Animation storyboarding is not a separate art, but a key component of production planning, from which real art is born. Storyboarding allows you to move the animation characters and the camera, with each scene being sequentially developed in the context of what came before and what comes after. The tips below cover the most important principles an animation storyboard artist should understand.

01. Storytelling – The key point of animation storyboarding

To tell a good story remember to get to know the animation characters. Always ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are their states of mind?
  • How do they feel?
  • How should the audience feel?
  • What emotional moment are you trying to convey?

These are the key points that tell the whole story. Every decision must be based on a story!


02. One thought in one animation shot

The movie runs fast. The audience can only look at one thing at a time, so including multiple ideas in a drawing will cause the audience to miss some of those ideas. The animation storyboard artist must create a new drawing for each new idea. If more than one step is required to describe an event, you will have to draw each step.


03. Draw for animation

Make sure your drawings retain the energy of your original sketches. Conserve the energy of those early sketches when tying together the final designs. Create your drawings with simple shapes and volumes. Use the guidelines and draw to make sure your drawings are the correct dimensions.

storyboard 2

04. Find a clear silhouette for the animation shot

There should never be any doubt about the action described, or about the intent and state of mind of the animation character. Test your pose by filling the drawing with a solid color. Can you still read the animation character’s action? The use of clear silhouettes when designing poses provides this clarity of communication.

coco storyboard 3

05. Tell a story through animation character poses

The poses should be clear and simple, but also unique to the animation character. Try your best to imagine the subtext or feelings hidden behind the words. The poses you draw should reflect these emotions. And change poses when attitudes change.

coco storyboard 2

06. Set the point of view with horizon line in each animation shot

Draw the horizon line will determine the location of the camera, the point of view. This is usually the first line you draw when you start the frame. From the high horizon, the audience will look down, while the extreme low horizon forces the viewer to look up. Your choice should always be dictated by the needs of the story.

07. Use a grid to make it easier to place animation characters and objects

You draw a grid to show the ground, the plane of the sky, or even walls. This makes it easier to place items. Use overlaps and line weights to position objects even further.

coco storyboard

08. Make a rough sketch of the animation frame

Once you’ve found the thumbnail, sketch it out. At this stage, you build perspective, structure and refine the pose of the animation character. As such, the animation storyboard is viewed by the director, animation storyboard supervisor, or executive producer.

09. Edit the animation storyboard

Remove rough edges and add any necessary changes. Next, move on to the clean lines, they should outline the shape and idea, and also keep the animation character alive.

storyboard 2

10. Consider the experience of good animation films

Animation films have their own special language. You should learn to understand this language. Study good animation films. Thumbnail the animation scenes, and then think about what the animation filmmaker was doing and choosing.


An animation storyboard artist creates a visual project for an animation production. Simply put, if something is not in the storyboard, then it will not be on the screen either. In addition to having excellent drawing skills, the storyboard artist needs to understand how the story is told. Also, the animation storyboard artist should also have a clear understanding of the principles of animation filmmaking and how to translate those principles when designing layouts for camera animation. That’s the reason why many believe that animation storyboarding is creative, fun, and challenging.

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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network:
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology:
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist:
  4. Bloomberg News:
  5. Insider: