Advanced Storyboarding Techniques | Siobhan Twomey | Skillshare

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Advanced Storyboarding Techniques

teacher avatar Siobhan Twomey, Artist, Illustrator, Instructor

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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

    • 1.

      Advanced Storyboarding


    • 2.

      My Top 3 Tips for Drawing


    • 3.

      What is Gesture Drawing


    • 4.

      Drawing Dynamic Poses


    • 5.

      Drawing Characters


    • 6.

      Drawing Layouts and Backgrounds


    • 7.

      Staging the Action


    • 8.



    • 9.

      How to Create Depth in your Panel


    • 10.

      Identifying the Storypoint


    • 11.

      Beats and Timing


    • 12.

      Standard Opening Sequences


    • 13.

      Alternative Opening Sequences


    • 14.

      When to Cut


    • 15.

      Match Cuts and Hook Ups


    • 16.

      Shots for Character Development


    • 17.



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About This Class

This class is a follow up to my first class, called "Learn to Storyboard for Film or Animation". Check that out first if you haven't done storyboarding before! This class is going to teach you further principles, and professional approaches to visualising and drawing your storyboards. 

This course dives deep into the art of drawing storyboards professionally for film and animation.

I teach you how to draw dynamic character poses for animation, how to do Gesture Drawing and how to work with Character Model Sheets and Layouts. I also unpack advanced principles of drawing for animation such as: Composition,  Staging for the Action; Framing your Shots and how to lead the audience's eyes to where you want them to look. In addition, you will also learn directing techniques like when to cut a scene, when not to cut, and how to build audience identification with the characters of your story. This course is also packed with practical exercises and 3 fun assignments so that you can start making work for your portfolio. By the end of the course, you'll be primed for professional success as a Storyboard Artist!

Meet Your Teacher

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Siobhan Twomey

Artist, Illustrator, Instructor

Top Teacher

Hello, I'm Siobhan (pronounced: Shivon ... an Irish name! )

My work spans the disciplines of Figure Drawing, Painting, Filmmaking and Animation. To say the least, my art journey has been varied, scenic and multi-faceted!! However, the one thing that was missing on this journey was a guide, a mentor, or someone who could advise and give me feedback.

Here's what my journey looked like:

Starting out, I studied Film in Dublin, and I spent a semester on a scholarship at the Tisch School of the Arts, at NYU, shooting 16mm short films in New York. Later, I studied Drawing and Animation. Since 2005, I've worked in studios in Vancouver and Dublin: I've worked as a professional Background and Environment Artist; I've worked as a Storyboard Artist, Concept Artist; I've also di... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Advanced Storyboarding: Hi there, I'm Siobhan. I teach animation and storyboarding, and this class is advanced storyboarding techniques. This is a follow-up to my first class, learn to storyboard, which covers the basics of things like camera angles and shots, working with storyboard templates, and how to thumbnail a script. If you're brand new to storyboarding and you want to get started with an overview, then check that out first. This class is going to take you one step further. It's going to help you to build up your portfolio so that you can show to prospective clients or even studios or producers, and it's going to teach you the techniques and approaches that are used most commonly in professional storyboarding. Here's what you'll learn in this class. You're going to learn how to draw dynamic poses and how to understand gesture drawing in order to use it for character posing. This is a crucial aspect for an animator or storyboard artist. I'm also going to explain to you what model sheets are. I'm going to show you how you can work with them. You'll learn all about layouts and backgrounds and get to draw your very own layout using perspective. I'm also going to teach you how to identify the story point of any given scene or sequence and show you how you can compose your shot in order to underscore that story points. Then in the last section, I'm going to teach you all about the process of linear storytelling. You will learn about the most widely used directing and editing techniques for film. Plus you'll learn how to structure your shots for a narrative sequence. That will include drawing standard storyboard patterns, such as progressing inwards for an opening sequence, as well as looking at an alternative opening sequence. You will learn when to cut, when not to cut a scene. You'll learn what match cuts are and what hookups are, and how to use them in a storyboard and why they're so important. I'll also teach you all about the shots that are used for character development in any story. This class is packed with lots of mini assignments that you can tackle to practice these techniques. Plus there's a big class project, which will definitely be your major portfolio piece. I'm here to give you detailed personalized feedback on your work. This is your chance to show me your work. Ask me any questions that you have and crucially to get the support and encouragement that you need to develop your skills as a story artist. I see this class as an essential component to the first storyboarding class and an opportunity for you to take your next steps on your journey towards becoming a professional story artist for film or animation. 2. My Top 3 Tips for Drawing: We're about to dive deep into the main learning sections of this course and I just wanted to start things off by giving you some practical drawing tips to work with. These tips are actually really simple but don't underestimate that just because they seem a bit obvious or simple. If you use them every day in your sketchbook, you will see a big, big difference. Tip number one is something I talked about in the first storyboarding course quite a lot, and that is to draw very loose and very rough at the beginning. When you start out drawing, really always start out light, don't draw heavy lines straight away. You can always clean up and refine your line work later. When I say loose, I don't really mean draw messy, even though it might look a little bit messy. Drawing loose means that you develop your pencil control or pen control, and it also means that you develop your confidence in your drawing. This is often also called gesture drawing, and I'm going to cover that in detail in our class later on. Tip number 2 is to draw from reference material. This might come as a surprise because I know a lot of people think that the creative mindset is just you sitting with your sketchbook and coming up with fabulous ideas. Also, a lot of people think that referencing something is like copying. But that's not the case at all, and I want that to be very clear for you to develop your skills as an artist. Also, drawing from reference is a really good way for you to learn how to draw structure. The most important way to draw from reference is to draw from life. But sometimes you can't actually go out and draw a Western saloon from life, so in that case, you have to search for images online and collect reference images that way. Google image search, Pinterest, Artscape all of these websites are fantastic online tools for artists. I encourage you to really spend a lot of time doing your visual research. Then tip number 3, which is the most simple but sometimes the hardest one to actually apply, is consistency. Try and draw in your sketchbook every single day. If you can carve out five or 10 minutes of drawing time in about a measure of weeks or months, you'll really see a huge difference in your drawing. Those are my three tips. I hope they're useful and helpful to you and I'll see you in the next video. 3. What is Gesture Drawing: Gesture drawing is a technique that's most often used in figure drawing or in a live figure drawing class as a way to capture the whole figure very, very quickly with expressive dynamic marks. It's often seen as a way to draw or capture the energy or the essence of the figure. But for animators and story artists, gesture drawing is really an essential tool or an essential technique to be able to draw number 1, character poses that are clear and expressive and number 2, to be able to draw scenes or visual ideas really quickly with clarity and without getting bogged down in details. You can think of gesture drawing as just lose scribbling sketches or very rough drawings, but if you work with gesture long enough, you'll come to see it as a way of drawing that's really powerful and that can communicate your ideas and your feelings really very, very well. The thing to remember about gesture drawings is that you're not going for accuracy in terms of proportion or anatomy and that's really okay because that's not the point of gesture drawing. The point is to get your ideas down and then refine them later and make your drawing anatomically correct. The techniques for gesture drawing are as follows. First of all, one very good way to try gesture drawing is just to draw with scribbles. Let's say you are drawing a figure, then just use small, round circular marks and work your way around the entire figure drawing like this. You'll find that you can start to really build up the mass and the weight of the figure by doing this. You can spend way more time with these small scribbles in one area, make it lose and lighter in other areas. This will give you a really good sense of how to capture the weight or the mass of a figure. Now the next technique to practice gesture drawing is to not take your pencil or your pen off the page as you draw. Keep your pen or pencil or your stylus in contact with what you're drawing on throughout the whole drawing. I really love this way of drawing because very often you have an idea of a scene but then when you go to draw it, suddenly the composition or the perspective gets in the way it gets really difficult and the thing that you imagined or visualized becomes really hard to get down on paper. Instead, block out shapes using gesture and scribble drawing and then afterwards, you can come back and refine it properly with more perspective and fix up the linework. I really want to encourage you to practice gesture drawing, pause these videos right right and grab your sketchbook, look at the room around you, and pick something to draw using this technique. Or if it's possible, take your sketchbook and go outside and try to draw figures from life. Get to a coffee shop or a park or something like that, and just observe people around you sitting or even moving and it doesn't matter what your drawings look like, it's about observation and just making these quick sketches in your sketchbook. Then when you're ready, come back and I'll see you in the next video. 4. Drawing Dynamic Poses: One of the key things to get right in your storyboards is how you pose your characters within a scene. Strong posing will tell the character story in a much more dynamic way, and if there was one thing that I would suggest you focus on, then it's trying to make sure you know how to draw clear poses. Posing basically means showing the character acting. How a character does something is nearly more important than what they do, because action reveals character. Something as simple as entering a room can tell us a great deal about a person. That's really good acting and that's what you are essentially trying to do in your storyboards when it comes to your characters. One way to make sure that you're getting the acting right is to think about how you would act the scene out yourself. Even if it's something as simple as just opening a box and getting a fright, how would you do it yourself? Once you've gone through that motion and understood the action that's involved, then you'll have a much better understanding of how to draw it. Another nearly better way though is to just exaggerate what you think is the biggest action. I'm not kidding, your idea of what the biggest action is is likely not going to be that big, so if you exaggerate your poses, you end up getting a much more dynamic pose. Remember I showed you this little drawing in the last course? Well, when you exaggerated, you've just got actually a better image. It's not that wildly outlandish, and in the context of other sequences, it will probably read just fine. Another tip to help you with good posing is to always ensure that the silhouette of the character is clear. This is almost like the Golden Rule of storyboarding, especially for animation. If you silhouette out your pose, and you just remove all the detail and see the outline, you should be able to still clearly see what the action is that the character is doing. If a character is picking up something like a cup of tea and is holding that in his hands, you would want to show it this way, so that we can actually see it clearly and it's very clear for the audience. A good way to exaggerate a pose is drawing S and C curves as your basic standard line of action. It'll help you to become more fluid in your drawing style overall. But it'll help you very much to push the character into more dynamic poses. S and C curves are very standard character lines for animation, along with the line of action. These are lines that move up and through the entire body of the character and it's almost like if you could sum up in one word the emotion of the character, then that's the equivalent here of this line. This line is at one word that sums up the action that the character is doing. For an assignment, what I want you to do right now is grab your pencil or your pen and quickly draw an S or C curve in your sketch book. Before you start thinking too much about anything, draw an oval shape for the head, draw lines for the arms, and the legs. Then keep going. Use these curves to build up your characters and get them into as many dynamic poses as you can. Try to fill up a whole page or even a few pages of these drawings. In the next lesson, I'm going to explain how you can develop characters further, how you can draw stylized characters, and I'm also going to talk about the model sheets that you'll get for your storyboards. When you've spent some time doing your sketches meet me in the next lesson. I'll see you there. 5. Drawing Characters: In animation, whether it's a TV show or a feature film, as a storyboard artist, you'll generally always be given the final design for the characters that you need to draw and include in your storyboard. In industry terms, this is called a model sheet, and pretty much the model sheet is about as detailed diagram of the character that you can get. It shows you what the character looks like in different views or most in rotation. From this side, the front, the 3/4 view, and the back. Then your job is to draw this character in as many different poses throughout the storyboard as the script calls for. In this case, the key thing to look out for when you are redrawing characters throughout is to make sure that you're keeping volumes consistent. What that means is that your character isn't getting progressively skinnier as each panel goes on, or progressively wider either. As you change the pose, just make sure that you're on model and that the volume stay consistent. So that's quite easy or it's at least straightforward. When you've got a model sheet to work from, you know you can always reference the exact character specs as you go along. But what if you are asked to storyboard artist script and you don't have a model sheet and you're asked to come up with the character design yourself. Well then, it does depend on the style of the project. The first thing, first out of the gate, you need to know what kind of script you're dealing with. Our western themed sample scripts that I've given you, the look of the characters in that script is more or less realistic. There isn't a huge amount of what we call stylization, except maybe the character of the barman. In the last storyboarding course, I gave you some indications about how you'd go about constructing a basic male character or a basic female character. There are certain short hands that you can always go back to, and I hope you got caught up with that from the last course. You should be fairly okay knowing how you would go about coming up with a realistic-looking character. What if you need to draw a stylized character for the storyboard? Well then, my advice is that you, and this is something that you're taught in animation school, is think in terms of geometry. Start out with basic geometric shapes, a square or a circle or a triangle, and build a character out from there. When you're working with stylized designs like this, the number one rule is to include contrast. If you take a very basic element like a line, you can't really say if this is long or short until you see something to compare it against. If I introduce a second line like a curve, then immediately this line here has specific character. Now, the strongest designs will always have this contrast. You'll always find a straight line counterbalanced by a curved line. In the case of this pirate character that I'm working on, you could say that he is based on a circle in terms of the geometry. His design really is just a basic round form, and from here I've added the other elements of the arms and legs. Now note also that the arms use this idea of contrast, this is what I was talking about, with a straight line counterbalanced by a curve, and I've also kept the idea of contrast in the overall design. If this roundness is the main motif, then the arms and the small pointy [inaudible] and the stretched head all add a bit of variation that balances out that main circle idea. The last thing I'd add as well is that stylized designs like this one have to somehow relate to the underlying essence or personality of the character. It's really important that you know who your character is, what the backstory of the character is. For example, it's no point making a pirate a round, jolly, lovable rogue like this if he's actually supposed to be the evil villain. Think about who your character is and what the backstory is, and that will help you define how they look. 6. Drawing Layouts and Backgrounds: Along with characters, as a storyboard artist, the other elements that you'll get when you start out to board a project is a layout or even a couple of layouts depending on whether the action takes place in one or more locations. In this lesson, I'm going to walk you through exactly what a layout is and how you can adapt it to your boards. The procedure I am about to explain is usually very specific to animation, but you can apply it to live-action as well. Let's just say for the purposes of this lesson, I'm going to be talking about animation specifically, and it will make more sense. Any given sequence usually takes place in one location. Then when you change the location, you are into a new sequence. Within each sequence, there are any number of shots. You can have establishing shots showing the whole scene. You can have a long shot showing the characters and then close-ups over the shoulder shots, point-of-view shots, all of that stuff. You'll use the layout that you're given to draw up, say, the establishing shot. Now that's easy because then if you're drawing an establishing shot, you just redraw your layout as it is in your board panels. But then when the action moves closer in or, say, the camera angle changes completely showing a different view, you'll need to be able to interpret the layout accordingly and draw it from different angles if that's what's called for. Now, close-ups and extreme close-ups are fine. Generally speaking, you don't even need to really draw background here in most cases because you're just concerned with the features of the face. But for any long shot or medium shot, you'll need to know exactly where you are at all times and where your characters are in relation to each other and in relation to the environment. This is where drawing a very quick floor plan comes in really handy. Now a floor plan is a diagram, if you like, of the scene as a whole and as viewed from above, so you're looking at it like as a complete down shot. Now, this drawing is just for you, maybe for you and the director, but it's not for the storyboard and it's not for anybody else in the production. It's just so that you can get clear where everything is. Place your characters where they need to be, and then you can mark up any movements that they are going to be taking if they do walk around the scene and then place your cameras in position so as to reflect your shot choices. Then you can just number each one sequentially. Now when you go to board out of the scene or sequence, you won't go wrong and you'll know exactly what to draw in the background in any given shot. It will really help you a huge amount to keep consistent, to keep your screen direction correct, and of course, to help you to not break the 180-degree rule. That's all very, very useful. My last word of advice is don't really get too overruled or focused on drawing all the exact details of the background or the layout. Just to indicate the major landmarks, drawing the background is enough so that at least the director and the animators know where the scene is taking place. 7. Staging the Action: This next section is going to cover some more advanced techniques for cinematography and for visual storytelling. I'm going to show you how you can creatively use visual language to enhance your work and how to get your shots to flow seamlessly. The first thing we're going to talk about is staging. Staging in animation or in film means how you arrange the elements in your scene for the clearest possible view of the action that has to take place. The action usually means or refers to any of the animation that the characters are doing. That means prioritizing the position of the character throughout the scene. In your storyboards, you don't want the characters to be covered up by a background element, or for your characters do not have enough room to move around or to do whatever it is that they need to do. It basically means controlling the attention of the audience. In a way you're directing the audience's eye to look at the characters and to look at the action. As a storyboard artist, your job is to figure out what is the most important thing that needs to be seen in any shot. Also it means thinking ahead and figuring out what needs to be shown next as the story unfolds. How do you plan for that next piece of action to flow seamlessly? Here's a really simple example. If you've got two people sitting at a table like this and they're talking to each other, you would probably think about just staging the shot like this. But if you know, for example, that in the next panel, you're going to have a third character walking in, then clever staging means that you present the first panel like this so that the third character has room. We see her coming in and entering. It's all very nice and smooth and there's no need for cuts or for new setups. Another thing that always calls for good staging is when you've got more than two characters. Say you've got a group of characters in a scene like this. Here, we've got a main character is talking to a group of friends. A clever way to stage this would be to treat this group as one character. So that when you do start to cut back and forth from this shot to this one, it's really clear where everybody is. The audience can follow the flow of shots smoothly and they won't get confused. Then finally, a fail-safe guide to staging is to just give your characters lots of room. Directors will often say that most storyboard artists don't actually cut wide enough on characters and they don't give characters enough room. This is one thing that will really stand out in terms of poor staging. A really good rule of thumb is to stage your scene for the widest possible action. Even in a close-up, give the character a bit of headroom and a bit of screen space in the direction that he's looking. Once you get really good and thoughtful about staging, you'll be able to combine shots without needing to actually cut them. That's something that your director will really love you for, because it just means that things can be a bit more efficient in the pipeline, and the background artist doesn't have to make a new background for each cut. 8. Composition: In the previous course, I talked about the rule of thirds. If you remember, I showed you how to use it to divide up the frame, and I also talked about why I think it actually works on a much deeper level than simply being just because it's pleasing to the eye to have things arranged in this way. Hopefully you caught up on that course and if you haven't, I recommend going and watching it because there are some good points there to keep in mind. For now in this lesson, I'm going to look at other compositional techniques that you can use. There's certain things that you can do in your storyboards that can lead the audience's eye to exactly where you want them to be looking, and that's basically what you're doing in staging and composition. You're sort their attention to this part of the frame or that part of the frame. A really easy thing to use in your compositions are diagonal lines. These are great for always leading the eye to a certain point in the frame, and the idea is that you use what seems like natural perspective within the scene as strong directional lines. These lines literally point to where you should be looking. Another way to do this is with framing. Framing up a shot is when you have elements of the scene arranged so that the character who's the focus of the shot is actually framed within these elements. A lot of times you can do this with foreground elements like this. Or you can even use characters to frame each other. Anything that blocks out part of your panel and leaves only enough space for the character to occupy is framing. Now if you really like this compositional technique, then I'm going to recommend that you watch a film called In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar-wai. I think probably the first 10 minutes of this film is completely made up of frames within frames, and then throughout the movie, the composition and the use of screen space is amazing. That movie I think is pretty much a master class in composition. So definitely go check that out. Again always relate your compositional choices to the story. Avoid using these techniques just for the sake of it. For example, in this film, the director specifically isolates his characters by precise framing and using frames within frames because that visual motif underscores the story. The story is about two characters who are literally trapped in their interior worlds, even from each other, and this amazing use of composition adds layers of meaning to each and every scene that they're in. So when you are experimenting or playing with compositional ideas, try to always relate them to a reason like use diagonal lines, if you want to show dramatic moment. Use framing if you want to show a character in psychological isolation or to give that feeling of being boxed in. In the next lecture, I'm going to talk about how you can create a sense of depth within your panel. 9. How to Create Depth in your Panel: In this lesson, I want to show you two simple techniques that will help you create a sense of depth in your drawings. Then at the end of the lesson, I'll give you a short assignment so you can have a go at practicing this yourself. The first tip is to use perspective lines. Now this will really help you if you're in a situation where you don't actually have much going on in your frame at all and you want to convey distance. All you have to do is add in a simple grid. Now, it doesn't have to be the technical one-point or two-point perspective that I explained about in the last course. It's just simply an indication of where the vanishing point is, where the horizon line is. That's all. But it instantly creates a great sense of depth in your frame, and it can add a huge amount to your drawing. What's also good is that we understand immediately what the camera angle is. That's very important because camera angles will often determine the feeding of the shot. If it's a high angle, like this, then we're going to be looking down on a character, and that'll give the audience the impression that maybe this character is in a weak or vulnerable position. Conversely, if we add in a grid like this, it tells us that the character is above us. It conveys a sense of that this person is in a position of power or dominance. I know I'm staging this as a bit over the top, but these are actually subtle visual cues that we are reading all the time, even unconsciously. It is good to be aware of them. The second tip is to overlap elements within your frame. Sometimes, you don't really want to convey vast distances, but you don't want your drawing to be flashed either. You want to have some depth. Simply overlapping things like this can give you a nice feeling of depth within the frame. This is where a 2D art can become quite magical because if you think about it, you're using just a flat plane and a few lines to create this really realistic feeling or impression of deep space. For your assignment to practice compositional techniques, I want you to draw it like a simple farm scene. I've given you a list of things that you can include in this drawing, a barn, tree, maybe a fence, a wagon wheel. You could possibly put in some faraway hills. But you don't have to be too detailed or complicated. Just a rough sketch is all I'm looking for. I want to see how you can arrange these elements within the frame to give a sense of depth, and to direct the audience's eye or the audience's attention. Think about leaving space somewhere in your frame for any characters or action to take place. Think about how you would direct the audience to look at that space. Maybe you're going to have the barn off to the side. Then you don't need to show the whole structure in the middle. But I'll leave it up to you completely. Then, again, go ahead and post your drawings in the Q&A section. Let's see what you guys come up with, and get some feedback. Otherwise, just send it to me if you want me to take a look at it. Hit "Pause", go off, and do some sketching, and then come back to me in the next lecture. I'll see you then. 10. Identifying the Storypoint: Every panel that you draw needs to tell or at least support the story point of that particular moment or scene and every scene progressively tells the overall story point of the entire film. I'm going to take a look at the process of how to effectively render a story point in simple and clear board panels. In this lesson, I'm going to use an example to do so. Say for example, you've got a script that says something like Colorado Bob is in the cabin. He's frantically looking for the gold and outside the marshalls are fast approaching. Well, often when you're working from a script, you could easily get a bit lost or distracted from all of the things that you could draw. What you want to do is when you're starting out, just ask yourself in every situation, why is a character doing a certain action? That's going to immediately help you get clear on what the story point is. In this instance, he's frantically looking for gold. Why is he looking for it? Because the marshalls are riding out to get him and he needs to go. He's not looking for the gold to count it or admire it. He's frantically looking to get it so he can get out. Boarding this, I wouldn't really spend time drawing unnecessary details of the cabin or the surrounding area. You want to focus straight away in on Bob's frantic state. Then I'd probably choose a lot of close-up camera angles to show maybe his hands rummaging through looking for things, maybe a close up of his eyes, or you could even have him looking out the window at one point. Now you'll see that this sequence flows and it heightens the dramatic tension because it's visually underscoring the story point. But here's another example that I want you to look at. Let's say for example, you've got a character who's walking through a forest. You could choose to draw him in front of the trees or walking towards camera and that will give you a nice, lovely foresty background. But say for example, the overall story point of the script is that this character has this intense internal conflict going on that makes him feel somehow trapped, then this setup here is brilliant because these trees, as you can see instantly, they create silhouettes that reinforce his emotional state and they underscore the overall story point. When you ask yourself why, then you'll be able to determine how best to draw any chart and how to effectively use visual language to explain that. You'll avoid spending lots of time drawing unnecessary cameras at jobs. Remember, you have to be as economical as possible as a storyboard artist in getting the point across. I hope this makes sense. Let me know if you have any questions at all. In the next class, I'm going to talk about beats and timing in your board. 11. Beats and Timing: In this class, I'm going to talk about beats of a story and explain in more detail how to understand and recognize beats. Identifying the beats is one of the first thing that you do right at the very beginning when you start reading your script. The beats in a way determine your shotlist so it's very good to have a very clear understanding of this part. One of the best ways that I can describe it is to literally compare a script to a song. Think of a song that has a specific story within it, one that unfolds as the song goes along. The song is timed at musically and every line of the song or verse that has a specific story point has its own timing. If you were to storyboard a song and match those board panels up to the soundtrack, then your timing would be all done for you because it's matched to the music. As a storyboard artist, you've got to find that rhythm in your script when you're reading through it. Do you do all of this in the reading phase of your process? Then when you come to thumbnail out the drawings, every idea that you've had in your head, put that into your thumbnails. The reason that you have to have a feeling for timing is because it's crucial to draw in the correct number of frames per shot or per scene, and also, because later on, when it comes to making an animatic, then you'll know exactly how long each shot needs to be, because you'll have time to that for yourself. This means you won't be scrambling around for extra frames or you won't be trying to cut down on a scene because it's gone too long and it's too involved. I guess you could say finding the beats is something that's a bit intuitive, but the best way to do it is just watch the movie in your mind as you're reading. Then be specific about what you're seeing in terms of camera angles and shots. In the next lesson, I'm going to get you to start thumbnailing out the second half of that Western script that we've got. Right now, I think it would be a good idea to go grab that script and read through the two pages and just play that movie out in your head. Get a feeling for the rhythm. After you've read it a few times, then you can write down on the script itself your shotlist, just like I showed you in the previous course. Just markup in the margins or wherever you want what you think you need for each beat. Do you need a wide shot for this or a close-up or a pan? Anything like that. Have fun, and when you're ready, I'll meet you in the next lesson, where I'll go through the class project in a bit more detail. 12. Standard Opening Sequences: In this section of the course, I want to talk about some standard patterns of storyboarding and I want to show you how you can treat specific sequences in almost like a roughly formulated manner. You can use these set pieces for virtually any type of script. With these sequencing formulas, you can be sure that you're conveying the story point and you're using good visual language for your audience. In this lesson, I want to look at how to treat an opening sequence and I'll show you what shots and camera angles best work to serve this kind of sequence. I want to start off by explaining that this pattern for an opening sequence is based on the idea that a story progresses forwards towards a resolution. Of course, you can instantly think of films that are told backwards. I know a film like 500 Days of Summer is a perfect example. But in general, you start out with the premise of the film and you move towards resolution of that. The overall effect is that you've gone on a journey with the main characters. This is called linear storytelling, and it leads us to the idea in storyboarding of basically progressing inwards. This is an excellent way to approach an opening sequence because by progressing inwards, you're showing things from far away and then moving closer and closer until you establish the character. In other words, start with the widest shot of the location, you move progressively inwards through a series of long shots, medium, and finally, the close up of the character. Here's a script example that I've got. I'll just show you how it works with this very simple opening sequence. We have a script that says the film opens in a city apartment block. Jack is waking up and the alarm clock is going off. Right away I want to be able to tell the audience this information. That number 1, our story takes place in an urban setting, it's a big city. Number 2 that the character is waking up in his apartment. Here are the standard shots that you could use for this sequence. You'd start off with your wide shot, which establishes the location, gives the audience a very clear overview of where the story is going to take place. Immediately they've got context. Then the next shot is one closer in and clearly identifies the apartment building that we're moving towards. Now the viewer is beginning to be drawn closer into the action. But then with the 3rd shot, which I've chosen to be a close-up of the building itself in order to identify the apartment where Jack is, now we know this is where the action is going to take place. Then I can cut inside of the apartment, show Jack asleep and now we're into the mid of the story. Then I cut to an extreme close-up of the alarm going off, so we know that it's morning time and Jack's going to be waking up. We have Jack's hand coming in and knocking it out of frame to silence it. The next shot after this pulls back from the close-up to re-establish the scene. Again, it's a medium shot showing Jack sitting up and like groggily waking up. This pattern of wide, medium, close-up, and back to medium has the effect of drawing the viewer into the action, progressively drawing them in closer. Once you've established the scene from a wide shot and cut to close-ups, you can always pull back to your medium shots to re-establish the setting and the action. This works in so many opening sequences. It's the easiest way just to set the stage and to start the ball rolling and it works. Opening sequences are crucial in setting the tone and creating the exact right tension or drama for the story you're about to tell. You can think immediately of the iconic opening sequence of Star Wars, showing us that it's in space. Right away, that's all we need to know. But in the next lesson, I want to show you how you can use the exact same shots that I've shown you here to tell this exact same story in a completely different way and have it have a completely different effect. Up next, let's look at an alternative opening sequence. 13. Alternative Opening Sequences: In the last lesson, I explained how to illustrate a standard opening sequence. Now I want to show you some options for doing things a little bit differently. Let's imagine for a moment that the script that we've got is actually not so straightforward or boring as you first thought. Let's say, for example, that this is one of those scripts where the character wakes up only to find that the whole city he lives in is completely deserted and he's the only one left. Let's say it's the opening sequence to some dramatic thriller or a horror movie. In that case, the standard formula of shots that I showed you previously isn't really going to work so well here. That combination, I think, is just not dramatic enough. It feels very humdrum, ordinary, and a little bit pedestrian. I want to show you how you can use the exact same shots but mix them up in a totally new order. Watch how that completely changes the tension and the drama of the sequence. Let's start our sequence with that close-up of the clock, so bring that in as your very first shot. Straightaway, the audience is brought into the very middle of the action without giving them any information about where this is taking place or what's going on at all. It's just a close and extreme close-up of an alarm clock going off. Then cut to your extreme wide shot of the city. As a note, underneath, you could show that the alarm clock is still ringing over the soundtrack. Then cut back to this medium shot, Jack sitting up, looking a bit dazed and confused. Cut back to the close-up of the alarm clock and show Jack's hand hitting the alarm clock off to silence it. Starting with that extreme close-up is really disorienting to the viewer. It's a bit claustrophobic especially with the soundtrack of the alarm buzzing. We don't know where we are or what's going on but it does give us a couple of visual clues. It's telling us that it's early morning and as with most alarm clocks, it should be a sign that a daily routine is underway and that things are normal and habitual. But when we cut to that wide shot of the city and it's completely silent and all we hear is this annoying alarm clock going off, that might start to signal that maybe something is a little bit strange or a little bit off. Normally you wouldn't cut from an extreme close-up to an extreme wide shot because it's just too disorienting for the viewer. It's not very smooth use of visual language. But here in this case, if we put these two shots together, it will really help to keep the audience on edge and keep them wondering what's going on. The medium shot then with Jack looking a bit groggy and dazed, this intrigues us more as to what's going on with this person. What's happening to him? Now we wait to see what will happen or unfold next. That's a fairly intriguing opening sequence using visual cues to set the scene. If you want to check out a film that has one of these very interesting opening sequences, I recommend that you look at Blade Runner, one of my all-time favorite films. That's the original Blade Runner, not the reboot. That opening sequence is iconic, starts up with an extreme close-up of an eye, then cuts to an extreme wide shot of the city. Go check that out and see what you can understand and learn from Ridley Scott's opening sequence. The visual formulas or patterns that I'm talking about are there for you to use but they're by no means the rules that you have to go by. It's just options for you. If you want to think about linear storytelling, think about starting from wide and progressively moving into close-ups. But again, maybe you want to mix that up completely and use it for dramatic effect to tell a much more interesting story. It's totally up to you. Learn the rules and then learn to break them. In the next lesson, I'm going to talk about some more storyboarding patterns like when to cut and also when not to cut. I'll see you in the next lesson. 14. When to Cut: Think of storyboarding as essentially editing a movie before it's made. If you think about that, then you definitely need to know some basic editing rules like when to make your cuts. A cut is when the camera angle changes. The term actually comes from the days of film before digital film when an editor would actually physically cut the strip of film and then tape it back together with another piece of footage. That's just stuck with us into the digital era. There are some reasons that you need to know about when you should cut. This will improve your timing for your storyboards. It'll just make your boards and your shots flow together. The first one is to cut on emotion. For example, if somebody says something dramatic, then you could cut to see the reaction of the other person. That's cutting on the emotion. Or if there's a strong emotional moment in the scene, then you would want to cut there rather than linger on the shot and risk letting the emotion get dissipated. For example, this shot here. Let's say someone has just read a letter and in it they've received some really shocking news or something like that. Well, you would want to cut them and then move to the next scene. When they've registered that shock and the audience sees it on the character's face. You wouldn't want to linger on that shot and maybe show that person putting the letter down. I don't know, going off and making a cup of tea, that just wouldn't really let the whole emotional impact of that scene drift away. Another good moment in the script to make your cuts is when you want to show information. For example, cutting to show reaction shots or point of view shots, or to show what a character is looking at. Showing information to the scene or to the story point. But the most obvious place to cut a scene is what's called cutting on the action. Now cutting on their action basically it's a standard edit across live action films as well as animation. If you've got a shot of somebody getting up of a chair and going to answer the door, for example, that's an action. The character's action as him getting up. You'd make the cut there. As he gets up out of the chair, then cut to the shot of the door. Rather than showing the character getting up by the chair and walking along and then getting to the door. Cutting on the action is very intelligent use of timing because you can actually get rid of those long drawn out moments where a character is doing something in order to get somewhere else. Sometimes especially if you're storyboarding for TV animation, it can be the case that actually too many cuts end up causing quite a lot of problems later on. It's often the case that if you have lots and lots of cuts, the director will ask you to try and consolidate the shots in order to be more efficient in terms of the workload for other departments like the backgrounds or animation. The best way to know when not to cut is literary, don't cut if you don't have to. If you can stage your shots so that there's space for action and secondary action, then you would need to cut to new setups or new camera angles. In this example, cutting from here to here is known as a jump cut because the position of this character literally jumps from one shot to the other. She's over here in this shot and then you cut to a new camera angle and she's not in the same position. In order to solve that, you could just use a simple camera move and shift from this position just over to the left. Then that'll allow you to show the secondary character in the background without having to cut the shot at all. Remember when I talked about staging, I mentioned this. If there's something you can show now that will help the story unfold in the next shot, then later stage action like that because it helps you not have to make new setups or cuts. A good rule of thumb is just think logically and clearly about the amount of business that you have to get through in a scene, the amount of action that you have to get through if you like. How can you best render the story point? Think about whether one shot could actually work just as well as three or four different angles. 15. Match Cuts and Hook Ups: A match cut or a hookup is when you cut from one shot of a character, for example, to another shot or angle where that character is still in the scene or in the frame. You have to make sure that the new shot matches the previous one in terms of where the character is placed and in terms of his posing. A character is leaving their house and walking down the path to the car where their friend is waiting. In terms of timing for the scene, you don't want to have to watch each and every step from the door to the car as I explained in the previous lesson. If you just show them stepping away from the door and then cut to him at the car, that would be a jump cut. Sometimes jump cuts are fine if you want to inject a bit of dynamic energy into your scene. But if the mood doesn't really call for it, then it could look jarring. Instead, you would show your character leaving the door and then use a match cut, which in this case is a close-up of his footsteps. Now, it's a match cut because the footsteps match the same direction and the same action as the previous shot. Then the next shot could show him at the car. That's very effective use of editing. There's only three different shots, two cuts, and we've established that time has passed from him leaving the door to him arriving at the car. That is pretty seamless editing when you watch it played out and it's a very good use of a match cut. Another way to do it is you could have them leaving the door, then use a cutaway of his friend looking off-screen and watching him, and then show him standing at the car. Again, this has the same exact effect. It compresses time so that we don't have to watch him taking every step from the door to the car. It's a very good use of a cutaway to speed up the action. What's a hook up then? Well, here's a very simple example of a hook up. If you have a character looking off-screen before a cut, then you see a wider shot, but it shows them looking down towards the ground, well, there could be a lot of logical reasons in the script why this character has to look down, but your storyboard would be wrong because the pose doesn't hook up. So you either need to start the first panel off with them looking down, or start your second panel with them looking off-screen and then showing them looking down. I hope that makes sense. But once you start to see hook ups in storyboards, you'll begin to just do it very intuitively. Think also about your background elements by the way. Background elements can have a tendency to move around and change positions by themselves if you're not careful about your hook ups or your match cuts. When you go to cut your scenes, you'll need to keep an eye on that too and make sure if a character is standing beside a lamp post in one shot, then make sure that that lamp post is placed relative to the character in the next shot if it's from a different angle. Let's hop over to the next lesson. I want to talk about some standard storyboarding patterns for character development, specifically when we use close-ups. I'll see you then. 16. Shots for Character Development: Dialogue sequences are usually boarded out using a combination of close-ups and medium shots. The medium shot is a great go-to shot for dialogue. It's an extremely versatile shot because you still have lots of room in a medium shot for characters to move around, especially if they're doing something with their hands. But we still see the expression and the emotion on their faces. A medium shot is a very useful tool in your storytelling. Plus, the medium shot is equally important for relational aspects of staging. If you need to re-establish a scene and get back to home base and a sequence of cuts say, you've gone from a close-up to a cutaway to extreme close-up, then your mid shot or medium shots is a nice solution to bring the audience back to base in terms of where we all are, where the characters are in the scene, and in relation to each other. Now, I just want to talk a little bit about the close-up and I think it's worth spending time to discuss close-ups in depth because this shot is such an important shot to your visual vocabulary. The main thing that I think is worth noting about the close-up is how audience identification works through this shot. This is something I did talk about briefly in the first storyboarding course, but I can't emphasize enough how important this is for visual storytelling. I just want to talk a bit more in this lesson. Let me explain it like this. If you think of an audience watching a play, the action is unfolding in front of them. But they're pretty much stuck in this zone, they don't actually get any closer to the action or to the characters. Just imagine if they could actually get up on stage, sit right beside that main so the hero of the play, think about how powerful that would be in terms of watching and understanding the emotion of the actor. That's almost how close we get in cinema when we're watching a movie. For audience identification the close-up is crucial. But there's no point cutting to a close-up just randomly or haphazardly, just because it's a nice shot or because it's strong visual language, or because you just don't want to have to draw on the background details. Always think carefully when you could use a close-up and be sure to consider the following. Cut to a close-up where the character's emotion or reaction is the most important thing to show in the scene when it's the story point. Number 2, establish intimacy and connection both with the audience and between characters by going for the front three-quarters like this. You could even square off the character completely, but make sure that their eyes are looking screen left to screen right. If you've got two characters talking, this close-up really connects them. Just give them some room around the head and just don't cut too close. Unless it's very dramatic or intense moment in the script that calls for an extreme close-up don't make it so tight. Be sure that you've got nice negative space around the character, think about your rule of thirds and maybe placing the character on one or other side of the screen. Up next, I'm going to discuss with you the last of our class projects. It's project number 3, where I'm going to get you to clean up and finalize your storyboards. I'll see you in the next lecture. 17. Conclusion: Wow, well done for reaching the end of the course. I'm glad you made it this far. I think that's awesome. You really shouldn't underestimate the amount of work that you completed and what you achieved, even by just getting through the whole course. Thank you so much for being here and for watching this all the way to the end. I just wanted to leave you in this video with some of the points that I think are my top takeaways for this course. I think these are the most essential tips that you should focus on moving forward. First one is life drawing or figure drawing. If you're at all interested in being a story artist, or a drawing or an animation in general, I can't stress enough how important it is to practice figure drawing. If you can get to a life figure drawing class, that would be the best thing to do. But if you can't, you can always just draw from photo reference online, and there are tons of resources out there to help you. If you are keen, send me a message, I've got some pointers that I can give you for where to find good tutorials about figure drawing. Number 2, if animation is really your main focus, then character design is something that you should think about and you should practice as much as you can. The studios love to see character designs in your portfolio and especially for storyboard artists being able to draw a diverse range of characters, not just one style of character is something that they're going to be looking for. Focus on your character designs and practice that as much as possible. Number 3, is try to get clarity in your storyboards as much as possible. What I mean by that is look back through your storyboard panels as you're working on them and ask yourself, if somebody who didn't know the story comes along and looks at your shot choices or flow of shots. Would they be able to follow the story? Sometimes it might mean that you have to add in a few more frames to describe an action that the character is doing. If that's the case, then do that because really you want to be able to let your storyboard speak for itself. My fourth tip is to watch as many movies or shows as you can and really study how shots are used in those films. A really good practice that nearly every story boarder I know does, is pause the movie, and thumbnail out in your sketchbook a certain scene or a sequence that you think is interesting or compelling. You'll start to understand how directors think, how editing works and that will really improve your story boarding skills. Then my fifth tip is to join as many groups online as you can. There's lots of groups on Facebook for storyboard artists, and you can really get tons of inspiration and knowledge and ideas by joining those groups and seeing how other story artists work. Well, that's it for me. It's just time for me to sign off but before I go, I really want to say thank you so much for being here. Thank you for all of your contributions in this class. I can't tell you how much that means to me. It's been amazing to see people's work improve over time and I look forward to seeing you in another course.