A storyboard is a series of small images representing a spread (2 pages side by side) that show a visual overview of the whole story. | Storyboards are usually drawn on one piece of paper to allow the author or illustrator to see at a glance the complete visual narrative.
One of the main function of the story board is to help the author or illustrator evaluate their use of resources. An example of a resource is the number of pages. The printing process requires that the number of pages be multiples of 8. Common sizes are 24, 32, or 40 pages. By far 32 pages is the most common and is where you should begin.
What happens in the allotted space? How long is the beginning? How long is the middle? How does it end? Plan each scene and put them together in a logical narrative sequence. Plan transition from place to place or time to time. It soon becomes apparent if you have too much content or too little.
Draw them in the proportion of the book. Whether it is square, tall, or wide, the format of the book is part of the story telling and should be considered from the beginning of the process.
Why is this illustrator’s technique useful for writers?
A story in your head may seem clear and length appropriate. Putting the story into the format of a storyboard gives visual form to an idea in a simple and easy way. “But I can’t draw.” Get over it! There is no need for you to worry about the quality of the drawing because the storyboards are for you to tell your story and no one else needs to see them. The process helps to you to clarify the sequence and pacing of your story. In addition, seeing your story will help you develop it more.
How do you use it to plan out your picture book?
In my book Un-Brella I had originally planed to show the little girl using the “un-brella” to create the opposites of all kinds of weather; changing summer green leaves to colorful fall leaves, wind on a still day so that she could fly a kite, splashing in rain puddles on a sunny day. It seemed great until I started to storyboard. I soon discovered that these different weather event were “events” that didn’t help the story move forward. Telling the story became more important than showing all of the capabilities of the un-brella. It is surprising how short 32 pages is.
I was forced to edit and tighten the narrative and I think that it made the story much better.
Specifically, how does it allow you to plan out scenes? Illustration possibilities? Setting? Action?
Focal point (the first thing the reader looks at) | I like to move the focal point around from page to page. It can move up or down, left or right, and near or far.
The reader’s point of view | Changing the point of view adds interest. It helps to transport your reader from the chair, floor, or bed, into the world of your story. Move them up into the sky looking down, take them underground, or look through a keyhole.
Visual pace | Do you want the reader to quickly move through the spread or spend some time.
A word of caution | Radical changes in point of view can jar a reader out of the story. Make sure that it is enhancing the readers experience.
What are the benefits of story boarding vs dummying?
They are different processes. Storyboards are the big picture while the dummy simulates the reader’s experience. Turning pages adds to the experience. Looking at a book one spread at a time is different from looking at it all at once.
Do you use both story boards and dummies? If so, please describe how the two can be used together.
I use both processes and frequently go back and forth between the two. Storyboards are faster while a dummy gives a more accurate representation of the finished book.
When looking at a dummy here are some questions that I ask.
Does this spread add to and move the story forward?
Has this element of the story already been told?
Does the story need this spread?
Is there enough visual interest?
Is the amount of text, age and story appropriate?
Is it a good delivery?
Is there a beginning, middle, and end?