2D Animation Principles
Illustration by John Hersey

Comparing storyboard styles


2D Animation Principles

with Dermot O' Connor

Video: Comparing storyboard styles

A proper explanation of storyboards would really require its own course. The TV animation storyboard style is somewhat different.
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  1. 1m 42s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
  2. 18m 9s
    1. Understanding appeal and design
      4m 3s
    2. Comparing body types
      6m 27s
    3. Understanding silhouette
      1m 52s
    4. Creating gesture drawings
      2m 50s
    5. Tying down the drawing
      2m 57s
  3. 18m 10s
    1. Comparing storyboard styles
      5m 8s
    2. Understanding shot composition
      4m 36s
    3. Demonstrating lighting
      4m 8s
    4. Understanding the 180-degree line
      4m 18s
  4. 13m 8s
    1. Understanding X-sheets (dope sheets)
      3m 25s
    2. Comparing frame rates
      4m 39s
    3. Creating sweatbox notes and preparation
      5m 4s
  5. 18m 42s
    1. Understanding arcs
      7m 38s
    2. Squash, stretch, and volume
      4m 59s
    3. Comparing timing and spacing
      6m 5s
  6. 10m 4s
    1. Using anticipation, overshoot, and settle
      4m 2s
    2. Breaking and loosening joints
      2m 43s
    3. Leading action
      3m 19s
  7. 19m 51s
    1. Understanding primary and secondary action
      4m 14s
    2. Using overlap and follow-through
      6m 0s
    3. Applying lines of action, reversals, and S-curves
      4m 34s
    4. Moving holds and idles
      5m 3s
  8. 15m 52s
    1. Understanding walk and run cycles
      5m 24s
    2. Creating eccentric walks
      6m 50s
    3. Animal locomotion
      3m 38s
  9. 14m 31s
    1. Finding dialogue accents
      2m 42s
    2. Creating dialogue through body movement
      2m 46s
    3. Creating stock mouth shapes
      5m 4s
    4. Using complementary shapes
      3m 59s
  10. 13m 8s
    1. Creating thumbnails
      4m 31s
    2. Comparing straight-ahead and pose-to-pose animation
      4m 37s
    3. Adding breakdowns for looseness
      4m 0s
  11. 2m 9s
    1. Next steps
      2m 9s

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Watch the Online Video Course 2D Animation Principles
2h 25m Beginner Apr 11, 2014

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Bring a cast of characters to life. By following the basics principles of animation, you can build characters that interact naturally with their environments, convey realistic emotion, and talk and walk convincingly. In this course, Dermot O' Connor shows how to design a solid character and stage and storyboard your animation before you begin. He'll examine principles like anticipation and squash and stretch, which provide characters with a sense of weight and flexibility, and show you how to animate walk cycles and dialogue. Finally, learn how to thumbnail scenes from start to finish, so you can sketch out the action before you commit to fully rendering it.

These lessons are designed with Flash in mind, but work just as well with any other 2D animation program.

Topics include:
  • Creating gesture drawings
  • Comparing storyboard styles
  • Squash, stretch, and volume
  • Comparing timing and spacing
  • Using anticipation, overshoot, settle, overlap, and follow-through
  • Creating eccentric walks
  • Building stock mouth shapes for dialogue
  • Creating thumbnails
3D + Animation
Flash Professional
Dermot O' Connor

Comparing storyboard styles

A proper explanation of storyboards would really require its own course. So this is really just a very quick overview of the basic storyboard styles, the choices you might have at your disposal. So I've opened up a bunch of storyboard panels in Photoshop. Let me hit the tab key, so that we just see these images by themselves. There we go. So the golden age method of doing storyboards was to have a single panel on a sheet of paper and then pin these to a board. Then you could rearrange these panels very quickly, very easily if the story changed.

And the stories were very fluid. The storyboard artists basically created the story as they went along, writing dialogue and images in sync. So this is a simulation of that technique. I have one image for each panel of the movie. And let's take a look at how we would approach this. So this is a history of the warfare of the human race over the millenia. And what would pop out immediately, I would think, is, on the top-left panel we have a rough sketch of what seems to be a Napoleonic or revolutionary soldiers. And to the right, we have cavemen. Well let's start chronologically and it's so easy.

Imagine these are physical notes on a physical board. We just rearrange them. We can renumber them as we need, and actually that looks more like ancient Romans or Greeks over here so we simply move these around until we get the chronological order that is most accurate to the film. Now this could easily be an acting sequence or a dialog sequence. And it's really nice to have that kind of fluidity. So, that's the original feature approach, very dynamic, very free flowing. The TV animation storyboard style is somewhat different.

In this method you see three, four, five panels on a single page and each panel contains basically, a much tighter tied-down version of the final product. So, beginning in the mid 1980s there appeared to be a hybrid between these two. I don't like the strict TV style. It feels too stiff to me. But I do like the ability to save multiple panels in one page. So what you see here is a much looser style, more similar to the feature style. But we also have the strip which travels along side each panel.

Now, these are my personal boards for a I've been working on. So I don't feel the need to be quite so dynamic with Sheets of paper floating around the place. When I do make a change, I can simply cut and paste the panel if I have to, or I can just rub it out and redraw it. So let's walk through this, and you'll see how it works: very simple really, each panel, more like a comic book, we have the establishing shot, very similar to the famous Hopper painting, and beneath it, we have the dialogue and any stage instructions. I've called the professor character a, the student b, it saves me a little bit of time writing out the names of the characters all the time.

And then as we move through each panel you can see that the shortcuts and were I to want any stage instructions they can be added down here. And we can proceed through the short film, again, reading the dialogue panel by panel as we go. Essentially, in this case, the storyboard is the script, which is a very effective way of doing it. You're writing the script as you draw the short. There are other tricks that we can use, for example, in this panel here on D4, Let's say I want to add a camera move to that.

Let's take this into Photoshop and see how we would do that. Okay. So, let's zoom in on the panel that we want to add a camera move to. And we'll pick a nice bright color, red, just for the purposes of this demonstration, but in reality I'd rather use black, but I want you to be able to see what I'm doing here. Let's say we want to begin the shot in on the ambulance as it drives away. Then we will notate like this and then this will indicate that we're zooming out from this point. And I've seen this technique used on features as well. But you don't have to do just because you're working on TV.

It's a very, very efficient way of letting people know this is a zoom out from this angle. You can rotate this if you want it to rotate out at an angle. In this case, it's a simple, start in tight and zoom out, that's it. So here we have the two basic storyboard techniques. On the right, the feature style, where we have one image per page, which can be rearranged on the board. On the left side is the TV hybrid work book style and that can have anywhere from two, three, four, five, or six panels per page, depending on how many you can squeeze in there.

So what I've done, I've provided you PSD files in case you want to do your boards. I like to do mine on the computer inside Photoshop. It's a lot of fun, it's very flexible that way. And if you notice down here we have draw here layers on each of these two images. And if you simply sketch in there, your image will be nicely masked in. going to hide that, and on the left side, we have the storyboard for the hybrid, and there we have six panels nicely color-coded, including all the internal layers, also masked, and you can draw on there.

And we also have PNGs provided and the PNGs are there in case you want to print them out and just draw on paper and pencil, the old fashioned manner. So, I use these all the time, I find them invaluable, I hope you do too.

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