Drawing & Composition for Visual Storytelling

Storyboarding is just like JUDO.

The 7 Rules of Judo Practice:

  1. Do not make light of an opponent.
  2. Do not lose self-confidence.
  3. Maintain a good posture.
  4. Develop speed.
  5. Project power in all directions.
  6. Develop self-control.
  7. Never stop training.

The same applies to your storyboarding practice.

  • Do not place hope in finding a secret method,
  • polish your skills through ceaseless training;
  • that is the key to developing effective techniques.

Everything one wants to learn about telling stories can be observed by studying them in nature. We can call this observing stories in their natural habitat. Life is the natural habitat of stories. We forget this all the time. We are surrounded by stories, and the elements that make them up, daily. All of the principles and rules are there to be seen by anyone willing to look.

The master of suspense in film, Alfred Hitchcock, said that he learned about suspense when he was a boy in school in England. At his school, when you got in trouble you would have to go see the headmaster of the school – who had a paddle for such occasions. At that meeting, the severity of the crime was discussed and it was determined just how many swats were to be given as punishment. But they were not given to the child at that time. The number was written in a book next to the child’s name. The child would then have to return at the end of the day for his punishment.

Hitchcock said that all one could think about for the rest of the day was those oncoming swats, and that is where he learned about suspense.

He always said that one doesn’t create suspense by keeping information from an audience, but by giving them information.

This wasn’t something he learned in a book. He observed it in nature. In life. Within his own experiences, and he used that lesson to build a long career of turning out film classics.

He was also well known for storyboarding all his films himself. He would say that once all the shots are planned in a storyboard, the film is 50% complete, all that remains is the execution.

The basic elements one needs to create compelling dramatic (or comedic) conflict are these: Someone wants something desperately and there is an obstacle to that goal.

This is not a rule made up by someone – this is what is compelling to us in life. It is life at its most basic. Life is simply a series of obstacles that we must overcome in order to survive. Remember these things when you are developing stories (either written or visual), and look for these things when reading a script or story outline. Look out out for these aspects of storytelling when watching a movie, and always remember to draw from your own experiences.

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