Storyboarding Tips on Layout

Creating an Efficient and Balanced Layout

By Sarah Laroche

Every great storyboard needs to start somewhere, and that somewhere is with a great layout. There are many things that go into making a storyboard excellent, but it always rests on its foundation: the layout.

A layout is a plan for the arrangement of elements in a project, as well as the elements’ attributes. The way that objects are arranged and modified on the storyboard can give different impressions. There is no sure-fire method of always having the perfect cell or frame for each type of storyboard, rather take advantage of the space to clearly showcase the action.

Think of each cell or frame as a snippet of a movie. Not all movies are shot from one view or in a single style, but the director shows only what they want the audience to see. The frame is the viewfinder of your story, and the layout is the plan of what you want to be seen and how.

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Every visual object takes up space in the cell and has visual "weight". Its weight depends on three things:

  • Size
  • Level of detail
  • Use of color

It is important to balance light objects, or those with less detail or small size, with heavier objects, those with more detail or large size, in order to avoid clutter or emptiness in a cell.

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The world is three-dimensional, but in a two-dimensional medium, images can fall flat. It is important to bring the illusion of depth into images so that a realistic and relatable feel can be conveyed in the 2-D space.

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Style & Tone

Depending on the goal of the storyboard, style and tone can make or break immersion. It is imperative to remain consistent in the format and look of each frame by using similar colors, art style, etc. Too much variation in the look of a storyboard, and the viewer will be pulled out of the story.

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You’ve learned and seen the basics of what it takes to make a good layout. Now it is time to put what you have gathered into practice. Start experimenting with different types of style, learn more about depth, and begin implementing it into your storyboards.

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