VST #3- Storyboard

01 Research:

Hayao Miyazaki 

I prefer Hayao Miyazaki’s storyboarding style because he presents the panels in a single column from top to bottom. It helps to make it clear and easy to read the panels since you just need to move your eyes down. In comparison, other ways like like horizontal ways of presenting is less appealing to me. Just personal preference.


Kiki’s Delivery Service Storyboard

  • There is a new panel for each new scene, or action.
  • There is a combination of long shots, mid range shots and close ups.
  • He uses colour pencil to show the shadows and tones.
  • Somtimes he also uses arrows to show the direction of movement.
  • There seems to be quite a number of frames to establish the settings and mood.
  • He reduces effort by not redrawing any parts that is in repetition.


Spirited Away


The Art Of Spirited Away - Storyboard Book

There are notes next to the panels. It’s mostly about the details of how the frame should be presented and the key elements the animators should take note. It includes what kind of emotion the character feels.

In other words it elaborates on the existing panel.

The Art Of Spirited Away - Storyboard Book

I found the series of panels on the left very interesting. The ‘camera’ shifts from the surroundings to the main subject matter in the scene. He does not reveal it immediately, pacing the audience.

He also included SFX for the panels under notes.


Layout and composition are incredibly important when it comes to storyboarding.

Having the right composition helps to show the audience what is happening and evoke the right mood and reaction.

i wish i can go to the museum. cries.

Image result for crying meme cute

Things to note:

  • Avoid flat staging
  • Make use of foreground, mid ground, background to create depth
  • Avoid parallel compositions
  • Guide the eyes and create rhythmn
  • Exploiting character height
  • Show motivations for cuts- SFX, movement, actions

02 Brainstorming:

The storyline I got was

Part 4

Once upon a time there was a Prince who lives in a huge palace filled with luxury items.

(       )

Although the Prince had almost everything he wanted, he was never happy.

and the words I got were

  1. help: making it easier for someone, assistance
  2. nimbus: a large grey rain cloud  
  3. flummoxed: bewildered or perplexed 

My group used random number generator to generate numbers for our words to make sure there is less bias.

I decided to come up with a few fillers before jumping into any ideas.

  • But he was selfish and never offered to help people. One day a black nimbus visited and asked for some water. The prince refused and the cloud suddenly expanded. It started to rain inside his castle and the Prince was left flummoxed. He had to collect all the rain water using the expensive vase, cups and containers he own.


  • One day a flying nimbus knocked on his door to ask for help. The nimbus claims he is being attacked by thirsty animals and he wishes to stay at his place for a while. The Prince was flummoxed to know that clouds could talk, so he let the nimbus stay. He secretly wanted to imprison the nimbus in a huge tank. The nimbus took over his body as he tried to imprison it. The nimbus took his soul out and trapped him in a bottle.

Almost forgot I had other characters to use:

  • The advisor always wanted to take over the prince of power and wealth. He secretly built a hidden lab in the basement of the castle. He created a nimbus which could take over people’s body and trap their souls into containers. The nimbus was kept in an incubator. The prince wandered into the lab one day and met the nimbus, they became friends. The advisor was unaware of this but he later released the nimbus to attack the Prince. The nimbus choses to self destruct instead. The prince imprisoned the advisor.

I think the ending “he was never happy” suggests that he has lost something that could not be replaced. Thus I believe he either lost his advisor or perhaps a friend.

It’s probably going to be a tragedy anyway…

Image result for tragedy meme

I want to simplify some of the existing ideas above just so that it is easier to tell the story.

The more complex it is, the more difficult it is to tell the story.

Then the next question is, I think i am not going to reveal who the lab belongs to… I will make it suspicious that it could be both the guard and advisor.

I’m going  to do it as if I am really going to animate it.

03 Process:

Character Design

Flow of the Story 

I wanted to use the lab idea but later on I realised… It sounds like shape of water so I decided not to do it and I came up with something else!

  1. Prince goes for a walk in the market with advisor, dressed like commoners
  2. He wanders off
  3. Runs into blackmarket area- the backyard where goods are kept
  4. Runs into nimbus in the incubator
  5. Releases nimbus
  6. Almost gets caught by adults, they escaped
  7. Advisor was left flummoxed
  8. Brings it back to castle, advisor disapproves but sucks it up since its the prince
  9. Sadly nimbus passes away/ vaporises (too sunny)
  10. Protects prince in heaven (implied)- ends with drizzles- water drops onto his forehead


As I drafted my panels one by one I decided to change up some things.

The Advisor knows nothing about the nimbus and the guard does not show up… unless I want to do a close up shot on that but it will not add any value to the story since he had no role technically so I decided not to use him.

I kept most interactions between the nimbus and the prince instead.

The prince lets the nimbus return back to nature instead. I think the nimbus vanishing is abit difficult to show and it adds to the number of panels as well. Assuming I want the film to work even without voices or speaking then I will have to change it.

Rough Draft



I reviewed the panels myself after a few days just to have a fresh look at it again. I also consulted some friends.

I took note of the line of action and flow.

I tweaked the story line a little too.

Many told me the ending was abit unclear and I personally felt that I kind of rushed it.

I took some time to consider other possibilities for ending:

  • the cloud got squished when he fell – this is just brutal and sad but i think the audience may not responded as emotionally strongly… It also kills all the plot I built up
  • Mama Cloud appeared

Anyways I stuck to my original idea:

The nimbus grew weaker and had to leave.

However to show it, I had to either make the nimbus grow smaller or make it break apart.

Growing smaller is difficult to show on the panels thus I went with the latter.

In addition, I did not pace my viewers properly thus I will be adding scenes and the draft is here:




Final story line:

  1. Prince follows advisor to get gorcery
  2. Prince asks if he can get himself some food, advisor agrees
  3. Prince hangs around and walks past a building
  4. Curious, he went inside the building
  5. Prince meets nimbus – flummoxed 
  6. Someone checks the room, prince hides
  7. Prince accidentally knocks into a button – accidentally helps 
  8. Releases nimbus
  9. Prince runs back to find advisor and bumps into him
  10. The two have fun and play together
  11. However the nimbus became weak
  12. Prince lets nimbus free on a rainy night but is sad

04 Final:

I decided to draw everything by hand since Miyazaki does it and I think it allows me to commit to my lines.

I felt that i had more control over the flow of lines as well as line weight.

19 pages, 95 panels 






In the end I exceeded the minimum number of frames by double HAHA.

I am willing to do anything to push my story.

I think my main take away is to pace the audience and SHOW the audience what story it is about.

I learned how to build rhythm in the flow of the story, slowly reveal what is happening.


I finally learned to appreciated storyboards. While I was doing this I watched some interviews and videos about Miyazaki.

I was and still is deeply moved by his passion. For each film, he storyboards everything and tries meticulously to make the story better.

He redraws and retries a few times just for merely one scene. For every film there can be 700+ panels. The dedication and passion he has for film making is both inspiring and impressive.

His approach towards storyboarding allows him to present to the audience the best emotional experiences.

His ability to convey empathy and emotion is delicate, elegant and ambivalent.



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