How to Create a Compelling Storyboard: A Step-by-Step Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. What is a storyboard?
  2. How to choose your story
  3. How to create characters
  4. How to plan scenes
  5. How to sketch your ideas
  6. How to arrange scenes in order
  7. How to add dialogue and directions
  8. How to review and revise
  9. How to share your storyboard
  10. Tips for a compelling storyboard

There's a unique thrill that comes with bringing your ideas to life. One of the best ways to do this, especially in the realm of film, animation, advertising, or even presentations, is by creating a storyboard. Think of it as a comic strip of your project, giving you a snapshot of every key scene. But how do you go about creating a storyboard? Don't worry, we've got your back! This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process, helping you craft a compelling storyboard that breathes life into your ideas.

What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is a vital tool in visual storytelling. It's a series of drawings or images, laid out in the order of your story. Each drawing represents a specific scene or moment, giving you a clear picture—quite literally—of how your story will unfold. When creating a storyboard, you're not just sketching pretty pictures. You're piecing together your story's plot, visualizing your characters in action, and setting the stage for your scenes.

Here's what a storyboard typically includes:

  • Frames: These are the individual drawings or images in your storyboard. Each frame captures a particular scene or moment in your story.
  • Notes: These are short descriptions written below each frame. They provide additional information about the scene, such as what's happening, how the characters are feeling, or any important dialogue.
  • Arrows: These guide the viewer's eye from one frame to the next, showing the progression of the story. They're especially useful when creating a storyboard for animations or films, where the sequence of scenes is crucial.

Creating a storyboard might seem like a daunting task at first, but it's really quite fun once you get the hang of it. It allows you to play around with your ideas, experiment with different plot twists, and see your story come to life right before your eyes. So, are you ready to start creating your storyboard? Let's dive in!

How to choose your story

The first step in creating a storyboard is choosing the story you want to tell. This might seem obvious, but it's often the most challenging part of the process. So, how do you choose your story? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Passion: Choose a story that you're passionate about. Whether it's an epic adventure, a heartfelt romance, or a hilarious comedy, your enthusiasm will shine through in your storyboard and engage your audience.
  • Clarity: Your story should be clear and easy to understand. You don't want to confuse your audience with a complex plot that's hard to follow. Keep it simple and straightforward.
  • Originality: Don't be afraid to think outside the box. An original, unique story will stand out and grab your audience's attention.

Once you've chosen your story, write a brief summary. This will serve as your roadmap when you start creating your storyboard, helping you keep track of your plot and characters. Remember, a great story is the foundation of a compelling storyboard. So take your time, choose your story wisely, and let your creativity flow!

How to create characters

Now that you have a story in mind, it's time to populate it with interesting characters. Characters are the heart and soul of any story — they drive the plot, engage the audience, and bring your story to life when creating a storyboard. Here are some steps to help you create compelling characters:

  • Define their role: Every character should have a purpose in your story, whether they're the hero, the villain, or a supporting character. What role does each character play in driving the story forward?
  • Create their backstory: Your characters didn't just pop into existence when your story started. What's their history? What experiences have shaped them? A well-developed backstory can add depth to your characters and make them more relatable.
  • Give them distinctive characteristics: To make your characters memorable, give them distinct physical traits, personalities, and quirks. These characteristics should be reflected in your sketches when you start creating your storyboard.

Remember, your audience should care about what happens to your characters. The more compelling your characters are, the more invested your audience will be in your story. So take some time to really think about your characters and bring them to life in your storyboard.

How to plan scenes

Once you've crafted your characters, you'll want to throw them into action. This is where scene planning comes into play. A scene is a single piece of the action. Think of each scene as a building block that contributes to the overall structure of your story. When creating a storyboard, planning your scenes carefully can help your story flow smoothly and keep your audience engaged. Here's how:

  • Identify the key moments: Every story has crucial moments that propel the plot forward. Identify these moments and make sure you devote an entire scene to each one.
  • Set the scene: Where does each scene take place? The setting can greatly influence the mood and tone of your scene. Draw the setting in detail when you're creating your storyboard.
  • Decide the sequence: What order should your scenes go in to make the story as engaging as possible? The sequence can make a big difference in how your story unfolds.

As you plan each scene, keep in mind how it contributes to the overall story. Each scene should move the story forward and give the audience more insight into your characters and their struggles. Done right, your scenes will lead your audience on a journey they won't forget.

How to sketch your ideas

Sketching your ideas is arguably one of the most exciting parts of creating a storyboard. It's where you start to see your story come to life. Don't worry if you're not an artist — the quality of your sketches isn't as important as the ideas they represent. Here's how you can start:

  • Start with rough sketches: You don't need to create a masterpiece. Just draw rough figures and shapes to represent your characters and settings. Remember, these sketches are meant to help you visualize your story, not to win an art contest.
  • Use arrows to depict movement: In storyboard sketches, arrows can be used to show character movements or camera movements. This way, you can show not just what is happening, but how it's happening.
  • Use speech bubbles: If a character is speaking or thinking something in a scene, draw a speech bubble. It's a simple and effective way to include dialogue in your sketches.

Remember, when you're sketching your ideas for your storyboard, it's all about getting your ideas down visually. Don't get too hung up on making it perfect. The goal is to create a visual representation of what's happening in your story, something that anyone can understand at a glance.

How to arrange scenes in order

Once you've sketched your scenes, the next big step in creating a storyboard is arranging them in the right sequence. This is where you decide the flow of your story. Let's dive into it.

  • Start with your script: Go back to your script or story outline. It's the backbone of your storyboard and will guide you in placing your scenes in the correct order.
  • Use numbers or letters: To keep track of your scenes, number or letter them. This will help you avoid confusion later on, especially if you have a lot of scenes in your storyboard.
  • Consider the flow: Think about how your story progresses. Does it build suspense? Is it a flashback? Arrange your scenes to maintain the pacing and tone of your story.

When arranging your scenes, keep in mind that the order is not set in stone. It's okay to move things around if it helps your story. After all, creating a storyboard is all about crafting the best narrative possible.

How to add dialogue and directions

When you're creating a storyboard, the visuals are key—but don't forget about the dialogue and directions! These elements breathe life into your characters and guide the action in each scene. Let's learn how to add these elements to your storyboard.

  • Add Dialogue: Dialogue can be written below the scene or in speech bubbles. Remember, the goal is to make the dialogue sound natural and fitting for the character. If your character is a teenager, they probably won't talk like a professor!
  • Include Directions: Directions guide the action in the scene. They could be as simple as "Character A walks to the door" or as detailed as "Character A nervously shuffles to the door, glancing back every few steps". Directions help paint a clear picture of what's happening in the scene.
  • Keep it concise: While it's important to give enough information, avoid overloading each scene with too much dialogue or too many directions. The key is to be clear and concise.

In the end, the dialogue and directions you add to your storyboard should serve the story. They should clarify the action, reveal character, and drive the plot forward. Now, you're one step closer to creating a storyboard that truly tells your story.

How to review and revise

Once you've done the hard work of creating a storyboard, it's tempting to call it good and move on. But, just like a good piece of writing, a storyboard can benefit greatly from a little review and revision. Here's how you can make sure your storyboard is the best it can be.

  • Take a Break: After you've finished creating your initial storyboard, give yourself a break. When you come back to your work with fresh eyes, you'll be better able to spot areas that could use some improvement.
  • Check for Clarity: Review each scene and ask yourself, "Does this scene clearly convey what's happening?" If you find that a scene is confusing or unclear, it might be time for some revision. Remember, your storyboard should be easy to follow, even for someone who isn't familiar with your story.
  • Ensure Consistency: Are your characters and settings consistent throughout the storyboard? Inconsistencies can distract from your story and confuse your audience. Make sure your characters look the same from scene to scene and that the setting is consistent unless there's a change in location.
  • Review Dialogue and Directions: Read through your dialogue and directions again. Are they clear and concise? Do they fit with the characters and the action in the scene? If not, it's time to do some editing.

Remember, the aim of reviewing and revising isn't to make your storyboard perfect—it's to make it better. Every tweak and adjustment brings you one step closer to a compelling storyboard that truly brings your story to life.

How to share your storyboard

Now that you've crafted your storyboard and polished it up with some revisions, it's time for the really fun part: sharing it! But how exactly do you go about sharing your storyboard? Here are some steps to guide you:

  • Digitize Your Storyboard: If you created your storyboard on paper, the first step in sharing it is to digitize it. You can use a scanner or even take photos with your phone, as long as the images are clear and easy to see. If you used a digital tool to create your storyboard, this step is already done!
  • Choose Your Platform: Where you share your storyboard depends on who you want to see it. If you're sharing it with a few people, you could simply email it to them. If you want to share it with a wider audience, consider using social media or a personal blog. Just make sure the platform you choose allows your storyboard to be viewed clearly and easily.
  • Provide Some Context: When you share your storyboard, make sure to provide some context. What's the story about? What inspired you? Giving your viewers some background can help them understand and appreciate your storyboard even more.
  • Invite Feedback: One of the best parts of sharing your work is getting feedback. Encourage your viewers to share their thoughts. Remember, feedback is a great way to learn and grow as a storyteller.

Sharing your storyboard isn't just about showing off your hard work—it's also a great way to connect with others, get feedback, and continue to improve your storytelling skills. So go ahead, share your storyboard and let your story shine!

Tips for a compelling storyboard

Creating a storyboard is not just about putting together scenes and dialogues—it's an art form that requires careful planning, execution, and a dash of creativity. So, to make your storyboard stand out, here are some tips:

  • Keep it Simple: A good storyboard doesn't have to be overly complex. In fact, the simpler, the better. Remember, the primary purpose of a storyboard is to visualize a story. So, avoid overcrowding it with details. Use simple sketches and minimal text that can easily convey your idea.
  • Focus on Key Moments: Don't try to depict every single moment of your story. Instead, focus on key moments that drive the narrative forward. These are the moments that create impact and evoke emotions.
  • Use a Consistent Style: Consistency is the key in creating a storyboard. Stick to a particular style of sketching and layout throughout your storyboard. This gives your storyboard a cohesive look and makes it easier for the viewer to follow the story.
  • Include Directions: While the images are important, don't forget about the directions. Directions give context to your images. They tell the viewer how a character is moving, what they're feeling, or what's happening off-screen.
  • Experiment with Angles: Interesting camera angles can add a whole new dimension to your story. Don't be afraid to experiment with different perspectives in your sketches. This can make your storyboard much more engaging.

Remember, creating a storyboard is a journey of exploration and creativity. So, don't be afraid to experiment and make mistakes—that's where the best learning happens. Happy storyboard creating!

If you're looking to improve your skills in creating compelling storyboards, don't miss out on learning from our 'Daisie Original Animation Course' with none another than Alex Jenkins who will you take you through his complete animation process. Dive in and take your animation skills to the next level!