Monday, November 10, 2008

What Beginnings Look Like

As requested!

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.

Good luck!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank u alot ive never bin able to find a good storyboard template entill know

4:52 PM  
Blogger MasterK said...

your first paragraph is hilarious! Interesting that it has both the 4:3 & 16:9 on there, I didn't realize that you had to make it that way. must be a pain to not be able to just pick the format that you want and have it always air that way

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome!Once I get photoshop and the cintiq I can use this to board my cartoons.Speaking of boards,can you post the part when they're in the candy underworld and Jeff,Fred,and Skarr come to save Irwin and Hoss?Don't post it if you don't want to,I just am asking if you can cuz I love that seen and my point of view is that your artwork is the best since you created Underfist.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Christopher L. Jones said...

AWESOME! Thanks so much! I can't wait to print out a lot of these!

6:10 PM  
Blogger Dominuse said...

this will be put to great use. thanks man~

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heya dreamboat!
I miss you, what's going on?
Nice to see you updating your blog.
I need to check in more often :-P


9:54 PM  
Blogger Xi said...

Nice overview. I thought Toon Boom was used more in movies...

Thanks for the board blank!

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you post the rest of the storyboards from the post of Skarr's fight up to after Hoss blows up the pumpkin tank?

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what are your views on outsourcing your animation?

7:57 PM  
Blogger ZSL said...

the blankness
the emptyness
it burns

4:16 AM  
Anonymous jasonallenmatthews said...

Um, execuse me, do you have the Billy's Mom characterization as seen in "Underfist"?

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Smars said...

YAY! This is awesome. Thank you so much for adding this, and for the guidance. You're super awesome-tacular!

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you think about posting the storyboard of the part when Fred Fredburger spells his name while Skarr and Hoss get their butts kicked by candy?If you do,take your time.Don't rush yourself.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something very weird happened to Underfist on CN Video. Skarr's "Freddy" costume is different. His face is no longer orange. I even noticed for a single frame when Skarr was trying to go into the porta-potty that it was orange again, but then flashed back to normal. Do you have any idea why this happened? Copyright lawsuit?

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just noticed something from Billy and Mandy Save Christmas...I saw names of the crew written on santa's list.Haha!That's a great visual joke.The names I saw were Maxwell Atoms(you.,CH Greenblatt,Alex Almaguer,Serapio Calm,Juli Hashigushi,Eddy Houchins and that's what I remeber.Can't wait to here more from you!

9:26 PM  
Anonymous jasonallenmatthews said...

Hey, Maxwell Atoms, I've got a great idea for a TV show it's called "Total Drama Castaways: Charm School featuring Billy's Mom"
here's the press release for the upcoming show:

~Press Release~

There are 16 of the TDI and TDA contestants coming back, and also three characters from the Cartoon Network series “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy” - that's true.

· D.J.
1 HOST –

You need to ask the creators of the show for burrowing the characters of Total Drama Island and Total Drama Action:
And also burrow the "Charm School" franchise, logo, the ten commandments and the catchprase "You're Expelled":

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see your next post.I'm always wondering what it's gonna be.I love blogs!I also would enjoy it if you posted a quick storyboard of when Skarr fought those Reeeses candy creatures.If you do,(ya don't have to.)have it start at when tey flew out of the pumpkin tank and have it end on when they're all beat up.I love to see your work and cait wait for more so...Keep being the creative,funny,and kind guy we all know ya are!

9:29 PM  
Blogger Maxwell Atoms said...

I couldn't make it through a whole episode of Total Drama Island, but that's just me. Good luck with your idea...

As for Skarr's face not being orange... I'm gonna guess it's a color correction issue. We get lots of those.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you still have Billy's Mom stuff?

And Besides here's the whole episode of Total Drama Island:

I hope you'll make it.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous jasonallenmatthews said...

The Anonymous said... comment I put as you see today is actually mine.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, I love cartoons and this is very interesting.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can't look like something if you're not organized, must be hell when you try to retouch afterward and stuff...
(futur animator here!) I remember thoses pages from animation class... and teachers were trying to take me as their SLAVE.. naaah kidding.

I sadly had to quit them, I was broke couldn't finish the session with all the useless material they were asking for.. but I'll go back later.

its kind of you to share this to us. I never founded your blog before, very interesting yes.

2:23 AM  

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