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.