Thursday, December 3, 2009

FLASH Forward (ha ha ha....ehhhhh....)

Hey all you stupendous storyboarders,

Haven't updated in while, so sorry to those who've been patiently following along. Times are still rough for freelancers, and rough times require change. Hence, I've been trying to reach out into other fields, namely Flash, which has caused my storyboard projects to be put on the back-burner for the time being.

Flash has its ups and downs, but overall is a great program for animators, and allows you to create great films all by yourself. My two newest animations, THIS LITTLE PIGGIE and SCIENCE FICTION DOUBLE FEATURE were a lot of fun to make; I'll let you all judge the results for yourself.

A third animation, HOW TO TELL IF YOUR SLOTH IS DEAD, is in production now and will hopefully be finished in early 2010.

To see what I've been doing with Flash, either go to my website ( or just click on the image links. Hope you enjoy the shows!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

In the works...PRETTY PONY

Not too long ago there was a studio opening for storyboard artists on a children's show. Since I spent last spring doing storyboards for a preschooler DVD (and concept art, character designs, and environments, too!) I thought it would be a natural. Unfortunately, all of the work I had done is legally blocked off (they're still in production), so rather than gripe and whine I thought I would just get going on making some brand new stuff for the kiddies.

So here's a story idea I had about a year ago (yeah, and I'm just now starting on it...gowan, hit me with scorn!) that I thought would be nice for a children's show. A cute little girl on a ranch who wants to ride a horsie. Sounds sweet, right?

(Well, wait 'til you see the horsie!)

In other news, I recently met a very cool storyboard artist, Llyn Hunter, who's super awesome (in that she's talented and nice!). Check out her site if you want to see some really good storyboard work!

Monday, October 19, 2009


The Scapula "Parole" board has now officially been included in my portfolio! I decided that I'll take my chances with the potty humor but to balance things out my next board is going to be a completely clean, family-friendly story. I've already started on it, so I'll show you guys something soon.

In the meantime, here's another relic from the college archives; my first attempt to storyboard a music video/animation. The song is Think Tank's "A Knife and a Fork" and is used here for non-profit entertainment purposes only, so don't go racing for your your lawyers, folks!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


So, while I am satisfied with the way this storyboard has turned out, there is one thing on my mind that may just require another trip back to the drawing board.

Not too long after this pass was completed, I had to send a portfolio to a big-name studio for a potential storyboard job. Since every portfolio needs to be tailored specifically for the job I had to choose which samples to use carefully. I was ready to use my latest board, the one we've been following along for the past several posts, until I realized one specific part of it might not go over too well with this studio. The part I'm referring to is, naturally, the 'poo joke'.

Now comes the time when we have to engage in that inner debate of what we think is funny versus what others want to see. I think the gag is funny; the studio in question where I was sending the portfolio probably wouldn't have agreed. So, for safety's sake, I didn't include it. But what am I going to do with this board if I can't use it in a portfolio?

So now I have some options to choose from: leave the board alone and take my chances, change the gag to a cleaner one, or just think of an entirely different plot point to use. Of course, just because the joke is funny doesn't mean it's the only alternative to getting Scapula inside the high-security cell room (I don't revere in my own brilliance or anything, and this isn't as great of a joke as "fish sticks/gay fish"). Maybe it could be funnier with something else, but what happens if that 'something else' is just as taboo as the 'stool sample' gag?

Around and around like a dachshund chasing his caboose.

Back to brainstorming. I'll let you guys and gals voice your two cents: what would you do?

Monday, August 24, 2009


So here's my revision, based for the most parts on Karen's advice. I'll get nitpicky and explain my changes in the next post.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The final part of storyboard expert Karen J Lloyd's review of the Scapula board. Here's Karen:

Then the others just casually walk out of the cells. Hmm. Then it ends with what looks like a line of dialogue that isn’t included. If there is supposed to be some, add it (unless you were going to in the final version). It would be better if dialogue wasn’t needed though.

Since it’s a portfolio piece, I would play with this section some more. Can you add more obstacles for Skapula? Lasers in the room? More tricks out of his bag? Can you use more action and suspense for the final break out? Some kind of ‘time is running out’ kind of thing?

Maybe other guards are on the way. An alarm could go off after he smashes the panel with the hammer. Then through a series of short, inventive (or funny) events, he gets his buddies out in the nick of time.

This will be much more fun to look at in a portfolio. And show off your skills a bit more.

All in all, great draftsmanship with fun characters and a good grasp of visual storytelling. You just need to bring it more to “we’re making a real cartoon here” to take it further away from “comic-land”.

As I tell everyone who get a critique from me, it’s still your choice what to change and what to keep. These are just my professional and personal opinions.

(But of course, I’m right. *ahem*)

Pump up the ending a bit and you’ll have a solid piece to show off your great skills.

So let's all give a big round of applause for Karen and her long-winded but well-minded thoughts! Yaaaaay! Again, remember folks, Karen does this for a living, so if you have a storyboard for an animation, film or whatnot in the works it may be worth your while to send it her way.

KAREN J LLOYD, Visual Storytelling Insights, Tips & Advice for Anyone Who's Interested

Our next step is the revision, which we'll begin next time. Tune in!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Once again, Karen J Lloyd's critique continues. Once again, sorry this has been chopped into multiple posts.

Here's Karen:


  • Panel one, have him walk IN and let’s see him holding the bag.
  • Don’t rely only on words for gags. This could (if a real cartoon) be seen in other languages, so use visuals to support it where you can. So adding an ‘eye’ graphic on the screen will help drive home the message here.
  • Third panel. A bit more acting here would be good. How does he feel about this? Was he expecting this? Annoyed? Confident? Have some fun here with another panel or two.
  • Fourth panel, have the jar come IN to shot and the screen still with eye/required message. THEN screen changes to approved (give it the before and after poses). But we can’t SEE “approved” on that tiny screen. Consider changing this to a big check-mark (that could be green in a finished film).
  • Panel six, same thing. Maybe add a hand graphic. But hook it up by starting with the check mark, then it changes to this next request.


  • Panel one, use same shot/set up as for reaching in for the jar. Could add more acting too. Mounting frustration? Use the opportunity instead of the hand at the bag shot. But just end on him reaching into the bag (not pulling out the hand).
  • Panel two, hand comes IN to shot. Two poses with the screen still with hand graphic. Second pose changes to check mark.
  • Panel three, keep as is, then add another “Ha!” victory pose. Then it changes to panel 5 with your “Huh??” pose.
  • NOW show panel 4. But uh…use a graphic for the message. (Good luck with that one…)
  • Now REPEAT panel five’s “Huh??” pose, then add a “Grr!!” pose to it (two panels).
  • Panel six kind of ruins your hammer gag. (Unless the gag was that he was going to pull a wee-wee out of the bag…but I didn’t think he was. So it kinda doesn’t work.) I’d suggest going wider with him standing in front of the door to start. Then he could turn his back to us, faking us out that he’s going to whip out HIS wee-wee. (A “zip” sound FX could be fun…but it’s the bag).


  • NOW do the hammer gag as is, only cropped a bit closer.
  • Third, fourth & fifth panel has that perspective thing again. Even lower horizon line will help.

But from here to the end, I think could use more story help. Nothing really ‘interesting’ happens from here to the end. Shots of someone just walking (while this should be an exciting break-out) just aren’t that fun to watch.

The rest of the critique will be up in a day or two; which will give me time to clean all the tear-stroked mascara off of my face!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Again, sorry folks, but this wonderful critique is being told in segments (blame Blogger! well, okay, don't, but still there's only so much you can put in a post).

We return to our expert artist Karen J Lloyd, who is providing this insightful crit. Take it away, Karen!


  • The first panel could be a continuation from the last scene. Janitor walks in, diagonal pan UP to his face. Takes off the props, pulls off the mask as you have done.
  • NOTE: Watch out for adjusting the sizes of your characters within panels of the same scene. You kind of shrunk him in the fourth panel to accommodate the pose. Don’t do that. Either start wide enough to fit it in or you need some camera adjustment. If nothing has changed, the character size MUST stay consistent throughout a scene.
  • Dump the scene in panel six and just continue the previous scene with Scapula tossing the mask and walking OUT. Don’t need this scene.


  • Make panel two your first panel. He left the previous scene, so he can be anywhere now. So show that wide shot of him at the control panel. We see where the guard is…all is good. We know where we are.
  • NOW put your first panel second. He approached the control panel, now we SEE what he’s doing in this shot. Great.
  • Now on to panel three as is. You could repeat what the screens look like in new panel one, then that they are turning off here. Keep panel four as is.
  • Lower horizon line in panel five for this to work better.
  • Panel six – bag issue. Where did it come from? Where was it before? Don’t let the audience have this question in their heads. A quick close shot of him picking it up by the door between panel four and five could help. Like he had it waiting outside for him. Don’t leave unanswered questions like this floating around because you don’t want to deal with it. You have to.
To see more of Karen's work and advice, visit her site at We'll post the rest of her review in a few days.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Now comes the part that isn't so fun, but absolutely necessary. Most artists hate getting their work reviewed, which is understandable. And most artists avoid having their work reviewed, which is somewhat understandable but definitely not recommended. Critiques, though sometimes painful to the sensitive artiste, are essential to making the work (your work) as good as it can possibly become, so buck up, cowgirl, because it's time to take it on the chin for the sake of being a better storyboard artist.

So, for the sake of our ongoing series here, we turn to expert storyboard artist and all-around smartass genius, Karen J Lloyd. Karen operates a small storyboard consulting business called See The Script, where she will go over your boards and give a very insightful review. I commissioned her services for the Scapula story here, and she gave some great advice and neat little drawings.

(Two things before we go on. One, because this is a long story, and a longer critique is attached, I will be dividing this up for now. Damned Blogger won't let me upload everything at once...grrrr. Tune in in a day or two for the second part. The other thing is Karen and myself have been sharing this series of blog posts, so you can see extra feedback from Karen at her own website)

Take it away, Karen!


* What you really have to make clear right off the bat, is that we are at a prison. How can you drive this home visually? Try a pan in the first shot (some perspective issues here). Maybe have a far off guard looking down at the yards. Pan down to the entrance…make it more prison-y. Even a sign could help, but don’t rely on it.

* Second panel, start close on the video screens, to again drive home the fact we are in a prison. SHOW us what’s on the screens. All those bars will give us a much clearer picture of WHERE WE ARE. Simple, but important thing to establish. Then pull back to reveal the guard.

* Third panel. Is there a reason for the down shot? If it is to show the shadow of the janitor walking through the background, then great. But we must really see that shadow clearly on the floor. We aren’t now. If it’s not for this reason, I may just make this a regular medium shot on the guard. Could show us he’s bored…yawn etc.

* Fourth panel. Lower horizon line for perspective to work. Can add an arrow on the legs walking. (Unless you don’t want arrows for the portfolio. Your choice, but it could use some in places.)

* Fifth panel. You need a start pose for the guard so he hooks up to previous scene. This is where it’s too much like a comic book. You are telling a story with pictures, but you’re not making a film properly (if you know what I mean). Main thing you’re missing is start poses, hook-ups and enough panels to show the action.

* Sixth panel could add a little truck-in to give the camera a little movement and the scene a little “false drama”. The board is lacking any camera movement. Again, that “comic book thing”. You don’t want to over-do them, but some well placed camera moves will work wonders and help tell the story and set the mood.


* Panel one needs a second pose to get him back to reading his magazine. Needs to hook up with panel two. Panel one and two have the guard way too similar in size and position. This creates a jump cut and should be avoided. I’d shrink him in the second panel.

* Second panel maybe have the janitor whistling, all casual-like. In the third panel, I’d dump the nose pick (till later) so it doesn’t distract our eyes from the approaching janitor. This is who we should be watching.

* Fourth panel doesn’t hook up with previous. You can start the scene just with a color card (for a split second screen time) and have him rise up FAST into the scene with mop overhead. Fast, funny and hook-up problem is solved.

* Fifth panel needs a start pose. This panel can work in a comic, but animators need to know what the very FIRST drawing they draw should look like. And this isn’t it. We need that split second before he gets whacked in the head. This could be your nose-picking pose to add a little humor to the humor.

* Sixth pose needs to hook up. He can’t be getting whacked in the head and lying on the floor at the same time. We gotta GET him to the floor. Three panels. First one is the ground. Second one, he falls IN. Third one, janitor walks IN from behind.

Monday, July 27, 2009


So here is my first pass. The quality of the drawings in first passes varies; some artists/studios work rough, others like to have something clean and crystal (even if it's likely to get altered or rejected).

I'll save my talk for now, because in the next post we sail into stormy seas...the Critique!

Monday, July 20, 2009


This is, without doubt, the best part of the entire process. I love it. I reeeeally love this part.

Now that we have our 'story seed', we go about brainstorming. I grab a stack of paper (just junk paper, since this is a rough and messy stage). This is the part where, no matter what, you NEVER limit yourself. Ever. Be as stupid as possible. Any idea, no matter how irrelevant or pointless, gets jotted down. Anything. Even if it has remotely no tangible connection to the story at hand, everything matters. There's a reason.

The minute you start thinking too much is the minute you're screwed, because limiting yourself for any reason at this point means you're going to have a boring, predictable result. I know you want to make the bestest story possible, but don't go thinking that there's only one solution to make this story a masterpiece. Don't think too much. Just do it.

Remember what Douglas Adams taught us: "DON'T PANIC".

Okay, there is something I'd like to point out; I tend to be more wild and carefree with personal stories than I am with client work or studio tests. My clients tend to have a more solid idea of what they want, usually scripted, but never so concrete that I can not add any ideas of my own. But the crazed brainstorming is still there, and is in fact essential; I can think of a couple of times when I needed to storyboard something 'nice' but couldn't stop thinking about screwy ideas. The solution: jot them down anyway. It's important to push an idea as far as possible, because you can always backtrack to the point where it works. Seriously, I can't stress this enough, do what that rotten dormouse said, and FREE YOUR HEAD.

Another thing I'll point out is that my intent with this story is mainly humor and action, but even if you're doing 'serious' storyboarding (drama, advertising, spaghetti westerns, etc) I would still go ahead and jot down every random thought. Just because you're not making funny-stuff doesn't mean that you can't explore bizarre thoughts...hey, it might just work!

[And even if you're doing a studio test for a funny show/movie that doesn't completely match your own sense of humor (but in the end you still want to match the content of the work you're applying for), still jot those thoughts for now. You can always backtrack later.]

So we start scribbling down thoughts in a stream-of-conscious way (for client work, when scripts are given to me I will mark down 'beats' with strokes/slashes to point out timing marks, then thumbnail in the sidelines), putting down whatever comes to mind. A good deal of this stuff will never be used, but do it anyway. You'll come up with a lot.

In these rough pages I juggled ideas, namely whether I wanted Scapula to break IN to the prison or break OUT. As you can see in one of the pages I toyed with ideas for both, and eventually decided that breaking IN had more opportunities for fun storytelling, while breaking OUT was mostly Scap running around and being chased by guards.

When a story starts to form I begin thumbnailing. There's still nothing very solid yet, so there will be a lot of crossing this out and adding that in (see for yourself). A cohesive flow will start to form and from there I have, more or less, the 'spine' of the story, which means I have something of a path I can follow now (even if there will be a lot of changes made). If you can see your story starting to form from these thumbnails, that's great. If nothing is happening, that's also great, because you get to go back and brainstorm some more.

SPONTANEITY and IMPROVISATION are key here. Get loose. Explore.

Chug some caffeine and have fun...I really, really, really love this part of the process.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


So far I've been using this blog to post boards from my archives (and there's a LOT), but because I've been looking to make some new storyboards I thought I would take you all along for the ride and show how I go about making these things. This is going to be something I will post along the way, so if you want to comment or throw your own feedback in there this will be the time!


It begins with an idea. Doesn't have to be the greatest idea in history, just a spark to get the creativity going (as the brilliant Barron Storey taught me, "If you don't have a good idea, a stupid one will do"). The tricky thing with boarding a short story, something that can be used in a portfolio or whatnot, is not taking on too much at one time, so I'll put off boarding Moby Dick for now.

My main goal is to board a scene, just a short but well-done sample for my portfolio. I want to keep it to about 48 boards (6 boards on 8 pages, or 8 on 6 if space permits); some of my recent stories were only about 24 boards each, but let's have more room to play.

THE STORY: Scapula, a supervillain, breaks into a high-security prison to release his evil friends.

That's it. I've done two Scapula storyboards previously (HELPLESS and THE SINISTER MONSTER DOOM LEGION VS. RANDY), but this time it isn't going to be a huge story, or even a full one. Let's see what we can do with just a scene or two.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"The UNDERTAKERS" Animatic

The animatic version of the Steve Martin story. When it comes to voice-acting I'm a king-size ham, and this one remains one of my favorite bits. Vincent Price and Peter Lorre are of course fun to imitate, but the dead sea salt was the most fun to perform (yes, I memorized the entire 'tale' for this performance).

I'll be uploading animatics with YouTube now, since Blogger can only have so many videos at a time.

Monday, June 22, 2009


If you love storyboards (and you probably wouldn't be reading this blog if you didn't), then this is definitely a site you will want to check out.

The extremely cool Karen J Lloyd, storyboard expert extraordinaire and smarty-pants, runs one of the best sites around on the topic of storyboards; the art and business, and anything else you'd ever want to know, are all covered here. Lloyd offers her insights on the animation business in an informed and witty manner (and best of all, she's funny as hell) and also sends useful newsletters regarding what's going on in the industry or otherwise.

Karen's services include storyboard consulting for a reasonable fee (well, she's got to eat too, y'know!), so if you have something in the works it may just be worth your while to shell out a little petty cash and get some professional opinion and guidance on the matter. Hey, you can either have a crappy little flick or a polished, entertaining masterpiece of cinema guided by a woman who makes Tusken Raider noises (don't ask me...just read her blog!).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The second half of the story.

The morticians are based on Vincent Price and Peter Lorre (the corpse is, well, a corpse). Vincent Price seems to pop up a bit in my work for some reason, namely in my ZUDA comic Scarecrow Spookshow.


The first half of a storyboard project (rotten blog wont let me upload the whole thing in one post!), based on a short story by Steve Martin in his hilarious book Cruel Shoes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Ray Harryhausen is not only my favorite animator and a legend among monster-movie lovers, he's actually also a master draftsman and concept artist. Unknown to most fans, Harryhausen actually storyboarded all of his own animations, and did them beautifully. I refer you all to the excellent The Art of Ray Harryhausen for further reading about this genius of cinema magic.

These boards were an attempt to visualize an action sequence, much in the manner of the classic fantasy/adventure/monster films that Harryhausen made so great.

Monday, May 25, 2009


An animation from what feels like a million years ago (fitting it should star prehistoric monsters).

While I've done storyboard work in all sorts of genres I'm a total freak for classic horror films. If you want to be friends with me fast, just start talking about old-school monster movies and I'll geek out.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Because I have so many storyboards in my files, I'm mostly going to post older stuff for a while and work my way up from there.

This is one of my earliest storyboards; it isn't my first (that one's lost), but it's what ultimately made me want to become a storyboard artist. The scenario is borrowed from a Barry Yourgrau short story, albeit with a lot of liberties taken.

It's also a favorite because it showcases several voices, and being a big fat ham I got to live it up performing all of the characters.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Willkommen, bienvenue...and so on

Hello, huzzah, and welcome to my new Storyboard Blog, designed to showcase all of my fun, fun storyboard work and show you all what goes on inside my head. Proceed with caution.

Storyboarding is awesome, no matter how many times an art director requests you redo everything, and my goal on this blog is to show you all the entire process. Due to legal reasons, the majority of these boards will be the ones I create for personal projects, although a few of my clients have consented to my showing commissioned boards.

Tune in sometime and enjoy the show! The video above is a VERY early storyboard project which was somewhat crudely drawn but gives you an idea of what kind of crazy stuff you'll see.