June 6, 2023


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  • Building better storyboards starts in your sketchbooks

If there is one thing you could and should do to further your creative endeavors, it would be to start carrying a small sketchbook or notebook or both.

Anywhere and everywhere, all the time, and make the effort to put pen to page at least a couple of times a day.

Are you going to succeed every day? No, probably not.

But that's OK.

It'll get easier as the habit sinks in and, sooner or later, it'll add up. You'll have pages and pages of drawing and writing practice, and a wealth of raw material to pull from.

And if you keep trying, and succeed even some of the time, that well will never run dry.

This could be dashed-out doodles and notes for whatever storyboarding project is currently hanging over your head– the bits of inspiration that'll see you through the work at hand.

It could be the bones of something you're writing, or want to write– half-baked ideas and stray thoughts that might not mean much now, but may well later.

Or maybe it's some visual element in front of you– the way a person is dressed or is moving, interesting brickwork on a building– that you want to sketch so you can swipe it down the road.

Every so often, you'll overhear something so good you just have to jot it down, so you have it to put in someone else's mouth some other time.

You know– all the stuff that tends to disappear forever, forgotten, if it isn't recorded right away.

"But, Damien, I have a laptop and a tablet, and my phone probably pays more attention to– and records more of– my movements through this life than I do, so why add a bunch of analog gear to my EDC?"

There are a few reasons I would consider:

1. Speed. The goal is to record what's in front of you or in your head, quickly, and it's a far faster process to pull a sketchbook or notebook and a marker out of your pocket than it is to unpack a laptop and tablet or an iPad or whatever, get booted and connected, get a program opened, get a fresh page loaded, etc.

2. Motivation. Given the above-mentioned time it takes to get from zero to scribbling, are you actually going to bother? Or are you more likely to just hope you remember it later, when you happen to be all set up, but ultimately never think of it again? The easier it is to get going, the more likely it is that you will.

3. Forced simplicity. I don't know about you, but if I can zoom way, way in and noodle at details nobody but me is going to notice, I will. Or I'll repeat a line until it swoops just right. Same's true if I'm working in words– I can waste a lot of time turning one or two phrases. A finite space and the permanence of ink will fix all of that right up, right quick.

Give it a try, even if just for a week or two.

Carry a small sketchbook or notebook or both and anything that makes marks (I dig cheapish fountain pens and brush pens), wherever you go. Make the effort– use them– and see what's in there at the end.


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