Here is a quick draw-over I did recently of some student storyboard work. The particular sequence at hand was a first attempt at storyboarding, which I was quite impressed with. I had a few notes and ideas for her, things I felt she could look to incorporate into her storyboards as she moves forward, that I believe will help take her work to the next level.
I focused on a single panel to clearly illustrate the principles. Below is a step-by-step progression of my draw-over.
1. Original Panel From Student Sequence:
Conceptually it is good.
-She has clearly established a screen relationship between the two characters (left and right).
-Indicated an environment (the mountain range in the background).
My main note is to push it! Take the concept of this shot and push it to find a more interesting and compelling composition.
2. Draw Your Grids:
I started my redraw with a horizon line and laying down a grid.
Laying down your grids (on the ground, walls and sky) will help clarify the depth of your shot, and can also be used as a guide for incorporating mid/foreground elements (illustrated in step 5).
3. Push The Depth:
In the original panel there is a lot of empty space around the characters, not particularly interesting or dynamic visually. I drew over the characters, using my grid as a guide, and tried to push the depth.
By pushing the depth, bringing one character closer and pushing one further away, you can create a much more engaging composition as well as utilizing the real estate of the panel more effectively.
4. Use The Background To Enhance The Composition:
You can use background elements to enhance a composition and help direct the eye.
The important information in the panel is the characters, so everything else in the composition should support that. Keeping that in mind, we can use mountain ranges in the distance to help lead the eye to our character.
5. Populate The Mid-Ground
Put some junk in the mid-ground.
Populating the mid-ground can help in a few ways:
-Further help define the environment.
-Help push the depth by incorporating visual depth cues such as over-lapping objects and size relativity (objects get smaller as they recede).
6. A Little Shading Goes A Long Way
In the original panel the shading wasn't particularly adding anything to the composition. A simple way to approach shading is by thinking about it in terms of foreground, mid-ground and background.
I did a quick shade pass over the panel using each object's relative position in the composition (how closer/far away it is from us) and shaded accordingly. We can also use shadows to help direct the eye, much like background elements, by having them point towards important information.
Below is an animated gif of the progression so you can see how being conscious of these principles while you are boarding can really help enhance your work. You may need to click on it to see it animate.
With storyboarding it is just a matter of getting sequences under your belt. The more you board, the better you get, plain and simple. It takes time for these principles to become second nature, don't get discouraged if you don't see them immediately taking effect. The important thing with these concepts is to be aware of them, how they work, and how they can affect your boards. Over time everything will fall into place.