Here are some storyboards I was asked to do for season 5’s finale of Burn Notice. I was on a feature at Dreamworks at the time so I was able to offer a couple hours a night after work as well as weekends.
The workload was ridiculous and these were done directly with no preliminary sketches (clearly).
Storyboards used to be and in many cases still are done using traditional media- paper, pencils, ink pens and markers. These things are easy to carry around and are inexpensive to purchase. They are both basic and fundamental. These basic supplies should be in the kit of any storyboard artist.
They are essential for situations where an artist is needed in an emergency situation, on location. One example was on a film called Five Days of War, directed my Renny Harlin. I was on location with the crew in a small town called Tsalka, in the Republic of Georgia. There was a huge exodus scene involving hundreds of local extras, thousands of blanks, pyrotechnics, animals, two Georgian attack helicopters and a camera helicopter. The pilots were Georgian military and didn’t speak English. Renny was running into language barriers and had to be sure the pilot understood how he wanted the scene shot.
I got the call where I was working in a trailer back at base camp. I ran about 4 village blocks, trudging through thick muddy roads to the shooting location and was told what I needed to sketch. I drew up a few shots in a Moleskine notebook which was quickly handed off to Renny. Drawing is a universal language, if you can draw, you can communicate with anyone who can see. Below are a couple of the on-the-fly boards, done in a matter of minutes for the Georgian helicopter pilot.
For the most part these days, I do work digitally though. There’s no shame to be had in it. Using technology to better your product, provide a better and more useful tool for your client and to work more efficiently is only wise.
Storyboarding or any form of commercial artwork is not fine art. It is impossible to cheat. You do whatever you need to to get your client, be it a director or whomever, something that will help them and ideally make them look as awesome and creative as you can. Using computers to create and manipulate images is an extremely efficient and effective tool. With computers, working digitally, an artist can reuse images already created, easily combine elements into new images, repair and adjust sketches, all in ways not possible when working on actual paper. Again, the aim is to get your client what he needs as fast and accurate as possible. Your job is to convey his idea, to duplicate it so that others can sync up with and work toward making his vision a reality.
Adobe Photoshop is a great program. I probably don’t even need to mention it. The program I use for all of my commercial, digital artwork is Corel Painter 11. It does have problems, glitches and needs to have plenty of kinks worked out but what makes it worth it is Painter’s brush engine. The brushes in Painter are awesome and often times, work created in Painter can be difficult to tell apart from work created in traditional media. Many clients still don’t like a very “digital” look. This is another situation where Painter comes in handy. You can work digitally and a client who doesn’t like a digital look will be happy with what you turn in.
Using draw on-screen tablets such as the Wacom Cintiq or tablet computers such as the Axiotron Modbook is also a very natural feeling way to go. Back in the Republic of Georgia, pretty much all of my work was done on a Modbook.
You can see more storyboards and illustration here.
Ideally, being proficient with traditional media is the way to go. Having that tool in your belt, explore going about the same thing using digital tools. See what works best. But ultimately, regardless of how you get there- tell your stories as best you can pull the viewer in and don’t let him go. Draw and draw a lot. Have fun!
Originally used primarily in animation, the storyboard used to be called a story sketch. The first storyboard artists were called story sketch artists. The name story sketch artist should tell you all you need to know about what they did. They sketched out stories or told stories using sketches. The word “board” came about because these small, sequential sketches created by these story telling artists were often mounted on a large board or sometimes a wall so that they could be viewed in order and could do their job collectively in telling a story. These “story boards” were viewed by others involved in the overall task of creating the final product, be it an animated or live action film. They helped the entire crew get in sync with one another and work together toward that final vision.
Imagine you were preparing to film your own movie and were working with many different talented and creative people to make it all happen. You have a lot of money invested and need to get it right. You have an action scene to film which involves a “red sports car”. Everyone in your crew who reads that in the script are going to imagine something different, even though they will all imagine what would be correctly described as a red sports car. Some will see Mustangs, others Ferraris. The car is described as “flipping violently” as its final, dramatic scene comes to a crashing end. Some guys will imagine it tumbling end over end, others will picture it rolling over its sides. Some might even see it hurling through the air like a frisbee. And, per the script- none of them are wrong!
This is where the Director of the film comes in. Primarily, his job is to be the the guy with the most ideal envisioning of the story. It’s his (or hers) imagined version of the story which is going to be translated to film. How does he insure that the rest of his crew works toward his vision? Do the producers just gamble on the idea that his verbal explanation will be enough? He does use good hand gestures when he talks… no. Imagine the stunt with the red sports car. The stunt coordinator goes ahead and rigs the car for the flipping shot and while it is technically still right, it’s not at all what the director envisioned- so, basically it’s wrong. Do you just settle for such mistakes when Hollywood money is at stake? Just bring out another Ferrari and load a new roll of film? Re-rig everything and burn another tens of thousands of dollars? Or, do you come up with a more simple and far more cost effective solution- storyboard out the scene long before you shoot.
Directors use storyboards regularly these days, not just in animation, but for live action film, television, music videos and television advertising. Storyboards aren’t just used for production purposes as described above, they are also used as a relatively inexpensive means of showing a client, say someone with a product they want you to shoot a commercial for, what the final commercial will look like. When dealing with the amounts of money it costs to make these things, when writing checks with such big numbers, it’s good to have a clear idea of what you’re getting. As a film maker, you’re dealing with a visual media- simply telling your client what you’re planning to do isn’t going to be enough. If you want to sell him, you have to show him.
Storyboards are usually drawn by talented artists. Some people try to cut corners and save even more money by using snapshots but these tend to look amateur and can limit what you can show. You’re locked into what you can photograph and don’t have the flexibility that and artist with a pencil will provide.
While storyboards are a form of illustration, they don’t always need to look beautiful. An illustrator working on a single illustration needs that one piece to hold its own and blow some minds. In storyboarding it’s a little different. Each image itself is less meaningful and ideally isn’t meant to stand on it’s own. Collectively, a well thought out sequence of images, viewed together in correct order which tell a story- this grouping of smaller works is the storyboard artist’s illustration.
Each small illustration or “panel” (more of an older animation term) or “frame” (more modern term used in film) is like a brick. On its own it isn’t so fantastic, just a brick. Grouped together with care and creativity and you end up with a cathedral or a Great Wall of China.
A well thought out sequence is more important than each frame being drawn incredibly beautifully. Often times the client will just need a raw, basic and rather crude layout of a sequence sketched up. Everyone knows at this point that the red car is going to be a Ferrari so in your super sketchy storyboard frames it just might just need to be clear that it’s a car, period.
Other times though, it may be very important to have that car look amazing. Maybe the boards are intended to dazzle the investors, romance the studio heads and help produce more excitement and therefor money for the budget. This can be the case. The ideal storyboard is one which tells a story clearly and which also conveys a sense of the aesthetic which the final, filmed product intends to have.
The storyboard is often the first visualization of a finished film or video. It can be described as being similar to a comic book or comic strip but unlike those, it is not the end product but rather, it is an envisioning of the final product- a roadmap to it.
Doodles co is a very small and tight group of storyboard artists and illustrators who work out of the Los Angeles area but whom also tend to travel for work. We have been working in the film and advertising industries for many years. You can view our résumés and samples of our storyboard and illustration work here.
Allow me to introduce you to my buddy and roommate (cellmate) for the past year over at Dreamworks. Actually, if either of us needs an introduction it would be me- he’s been at this art game for some time. His solid work will undoubtedly speak for that.
He is a double-threat. A talented 3D modeler, who as far as I’m concerned, and from what I’ve seen, can build a model of just about anything. He can also draw and paint your head off. He has an impressive range, from animation to realistic people, environments- exterior concepts to interiors, oh, and by the way, he thrives on tech.
Jim is a proud family man, a great friend and a wildly talented artist. Not to mention, he is also witty and does some great impersonations. This is just a bonus, but trust me, it really helps getting through the day on the job!
It’s been a while and quite a bit has developed since we wrote a post covering styluses for the iPad and iPhone.
At the time, the Pogo Sketch and the Dagi Stylus were both still very new to the scene. They were the best options available.
Now though, I’ll tell you sternly- don’t waste your money on these two. Apple still sells the Pogo, their employees can be found with them clipped to their uniforms. Sometimes when signing for your purchase, they will hand you one to use. All of this may feel quite official, almost an endorsement of the Pogo. I’m here to give you a few options which you can pull out and use with better results next time you’re at an Apple Store or just want to take a note or doodle a sketch.
As these things come out they generally improve. As these new and improved styluses come out, we buy and use them.
Here is an updated offering of our opinions on some of today’s more popular and best styluses. We will focus on three styluses in particular.
The JustMobile Alupen.
When we first got our hands on the Alupen from JustMobile it was love at first site. This thing has a substantial but user friendly weight to it. It is the perfect length and width and feels great in your hand. It is extremely well designed and done so to match and compliment the iPad itself. Aside from the minimalist (and appreciated) branding stamped on it, the Alupen would be the easiest stylus to pass of as an official Apple iPen.
Out of the box it works beautifully. The soft rubber tip glides of the screen and requires little pressure to interact with the device.
The problem with the Alupen is the lifespan of the tip. They seem to have the lifespan of your common goldfish when it comes to quality functionality. Our first one developed a small slit in the side of the tip which made it difficult to use. After emailing JustMobile about five times and giving ample time for them to reply, we went ahead and called Taiwan (I think it was) directly and after a language challenged phone call, a replacement was on the way.
The replacement was the same out of the box- worked great. After about a week of use tho the tip again went bad. This time it was the smoothness of it which just seemed to wear off. When new, the tips have this velvety finish to them. With a little use though, this appears to wear off and the rubber tip ends up being sticky when sliding over the screen. This makes distraction free drawing, painting and writing on the iPad more difficult than it’s worth and you’ll quickly revert back to your finger.
A third Alupen was tried and again, the tip went bad. With a good tip, this would be the best stylus available. Until then, its just not worth the money.
Currently there are a few different versions of the iFaraday Stylus available on www.iFaraday.com. There is a basic stylus that comes in a few different colors.
There are also three different versions which are called the Artist Pack. The tip material used is the most capacitive material we’ve experienced yet. These are the most responsive and user friendly styluses we’ve found yet and only expect the innovation and materials to improve over time.
The bodies of the styluses are not mass-produced in a factory in China or some such place as are most others. They appear to be hand crafted, one at a time- likely out of a garage somewhere. Considering this though, they are very well made and easily worth the money.
If we could recommend one stylus for your iPad- this would be the one.
There are several different brands all selling very similar styluses right now. By all appearances, these are all manufactured by the same people- our guess, either in Taiwan or China. Then, these different American companies buy them in bulk and brand them as their own.
This stylus (regardless of what name you call it by) is actually a quite descent one. Probably our second favorite. A bubble-like, black, rubber tip that is very responsive and lasting. The tip is much like those found on the Alupen from JustMobile, with one main difference- they last longer than a week. In fact, we haven’t had one fail yet.
We prefer the Targus out of the different brands, simply because the Targus stylus is left plain. They decided against having their brand and logo printed on the body of the pen, probably to save money. If branding doesn’t bother you at all you can get whichever is cheapest or most convenient.
The Targus has a simple metal body with a matte black finish. They have a chrome, end cap with a hoop on the back end which enables the use of a small clip or lanyard. Some brands ship the pen with such an extra. We don’t care much for them though so it’s not a make or break deal whether or not they do or not.
They also come with a chrome clip for securing to a shirt pocket, pants pocket or whatever you like. We however DO NOT LIKE the clip and feel that it would be best without it. Or, having the clip be removable would be a great feature.
This stylus is a little bit on the short side. It’s just long enough to hold normally, but holding it further back to get any distance from the screen becomes more difficult. Who knows, maybe the guy who designed it was a munchkin.
They retail for about $15.00 and can be found at these sites:
The Targus can also be picked up in-store at Best Buy stores.
There is a “second generation” version of this general type of stylus, which brands are starting to sell as well. Ours just came in today and we’ve played with them a little bit.
The thickness of the stylus is the same, but the tip is significantly smaller and helps with accuracy. The smaller tip though seems to require a little bit more pressure.
This new and updated model also has a significantly longer barrel. It also has a clip, but a different (and honestly cheaper looking) type. The end cap is slightly different the same as the previous and more common versions- but seriously, who cares. This stylus looks and feels more ideal. Unfortunately though, it is slightly less responsive than its earlier incarnation.
You can find this newer version of these styluses at these sites:
Here is a very workable little setup which is what we are currently doing. We are using both the iFaraday and the Targus styluses. But we are also using a chalk holder as well. Let us explain.
The iFaraday stylus comes with a clip which can be removed quite easily.
The Targus/Boxwave stylus’ clip however is not so easy to get off. We use a Dremel!
Once your styluses are free of their stupid clips, you’ll want to have picked up a Caran d’Ache Fixpencil crayon holder for a decent art supply store or just get one online somewhere. They aren’t cheap but are very nice.
They are meant to hold crayons made by the same company, but we aren’t talking about crayons here. They also happen to hold the above two mentioned styluses perfectly.
Because you’re using an extender, you can determine how long you want your stylus to be! Have it shorter and hold it more like a pencil, or extend it out and use it more like a paintbrush.
You’ll also be holding the extender so you’ll have a thicker, hexagonal shaped form to hold in your hand. This is a plus for many people. This makes these styluses more comparable with the Alupen in size and design.
When not using it, simply slide the stylus out, turn it around and reinsert it tip-end first. The crayon holder becomes the perfect bodyguard for your stylus- holding the tip deep inside, safe from potential harm.
Comments and Recommendations.
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If you’ve found any cool styluses or stylus solutions for the iPad or digital sketching in general- tell us about it!