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Storyboards :: 1 of 2

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What is it?

The idea of a storyboard was originally conceived at Disney Studios about seventy years ago. A storyboard is a sequential series of illustrations, stills, rough sketches and/or captions (sometimes resembling a comic or cartoon strip, and often visualised as seen through a camera lens), which outline the various shots or provide a synopsis for a proposed story, scene or interaction.

Storyboards are often heavily involved in the planning of a project, and are used extensively by the film industry. In the online world, a storyboard can be thought of as a "low fidelity" prototype; a series of screen sketches showing transitions between states. They are usually - but not always or necessarily - presented on paper.


Storyboards are used in a number of different ways for a number of different reasons, including:

  • To illustrate a suite of different ideas before proceeding to a more formal "polished" design execution
  • To illustrate a sequence (or a slice taken through a sequence) of events
  • To visualise transitions from one type of screen to another
  • To illustrate the progression or evolution of a narrative

Storyboards are usually - but not always - black & white sketches, often - though not always - hand drawn.

What's it for?

Storyboarding is useful for rapid development of a creative idea. The quality of the execution takes second (or third) place to movement, transition, concept and sequencing. Storyboards are used extensively in projects using significant amounts of animation or movement, i.e. where there is heavy use of Flash or Ajax.

Storyboards can vary greatly in graphical sophistication. They can sometimes be little more than individual thumbnail sketches; at other times highly polished designs in and of themselves. Sometimes they're used to present "static" ideas (used in this way, they can be very similar to moodboards); other times they're used almost exclusively to visualise the key frames of a sequence in an animation.

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