Creating Storyboards In A Flash
So there you are at your desk.
You have your script, check.
Your monitor and tablet, check.
Art program set up with the shortcut keys you like, check.
Your pen calibrated to the proper settings, check.
You start pumping away at boards and feel like you can finish the whole thing in one night. The next thing you know it’s 2AM and you’re only halfway through the second scene!
What happened and how can we avoid this scenario? What can we do to improve our speed and output?
Speed is part of the overall foundation of your skill and understanding. I hate to say there’s no magic bullet, but there isn’t. There are however, things to help you become faster, as well as things to avoid that’ll hold you back.
First things, first: Know your tools.
Whether you use traditional medium or digital tools, be ready. When I draw on paper, I make sure I have as many available pencils sharpened and ready to go. When I draw in a program, all my settings and hot keys are set up and ready to go. If you’re not using the buttons on your tablet, you’re not taking full advantage of the equipment.
Some people say, “I don’t need shortcut and hot keys, they slow me down”.
And those “some people” sound just as ridiculous as folks who only swear by traditional media.
Take full advantage of what you have. There’s nothing slower than going to the menu bar at the top of the screen every time you need to do some editing of some sort.
This leads straight to the next point: KNOW YOUR TOOLS!
Now that your setup is ready, learn how to actually use them and what’s the best method for you. There are a million ways to do any one thing in Photoshop. You can fall down the rabbit hole of trying to become a Photoshop master, or you can get a basic understanding and learn on the way.
I vote for the second option.
You should have a basic idea of all the tools and if you feel like something is tedious, it probably is and there’s probably a better way.
In between work try to check forums and video tutorials that can help your workflow. When it comes to software- “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake.” Someone has had the same problems as you and someone has helped to figure it out. You can most likely find the answer online. Take time to research and learn your tools.
There are plug ins, apps, DLC, beta testing and early release content that can help further your art, make tasks easier, or get you that brush that’ll take your game to the next level. Some content is free while others can cost serious bucks. Use your best judgment in finding things online that you download and what you deem “worth it”.
So here we are at the starting line. The starting line? Man! We’ve already done a ton of work just setting up! Sometimes the journey can feel daunting.
This brings me to my next point: Make it fun!
Do exercises to get warmed up. Don’t just jump in cold then struggle for half the day to find your rhythm. One of my favorite things to do is copy classic movies, famous directors and artists that I enjoy. This does a lot to help you instinctively understand a scene and learn while practicing. Two birds with one stone…boom.
Okay, back at the starting line. You’re loose now and ready to tear away at your work. Now I want to talk about obstacles that can make you stumble.
Look to your left on the starting line. Now look to the right. You are nestled in right between Robert Valley and Ronnie Del Carmen. You have little shot at winning this race unless you shackle their arms behind their back together. They have years of experience and training on their side. In the end, It’ll take time and training to get faster at your work. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to win the race. You are just as hungry as any other artist out there, you just need to prove it.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks I see in under producing artists is the pursuit of perfection.
You can waste time on the parrot on the shoulder of the pirate in your story, or you can move on and actually finish that scene. Think of it like typing: You don’t stop to correct every little mistake, you keep going. That’s what a rough draft is for.
Another thing to look out for is having your cake and eating it too. It’s one thing to move on from a scene that proves to be difficult, it’s another to do all the fun scenes first. I like to work in a straight line. I’d love to draw that cool action scene first, but those boring scenes of exposition aren’t going to draw themselves. If you’re working on a great script and work straight through, you should never get bored, just like your audience!
Finally, after you’ve looked left and right at the competition, look in the mirror. Be real with yourself. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Otherwise you’ll get sick of what you’re doing and make it harder to enjoy and even finish your project. I can’t tell you how many times a young artist has told me of their grand masterpiece with epic moments and a thousand ninjas.
Good luck with that.
Make sure you set yourself up for success. Go easy on yourself at first. Just like a star athlete, you need to warm up.
Before tackling a feature length film, try a five minute short. Before doing an epic Roman battle, try a two man fight. Consider these as short races, helping to build your stamina.
In the end, you shouldn’t even notice that you’ve become faster. It should be instinct and you should never be satisfied. It’s a long race, so keep boarding!
PS. Got any speed tips for us? Give us the 411 with your comment below.