View Full Version : Character Concpet art or storyboards first?

12 December 2004, 09:33 PM
Hello, I'm just starting my first short film. The script is all done now so i'm moving to the next step. I was just wondering if people usually do the storyboards first or concept art for the characters. I opted to go with concept art for the main characters before doing the storyboards for the whole script. How do you seasoned professional go about it?

12 December 2004, 10:14 PM
Personally, I think it's a good idea to do the concept drawings first.. and in essence, discover who your character is before beginning storyboarding. A lot of times, it's in the concept phase where the character finds itself and its design can then affect its motivation and hence his behavior. Only then does storyboarding make total sense because you are now planning the actions of your characters and how the camera is to follow them.

Having said that, when I'm pressed for time, I'll kill 2 birds with 1 stone by doing concept drawings while thinking ahead and putting this in the context of a possible storyboard panel. Essentially, I'm able to think about both aspects simultaneously which can often result in a stronger shot. Your mileage may vary depending on your filmmaking experience, but it works for me to take this shortcut at times.


12 December 2004, 01:13 AM
I generally find it's better to flesh out a storyboard first, then focus on the concepts. Either way can work (I'm definately not refuting what SamChen said!), but a storyboard fleshes out the idea of the script first, to set up how the scenes and characters are going to play out.

In actual fact it's really a back and forth process. You do a shot list, a storyboard, design a concept, find that this particular design works better, adjust the storyboard, change the character, do the concept, and rewrite the story a hundred or so times before you're truly happy with it.:D

There's no real right or wrong, I just think an intitial pictorial walk through of the script helps aid your concept, rather than the other way around.

12 December 2004, 06:23 AM
Logically, you should know what your characters look like before portraying them acting out scenes. So, concepts first, then storyboard second. However, just like Sam, when pressed for time, I'll sort of design on the fly as I'm doing storyboards. It's interesting because while depicting the characters acting out scenes, you get inspired to design the character a certain way that you might have not thought about if you did just the concept art. For example, while storyboarding, the way a character is crouching, walking, gesturing..etc might inspire the design in a way that you couldn't have thought about otherwise.

12 December 2004, 06:46 AM
Its good to know there isn't a right or wrong way to go about this....but i have time for this project so i'll keep working a way on the concept art first.

thanks for the input


12 December 2004, 12:10 PM
I agree, no right or wrong way. But since the initial designs hardly ever hold up, storyboarding is a great way to test your designs, thus turning the whole process into a cyclic spiral.
Try it: do some designs, but don't get bogged down if something doesn't seem right. Then launch your storyboards with these designs. The repition and necessary speed will immediately tear your design apart, pushing this, simplifying that. Its basically the same as another good design trick: drawign your design 20 or 30 times in a row. What remains is a 'simplicity test" and lots of variations of details to choose from.
If you ever need a storyboard as part of a presentation package, you'll have to go over them again, but that's part of the process.

12 December 2004, 05:27 PM
I'm not pro, but i started on short movie too, i will make first some rough concept of characters, then story board, and then again one final concept of character. When are you doing concept, you must know what will character do, and what personality you must show with concept.

12 December 2004, 08:47 AM
ok having a comic book back ground i will say that i feel that the storyboard and script got together..... the storyboard can be stick figures and blobs for all that it matters to still tell the story.... i feel concept art is more for the designers and the set people so that can come after the blocking in of action......

12 December 2004, 09:04 AM
EASILY have to do concept work. Storyboards are largely directorial and you can't frame anything without character size.

12 December 2004, 10:45 PM
I'd say start with concept art first. For characters, I make anywhere from 2-5 strong pieces, and then another couple pages full of facial expressions, stances they use, the way they use their hands, etc. It's nice because then you have a stronger understanding of what your character is going to be like. Not to mention, you'll find that the storyboards usually go a little faster if you know your character better.

example: I once worked on a short in college with a couple other guys where they did the storyboards before concept art, and after we finished the concept art, we had to go back and change at least half the boards because they just didn't fit the characters personality.

For sets, props, and other: Maybe just a few brief sketches will do for concept art. Don't get too bogged down in the details, as you can always finish them later. I've even worked on a project where all we got was a blueprint of room, and a thumbnail sketch.

Also: Depending on your workflow, better storyboards = better animatics = easier animating = better shots.
Just my personal experience.

12 December 2004, 10:03 AM
I guess it depends on whoīs doing the stroyboards and the concepts.
If you are doing both, you should start with the concepts, if itīs possible,
and maybe do some sketches that might be in the movie, but donīt restrict yourself to them.

As you are doing character design, the characters will develope in your head, the will start to have their own mind, and if you are a realy lucky person, they will make the story fit to them, not otherwise.
What helps a lot is to just do situations, e.G. Sketches where the character is acting in a certain mood. U can use some of them as storyboards, but donīt stick to them till youīre sure the character has started living in some way.
If others do the storyboards, those sketches will help them get your image of the character, so everyone in your team is aiming the same direction.

12 December 2004, 05:57 PM
If you approach the project from the school of writing based on character, then you'd be best off doing your character concept sketches before writing the script, somewhere after/during the initial brainstorm/treatment phase of the script.

This will help you learn your character through and through, and visualize her - which in turn wil influence the decisions your character makes in the story. Truly thorough character development can be the most invaluable part of your writing process, and yet it is the most common stage that writers skirt over.

12 December 2004, 04:44 PM
I was having the same questions and found a great resource.

3DS MAX 6 Animation: CG Filmmaking from Concept to Completion

Though it is 3DS specific, I found it an invaluable tool for learning the animation pipeline.

It was written by Barrett Fox ISBN 0-07-222893-8.



12 December 2004, 04:37 AM
Hello... I was having some problems deciding on when to do what for this CG film I'm working on now until I found this section of wild brains site... Very informative and helpful to the one man/woman animator army...

12 December 2004, 11:20 PM
So glad that cg networrks/ cg talk has started up these filmaking threads! So exciting!
I will need your help!
I'm working on the Grand Space Opera 3D challenge. And I see my entry, "The Space Opera Singer" as an original movie idea. Now first came the challenge, then my character, then my
story ideas, and now I am writing the script/story. The way I am approaching it is to first throw down every crazy idea (read story line) that comes to mind. I am not sticking to exact formats, I use my own hybrid of story/script writing. So to me it is concept art first, then script-story hybrid,. To me the storyboard has to come after a story is written. The storyboard is an aid to the actual shooting of the final movie, next to last besides final editing. Sorry I am not a proffessional moviemaker, just a visual artist.So I hope to get motivated and learn here...
Any S.O.S. to The Space Opera Singer (TM) appreciated.

my 3d entry in the Grand Space Opera challenge (

12 December 2004, 11:56 AM
hi to everyone and happy xmas!.

What's first :concept arts or scripts?.

Neither!. The first one is to made a profile of each characters, then the profile of the world/scenes. Think in a story :"a men goes to mars, then investigate some ancients ruins". The storyteller can think in some specific men, maybe a spacemen with a astronaut suit. BUT the artist can think in a men like "Martian Chronicles", where it suit like a common people. So, the story can vary drastically depend in each viewpoint. If you pre-defined the characters and scenes, then the story will be more easily and clear :"a men suit a starcraft-like armor, and the martian superfice is simmilar to "Total Recall" but more plain" and it also help to made the concept arts. Also the profile can have some more personal datas, such the relationship into the characters, the bad/good moods...

12 December 2004, 05:15 PM
when I write my script i already know what they look like so I go right to storyboarding to get the shots down on paper.

Concept art to me is finalizing exactly how they look and figuring out exactly what shade of green the hulk is or if batmans ears are 3" or 6" or if his emblem is yellow or gold, in either case the hulk is still a massive green iradiated man and batman is still a man dressed like a bat. The details of the exact costue wont change the storyboard for me.

There are occasions when I don't know exactly how some characters look so i will work them out in sketches to make sure that they don't dramatically change the story. Then once they are nailed down better I may go back a change the script then storyboard.

The storyboard is used to control the flow of visuals, how the short is told and also staging where people are in a shot, so for me it is two different parts of the process.

I work at an advertising company and the art directors scribble out the storyboards after the script for the production people to see what is going on, really hard things to conceptualize they will do concept art of so the client understands what they are talking about. Pretty storyboards are done last to make animatics for the clients to see. I have some bill sinkevich art they had him do for an animatic but it is for the clients to be wowed by. As long as I can understand my chicken scratch and can make an animatic that makes sense to me concept art can come later.

That's how I plot things out, in any case there is no right way just what works for you and gets you to the finish line with a finish short.

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