Monday, June 13, 2016

From Manuscript to Storyboard

Please note this post originally appeared on Literally Lynne Marie's blog on May 24, 2016.

Today I'm going to share my approach to storyboarding a picture book.

First I start off by looking at my manuscript. I read each couplet and bit of action then I decide how to best group passages together for what is going to be on each page. It's important during this process to think about page turns and not having too much text on one page or spread.
Here is an example from my book "Lorenzo, the Pizza-Loving Lobster" of how I looked at my manuscript and decided how to pace the book. 
Note: This isn't the final version of the story or how the pacing for the pages turned out, but it was where I started.

Then, I decide what size I would like my book to be. Do I want it long and horizontal? Or do I want it tall? I look at the story and figure out what the illustrated action needs. I look at various current published children's books to help give me an idea on what size I want my book to be. When I first started storyboarding picture books I would just choose a size and go with it. If during the process I realized I needed more horizontal or vertical space I would scrap my current storyboard and change it to a storyboard with the correct proportions.

After that it's time to work on preparing the storyboard. I have two storyboard templates, a taller more vertical version, and a more horizontal version.
I print out two (or three in case I make a mistake) of my chosen size onto 11"x17" paper.

Next I look at my text with the pagination notes and write underneath each spread what goes on each page. I make sure I use pencil in case I need to erase anything.

Then, I cut out the rectangles on one of the storyboards. These are what I draw on. I cut them out in case I need to move them around or replace them. I use a masking tape loop to stick them to my storyboard.

After that it's drawing time. During this process I am very loose and am focusing on the big shapes and composition. It's important to be mindful of the gutter and page turns and where the text is placed. I also remember that I need to leave room for front matter (title, copyright, dedication, etc...) and end pages.

Usually the sketches help inform me of text changes, which can then change the storyboard. It can be a back and forth process until the text and storyboard tell the story in the best way possible.

At the end of the process I have a complete storyboard. I use the rough thumbnail sketches to tell me how to draw my initial black and white sketches for the book.
Here is an example of my second to final storyboard from "Lorenzo, the Pizza-Loving Lobster." Note that this is before I started using the cut outs of the pages. 

I hope you find this helpful and insightful. Below you can download my storyboard templates. Click the images to make them larger, then right-click to download the image.  The printables are optimized for tabloid (11" x 17") paper.