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The Fundamentals of Becoming a Freelance Storyboard Artist

Tom Wujec says, “We are visual creatures. When you doodle an image that captures the essence of an idea, you not only remember it, but you also help other people understand and act on it.”

This is what exactly a storyboard artist does. They are visual storytellers who transform written scripts into visual images and expressions.

If you have lately been thinking to become a freelance storyboard artist, there are a few things you should consider and know about the craft as you break through the industry.

Anyone who has a natural talent for sketches and scenes can learn to become a storyboard artist. But it’s highly recommended to pursue an education in art, particularly a storyboard artist degree, to ensure that you have the necessary skills to work as a professional freelance storyboard artist.

Moreover, it’s good to peep into the industry and know how it works before even enrolling yourself in any of the courses to get a basic understanding of film.

What is a Storyboard Artist?

Freelance Storyboard Artist

A storyboard artist is one who develops a story and characters through pictures, or storyboards, during the early planning stages for movies, commercials, TV ads, video games, and other projects.

They create visuals for each major scene in a film or an ad, which includes character postures, facial expressions, and backgrounds.

What Does a Storyboard Artist Do?

Freelance Storyboard Artist

A storyboard artist's job is to assist a client, director, or producer see the final version of a project by creating a step-by-step visual process of the production using storyboards.

They are responsible for plot and character development, as well as background details and other elements. Their duties may include:

  • Meeting with clients, directors, or producers to discuss projects.

  • Conducting project-related research.

  • Developing a narrative in collaboration with other animators and creative staff.

  • Describing the camera movement.

  • Generating pictures using computer applications.

  • Making adjustments to storyboards in response to input from clients and directors.

To make it easier for you to understand, you can relate a storyboard to a comic book. It's a visual story that communicates angles, the positions of actors and characters, and the events that occur in a scene in a chronological manner.

Freelance storyboard artists must be excellent listeners, readers, and interpreters. They must be exceptional at visualizing textual concepts and comprehending the director's and creative team's instructions.

Keep in mind that the way a storyboard artist depicts scenes in production may be influenced by the director's style. It's wonderful to have your own style as long as clarity isn't compromised, but in a collaborative environment, flexibility is also crucial.

While the majority of your work will be in the form of drawings, there is a space for technical descriptions as well. 

At the end of the day, the storyboard should clearly illustrate what's going on. This may include utilizing language to describe things in more depth or detailing technical information.

Take, for instance, a video game storyboard artist. These artists may work on more than simply visualizing scenes for a video game production. They may work on stages inside a game or on character design elements at times. 

As a video game storyboard artist, you'll be in charge of the story's visual continuity. 

How to Become a Storyboard Artist?

Since you now know in detail what a storyboarder does, let’s take a move and explore the important steps to become a storyboard artist.

  1. Get A Storyboard Artist Degree

Freelance Storyboard Artist

Multimedia artists and animators, such as storyboard artists, often need at least a bachelor's degree. 

While storyboarding does not have its specific degree, ambitious artists may major in fine arts, animation, game design and development, or other related areas. Some of these degree programs are even accessible online.

There are many degree programs, including Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree programs in animation, that include storyboarding courses to educate students in idea and story development.

Although storyboarding is not usually offered as a major, certain institutions may offer it as a minor. You may take courses in character design, storyboard drawing, and concept development as part of this minor.

  1. Develop The Requisite Skills


To make a start, you can even work as an assistant to an accomplished freelance storyboard artist. 

Spend time taking some training from a professional storyboarder. This will assist you in obtaining a lot of experience to fly solo afterwards.

Learn about storyboard artist jobs while working as part of a team. Ask questions and strive to follow in the footsteps of other professionals’ procedures.

Remember that your target at this point isn't to land a perfect job, but to learn as much as you can about how to be a storyboard artist.

In addition, as a freelance storyboard artist, you should constantly be practising and improving your animation and storytelling skills. 

Developing a range of skills in the field can also be helpful in making a diverse storyboard artist portfolio.

  1. Build an Appealing Portfolio

how to become a storyboard artist

To become a freelance storyboard artist, a CV alone won't get you the kind of clients that will help you develop a good, long-term career; you'll also need to build up a portfolio of work to present to potential clients.

At the very start of your storyboarding career, offering your services in exchange for experience is a good thing as this will help you to build trust, hone your skills and give you plenty to add to your storyboard artist portfolio.

Use your portfolio to demonstrate your skills and abilities to potential clients or employers. You can regularly update and add to your portfolio new pieces that demonstrate new skills or expertise in a particular area.

It's critical for freelance storyboard artist to keep their portfolio and reel updated. Keep in mind that the portfolio not only reflects you as an artist but also as a business expert.

  1. Start Networking

storyboard artist jobs

Since you want to become a freelance storyboard artist, networking is a must. As freelancers depend on a steady stream of clients, making contacts is very crucial. 

Social media can work as one of the best tools to start networking. If you're fortunate, you could find a client by personal connections who might need you for a long-term project. (who knows)

Although networking may seem to be a nerve-wracking task, especially if you are anti-social but it doesn't have to be. Don't feel afraid to speak out! 

Clients are eager to find the best talent so be bold and confident, and don’t feel shy about being a newcomer!

Follow the saying that goes as, “The essential part is getting your hands dirty and teaching yourself as much as possible.”

  1. Tap into Freelancing Sites

storyboard artist portfolio

This may be a bit of a conundrum for a lot of people. Isn't it the vertigo of beginnings? “How do I get customers and where do I start working?” Don't worry; the solution is straightforward.

Browse through the freelancing platforms as they offer plenty of work for both up-and-coming and experienced storyboard artists. They're a great place to develop your portfolio, establish a client base, and acquire experience. 

It's simple to create an account, upload your portfolio, and get started. 

Don't be disheartened if you only get small projects at first: with time, your reputation will grow and you'll be able to attract larger and better customers. 

  1. Be Open to Learn New Things

what is a storyboard artist

Do not settle on the little you know. Never stopping to learn is one of the keys to becoming a successful freelance storyboard artist.

The kind of ambitious freelance storyboarders constantly keeps up with the current trends in their field and experiment with new approaches. 

  1. Learn How to Sell

what does a storyboard artist do

Your most important talent as a freelance storyboard artist will be how to market and sell your skills. 

If you're amazing at what you do but don't know how to market it, you'll have a hard time finding projects that match your skills.

Therefore, if you want to turn your skills into a successful storyboarding career, you must be able to articulate your abilities and convert your connections into paying customers.

To do the selling, your work quality, portfolio, and active communication must do the talking.

  1. Display Your Best Work 


One of the finest methods to demonstrate you're in the know within your field is to regularly produce fresh pieces depending on the niche you work in. This will impress your intended clientele.

Once you’ve figured out what your customers want, go out and generate samples of that precise sort of content as if you'd been hired to produce it. 

There is no better approach to sell your services than to prove that you can deliver what they need.

For example, if you’re interested in storyboarding for commercials, look for brands that produce advertisements and make small ads by utilizing your creative juices.

  1. Climb Up the Ladder

how to be a storyboard artist

After gaining extensive professional experience, you may step up and pursue managerial roles in the industry. These positions may include working as producers, directors, or art directors while overseeing different parts of a production. 

Keep in mind that these roles often need extra time management, leadership, and teamwork abilities, so don’t take a chance if you’re not sure about your competence.

Storyboard Artist Salary

Storyboard Artist Salary

According to Zippia, in the United States, storyboard artists earn an average of $69,022 per year. People on the lower end of the range, that is the lowest 10%, earn about $43,000 per year, while the top 10% earn around $109,000. 

As it goes with every profession, your experience, qualifications, and location are important in determining you’re average earning as a freelance storyboard artist.

Potential Challenges for a Storyboard Artist and Tips to Overcome Them

It’s simply impossible to have perfection in all of your ideas. So, you must be willing to accept criticism. 

Storyboarding is an evolutionary thing and it might keep on changing until the film or video is finally produced.

Take in the comments and turn them into something valuable. There may be instances when members of your team don't like certain aspects of your storyboard.

You may need to repeatedly modify scenes, combine various parts of the iterations, until you get what the team wants. This level of flexibility in this job is critical.

Another thing to bear in mind is the constant involvement of others. Storyboard pitches can involve backers, executive producers, and other decision-makers, so you must be able to blend your ideas with theirs to produce something great.

That's a big responsibility! It may, however, be a very rewarding role if you're enthusiastic about what you do.

The Bottom Line

Take a deep breath. We’ve got you all covered on what a storyboard artist is, how to become one, what is the earning potential, and what complications you may face during the process.

Remember that it may take a long time to find your way in. But, it’s imperative that you don’t give up and continue to make work and study the craft.

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