Resources for learning to story-board
September 16, 2021 9:51 AM   Subscribe

I am at the stick-figure level of drawing. But I need to be able to quickly sketch out storyboards to effectively convey my ideas for shooting a complex film sequence from multiple angles. Are there any books/online lessons/youtube videos that you can recommend to help me quickly improve my drawing humans in motion, in perspective, etc? I won't need to bother much with shading or detail, but rather conveying specific shooting angles correctly. Bare-bones simplicity and clarity are what I need to focus on, so bonus points for storyboard-specific resources. Thanks!
posted by egeanin to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The keyword you need to find these resources is 'gesture drawing'. I really like Proko's YT course on figure drawing, which focuses on gesture and simplifying the figure as ground work for more detailed studies. Here's the intro tutorial, and here's the link to all 38 videos in the course. If you go to his YT home page and scroll down you'll see all the different courses he has, this is one of many.

Also, this isnt so much about figure drawing per se, but I really like Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative by Will Eisner as a foundation for thos type of work.
posted by ananci at 10:10 AM on September 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'll add Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics to the mix. I particularly like his analysis of the "gutter," the space between panels. This is where the real storytelling takes place, where the reader makes the connection between this image and this image and that connection is the story. This seems key to understanding film, as well.
posted by SPrintF at 11:00 AM on September 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You might try starting out by finding images online you can sketch from. ShotDeck is excellent for this.

Also if you’re computer graphics savvy, something like Blender can provide pre-built characters for posing in front of a virtual camera. Even something like a video game with photo mode can help.

Speaking personally having been in film a long time, helping a client visualize their ideas is something we actively train for and you might just ask your crew. I wouldn’t blink twice at a request for some pre-production visualization help. Alternatively, concept artists aren’t hard to find - try ArtStation.
posted by misterdaniel at 12:10 PM on September 16, 2021

Best answer: I can’t think of any resources beyond what's been suggested but I've been doing animation storyboarding for 30 years and I’ll give you a couple of tips:

First, the way I was taught by an old Disney/UPA artist is find an existing example of what you want your piece to be like, pick a favourite sequence and frame advance through it to find the frames that best describe the action/acting. Do your best to draw copy them out quickly. Pay attention to the framing and the gesture. Concentrate on getting the bare bones of the frame laid down. This will help your drawing and build your visual/film vocabulary. Just reading books or watching film appreciation videos isn’t going to burn it into your brain and fingers. It's like playing guitar, in that you need to start out copying/repeating something, not just listening to guitar music.

For perspective, the most useful basic thing is that the camera is always at the level of the horizon. Level surfaces at the same height as the camera will be a line. Those surfaces below it (coffee table) you'll see the top of and those above it (tall wardrobe) you won’t. It's usually best to keep your camera about chest height, or lower. Meaning the horizon will rarely be more that chest height on your speaking characters. In close shots, it'll be below frame. Don’t get too specific about vanishing points and stuff.

I suggest you build a very simple mock up of your location and use play action figures. Work through your story movement and find your angles with a phone camera, then copy or trace those photos and fill in as much detail as you need.
posted by brachiopod at 12:19 PM on September 16, 2021 [5 favorites]

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