Animation Storyboarding

Animation Storyboarding: A Beginner’s Guide [2023]

Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered what kind of planning goes into making animations? For starters, an animation storyboard is the backbone of any successful animation project. It helps you nail down the story, saving you time and money before the animation process begins.

An animated explainer video production company has a solid workflow in a place known as the production pipeline including the three stages: production, pre-production, and post-production. Whereas a storyboard is a pivotal part of the pre-production stage.

Besides if you’re a seasoned animator, you know how vital storyboards are to get a crystal clear idea of the storyline before diving straight into the production process. Storyboard animation has countless other benefits and skipping it is not a smart move.

Even if you’re a newbie and want to level up your production process with a top-notch storyboard, this guide is for you. Today’s guide is aimed to get you started in the creative field and art of storyboarding. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to make a storyboard for animation.

But first…

What are Animation Storyboards?

Animation storyboards are a set of illustrations that depict the order of shots and activities to be used in an animated production. Moreover, each frame in a storyboard represents a certain camera angle, shot, action, or special effect to tell a story adequately.

Animators utilize animation storyboards during the pre-production phase to envision how their creations will look in motion and as they evolve. They are also helpful for any other sequential-art-related activity like comic books, graphic novels, and video games.

For a better idea, see below for an animation storyboard example.

animation storyboard example

What is a Storyboard in Animation?

During the pre-production phase, storyboards allow directors, animators, designers, and other key members of the crew to come together and collaborate early on in the production. Plus, when there’s a solid idea along with a captivating script, it’s time to work on the storyboard. It is a series of drawings that serves as a visual guide throughout the animation process.

Besides that, a storyboard in animation covers the three information categories that are mentioned below.

  • The sequence of scenes that illustrate the shots and angles
  • All other technical information required for each scene
  • Everything the audience will hear and see on the screen

In short, it is a rough blueprint of the entire animation project ensuring all the pieces work well together. Other elements like camera staging, visual effects, scene events, etc. are all part of the storyboard.

How to Create a Storyboard for Animation?

The visual storytelling medium, animation, can be used in plenty of ways. It has been around for decades, dating back to 1837. It has the power to captivate your audience and make them feel connected to the story. But before you leverage its benefits, you must have the know-how of how to create the perfect storyboard.

The most common way to create a storyboard is by sketching frame by frame along with the relevant text. The process can be time-consuming thus software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. are used to create the storyboard instead.

There are three main stages of the storyboarding process:

1. Plan

First and foremost, have an idea about what will happen in your animation. When you know what to show in the animated video, sketch out each frame on paper or via software. Besides, all the specifics of the storyboard are set during the planning stage.

2. Rough Sketch

The next step is to create rough sketches of events happening in each scene. This can help detect mistakes in the early stage of the production as well as the room to make corrections before going too far. Moreover, the visual representation of the scenes allows each member of the team to understand and have a good idea of what they are working on.

3. Final Drawing

The third and final step includes planning out artistic aspects that will be useful when rendering the animated video or film. When all the drawings are completed, next comes scanning them into Photoshop or other software to add text or other effects.

Why is Labeling Storyboards Important?

When talking about animation production, it’s important to know why is labeling storyboards important. It helps companies during the post-production stage by keeping the project material organized as well as easy to track. Labeling is done by creating a unique ID for each panel so that animators may utilize them when they need stock footage to save money.

Besides, labeling storyboards also come in handy when you need to identify the date and location or find out where you left on-off when working on the project. To explain the concept better, here are a few labeling storyboard examples:

  • Scene# 1: Shot 1A
  • Scene# 1: Shot 1B
  • Scene# 1: Shot 2
  • Scene# 1: Shot 3
  • Scene# 2: Shot 1, and so on

Why do Animators use Storyboards?

Before we get onto why animators use storyboards, know what a storyboard is not.

  1. A storyboard does not replace a script. Scripts focus on the dialogue scene by scene. Whereas, the storyboard explains how the action will play out on the screen.
  2. Storyboarding does not include music or sound effects. If you want to add music, it’s best to plan it out before drawing any frames.

Before carrying out a full-fledged animation project, it’s important for all those involved to have a visual representation of what they are going to create. That’s why an animator creates a storyboard so that there’s no room left for misinterpretation. As a beginner, you may find the whole process intimidating and tedious, yet, it is worth it in the end when you hire the best explainer video company.

Wrapping Up

Storyboarding is one of the most important steps of the pre-production stage that bridges the gap between the script and the final project. With an effective storyboard at hand, you can get everyone on the same page, avoid mistakes, and keep everything running on the track.


Q: What does a storyboard look like?

A: A storyboard can be a simple sketch or a fully-developed idea created by storyboard artists. They create it using the latest software and digital art tools. Storyboards sometimes may include color palettes. Yet, most of the time, a basic outline would suffice.

Q: What should a storyboard not include?

A: A storyboard should not include overcomplicating camera angles (unless necessary). Other than that, a failure to include clear instructions.

Q: How many frames does a storyboard have?

A: A professional storyboard has at least one frame dedicated to each shot. Whereas, the number of shots depends on the length of your animated video. On average, you can expect to see at least 15-20 scenes in a 60-second storyboard.

Q: What is a storyboard and why is it used?

A: In simple words, a storyboard is a visual representation of your script, including an outline of the whole animated video to make the rest of the process easy. They are used by animators to visualize the scenes better and detect problems before they even occur.

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Adam is a copywriter and content strategist with years of experience covering the latest trends in technology and digital industry. Adam brings a fresh and creative approach to his writing. With his passion for writing as well as amazing research skills, he shares valuable knowledge on multiple trends.