For the blog of the storyboarding and animatics software Boords, I’ve taken in-depth looks at the storyboards for the work of five famous directors. You’ll find a brief overview here with links to the five article on their blog.

10 Best Ridley Scott Storyboards to Give you Inspiration

Ridley Scott (born in 1937) is an English filmmaker known for directing Hollywood productions such as Gladiator, The Martian, Black Hawk Down, Blade Runner, and Alien.
He studied graphic design at the Royal College of Art, where he was also involved in establishing the film department. Ridley Scott’s artful sketches and illustrations have helped him visualize scenes in his films. Here we’ll look at ten of the most inspirational storyboards for his films.

The storyboarding art of Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott attended the acclaimed Royal College of Art from 1958 to 1961. Though he studied graphic design, he was drawn to film from early on. Just as he kept up with New York trends in advertising, Hollywood determined his idea of filmmaking. He cited The Seven Samurai, Citizen Kane and The Third Man and therefore Kurosawa and Welles as early influences. At RCA, Scott produced his short film, Boy on a Bicycle.

Ridley Scott’s work is commended for its striking visuals and a singular vision so distinctive that you can recognize the director’s mark regardless of the influences of production design or cinematography roles. A highly detailed approach marks his style. His eye for composition, lighting, and design seems to explain his ability to visualize a movie in his mind. He claims to have an eidetic memory and the ability to recall images with high precision. Storyboarding is key for Ridley Scott: his drawings are the vessel through which he can convey his ideas to the creative team.

What are Ridleygrams?

Storyboards in filmmaking translate an idea into a visual representation, which the director can use to communicate with various departments. Ridley Scott is his own storyboard artist and storyboards his films himself. When he was starting out, this was a rare skill for filmmakers to have, and it points back to Scoot’s art school past. The Royal College of Art was steeped in the fine arts. Scott’s paintings and illustrations are close to pointillism: myriads of tiny points that result in images of high definition and extreme detail.

“Ridleygrams” is the name given to Scott’s storyboards by collaborators. They tend to look like comic book drawings in the style of US-American artists, such as Richard Corben and Heavy Metal magazine. Scott’s signature storyboards, or Ridleygrams, use the same rendering as the work of French artist and cartoonist Jean Giraud, who collaborated with Alejandro Jodorowsky and contributed to the design of Alien.

Ridleygrams are ink and pencil drawings and use a contour-based rendering to achieve both depth and volume. They convey detail and atmosphere almost as exact as the film shots. The similarity between storyboards and movie stills is often striking.

Ridley Scott's storyboards from the movie Alien.

Ridley Scott’s storyboards, called Ridleygrams, from the movie Alien.

In the full article, apart from Alien, I also talk about Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, Blade Runner, The Martian, Black Hawk Down, American Gangster, Gladiator, Thelma & Louise, and The Duellists.

Martin Scorsese’s Hand Drawn Taxi Driver Storyboards & the Stories Behind Them

The 1976 thriller Taxi Driver is among filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s most successful and most iconic movies. An eternal darling of film critics and cinephiles alike, the film garnered four Academy Awards nominations.

It also marked the beginning of a collaboration with actor Robert De Niro and writer Paul Schrader. Martin Scorsese called storyboarding the most important filmmaking process and produced his own storyboards by hand for Taxi Driver. We’ll look at those drawings and the stories behind the images.

In the article, I take a detailed look at Martin Scorsese’s pencil-drawn storyboards and the influence of Paul Schrader’s script. There is also a discussion of the Taxi Driver influences, cinephilia, and the origins of Martin Scorsese’s hand drawn storyboard art.

Wes Anderson’s 5 Best Storyboards & the Stories Behind Them

Wes Anderson is a US filmmaker of live-action and animated films. From his debut Bottle Rocket to his latest film, The French Dispatch, the director’s ten films have grossed nearly $500 million at the box office worldwide.
His work has also received high praise for its distinctive visual and narrative style. We’ll take a look at the storyboards for half his body of work to see just how much of the typical Wes Anderson we can find.

This in-depth look at the work of Wes Anderson talks about the animated storyboards of The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Royal Tenenbaums, Isle of Dogs, Moonrise Kingdom, and Bottle Rocket.

The Coen Brothers’ 10 Best Storyboards & the Stories Behind Them

The Coen Brothers are filmmakers with 18 feature films under their belt. In Hollywood, Joel and Ethan Coen are known for always working together in their filmmaking and sharing the credit for writing, directing, and producing.

Their body of work spans a variety of genres and styles, and one of their trademarks are frequent hybrid genres, as well as subversion or parody. In their unique writing process, the Coen Brothers do not outline their stories before writing the script, but they storyboard the movie shot by shot and don’t improvise. The following is a look at the storyboarding work for ten of the best Coen Brothers feature films.

The Coen Brothers and storyboard artist J. Todd Anderson

Artist J. Todd Anderson is the Coen Brothers’ storyboard artist of choice since Raising Arizona. Anderson studied at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and started working in the film business after graduating. His other filmmaking work includes feature films such as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Stepford Wives and Leatherheads.

Like Alfred Hitchcock, Joel and Ethan Coen rely heavily on storyboarding as filmmakers, and they’ve enabled J. Todd Anderson to become one of Hollywood’s great storyboard artists. It takes him about six weeks to complete the iterative process for a Coen Brothers movie. They narrate the film to him as he sketches, then later Anderson refines his drawings, adding outlines and shadows in ink.

I like the challenge of doing a movie and achieving the director’s ideas. It’s almost like a performance.

Storyboarding for the Coen Brothers requires Anderson to be just as good at listening as drawing. “I go inside their heads, try to understand what they are thinking, and put it on paper. I always try to make the drawings theirs, not mine. It’s like they’re making a movie in front of me.”

A storyboard sketch from the movie The Big Lebowski by artist Todd Anderson

In the storyboards for The Big Lebowski, the character drawings of artist Todd Anderson resemble comic book versions of Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and John Turturro.

Anderson stresses that he doesn’t create shots but interprets narrative language into visual language. Without animation, his storyboards represent motion through their own visual representation, including cinematography clues: solid black arrows indicate the movement of character action, outlined white arrows show camera movement.

The full version of this article looks at storyboards for Raising Arizona, Blood Simple, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Miller’s Crossing, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Inside Llewyn Davis, and True Grit.

7 of Pixar’s Best Storyboard Examples and the Stories Behind Them

Storyboarding in filmmaking is the process of creating a visual representation of a movie. These images, sketches, illustrations or computer generations in sequence can often look like a comic book. Good storyboards pave the way for captivating cinematography so that a great story can unfold on screen. This post will look at some of the best storyboard examples from the master storytellers at Pixar.

Pixar and Disney movie storyboards

Storyboards are said to have evolved from concept sketches for short cartoons. The Walt Disney studio developed storyboards and created the first complete set for the 1933 short, Three Little Pigs. Other animation studios followed, and later live-action films used storyboards to plan out cinematography.

Today, storyboards no longer need be sketches done by hand and pinned onto an actual board. Virtual boards and software, such as Boords, help create and arrange images in sequence for storyboarding. From short films to animated feature films, the storyboard artists at Pixar (now part of the Walt Disney empire) have elevated the process to an art unto itself. Here are 7 of Pixar’s best storyboard examples and the stories behind them.

I look at a total of 7 Pixar and Disney movie storyboards in the article: WALL-E, Up, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, The Incredibles, Inside Out, and Lilo & Stitch. I also discuss examples of famous storyboard artists such as Sherm Cohen, Grizandnorm, Louie del Carmen, and Aurélie Charbonnier, and give tips on where to find storyboard examples and great story concept art.

The above excerpts are from articles I wrote for the blog of the storyboarding and animatics software Boords.