What is a Storyboard Artist?
A storyboard artist creates visuals for each major scene in a film or TV show. Visuals will include character poses, facial expressions, and backgrounds.
What Is The Job?
The roles of a storyboard artist can differ from job to job. In some cases, the storyboard artist gets a script and has to create a storyboard based on that script, whereas in other cases, the storyboard artist also acts as the writer of the episode. In many cases, storyboard artists are responsible for ‘pitching’ their ideas to the director of a film. It’s one of the few art jobs in animation that can influence the final product.
The storyboard artist has to visualise everything, specifically from the camera’s point of view – from gestures to emotion, and based on preference, a storyboard artist can visualise the scenes by hand, or visualise them using software such as Photoshop or Storyboard Pro.
The illustrations that the storyboard artist creates have two functions: to help directors clarify what they want to achieve, and to illustrate to other members of the team exactly what is required (e.g. props, makeup, computer generated images).
The main role of a Storyboard Artist is to produce a series of panels of images to plan the animation’s shots and ensure continuity between them. Storyboards are mostly useful for productions involving a large amount of action, CGI and special effect, as it allows to reproduce expensive and time consuming on-screen effects just with pencil and paper. Big budget movies are often entirely storyboarded even before production, to help avoiding overshooting and prevent the filming to be too expensive.
During the first day of production, Storyboard Artists meet with the directors to discuss angles, mood and colours of each scene. They can then start producing the first illustrations and possibly give suggestions on the following scenes if the Director asks for their advice.
In big-budget films there are usually 2-3 Storyboard Artists employed on set full-time, usually working within the Art Department, where they can examine any props, models and Location photographs they need to get a clearer idea of scenes.
- Experience of software such as Photoshop or Storyboard Pro.
- Ability to understand characters personalities
- Flexibility and ability to adapt between styles of different films/shows
- Very good drawing skills
- Good perspective of visualisation and cinematic thinking
- Knowledgeable about camera lenses and photography
Salary & Working Hours
Junior Storyboard Artists can expect to earn an average of £18,000 a year when starting oout, whilst experienced storyboard artists can expect to earn around £30,000 to £40,000 a year.
As with most jobs in the film industry, you will often work under pressure as the turnaround for storyboards can be fast. Working hours will vary depending on whether you are working for a studio on a permanent basis, or whether you are working on a freelance basis. If you’re working for a studio, hours are likely to be more regular, but you should expect to have to work longer hours when you are required and when deadlines are approaching.
How to Become a Storyboard Artist
There is no typical career path for Storyboard Artists. A lot of Storyboard Artists move into the role from related sectors such as Illustration, Graphic Design or Animation. However, being a freelance position, it is always useful to be constantly in touch with contacts in the industry as well as with Production Designers, as your network may have a critical weight on the chances of being hired.
Internships are also a great way to get hands on experience and they will also provide you with the opportunity to start creating your own work. Most employees require potential candidates to have at least one year of experience in the field. Once you’ve built up some experience and had a go at creating some work, it’s wise to put together a portfolio of the panels that really showcase what you can do. This can show potential employees what you’re capable of.
A good way to be seen as a more attractive candidate to an employer is to make sure you have plenty of experience behind you. This doesn’t have to be directly related to the role, but any experience you can get in the industry would be helpful. Experience can be gained through internships, part-time jobs, and volunteering.
Where Can It Take You?
The job of a storyboard artist is a very creative job, and therefore it’ll provide you with a good amount of experience to go into other animation jobs. You’ll be learning about the language of film, staging, and how to create dialogue for characters. All this leads to a better understanding of various aspects of film and television production, which will help when collaborating with directors. For most storyboard artists, the general career progression is from Storyboard Artist to Storyboard Supervisor, and then possibly to Director.
Become a Storyboard Artist Today
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at the latest Storyboard Artist vacancies on our jobs board? You can view our latest vacancies here.