Storyboarding – Weaving Random Ideas Into A Logical Story

By, Harkirtan Kaur

This article introduces you to the concept of storyboarding. Literally speaking, storyboarding helps you design a “board” that depicts your “story”. The “story” can be sequential representation of events or content in a film, video, novel, document, presentation, advertisement or tutorial. Broadly speaking, storyboarding is a logical arrangement of random ideas into sequential bits of information. This arrangement can either be graphical or in text.

Storyboarding is an integral part of the planning phase for professions that warrant a hue of creativity. For example, videography, web designing, instructional designing, comic designing, novel writing, gaming, advertising, commercials, music videos and theater to name a few. The common requirement in each of these professions is that a cluster of abstract, intangible ideas must be logically bundled together. Each of these “bundle” of ideas must have a distinctive creative appeal.

Storyboarding is also prevalent in technical fields such as software development and financial fields such as accounting.

In the world of animation and cinema, storyboarding helps to sketch out shot-by-shot sequence of events that are to be shown. This helps to visualize and polish the cinematic appeal of the video.

Watch this video to understand the purpose of storyboarding.

When used for tutorials, documents, novels or presentations, storyboarding helps to sketch and define the flow of information such that:

  • It appeals to the end users
  • It fulfills the defined objectives
  • It ensures that the sequence of content is logical and coherent
  • It is as per defined requirements
  • It gives an idea of how the end “product” looks like

In other words, storyboarding helps to conceptualize the final deliverable by arrangement of the available data into logical bits of interlinked information.

Much before written languages, pictorial writing was prevalent. Ancient Egypt used hieroglyphics, a pictographic script. Chinese characters were invented based on pictographs, representing each word by the physical appearance of the object.

The Birth of a Storyboard

Walt Disney Animation Studios is considered as the pioneer in storyboarding. Its animator, Webb Smith, devised a novel method of drawing scenes on separate sheets of paper and then pinning them up on a bulletin board, thus creating a sequential story. This is how the concept of storyboards was born.

Disney’s animated short film Three Little Pigs (1933) first used storyboarding.

In the book Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius, author Michael Michalko writes:

Walt Disney came up with the idea of having his artists pin their drawings on the walls of the studio in sequence so he could see at a glance how far along the project was. Each scene was then used as a point around which a complete story could be told. The story was told on a wall covered with a special kind of board, hence the term ‘storyboard’.

Disney Studios was the forerunner in recognizing the significance of storyboards. They were the first ones to have a separate Story Department having dedicated storyboard experts. Storyboarding for movies and animations originated in 1930s. Live action films adopted this technique in 1940s. By 1980s, the art of storyboarding had spread to various other professions.

The first film that was fully storyboarded was ‘Gone with the Wind’ (1939).

Interestingly, storyboarding has found a special place in the daily professional chores of writers too.

Here’s a video that illustrates the concept of storyboarding for writers.

Benefits of Storyboarding

Storyboarding provides a lot of benefits. To list a few:

  • It acts as a visual aid to envision the end product, be it an e-learning course, a film, a presentation, a novel, or a document.
  • It irons out the project initiation phase. It is a combined result of analysis, requirement gathering and planning activities. Approval from all stakeholders before proceeding to further phases of the project (design and development) ensures that everyone’s expectations and assumptions are in sync. Hence, as a result, it reduces rework and saves time.
  • It reduces rounds of review in the design and development phases.
  • It inspires new thoughts by encouraging brainstorming during various rounds of discussions and reviews in the storyboarding phase. In this way, it helps in early identification and mitigation of gaps resulting from analysis and requirement gathering.

Tools and Techniques

Storyboarding requires more focus on creativity and brainstorming, rather than fancy tools and techniques. While a paper and pen would suffice for basic storyboarding requirements, here is a list of few tools that you can use to start experimenting with storyboards.

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Articulate Storyline
  • Twine
  • IPad Apps such as Paper, Bamboo Paper, SketchBook Express
  • Storyboards 3D

Few Sample Templates

Here are few storyboarding templates for reference.


Sample Storyboard template created in PowerPoint for an e-learning tutorial


Sample Storyboard for a business presentation created using


Sample Storyboard for a company’s web site created using Microsoft Excel


Sample Storyboard for a presentation using Notebook feature of BambooPaper

A Few Handy Tips

  • Ensure that you cover the following “3-Ds” in your storyboard:
    • Define the requirement clearly
    • Draw the layout
    • Describe all aspects related to the expected end product
  • Ensure that you work towards making an end-to-end logical and coherent storyboard for the deliverable.
  • Design the storyboard into logical chunks of information relevant to your requirement.
  • Do not assume. Ensure that your storyboard covers each and every aspect of the requirement.
  • Use top-down approach for planning. Divide your requirement into logical chunks, and then work on creatively and logically organising those chunks of data.
  • Ensure that it is layman-friendly. A good storyboard is easily understood by anyone.
  • Obtain sign-off on the storyboard from all the key stakeholders.
  • Encourage brainstorming and do not hesitate to rework multiple times to arrive at a perfect storyboard. Hone your storyboard to perfection. It is better to innovate and encourage all ideas at this stage rather than having the stakeholders frown at the end product!

Sample: Paper & Pen Storyboard for a Presentation

Here’s a sample of how I created my first-ever storyboard for a PowerPoint presentation.

#1: What’s the Goal?
Introduction to Storyboarding

#2: What’s the Duration?
30 minutes

#3: What’s my Strategy?

  • Objectives: Definition, Origin, Benefits
  • Plan is to have 5 slides, comprising text, images, 1 video and 1 wind-up quiz.

#4: Let’s pick up Paper and Pen!
This is my storyboard made in a very simplistic way.






As you can see, a simple 10-minute activity helped me plan my presentation—not just the slides but a complete end-to-end information flow for my session. That’s the power of storyboarding! It eliminates the “re-takes” and works contrary to the ideology of hit-and-trial.

About the Author

Harkirtan Kaur

Harkirtan works as a Senior Technical Writer in FIS, Pune. She has more than seven years of experience in the IT industry. In 2013-14, she completed her Diploma with Distinction in “Sub-editing and Design” from London School of Journalism. She is a published author of a tri-lingual poetry book, Vision and Focus (2007). She received an appreciation for her writing skills from the American Embassy of India in 2001. She is interested in blogging, writing poems, cooking and singing. You can reach her at