideas. It's going to be the desert, typical western scene. Actually I think I'm going to draw this over the first two panels that I have here, even though it's not a pan but I just want to give myself some options so I'll do my drawing quite wide. Put in those iconic western sort of the cactus and the skull and bones in the desert. Try to give a sense of depth and put the sun obviously high up in the sky. It's high noon, it's hot and arid. The next shot is the close-up of the lizard darting out from under the rock. That's fairly straightforward. I don't need to put in too much detail. It's going to be a lizard and he's going to run from one rock to the other. That's that. That's a nice cutaway shot. Now the next shot is going to be a pan along this landscape. We're going to hear Reinholdt the character digging off-screen and then the camera will come to rest on him. I'll keep a medium shot because when the camera comes to on him we'll see him at burst from about the waist up. Then we move a little bit closer in on Reinholdt, still emphasizing the heat of the day and the desert background. He says these couple of lines of dialogue. Once that's done, then we can go back to a long shot. The long shot is going to be him standing up. He has climbed out of the hole and he's standing up. Throws the shovel down in frustration beside him. Maybe have him scratching his head or wiping the sweat of his brows, something like that. There's the shovel. Then after that we're going to go to a close up of him, but I think what I'm going to do first is just draw in another panel. I want to show another pose of him getting really angry, really frustrated, that will lead into the close-up a lot better. This is optional. Obviously, after your beat boards stage or your thumbnailing stage, you do go in and add more panels for more detail and flesh out the poses, but you can also do it at this stage as well. Have him standing up, starting to get really angry, and then go in for the closeup. For his face I'm just going to block it out here first just very lightly. Get that emotion on his face. He's shaking his fist at the sky, "Curse you," and all of that. Then I'm going to go in over that with a darker line. Again, this even going in over this now it's not finalized, still quite rough. But these are my first, initial ideas for the script so they should lead to something. That's pretty much the first section done, that first sequence. What will happen now is we will go back into these and start to refine things a bit better. Start to make sure that the flow of shots works and that one pose naturally will lead into the next. 15. Refining: Once you've got feedback from the director on your thumbnails, then it's time to take these rough drawings and get them looking a bit cleaner, more precise. This is the opportunity now to flesh out your sequences and add in any more drawings if you need to. Working in software such as Photoshop or Storyboard Pro, actually makes this part of the process quite easy. It's not like you have to double up the workload. I'll show you how you can do it in Photoshop. Basically, you grab your rough layer over here and just copy and paste it into your storyboard template. Then you can turn the opacity of that layer down and create a new layer above it. On this layer, you can draw with a more clean and precise line. Then really from here on out, it's pretty much all about just cleaning up your line and drawing the panels in again in much more of a detailed and considered way. Hopefully, on your thumbnail stage, you'll have worked out all of the layout issues that might crop up, so you're not really drawing from scratch. That's going to be your process for the next while so that you can move through each of these thumbnails and bring them to a more fully rendered drawing. I've basically gone back over my thumbnails and I've just done this exact thing for each page. I'm not going to go through every single drawing, you get the idea. But what I do want to point out is that I've numbered my pages as I go. Once I've finished a page of drawings, then I'll come up here and put in scene number and panel number. You might have a scene that has 3, 4, or 5 panels. In other words, it's the same scene, but your drawing are different poses in each panel. At the top of the page, I'll write down my page number and I'll just write down the production title. For this example, I'm just going to write sample script. Now because this shot is the pan, what I'm going to do is using a red color, so something that'll stand out, I'm going to indicate on this storyboard that these two panels constitute a pan. In other words, I'm joining them together and I'll indicate a starting point and an ending point for the camera pan and name one position A and the second position B. If you're working in a studio or on a professional basis, the specific production that you're working on will likely have a whole set of conventions and parameters that you can work in, in terms of your storyboard. I just wanted to make sure that you have an idea of the whole process and how to number and finalize your storyboards. 16. Thumbnails Part 2: In this next video, I want to move on to the second half of our script. We've gone through the first half and worked out that whole apart, and I want to tackle the second part of this. The main focus of this is the dialogue scene between the bartender and the sheriff. But there is this intro bit where we established the action that's taking place in the town. We've got the wide shot that I talked about with the sheriff crossing the road. I identified that first shot as being a static long shot. I think what I'm going to do now, just to flesh it out a little bit, is use the camera move and have the sheriff walking from the left-hand side of the screen, cross the street, and have the camera move with him as he crosses over the street and goes up to the saloon. I'll just quickly sketch out a rough idea. Again, I'm thumbnailing at this point. I'm not going to get into details. I'm just going to block it out as quickly as I can. What I'm thinking about here is those classic opening sequences in Western films where you see the town, it's established as a bustling center of activity. Usually, there's characters hanging around different areas of the street. I want to use that notion of the pan camera move going across and following the main character as he's walking across and walking through this setting. That'll do two things. That'll show us the location where the action is taking place, but it'll also help us to start to connect with the sheriff because the camera will be focusing on him, watching his movements, picking him out from the rest of the hustle and bustle of the street, and following him as he crosses. That's a nice way to identify him as someone of importance, a character that we're going want to identify with, or we're at least going to want the audience to identify with. These are really just thoughts and notes that I'm jotting down. As you can see, I'm keeping it really loose. These will probably just makes sense to me until I come back in and clean them up, like I did before. But for now, I think that's more or less the kind of the layout that I'm thinking of. The next shot that I'm going to draw is the shot of the sheriff walking into the bar. He's going to walk in and walk up to the bar. What I'm thinking about here is having something of a down shot and showing the whole scene from above so it's almost like we're standing on the balcony. But as I'm blocking this out, I got this idea that what I thought I might do is put in the character of Gretta into this shot. For framing, this is great because it instantly frames the sheriff coming in the door. It shows that somebody else is also looking at this action that's taking place, and so it's a bit intriguing. He's obviously caught someone's attention. As a viewer, as the audience, we're going to be intrigued ourselves. It's a great visual key for the story. I'm going to have her standing off like this. My second panel in this shot is just going to be a very slight action of her walking off-screen right. She's going to be exiting and we'll just see her hands trailing along the banister. I really like that idea, but I need to draw it out again. What I've done there is not really showing the character enough, it's just showing a hand. Let me quickly just copy this down, delete that out, and put the character of Gretta. When we see Gretta later on, we'll definitely recognize that it's the same character who was standing up here watching the sheriff entering. There I've got my other drawing of the hand going along. Then after that, what I'll do is go into that dialogue sequence. The next section of the script is the dialogue between sheriff and the bartender. For any dialogue sequences like this, we have standard go-to shots that we can use, they're called corresponding shots. It's just going to be medium or close-ups of each of the character as they say their lines. It's not too complicated. Before I move on, I've just had another idea which I want to put into the storyboards. After this character of Gretta, who we don't know it's Gretta yet, but she's looking down, watching the Sheriff coming in, and then she moves out of the frame, I'm going to put in basically a new shot, but it'll be what's called a cutaway. Essentially, I want to have an angle on the door with her hand just trailing off and closing the door behind her. What this is going to do is deepen the mystery about this character. We've seen now that she is somebody that's important because there's obviously something going on. The film wouldn't reveal this to us as an audience unless there was a reason why we should take note. There is some some happening because it's going to be she's closing the door. In a sense, it sets us up for later on. When we do see Gretta, we're going to wonder, can we trust her, especially from the point of view of the sheriff. Because later on, the sheriff is going to ask her about the diamonds where she's going to reveal that she has the diamonds. But at that point in the story, because we've seen this other element, we've seen these two shots, we're not going to be 100 percent sure if we can trust her because there's something shady going on. What this is called is a cutaway. It's a really useful filming device for giving extra information to the viewer that's not necessarily explicit in the script. It's not an explicit story point such as the sheriff walks up to the bar, that's an explicit story point. What I'm doing here is I'm inserting a cutaway that contains or reveals some extra information that then we know about ahead of the sheriff. I think that's going to work really well when we get to storyboarding at this property, and it feels like there's some intrigue happening now. From here, I'll carry on. The next part of the sequence is the dialogue. I have plotted it out on my shot list. I've got medium two shots, single shots. These are standard corresponding shots for dialogue. I went ahead and just quickly thumbnailed out a few options. I don't need to go through it in detail with you, but you can see that when it comes to cleaning up these thumbnails and boarding it out, I have room to flesh this out if I need to put some more character into them. The last shot there is the bartender looks off-screen right, and that's the cue for Gretta to enter. I'm going to go for the standard classic Western entrance where she comes down the stairs and stands at the bar, and then she'll toss the diamonds or she'll toss the pouch onto the bar. That's going to be a close-up. I can go in close here, just rough out. This is her hand. We'll come into frame and she'll throw the bag down onto the bar, that slides along, and it's going to be grabbed by the sheriff. I'll keep it as one shot and just then have the sheriff's hand coming in and grabbing it. Then jumping ahead, I'm going to go for a close-up on Gretta's face for her line of dialogue, which is, "Is that what you're looking for, Sheriff?" I had gone in and done a close-up of the hand up there, but I realized we don't see that until after she says her line. She says her line, and then we can have that extreme close-up of the diamonds in the sheriff's palm, the palm of his hand. I've thumbnailed out that second section. Now I'm going to go back in and flesh it out. First of all, what I'll do at this stage is put the script away and just look at my shots and see if the whole thing flows, play out the movie in my head, and then if I'm happy enough, I'm going to go back in and clean them up and put them into my storyboard template. Let's get to that in the next video. 17. Refining Part 2: In this video, I'm going to walk you through the cleaned-up panels that I blocked out in the last video. I've gone ahead and drawn them up in the storyboard template because I think you get the idea by now of how to clean up your lines. It's really just a matter of redrawing over your roughs, making sure that the layer opacity, all of your rough drawings is low so that you can see what you're doing. But if any part of this is unclear or if you think that I've skipped a step, please let me know, or if you've got any questions at all, just post it in the discussion section or send me a quick message. Here's my first page. It's the camera pan showing the sheriff walking across to the saloon. What I want to do here now is mark my camera move. I'm going to frame up this first shot and the camera will then truck out to here, that's my second position. Then it pans along to here, which is my third position, and then a small push in as he goes up to the door and that's my fourth position. On the next page, we see him enter, and then in the second panel, this character here, exit screen right. Then that's followed by the cutaway of her closing the door behind her. We'll have just a beat on that closed door before we cut to the next scene, which is the sheriff at the bar. Here the two guys have their exchange going from medium two-shot to a single and then an over-the-shoulder shot and then a close-up when we hear Gretta from off-screen. Having the bartender turn his head to look in this direction, motivates the cut to then a long shot at Gretta standing at the bottom of the stairs. Now, this is a good example of how you show point-of-view shots. Without the bartender looking off-screen first, it might be a bit confusing to the audience to suddenly cut to another part of the bar. But by just motivation that cut in this simple way, it's actually perfectly seamless and we know exactly now that the sheriff and the bartender are looking at Gretta. Then it's the shot of the bag being thrown onto the bar, followed by a close-up of Gretta. She says her line. Then our last shot is that extreme close-up of the diamonds in the sheriff's hand. I could probably have added another shot onto the end of this, just to really tie up the sequence. I was thinking that probably a stronger shot to end on would have been to cut wide again to show the reaction of the sheriff and the bartender, but to have it as an over-the-shoulder shot from Gretta's point of view. But anyway, I think for now, I guess I'll leave it like this. Since this is the last shot on the script, it's the last one we planned out. That sequence done. I'm going to leave all of these resources for you to download. Make sure that you download the Photoshop files as well as the script. Feel free to have a go at boarding at this sequence yourself and maybe experiment with different shots and see if you can come up with a much more exciting or interesting way to tell this very simple story. In the next section of videos, I'm going to go into visual storytelling. I want to cover some really important points about composition, some technical details about storyboards like the 180-degree rule. Now that we've got more or less the process under our belt in terms of drawing skills and in terms of approaching a script, I think the next section will really make things clear as to how the visual language plays such a huge role in storyboarding. I'll see you in the next video. 18. Intro to Visual Language: Welcome to the last section of the course. In this section, I'm going to look at visual language. The way I think about it, I see the art of storyboarding as being really made up of three components. The first one is you need to have drawing skills. As I've shown you, you don't have to be highly-skilled draft person, but you do need to be able to draw your ideas so that you can communicate them visually. The second component is that you need to have technical knowledge. Now, I covered this in the last section of videos. The boarding process is considered a very technical part of filmmaking. You need to know a lot about camera angles, pans, shots, cuts, and you need to know all of the technical details of a storyboard template. The third component is understanding visual language. For me, this part really brings the first two parts together and that's what makes the whole skillset of a board artist fully rounded and complete. I can't get into visual language in huge detail in this course. The whole scope of visual language would make for about a series of courses. But I can introduce you to some of the concepts. In this video, I just want to introduce you to two concepts. One is sequencing and the other is how you can use the close up for emotional intensity. I want to leave aside the use of sound. Obviously sound is a huge part of film but because I want to focus only on the visual elements that relate to storyboarding, we'll put that aside for now. Visual language really started to become formulated as a concept or as a discipline in its own as far back as the 1920s when people first started experimenting with editing techniques. In the early days of film, it was discovered that certain sequencing techniques actually really worked to tell a visual story and that the audience quickly made connections without needing to have any further explanation. Check out this example. This is based on a Russian film from the 1920s. What the filmmaker did was he showed a shot of a man's face followed by a shot of a bowl of soup. He played this film to the audience and without any further information or any dialogue, when the audience viewed the sequence, they assumed that this was a story of a hungry man and they saw his face is actually registering hunger. Then he showed another sequence using the same shot of the man's face followed by a child in a coffin and the audience felt such an emotional response to this tragic story. They actually saw the man as suffering grief, even though it was just the exact same shot that he had used before and that the man didn't really move his face at all. This technique is referred to as juxtaposition or montage. It's using one or more shots to evoke an idea or a state of mind. You simply get more information from a sequence of shots than from just one shot alone and you can get layers of meaning. This forms the basis of our visual language of film. This together with editing, is how we make compelling stories. When you add camera angles into this, then those stories can become really powerful. One of the most powerful camera angles that you can use is the close-up. For example, if you wanted to convey the idea of fear, you could show a character in a posture of fear like this. But, a much more effective use of visual language would be cut to an extreme close-up, say, of the character's eyes. That's so much more effective. If you just show the action or the emotion from out of fear from a long shot, the audience just will feel objective, they won't feel engaged emotionally. But by moving closer in, suddenly the audience feels like they are part of the action. Plus a camera angle that's this close psychologically creates an uncomfortable or intense effect, and can therefore heighten the intensity of any scene that you're filming. Just think of that iconic shot from Aliens when Ripley has an encounter with the alien. That's an extreme close-up and it really works. The first time you see that, it's terrifying. In the next few videos, I will take this idea a little bit further. I want to talk about composition and the rule of thirds and how that's used in filmmaking. Then I also want to talk about some of the storytelling shots that are available to you as a board artist that you should get to know and work with. I'll see you in the next video. 19. Principles of Composition: Composition is so much more than just being about how you make a strong or a well composed image. We really tend to think of a good composition as being just about the pleasing order of elements within a frame. But as a storyboard artist, you're going to have to take that idea of composition much further and use it to tell the story in a more compelling way, rather than just simply illustrating the words or the dialog. Here's what I'm talking about. Let's look at the rule of thirds. I'm sure you've come across this before. People are always talking about the rule of thirds and you see it everywhere. You're told never to put a subject right in the center of the frame. Use the rule of thirds and put the subject off to the side. People rarely explain why that's important. Here's why I think it's important or relevant to us, the storyboard artists. The structure of film narrative, as we know it, is based on a way of telling stories that was developed as far back as the ancient Greeks. That's just to say that it's now pretty much ingrained in us as to how we appreciate and understand and engage with a good story. Now one of the very core things that characterizes this way of telling stories is that a good story has to have conflict. If you think about it, every film that you've seen in our Western tradition anyway, either has overt conflict between characters or it has inner conflict within the main character. It's what drives the story. It's at the very heart of every story. It moves that story along towards resolution. For the most part, we go along with that story about the conflict. We're interested in how characters deal with conflict and how they work towards resolving that. This idea relates to the rule of thirds because an image or a shot which has complete balance and evenness, say in a binary sense, really is always going to convey to us stability, slowness, even normality or convention. Whereas things within a frame that are slightly off kilter will instantly convey uneasiness or a dynamic quality. They might convey adventure and they'll especially convey conflict. Visually off-kilter leans towards a division of thirds. Therefore in this case, three is better or more interesting than two. Now of course, you can think of examples that go completely against this notion and one that instantly springs to mind. You're probably thinking of the movies of Wes Anderson, he will very much place subjects right in the center of the frame. He uses binary setups a lot. But if you think about it, his style really is all about being unique and being very different from the norm. What he's doing there is, I think pointing out that the norm is to visually adhere to the rule of thirds and he wants to disrupt that by not using the rule of thirds. For the most parts. I mean, just to go along with this idea for the most part, in nearly all the films that you can think of, the rule of thirds plays a huge part because visually this rule disrupts this binary harmony and we'll make a composition more interesting. To work this into your storyboards, here's an example of how you might do it. If, for example, you've got two characters talking and you present this dialogue scene like this, you're essentially conveying and some subconscious way anyway, that these two characters are equal, that there's an even balance of power in their dynamic. But if you present the same exact scene like this, suddenly you're actually showing the audience that this character is more dominant and more powerful, and that he probably has power over this other character. There are many ways that you can do this, you could present the scene like this or shown like this. Every time you draw a shot, you need to ask yourself, what's the story point in this shot? What is the underlying dynamic between the two characters? Then use the rule of thirds to play with the tension or to push it that bit further, if you work in this way, then you'll actually be using composition as a powerful storytelling tool in Excel. 20. Storytelling Shots: The point-of-view shot is when the camera is showing us something that a character is looking at. It can be a direct shot of the object or the thing that he's looking at, or it can be an over-the-shoulder shot which keeps that character still in the frame a little bit just to emphasize that the character is looking at this thing. Now, why is the point-of-view shot such an important shot? Previously, in the last video, when I talked about the rule of thirds, I mentioned that one of the main constructs of storytelling is conflict. All of our stories do have some element of conflict in them which drives the story forwards. The other all-important construct of story is hero identification. This is the notion that, for a story to work or to be compelling in any way to us as an audience, we need to be able to relate to or identify with the main character. There are two shots in cinema that are used to ensure that this identification is driven home for the audience. The one is the close up and the other is the point-of-view shot. The point-of-view allows us to almost see things from the very viewpoint or through the eyes of the character that then leads us to identify with him or her or to at least see things from his or her point of view. Now, I'm stating this as very obvious thing right now, but in actuality, it's a lot more subtle and it's even sometimes subconscious, but it's one of the most powerful visual storytelling techniques. If you think about it, it's probably the one shot, that and the close-up are probably the two shots that separates the medium of film from some other art forms like theater. To bring it back to animation, though, and to storyboarding, the point-of-view shot is very commonly used in dialogue sequences. If we take a look at the sample script that we've got, the whole dialogue sequence between the sheriff and the barman really can be played out using point-of-view shots between each of these characters. Therefore, you will use the over-the-shoulder shot quite a lot. One character says a line and then cut to the character that he's looking at as he says his line, things like that. If you're using the point-of-view shot to show an object that the character is looking at, then when you're boarding that out, you would always make sure that you set that up first. Basically, to do that in the previous frame, you just show his eyes looking off-screen in that direction, and then you can cut to the object that he's looking at. 21. The 180 Degree Rule: The 180-degree rule is actually an essential convention for you to understand as a storyboard artist. It's something you need to know about from the outset. I'm going to explain its application in the whole storyboarding process. In this video, I'm going to show you what exactly the rule is and also I'm going to show you how you can break it. Essentially, the rule states that a camera has to stay on one side of the action throughout a scene. If for example, you're storyboarding a scene with two people talking. Start off first, just as a rough thumbnail to plot the scene out. Start off by drawing an imaginary line in between the two characters. In order to maintain continuity and to make sure that all your cuts will flow smoothly throughout the scene and coherently, you can use any camera setup or any combination of shots that you like as long as you stay on this side of the line. This entire area is your safe zone. Another way of putting this, a term you might often hear is that this will ensure your characters maintain screen side. So the red guy over here will always be on the right-hand side of the screen, no matter what the shot is. If you cut to a close-up or an over-the-shoulder shot, he's going to be on the right. The blue guy over here will always be on the left of any shot that you choose. Similarly, an over-the-shoulder shot or two shots or anything like that, he will be on the left. If you were to insert a cut during the dialogue scene that was saved from over this angle, then all of a sudden the characters will be switched around in our frame and the effect will be really jarring to the viewer. The audience will suddenly start asking themselves like, "Hang on, do those guys, just switch places, or is it a different time or a different location?" This all becomes even more important when you have an action sequence like a car chase imagine you're shooting the car moving at speed like this. The screen direction indicates that the car will always be moving from left to right. Obviously, if you cross that line and have a shot on the other side, the car is suddenly going to appear to be going right to left, which is the opposite direction. But then what if you really do want to get a shot from the other angle? What if you really need to break the line? How can you then break the 180-degree rule? Well, there are two very simple things that you can do if you do want to cross the line. One of them is you simply include a shot that leads the viewer's eye through a smooth transition. For example, you could just cut back to a wide shot of two people talking, then show one character walking across the screen within that wide shot to take up a new position on the opposite side. Then you can cut back to your close-ups with the new A and B position established. Or the other way you could do it is you could just pan the camera showing the audience exactly that the screen direction is changing and you move from one side of the room to the other. In terms of the 180-degree rule, it's always a really good idea to sketch out a rough diagram to help you plot your action and your camera angles. Then you can get into the process of boarding in detail and you won't get lost and you won't get confused about where your line is. It will really help you to avoid making basic errors. Of course, like any rule or convention, it is there to be broken or disregarded altogether and you will definitely see tons of movies where this 180-degree rule is broken all over the place. All I want to say is usually it does support the story and when that happens, it's done for great effect. But sometimes it doesn't support the story. It's not done for effect, it's actually a mistake and in those instances, it's just plain jarring. Whether you want to observe the rule of break it, the most important thing is just to have visual clarity and make sure that what you're doing supports the story point. 22. Drawing Camera Moves: In this video, I'm going to go back to our script and storyboard, and I want to cover some of the technical aspects that you'll use when you're constructing your own boards and that you'll be called upon as a board artist to put into your work. First up, moving camera shots. In this script, the action tells us that the camera moves along the ground and then comes to rest at the character of Reinholdt. This is usually called a tracking shot. When you start the camera here and move it all the way along so that it ends up in a different position here. What you do is you basically indicate the very center of the camera as its starting point, draw an arrow like this, and where the camera's going to end up is your ending point. Usually, the convention is that you label the starting shot and the ending shot, like shot A and shot B. Because you don't want to number these, that might get a bit confusing with your numbering your scenes and your panels. Now if you were to keep the cameras static, standing in the same spot, but move it from left to right. That's known as a panning shot. The camera pans left or right. For our purposes, it's pretty much the same thing. You, I think track the difference between tracking shots and panning shots really apply to live-action, and for animation. Just indicating these arrows where the camera starts and where it stops is the most important thing to note, and when you do draw a tracking shot or camera pan, you combine two or more panels. Another common shot that you'll be drawing a lot is the zoom or truck in. Zoom is when the camera stays static and the lens zooms in closer, whereas a truck in is where the camera is literally pushed from one position closer to the action. Again, either way, an animation, it doesn't make a huge difference. Technically speaking, both shots represent the same thing, and as a board artist, all you have to do is indicate that you want the action to be focused in on a certain point. In that case, you just draw the whole scene as it is, show it from its widest position. You name this position A, and then you simply draw a rectangle or a frame around which part of the scene you want the camera to focus on, and you name that B. You could also have a zoom out, which would be the exact same thing. You still would draw the widest angle possible. Put a rectangle around the area of the frame where the action or where the camera will start and then draw your arrows coming back out to indicate a zoom out. 23. Wrap Up and Review: Well, you've made it to the end of the course. I'm so thrilled that you came this far, and I sincerely hope that you've enjoyed the course and that you've got something useful out of it. My intention really from the very beginning was to share concrete real-world skills that can help you on the road to becoming a professional storyboard artist. I've worked in nearly every row in production, and I can tell you that being a board artist is the industry's best kept secret. I think it's the most rewarding and creative role in the group. I hope this course has given you some direction at least, and I hope that you've got work out of it that you can take to the next level. To wrap up, here are my top five takeaways that I think you should have after this course. Number 1 is drawing. That you will always have a model sheet or something like that to work from if you are storyboarding in the studio. If not, there are a lot of very specific conventions and shorthands that you can actually use to draw with for scenes and characters. Your ideas are more important than your drawings. Just don't be afraid to get your ideas down in any way that you can. Your drawing skills will always improve in time. Number 2 is approach the script in reasonable chunks, break it down into acts, and then break those acts down into sections of scenes, and break a scene down into beats. Then start with one scene and identify your sharpest first, then work up the drawing step-by-step. Always start drawing rough. Number 3, thumbnailing is the most important part of the whole storyboarding process. So get comfortable drawing small postage stamp size drawings of your ideas. These can be cut and pasted, added to, taken out much more easily than finished board panels can. Number 4, composition needs to support the story point. Not in every single panel, but I do want you to get into the habit of asking yourself, what's the story point of this scene, of this section, or even of this act? So that you can create compositions that support that when needed. If you do that, your director will love you for it. Then my last point I think, is just to say that, remember the POV and the close-up tell the story. These two shots are character-driven shots. So use them well and effectively, knowing that your aim to get the audience to identify with the character and his or her journey. Then I guess my very last piece of advice is just this, watch as many films as you can. Stay visually hungry. You can learn so much from watching films and seeing how other directors have chosen to sequence their shots. You can even do something like watch the opening sequence of your favorite movie and draw it out shot for shot, just to see how they made it. Well, good luck. You're on your way now to being an amazing board artist. I wish you every success. If you took this course simply for the love of film or script writing, then I hope you've got good information and good perspective on visual storytelling. Please stay in touch and I hope to see you on my next course.