The Blog

So You Want to Be a Storyboard Artist?

Storyboard artists are currently being "screwed" in Hollywood... In the ebb and flow of the storyboard process it can be hard to keep track of how much the storyboard artist is fulfilling the director's vision, and how much he or she is originating ideas.

Queen of the Hollywood scene, Nikki Finke, recently wrote an article that highlighted how storyboard artists are currently being "screwed" in Hollywood.

Storyboarding is an essential part of making a big budget movie. Intricately choreographed, or VFX heavy scenes can be worked and reworked by a storyboard artist before the heavy cost of physical production kicks in. A storyboard artist will work closely with the director to help bring his or her vision to life. From staging to shot flow, the storyboard artist will realise many of the visual aspects of a movie. But as Nikki Finke rightly pointed out, storyboard artists rarely receive proper recognition for their role in a film's production. Recognising their input might detract from the director's position as visionary figurehead. In the ebb and flow of the storyboard process it can be hard to keep track of how much the storyboard artist is fulfilling the director's vision, and how much he or she is originating ideas.

I've worked with a number of storyboard artists and thought I'd talk to one of my favourite collaborators, David Golding, about his experiences. David is an accomplished storyboard and comic book artist. He is also the creator of the forthcoming The Greatest Comic Quizbook in the Multiverse. Thanks to David for climbing out of his art cave to share his thoughts.

Don't Eat the Artist

David Golding

What Does a Storyboard Artist do?

We help the director visualise the film before a single frame is shot. My job is to work with the director to turn the script into a series of visual sequences that effectively show the film in still form. Like the panels of a comic book, except a storyboard doesn't just show the characters' action, it also details camera movement.

What Sort of Projects Have You Worked on?

I've worked on TV shows, feature films, short films, music videos, corporates and commercials - anything really.

Storyboard Panel

David Golding

How Did You Get Into This Line of Work?

I was raised in Barnsley, South Yorkshire which I must admit in the 1970s and 80s wasn't the most nurturing of environments for a young artist. It was an angry time with the strikes, and there was a general gloom over the whole area. Everything was very serious, and as a young boy I didn't do serious. I was in love with Sci-Fi movies, drawing, painting and American comic books and all of those things were seen as childish and a waste of time. After years of 'proper jobs', on my 32nd birthday, I became a full time artist, and to my surprise I got work right away drawing for a BBC kids show "Prank Patrol" designing creatures and appearing in 6 episodes, then it just snowballed from there really. I have been a pro artist for 8 years now and I can say that it was the best decision I have ever made. It's incredibly hard work but I will never do anything else.

What's the Best Advice You've Ever Had?

A truly great illustrator and comic artist Sean Phillips told me "just draw everything." It's such a simple bit of advice, but I have never had better. I think almost all artistic type people have a given gift but that only goes so far. It's like learning to play an instrument, you have to practice and it's the same with art. Just draw everyday. As a storyboard artist, you're trying to create a sense of fluidity. It all has to feel natural to the story being told. You wouldn't tell a ghost story the same way you would tell a romantic comedy. You need to understand pacing and storytelling. That's fundamental. There are many books written about it so it's not some unattainable entity. Just practice.

Do You Prefer Drawing Storyboards or Comics?

I have to be honest and say comics. The thing with working in movies and TV is that you can't share it with people, everything is under contract, stamped, owned and locked up, and I want my art to be seen and enjoyed. I guess to some extent my art is enjoyed when people see the finished item, but you are a cog in a massive machine, sure it's an important cog but I would rather be driving, or at least the co pilot.

Follow David Golding on DeviantArt.