This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

March 6, 2015

Teaching storyboarding from Roadrunner cartoons

One of the things that the Art Institute of Phoenix students learn is how to make a storyboard. Nowadays most people know what a storyboard is, it's a simple combination of visuals and text that tells what the final animation will be about. It's one of those *behind the scenes* things that often surprises people. And when I thought about teaching visual storytelling, I chose Roadrunner cartoons. It turns out to be a lot more difficult than most people imagine, but if you want to try it yourself, this is how:

• Watch a Roadrunner cartoon. Of course, they're funny, even to people who have never seen them before. And I would start the process of changing the people in the class from a passive audience, just laughing, to animators who could create that thing of thing for themselves.

• Try to remember what you just saw. The vast majority of my students, at least in the beginning, had no idea. Their answers were generalized - the coyote chased the roadrunner, things blew up. And then I would ask them to watch it again, and this time take notes.

• Sketch out the visual story. Remember that the roadrunner cartoons always had a series of interesting stories, but never a word. There were a lot of limitations which had to be accommodated, especially the fact that there was no way to tell the story except visually.

Once you understand how to tell a story visually, the rest is detail. The actual animation, the colors, the number of clouds in the sky. And if you can be a visual storyteller, you can do more than make cartoons, you can make movies. Welcome to the world of movie-making!

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