Storyboard artist drawing creative for movies process

How to Become a
Storyboard Artist

Gabriela Bercenas
By Gabriela Bercenas - CPRW, Content Writer II
|
Last Updated: April 20, 2023
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This how to become a storyboard artist guide helps illustrate and plot your career’s development storyline. You’ll find helpful information such as educational requirements, resume-writing tips, median salaries and desired skills.

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What Does a Storyboard Artist Do?

Storyboard artists are responsible for creating storyboards for many forms of media. Whether the finished product will be a movie, television show, advertisement, cartoon, music video or video game, the work of the storyboard artist is an essential first step in the creative process.

In addition to artistic abilities, storyboard artists collaborate with others and quickly grasp the storytelling beats behind a concept or pitch.

Storyboard artists can work in a home studio, a production studio or a standard office setting. Common storyboard artist duties and responsibilities include:

  • Read and interpret scripts.

  • Edit, eliminate and add scenes as the final storyline takes shape.

  • Present storyboards to producers, directors and other project stakeholders.

  • Use illustrations, charts or computer programs to create animated graphics or short animations.

  • Collaborate with a team of writers, producers and directors to create a show, movie or visual narrative.

  • Research upcoming internal or external projects to create original content and avoid market saturation.

  • Meet with clients, animators, designers, writers or other staff to review story proposals, deadlines or development timelines.

How Do You Become a Storyboard Artist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for multimedia artists and animators, which includes storyboard artists, is growing by 5%. This is expected to result in nearly 3,200 annual job openings through 2031. The reason behind this increase is a growing need for animation and visual effects in various forms of media.

If you’re ready to join this visual industry, follow these steps:

1

Earn a creative bachelor’s degree.

There’s no specific storyboarding degree, but a degree in one of the following majors may include relevant story development, storytelling and storyboarding coursework.

  • Computer graphics
  • Animation
  • Fine arts
  • Video game design
  • Film studies or cinematography
  • Digital media
2

Develop and expand your skills.

Take additional coursework in illustration, conceptual character design, conceptual development, storyboard design, animation, drawing, graphic design, creative writing and intros to digital software like Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign.

Additionally, most employers require potential candidates to have at least one year of experience in the field. You can build this experience via college-sponsored internships. Consider applying to film, TV or video game production internships to develop these storytelling skills.

3

Prepare a professional portfolio.

Since employers want to see real-world examples of your storytelling skills and experience, gather professional-level examples of class projects and internship assignments that reflect your training and capabilities.

4

Apply for entry-level creative jobs.

To successfully begin your job search, you’ll need an application-ready resume to rival your portfolio. Our storyboard artist sample resumes can help you mimic successful job applicants.

You can also choose a resume template that showcases your professional skills and personality, or try our Resume Builder-powered templates to showcase your level of training and education.

Storyboard Artist Skills

While a talent for sketching, drawing and painting is certainly crucial, it is also essential that storyboard artists can gain inspiration for their ideas and convey others’ ideas artistically. If they cannot bring the vision of the producers and directors to life through art, then they will not be able to do their job successfully.

Hard skills:

1Proficiency with editing, drawing and graphics software.
2Create storyboards either manually or digitally.
3Work with traditional drawing tools such as charcoal, ink, watercolors or oils.
4Knowledge of various computer animation programs such as Adobe Animate or After Effects, Blender or Animaker.

Soft skills:

1Public speaking, to effectively communicate and present initial storyboards and updated boards.
2Analytical skills to accurately receive and interpret feedback and project updates.
3Communication skills, including written and verbal communication, to share project status and updates with creative project stakeholders.

Insights from a Storyboard Artist

In order to get an insider’s perspective on how to become a Storyboard Artist, we spoke with Joshua Kemble, an award-winning freelance Storyboard Artist, Art Director, Cartoonist, Illustrator and Designer.

What is the common career path for Storyboard Artists?

Generally storyboard artists’ final aim is to wind up in the film union and work on motion pictures [which] they get credited on. However, the majority of storyboard artists I know work on commercials, in the gaming industry and in animation. You'll generally start seasonally, or per project, then once you've gotten your feet wet, move onto longer-term gigs.

What should someone consider before becoming a Storyboard Artist?

Drawing skills. You need to be able to draw the human figure and different environments properly in perspective.
It's a job that requires accuracy and quickness. Unless you're working on key frames, your pencils/inks will usually wind up being the finished product.
You'll need to study the fundamentals of how to tell a story, how to not "cross the line" of action, [how to] get a grasp on how the camera functions and what the limitations of film are. You'll also need a crash course on what shorthand to use so that directors/producers can decipher what you're suggesting the camera does.

What type of person excels in this job?

People who are comfortable being thrown into situations where they'll have to draw things they've never drawn before. People who don't mind the repetition of sequential storytelling. People who like drawing. People who are comfortable with somewhat unstable work hours, and unstable job security.

What are some of the most important skills for Storyboard Artists to have?

  • Communication, verbal and visual.
  • Figure Drawing.
  • Being able to imagine dimensional sets in your head, then transfer it to paper.
  • How to capture a quick likeness of certain actors.
  • Costume illustration (a bit of this comes into play).
  • You'll need to get some training in drawing and illustration.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Storyboard Artist?

Like most things in film, when something you boarded finally gets made, and you see it in action, and know your drawings contributed to the team effort of accomplishing it. Watching stuff you imagined [become] real is pretty wild. Also, working with a team can be exciting.

How Much Do Storyboard Artists Get Paid?

Depending on whether they are freelance, independent contractors or permanent employees of a company or studio, Storyboard Artists can be paid on either an hourly wage basis or an annual wage basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for Storyboard Artists is $30.76, with the lowest-paid earning $17.75 per hour and the highest-paid earning $54.62 per hour.

Top Ten States for Storyboard Artist Salary

Storyboard Artists in the following ten states make the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.

    California

    $38.65

    Washington

    $37.14

    District of Columbia

    $35.71

    Connecticut

    $35.47

    Idaho

    $32.60

    Massachusetts

    $32.48

    Virginia

    $31.73

    Maryland

    $31.58

    Illinois

    $30.83

    New York

    $30.82

    Storyboard Artist Resources

    We compiled this list of resources to help you keep exploring a career as a Storyboard Artist.

    Storyboard Artists on LinkedIn

    Storyboard Artists Unite!
    This group has over 4,000 members, and will allow you to connect with Storyboard and Concept Artists who work in film, television, commercials and more.

    Professional Storyboard Artists
    This group of over 2,400 members is a great way to learn more about your craft, connect with other professionals and discuss job opportunities.

    Storyboard Artists on Twitter

    @DanPovenmire
    Dan Povenmire is best known for his work on Family Guy, Phineas and Ferb, Hey Arnold! and SpongeBob SquarePants. He frequently posts sketches and drawings from various points in his career.

    @leomatsuda99
    Leo Matsuda is best known for his work on Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, The Simpsons Movie and Zootopia. He posts sketches, updates on his work and insights into the world of the Disney story department.

    Storyboard Artist Books

    The Storyboard Artist
    This book is written by Giuseppe Cristiano, a Storyboard Artist who has worked on Six Feet Under and CSI: NY. It contains tips and advice on freelancing in the film, television and advertising industries.

    Paper Dreams
    This book provides a fascinating look at the history and art of Disney’s story department. It includes rare pre-production sketches from Disney’s earliest works, as well as features on prominent modern-day Storyboard Artists.