Posts tagged: Storyboards

Mexican Wrestling commercial

Here’s a commercial that has probably not been seen much.  I did the boards for it, and I think is a lot of fun.

Storyboards panel by Utah storyboard artist Sean Sullivan.

Mexican wrestling story.



Storyboard panel, Wrestling, Sean Sullivan storyboard artist.

Storyboard panel.





Mormon Ad, Runaway Stage.  This is an add promoting spending time with your family from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I did boards for this as well as a mini movie poster.


Drawing, Storyboard,  by Utah storyboard artist K Sean Sullivan.

Opening storyboard panel.


storyboard panel by K Sean Sullivan

The brake lever fails and the coachman falls.


Storyboard panel by Utah artist Sean Sullivan.

The lady cries for help, "Runaway stage!"


Storyboard Panel.

Storyboard panel.


Drawing, Storyboard,  by Utah animation artist K Sean Sullivan.

Catching the stage.


This shot in particular came out almost exactly like the storyboard panel. That's always fun.


Don't forget to play with your kids.


Illustration, movie poster, Utah illustrator Sean Sullivan.

The "poster". These spots won awards for best PSA.

Utah FIlm Commission “Spot On” commercial.

Utah Film Commission \”Spot On\” add.  Here is a short commercial spot that was done to promote Utah as a location for motion picture production.  I did the storyboards and also the large painting used in the shoot.

Here are some panels from storyboards, and a picture of the painting.


Storyboard panel, by Utah illustrator K Sean Sullivan

Storyboard panel.


Storyboard artist Sean Sullivan for the Utah Film Commission.

Transition to film crew.


Matte painting by Utah artist Sean Sullivan.

The painting in my driveway.


Matte painting by Sean Sullivan on location in Utah.

On location with the matte painting.






12 Dogs of Christmas II

They took this still during the filming and I thought it looked nice next to my story sketch.  Fun to see your work materialize.


Danni jumping the horse.

Some New Stuff

I am taking a break from preparing my taxes. Then I’m heading off to a location shoot for a film on which I recently did storyboard work.


Production Design sketch. 12 DOgs of Christmas II.

A sketch for production design. 12 Dogs of Christmas II.


Drawing, Storyboard, by Utah animation artist K Sean Sullivan.

Story sketch for the film.


Storyboard panel.

Storyboard panel


Storyboard panel, by Utah illustrator K Sean Sullivan

Story sketch. One of Doug Sues' grizzlies.

My Favorite Storyboard Sketches

Most of the work that I do in storyboarding starts out really rough.  The client wants something very quickly (and rather cheaply as well).  So the first pass naturally is drawn small and loose.  This keeps it quick (and therefore cheap) and invests just enough effort to demonstrate the gist of the idea.  It is understood that if the ideas seem to be working, the drawings can always be refined in the second pass.

Sometimes the project disintegrates before it ever has a chance to get refined.  Sometimes the drawings are redrawn to a much higher level of finish.  And many times the rough sketches are sufficient to communicate the idea and the client chooses to move forward without refining any drawings.

As a result of this sketchy process, a good many of my individual storyboard drawings would not be worthy of showing off, being out of context and all.  But from time to time, a beautiful little drawing comes out, that is made all the better by the fact that it was created in a spontaneous and gestural manner.

EXT 2 shot depicting sword fighting action. I typically use pencil and paper to start my process.


For me the preferred method is to sketch freehand on paper without any framing boxes.  Sometimes I’ll even sketch subjects separately.  I almost always scan the drawing for delivery anyway, so once it’s scanned I can frame it up and manipulate individual elements with the computer software.  Using the computer allows me to experiment to find the best framing and composition.


I also can create lighting effects very quickly in the computer.  Much more quickly than trying to shade with the pencil.  Knowing this, I can abbreviate my pencil time.  Sketch fast, and finish it in the computer.

This shows the original pencil work and how I enhanced the lighting using brightness and contrast settings. Then a simple spot effect for the flashlight, and it turns out rather effective with a minimal time investment.


Working this way makes it quick and relatively easy to make changes.


I like this high hat shot because it is simple, easy to read and has drama in the composition.


This canted shot is one of my favorites because it materialized quickly and has powerful drama and action.

This canted shot is one of my favorites because it materialized quickly and has powerful drama and action. This is a good example of a very minimal sketch that got rich quick in photoshop.


I think it is important to be able to convincingly portray facial emotions. Sure the actors will eventually take care of this business, but if people are not moved by the drawings, the storyboards loose power.


One of the fun challenges for me is to be able to use extreme angles to achieve variety in visual richness and emotion.


Here's another shot that really comes to life with some time in photoshop.


In this typical "gunfighter" shot, I used pen over pencil. The pencil is used to rough out the form, the pen is my tool for pulling out the shapes and lines that I want to be strong.


Just pencil in this low angle action-over shot. I like it for it's simplicity, yet it still clearly states the intentions for the shot.


This quick pencil sketch successfully conveys the anticipation of these two monks.


Pen over pencil helps create an intense portrait in this MCU for TNT television.


This arrow helps to clarify that the rancher is loading and not unloading the bales. Graphite pencil over blue COL-ERASE pencil is the only medium used here.


I like this for it's simple composition. It's balanced and emotes tranquility except for the subtle way she is looking at her watch. Something is not entirely right yet.


The coloring here was achieved in photoshop, as was the lighting. There's nothing better than a white paint brush in photoshop to pull highlights back out of a sketch.


This is an example of separate sketches being cut and pasted together in one shot. It could take much longer to draw and even redraw to get all these elements to fit together in the best way.


This establishing shot took some care in the stagecoach and horses, but very little pencil time was spent on the rest. Photoshop gave a rapid enhancement to the landscape and sky. Really made it come together.


I like this sketch for it's clarity in a wide establishing shot that must include a lot of general information and some particular information.


Action shots are always fun, especially with the depth of field contrast we see here. Ink over pencil as well as photoshop toning were used here.


I have always had a keen interest in anatomy and figure structure, so these are fun to do.


It's fun to try to wrap your head around the idea of what a shot would look like from inside the dashboard, but unfortunately the film makers didn't have a cut-away filming car to work with. The camera wouldn't fit into this space without a really short lens that would distort everything. I'm still happy with the drawing anyway.


This is simple and clear. Just pencil, scan and paste into the page for delivery.


One of my earliest boards from 1993 (Disney's Fantasia Continued). No computer trickery here. Pencil, Grease Pencil, and marker (Sharpie).


Crowds can be a challenge, so it's nice when they materialize into a nice composition like this.


I'm a big fan of film noir. I like the use of shadow and light. Here the menace is all in the shadow, the subjects are contained in only a small portion of the frame and the emotions on the faces resonate and emote clearly.


I'm very happy with the way this guy is alone in a crowd. If I didn't capture that, then this drawing would only depict a Med CU and nothing more. Which may be enough for some, but I like to show the mood and emotion whenever I can.


Here's another shot of the gal in the car. They were able to get the camera on the floor and achieve this shot.


I knew what I wanted here, but didn't take the time to shade it with the pencil. The lighting came in photoshop.


Oh Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up. My wife is related to Mr. DeMille.


Cute girls can be hard to capture in an economical swipe of the pen or pencil, but I'm very happy with this drawing. Fresh and clean, this was done in the first pass, no over-working this drawing, only toning in photoshop.


I tend to use cartoony looking people when sketching for slap-stick comedy.


Composition just means everything, and this one works well for me.


Sure, this kind of drawing takes a few more minutes than a simple one, but for the amount of pageantry that needs to be described, this went vey quickly. I did the banners separately and cloned them so I could position them without too much trouble.


Mood means everything in film composition too. So much of that mood is contained in composition and lighting.


One of the primary attributes that all drawings need is appeal. If you're drawing a pretty girl, she better LOOK pretty. This can be hard to do consistently and in rough sketches, but I think I achieved it here. Hope you think so too.


Complex depth, and a crowded orchestra becomes a series of light and dark shapes arranged carefully, economically, and almost abstractly.













Storyboarding techniques

From my home studio in Orem, Utah, I like to draw with paper and pencil very much.  It’s one of my favorite mediums.  I also like to draw people.

a sketchbook rendition of Bob Cratchet

A sketchbook rendition of Bob Cratchit.

Another sketchbook sketch.

Sometimes I draw from my imagination, sometimes from life, and at times from photo reference.

Aaron on halloween in an illustration class.

This girl dressed as a gypsy for halloween.

Clearly a drawing from photo reference.

I love it when I can apply these skills to a storyboarding assignment.

A simple cartoon style panel.

Or an illustration, animation, or design project.

Key character poses for an animated film.

Cleaned up pencil drawings for a character design.

I usually start my storyboarding with just paper and pencil and work into embellishing and refining on the computer.  I scan on a large Epson flatbed scanner and work in Photoshop.

This is a progression from the rough thumbnail sketch in pencil, to larger, more refined pencil work, to toning and even color done in Photoshop.

I usually draw with blue Col-Erase pencils.  I learned this in the years that I spent in animation.  It was the preferred drawing tool at Don Bluth animation and Disney animation for many years.  I came to love the look and feel and have carried it with me ever since.  However, some people become puzzled as to the blue color and it throws them off.  In phototshop I can always adjust that color to a sepia, grey, or plain black and white.

In photoshop, I can change the coloring to anything I want. It also a good place to make choices about the framing (or cropping).

There are several techniques that can be utilized in photoshop to enhance a sketch.  Lighting, lens flares, highlighting, and baby spotting are quick and easy steps that can really make a big difference in creating a mood.  This is true of rough preliminary sketches and tighter finished panels.

Photoshop effects can really "plus" the sketch.

I usually  prefer not to do full color panels.  It’s primarily a cost thing.  Sometimes for big corporate ads, color is an important element to sell the idea.  However, on any project minimal color can be very helpful in creating a clear running identity (especially a particular character in a crowd), highlighting the focal point, and keying in on a mcguffin.

Color highlighting for clarity.

These are things that ultimately may be accomplished with the full effect of the motion picture, but sometimes we need a little help in the static panels.


I find that each of my clients have different needs.  I have to be ready to adapt to the requirements of each assignment.  Sometimes rough sketches are desired, others, a more refined drawing is appropriate.

rough storyboards

A rough set of storyboards.

In this set of rough boards, I tried to draw the sketches to represent what each shot would look like.  I call these shooting boards.  Others call them editorial boards.  The idea is to take a stab at converting the written script into a visual script.  It’s the first evolution at directing and editing.  These can be done and re-done until they are fine tuned to perfection (perhaps not the case here).  The level of finish only has to be such as to effectively communicate the idea to the film crew.  In this approach, there will be many more panels, so it is usually too time consuming and costly to take the level of finish to a very high degree.

The whole idea of the storyboard is to save the production money.  Although I enjoy drawing things in a much more refined way, it is not always cost effective.

presentation boards

A more refined level of finish is noticeable in these presentation boards.

In this set of presentation boards, we see an example of a higher degree of finish.  These  boards are intended to be used in pitching the concept to  executives who are going to be financing the operation.  They need to look much more presentable and polished.  They are generally much larger.  They don’t however, need to show every shot as it might appear in the final film product.  They just need to hit the primary beats.  It is understood that they would be pitched by a presenter, who would fill in a lot of gaps with his/her verbal explanation.  Most of the time these panels are simply embellishments of the ruffs that are seen above, but sometimes for clarity sake they are actually drawn out differently so that they work together in the presentation.  As long as the basic idea is clear and sells the executives on the concept.

Some further samples of storyboards can be seen here.  Notice the differences in style and technique.  Clearly what I draw for animation and live-action will look very different, but even from one assignment to another I try to adapt to the feel and individual character of the project.

I have drawn storyboards for film, television, commercials, animation, and theme park attractions.  Just the other day I was asked to draw a couple of quick boards that would be shown to the insurance company that was considering underwriting a film shoot.  They were confused as to what exactly a particular stunt entailed.  The boards illustrated to them how the stunt was going to play out so they would feel more comfortable providing insurance to the production.

Panel one of the stunt.

Panel two of the stunt.

Panel three of the stunt.

Storyboards can be useful in any number of processes.  Howard Hughes utilized storyboards in his aircraft factories to illustrate the assembly line process that he wanted to implement.


When it comes to showing examples of storyboards it can be a little frustrating.  I have posted sets on my website, but they are only select panels from a sequence to give a look at my drawing.  I’m posting here what you might call the “director’s cut”.  The whole sequence.  This shows how all the shots fit together.

The Princess Ball

The Swashbuckler. See the final production spot on the home page of the website.

Storyboard Examples 3