Portfolio Tips: Storyboarding

Hey there, my name is Sarah and I am the studio assistant for Storyboarding & Previs. In this post I will give you some tips for creating a Storyboard portfolio.


Clarity

A story portfolio should be focused on showcasing not just your drawing skills, but your visual storytelling ability. Present your storyboards in a clear format, such as 4×4 or 3×3 panels per page. Be economic with your panel counts. There is no need to include lots of inbetweens all showing the same movement– that’s the animator’s job.

Being a storyboard artist is often less about the story, and more about the clarity with which you tell it.


Ensure that your story flows as a whole, each shot cuts nicely to the next and every panel has clear composition. You shouldn’t have to stare at a sequence for a long time to understand what's going on.


Showcase Your Best Work

Always order your work with the very best at the top. Experiment with different genres and style exercises- for example, comedy done well is always a great selling point of any portfolio.

You do not have to clean up every aspect of your storyboards. There is more merit given to displaying your work as single panels which someone can click through and view rather than a rushed animatic with no timings or SFX. As long as your story is clear, it is ok to leave some work looking rough.

Three well-done, short sequences is often more than sufficient for a well rounded portfolio. The idea here is to keep revisiting and making new sequences with strong central themes and replacing your OLDEST sequence with the NEWEST one.

Focus on Visual Character Moments

Disney/Pixar in particular looks for storyboard artists demonstrating strong character moments in their portfolio. You don’t need to create a huge scene, with 10 characters and intense dialogue driven beats to make an impression on an audience. It’s ok just to choose a moment in a single character's life and make your audience feel and connect with what the character is going through.

Take for example, the iconic ‘Married Life’ sequence from ‘Up’. This is one of the greatest examples of visual storytelling in animation without adding any extra exposition or dialog.

Portfolio Visibility


The No.1 thing you need as an artist is an accessible online portfolio with your contact information. Companies often hire artists through word of mouth recommendations ("Do you know anyone?" "Yes, X’s work is great, you should hire them!"), so it’s convenient if googling “[your name] storyboards" brings the searcher straight to a place that contains your work. It doesn't matter if you use Wix/Tumblr/Twitter- just as long as it’s simple to locate.


Supplementary work such as comics, gesture drawing, beat boards, and character design- anything to do with visual storytelling can also be included in an online portfolio to demonstrate the range of your abilities.


Know your Audience

As with any job in animation, when you are applying for work, know exactly who you are applying to and cater your portfolio for each individual studio. Companies like Blue Zoo do not necessarily share the same style and sense of humor as Jellyfish, or Passion. Do your research and try to find out what kind of show you are applying to work on- if it’s a 2D or 3D show, what genre/target audience etc and try to show your strongest work which matches that style.

Finally, have fun with your ideas and find joy in telling stories! Look for inspirations in your daily life, in the things and people that you love.

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