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.