After the first read, I did research on character costumes and the location of the scene, gathering some reference photos before beginning. To start, I drew drafts of the characters, giving each one a simple but distinct silhouette so they would be easily distinguishable in the frames. Making the characters before the storyboards gives me a clearer approach to thinking about how the character will interact. It also saves some brain power since I won’t need to constantly remember their appearance, I can fully focus on the storytelling.
Thumbnailed frames from my sketchbook
Most storyboard boards require multiple read-throughs and I like to draw quick and rough thumbnail frames as I re-read the script. Most times I will draw multiple versions of the same frame, trying out different camera angles and shots to best capture the scene. The frames are labeled with a caption from the script, the camera position and movement for future reference. After sketching the entire script, I go back through all the thumbnails and select the frames that I will take to the final stage.
These are the revised linear frames chosen from the thumbnails
These Batman frames were done with mixed media. All frames start with rough pencil linears. From there I take a thick black marker to line and fill in large shadow shapes. The frames are then taken into Photoshop, where the frames get a gray background and additional shading.
Storyboards are always function over form, so any information added to help with the clarity of a board is always helpful. The frames are numbered and directional arrows are added to further assist the director. Frame captions also boost clarity with descriptions that include sound effects, character actions or speech and camera movements.
Here is the original opening scene of Tim Burton’s Batman