Reverse Story Board

Here is a tip our drawing professor gave us concerning comics/manga:

If you want to improve your panels in a way that you show action more dramatically and/or well-placed, you should study some movies. Since every movie starts with a story board (basically a comic) you get a nice perspective on what’s possible and what works well for the artist (director). If you need some action panels analyze heavy action movies, if you need romance check out the sentimental section, and so on.

Here is a concrete exercise you can do (suggested by our professor): “The Reverse Story Board”

  • Pick a movie you like
  • Find an interesting part no longer than 2 minutes(action scenes are often full of cuts and exciting camera shots and scenes)
  • Now try to copy all scenes in your own story board including movement-arrows and notes on the camera work, zooms, special effects, music etc.
  • Don’t forget to use movie story board standards: all images in one and the same format (since screens don’t change their formats either), very clear drawing style, show only the key frames etc.

Here is an example for you: These are two pages of my “Resident Evil” reverse story board I made one year ago. It’s the part where Milla Jovovich is chased by the undead dogs 🙂

resident evil storyboard part 1

resident evil storyboard part 2

I used only black and grey markers (and a tiny bit sepia, too). There are notes on the technical stuff under the images and story relevant ones (including music and SFX) on the right. Notice that this is the European story board standard.


Some time ago I talked about media and gave you a short definition. This time I’ll take a look at signs.

First of all, there are three different types of signs:

  • Icons (depicting and actually representing the object shown)
  • Indexes (signs which are connected to what they represent through some kind of  a sensory feature like smelling, tasting, feeling, hearing, directly seeing EXAMPLE smiling facial expression is an index for happiness to us humans and sourness in milk products is an index for them being bad)
  • Symbols (having a deeper meaning and representing more than what is simply shown)

Here’s an example: Save Icon I bet you’ve seen this “icon” before now!  It’s one of the most famous save icons. Well let’s actually assume it is an icon. Every time you click on this icon you should get a floppy-disk since icons depict AND represent what is depicted! But since you do not get a real floppy-disk every time you click this image it’s obviously not a real icon (yes, this means the guys who started calling it this way didn’t do their homework). Naturally it’s not an index either since you do not have any direct contact to a floppy-disk in whatever way. So the only type of sign left is a symbol and this is exactly what most “icons” on our computers are: symbols. The floppy-disk represents the “action to save a file”.

I hope this example somehow helped you understand the distinction between the three kinds of signs 🙂

But let’s continue! What’s the difference between a sign and a medium you ask? Well as we already know a medium tells you about more than what it actually is. A sign on the other hand describes something it’s not itself. An example would be the color red in a traffic sign which certainly doesn’t just mean “red” but “ATTENTION! “ Or when your facials muscles pull together and form a smile. This doesn’t simply mean “flexed facial muscles” but more something like “I’m content and happy”.

But how do signs get their meaning? It’s very simple: As soon as you are taught a meaning to a sign it gets one! Let’s say you’re an analphabet then all the letters here would be just meaningless signs to you. Hence signs depend on your experience to get recognized! That’s the reason why the same symbol has different meanings for different cultures (or has none for some). A sign is useless without the necessary knowledge to be interpreted with!

Especially as a designer and artist you have to be really careful and thoroughly consider what reaction a sign (-combination) is going to evoke in the subject it’s directed to!