What Beginnings Look Like
Now you too can stare at this blank storyboard paper for hours, wondering how to begin telling your story! Marvel at the small frames that seem like they should be easy to fill! Wonder at the mysteries of how to compose a shot for standard TV and HD at the same time! Thrill as your muscles atrophy while you waste away in a chair!
You can print this out or use it digitally. I normally start with a "template" when I work in Photoshop on my Cintiq. This is my bottom layer, and it has two blank "drawing" layers on top of it. I never draw directly on the board paper layer itself because I might need to cut or move the frames later. Ideally my first blank layer is for my rough drawing and the one on top of that is used for cleanup, but it's not uncommon for me to add a few more layers as needed.
On top of that in my template, I add a layer for page number, a layer for scene numbers, layers for left and right dialog, and layers for left and right action. Most people I work with say I'm crazy for typing my dialog and action notes, but I type quickly and much more neatly than I write. The only people who don't say I'm crazy for typing are the directors, who I think appreciate having something legible to work from.
When I've added all these layers on top of the board paper, I save a layered .PSD file as "BoardPaper" and a copy as "BoardPaper_BK" in case I screw one of them up. Now every time I want to start a page I open my BoardPaper.PSD, draw what I need to draw, then save it as "Chowder_001", "Chowder_002", and so on. The numbers at the end of the file are what keep the board sequentially organized, so be careful not to name the pages "Chowder1", "Chowder2", and go from there, because eventually you'll end up with page 2 right next to page 200 and everything will be a mess.
I'm sort of unusual in that I prefer to board in Photoshop. The standard at CN right now is to board in "Toon Boom", which feels to me like a simpler version of Photoshop wth a few shortcuts for boarding. Until recently Mirage was also popular.
You could also do it the "old school" way, and print out or copy hundreds of these and then just drop them on top of a light box and go to town.
A lot of people in animation aren't very organized (and I can be one of them). We're artists, after all, not accountants. Still, it's part of your job to make the next guy's job easier. If you're doing models they'll be passed on to a cleanup artist. If you're doing boards, directors and overseas animators have to interpret what you've done, so try and make sure that everything reads well.