A storyboard artist interprets a script and plots it out visually, shot by shot. While storyboarding was originally developed for animation, it has also been used in live-action film for decades. Today, storyboards are an integral part of production for a variety of media, including television, advertising, movies, video games, and educational materials. Finding the right freelance storyboarder for your next project is a crucial part of its success.
What to look for
Does their portfolio impress you?
When picking a storyboard artist, their portfolio is their major selling point. It needs to display excellent draftsmanship and an understanding of film techniques.
How well do they get along with you and the rest of the production team?
If you’re hiring locally, be sure to host an in-person interview so you can get to know the freelancer and introduce them to the group. Storyboarding is highly collaborative, so your ideal artist should have great interpersonal skills.
Can the storyboarder work within your budget?
This isn’t just the artist’s pay: They’ll need to be able to plot out shots that can be realistically done with the resources you have.
Know what you need
How much creative freedom will you be giving your storyboard artist?
Do you want an illustrator who does best with detailed instructions or someone with a lot of independent creative input? Both are valid working styles, but they require different skill sets.
Does their style fit your project?
This one is totally subjective, but you’ll need an artist who complements the rest of the production. For example, a storyboarder trained in animation who has a light-hearted cartoony style may not be the best fit for a serious drama.
What are you using the storyboard for?
If you’ll be using these storyboards as a practical tool to shoot your video, what’s most important is that they’re clear enough for the rest of your team to work off of. However, if they’ll be part of your pitch materials for seeking production funding, you’ll need sleek, professional work that really “sells” your project.
Questions to ask a potential candidate
What is your typical storyboarding speed?
A good storyboarder needs to work fast. Can this freelance produce enough frames in a day to keep up with your production schedule?
Do you have experience working on similar projects?
Storyboards are used for all types of video, so make sure your candidate has the right skills for the job.
How important are deadlines?
Reliably hitting deadlines is important for any freelancer, but it’s especially so with roles like storyboarding that are in the middle of the production pipeline. You don’t want the rest of your creative team being held up waiting for finished storyboards.
What are your fees?
If you’ve done a good job of describing your project, a freelancer should be able to give you a clear quote. If they stumble on this question, it may be a sign of inexperience.
Have you worked with production management software?
If you’re working with someone remotely, they’ll need to be able to deliver storyboards to you using the right format. Not being familiar with a particular software suite is fine, as long as they’re tech-friendly enough to suit your needs.