Ive been getting an influx of messages from students asking me what they can do to become a story artist. I decided to put together a list of a few basic things to get you started on the journey. There is much more that goes into making a good story artist but these are just some of my personal suggestions to start.
First, I always like to suggest some reading material. Here are few books that really helped me wrap my head around a few ideas:
Visual Story- Bruce Block
Story- Robert Mckee
The 5C’s of Cinematography- Joseph Mascelli
Save the Cat-Blake Snyder
On Filmmaking- Alexander Mackendrick
Next i’d suggest watching as many movies as possible. Studies from the greats Kubrick, Spielberg, Hitchcock, Coen Brothers, Kurosawa, or whoever else you find yourself drawn to. When I say study, I mean really analyze the film from all angles. (camera, composition, Story telling, dialogue, acting.) Have a piece of paper nearby and draw small thumbnails of compositions.
Storyboarding involves a lot of drawing. Usually quick drawings that have clear reads. So to better your skills draw as much as possible! Draw everything! But not just mindless drawing really think about what you are drawing and why. Look for specific gestures, facial expressions, and designs. A great way to learn this is through life drawing.
Lastly, Tell stories! The job of a story artist is to visually tell a story through drawings in order to inform others in the production. Great drawings are really second to great storytelling. A good way to improve on telling stories is to do it as much as possible no matter the medium.
Again these are just some of my personal suggestions and a place to start the journey. Hope its helpful!
“Frankly, have you ever heard of anything stupider than to say to people as they teach in film schools, not to look at the camera?”
–Sandor Krasna in Sans Soleil (Chris Marker, 1983)
Funny Games (Michael Haneke, 1997) A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971) Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966) Charulata (Satyajit Ray, 1964) Vivre sa vie (Jean-Luc Godard, 1962) The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959) Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950) The Last Laugh (F. W. Murnau, 1924) The Great Train Robbery (Edwin S. Porter, 1903)