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Storyboarding and Concept Art

Screenshot 2023 11 23 at 1.54.40 PMStoryboarding and concept art are crucial early steps in the creative process for video production. Though both are related, they serve different purposes. Storyboarding visually plans out sequences of scenes and shots, while concept art envisions the overall look and feel of environments, characters, props, etc. Both help creators translate ideas into a visual language during pre-production

What is Storyboarding?

Storyboarding is a visual blueprint used to plan out shots and scenes in animation & video production. Storyboards contain a sequence of drawings, sketches, and captions that layout action and dialogue much like a comic book. They provide a template for the director, cinematographer, editors and other departments as they shoot and assemble footage.

Some key purposes and benefits of storyboards are:

  • Visualise scenes – Translate script pages into images that establish the look.
  • Plan shot flow – Map out the scene’s visual progression, camera angles, and edits.
  • Communicate vision – Provide a clear idea of the sequence to various team members.
  • Identify potential issues – Spot any continuity, pacing, clarity problems early.
  • Save time & money – Refine complex sequences beforehand to improve efficiency during shooting.

The level of detail in storyboards varies across projects. Some may loosely sketch overall staging while others do detailed continuity drawings. Storyboard artists use specialised animation software but paper and pencil work as well.

Purpose of Concept Art

Concept art visually defines the overall aesthetic of characters, environments, vehicles, props and other key elements in the animation production. Concept artists interpret written ideas from scripts and transform them into tangible visuals other departments can implement.

Some key goals and uses for concept art include:

  • Establish visual style – Illustrate the colour palette, designs, silhouettes fitting the world.
  • Inform and inspire – Provide touchstone imagery to the creative team about the look and feel.
  • Maintain consistency – Ensure various departments stick to defined visual language throughout the production process.
  • Promotional artwork – Vivid concept paintings often appear in marketing materials before release.

From creatures in sci-fi movies to futuristic gadgets to attire in period piece dramas – concept art gives form and focus as productions develop the aesthetic by using various animation techniques.

Differences Between Storyboards and Concept Art

While storyboards and concept art are both visual development processes, some key differences include:

Purpose – Storyboards primary focus on planning sequences while concept art defines the overall visual style.

Scope – Storyboards cover a limited span of scenes. Concept art sets the look and feel of the entire world.

Timing – Concept art generally comes before storyboarding in the production timeline.

Technique – Storyboards use clear, sequential visual storytelling. Concept art emphasises on vivid paintings and inspirational designs.

Despite these differences, storyboarding and concept art complement each other in bringing ideas to life. Storyboards may inspire tweaks and additions to concept art over time as well.

Concept Art in the Creative Process

Generating concept art is one of the first steps when imagining a new film or animation. At major studios, the art department starts working long before cameras roll. Producers work closely with art directors and creative leads to define priorities. Concept artists focus on hero characters, prominent creatures, gadgets, costumes and settings that establish signature animation styles.

As scripts get refined, concept artwork visualises locations, tech designs, secondary characters and other assets. This expands the visual lexicon. It also provides flexibility for filmmakers, level builders and animation studios to get inspired while maintaining aesthetics.

key environments like Hogwarts in Harry Potter films or Iron Man’s urban lab emotionally convey important settings. Character design concept art for heroes like Captain America

and villains like Kylo Ren immerse people in confrontations across movies, comics and video games too.

The Show Bible and Style Guides

To manage consistency as projects grow larger, animation and video studios produce style guides and “show bibles.” These meticulously document all the concept art in an expanding visual library for films (like Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse’s art book) or episodic shows (Star Trek: The Next Generation’s bible).

Style guides compile images, colour keys, model sheets, texture references and other concept art to reference. Show bibles also detail canonical story world facts and additional character bios. This way, any crew member can check how a device or prop should look based on earlier concept pieces. It keeps all visual departments working in alignment.

Concept Art vs Movie/Game Graphics

It’s important to note that while concept artists define a project’s style, they rarely create final game or film assets seen by audiences. Other specialists handle specific needs:

  • 3D modelling teams build game characters and cinematic CG assets adhering to designs.
  • Illustrators refine key art for marketing.
  • Graphic designers create interfaces, signage and secondary props.
  • Matte painters render majestic backgrounds.

So concept art guides real-time computer renders, not replace them. The aesthetic blueprints lead to fully-developed characters like Fortnite’s cartoon personas or photoreal villains like Thanos

Storyboarding Process in Detail

Common storyboarding steps for a hypothetical movie scene may go:

  • Read script pages – Understand the tone, location, action beats and dialogue. Make preliminary sketches on paper to brainstorm ideas if needed.
  • Block overall staging – Roughly draw outdoor establishing shot, widely-framed to map actor positions and props. Add technical notes like pans or zooms planned.
  • Draw consecutive panels – Do individual panels showing closer shots on protagonist and heavy action details like punches thrown or reactions to explosions.
  • Indicate camera angles – Choose perspective shots like over-the shoulder or low/high angles to add energy or tension as appropriate.
  • Call out transitions – Specify cuts between panels, potential dissolves or other transitions to pace the sequence.
  • Dialogue and notes – Write shortened dialogue and other key info into panels.

These rough sequential drawings provide a visual template for the director to stage everything. On big-budget productions, some details might still change during shooting. But finished storyboards create a roadmap for expected runtime and budget targets.

Because scripts evolve, concept artwork continually gets updated to match. After initial designs, artists do more paintings under art direction feedback. These additional looks test colour variants, alternate ages or fashion changes over sequels’ time jumps for long-running movie series or games like Assassin’s Creed.

Teams also create complimentary concept pieces once key characters feel locked. This supplemental art develops gadgets, vehicles, and tertiary parts of the world.

The result is cohesive artwork that directors can rely on to guide storyboarding later. It lets them easily populate necessary scenes with consistent-looking people, tech and places.