Storyboard is essential for a good animation. We can’t just redo a scene if something goes wrong. It would cost too much time and effort for any revision. Minor amendment in video filter or sound effect could be less a matter, but a change in the script or video angle could cause more trouble than you thought. Then, the best solution is to edit the video before it is even produced. There we have the storyboard.

What is a storyboard?

If you are an instructional designer then storyboard must be a familiar term. The storyboards for animations are pretty much similar to those produced while designing a course. There you have the project title, the text, the audio and also the graphics. Basically, it is the visualized version of your script that includes everything the learners are going to see on screen with extra information for your team members to work it.

Storyboard is utmost important in producing animations for eLearning. The main purpose is to get your team on the same page. Your colleagues or production partners would have a clearer vision of how the content is going to be developed. Then it would be much easier for your team to review and restructure the video if needed.

How to storyboard animation?

The first storyboard ever came from Walt Disney studio. Animator Webb Smith has come out with an idea of drawing different scenes on separated sheets of paper, then he pinned them up on a bulletin board to tell a story. This still works nowadays. You can do it roughly with a pen and paper, or you may use various storyboarding tools to create a proper digital one.

1. Get yourself a template

This is easy. You can google and welcome yourself to a huge source of templates, or maybe you could check out our free template here. This simple template shows you exactly what you need in a storyboard that works.

2. Break down your script

Doing storyboard is just like creating a comic strip. You have a story in your mind, then you illustrate it in little rectangles. Storyboarding is pretty much the same. You also break down the script and choose the most important scenes to fill in the boxes. Divide your script into several parts, then note them down under different frames. The same goes with the voice-over narration. How many frames should you have? It all depends on your story but one minute of animation should contain 6-10 frames.

3. Start drawing

Do you need to be an artist to do the storyboard?

Should the storyboard go deep into the details with background and color?

That would be good. However, stickman also works.

As mentioned above, the main purpose is to bring the team together on the same page and to edit the animation before it is even produced. You don’t need to be too detailed in the visual design. It is more important to let your team understand the story progression first. Just print out a template, pick up a pen and start drawing. Then you would find yourself doing what professionals call a rough storyboard. This type of storyboard concentrates on indicating the movements and the flow of the videos. It doesn’t need to be clean. Why would you spend so much time on something that could be rejected anyway? The stick figures with simple arrow navigations work as long as they illustrate the story clearly enough.

4. Show it to your colleagues

Now it’s time to seek feedbacks and approach new perspectives from different people. They will help you make sure that the animations bring better engagement and follow the learning objectives closely. The animations are not something just to entertain, they must have clear purposes as everything else in your course.

5. Upgrade

Pen and paper is the simplest way for storyboarding. It looks rough but it works. However, with animations that require a decent level of accuracy, especially those explaining a complicated process like how a car engine works, it would be better to get an upgrade. This storyboard describes the visual details much better than the previous one. However, it is still a storyboard, you don’t need to make it look like screenshots from an animation short. Professionals could do that anyway, but they require much less time to work.

It would be amazing if you have a good skill of design. If you don’t, leave the work to an artist or use supporting tools like Storyboardthat. This tool offers pre-defined illustrations like characters and backgrounds for users. However, it is greatly limited so it is most suitable for animations with a basic storyline. For example, if you want to create an animated video explaining how a drone works, then it would result in a conversation describing the process. If you want to actually show learners how it flies, you need professionals.

Previous Step: Script

Next Step: Voice-overs

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