A storyboard is a graphic organizer that plans a narrative. Storyboards are a powerful way to visually present information; the linear direction of the cells is perfect for storytelling, explaining a process, and showing the passage of time. At their core, storyboards are a set of sequential drawings to tell a story. By breaking a story into linear, bite-sized chunks, it allows the author to focus on each cell separately, without distraction.

Example of a Film Storyboard

A Brief History

Depending on the source, either Howard Hughes, with the 1930 film, Hell’s Angels, or Walt Disney, with the 1933 animated film, Three Little Pigs, is cited as the father of modern day storyboards. In 1939, Gone with the Wind was the first live-action movie to be completely drawn out on storyboards before filming.

The original storyboards showed stories broken up into pieces. Each piece of the story was drawn out on a card or piece of paper and pinned to a board in sequential order. Collaborators were then able to talk about and revise the story by looking at one part at a time, check to be sure it made sense, and plan for the production. Instead of redoing a large-scale drawing when changes were made, a single card could be reordered, redrawn, or even deleted. The ability to make changes easily ahead of time saves a lot of time and money!

Application: How can I use a Storyboard?

Over the last 80+ years, the use of storyboards has grown. Following the roots of animation and movie-making, storyboards are used by advertisement agencies for commercials, directors for plays, and artists for comics. Storyboards have also found their way into the business world for modeling how customers will interact with new products.

We all need to plan for something, whether it be at work, school, or home. Storyboarding out your desired outcome, even in a very simplified manner, helps you prepare for potential issues, make sure your plan is sound, and/or communicate ideas with others. There are many uses for storyboards in the entertainment industry, the business world, and education. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Entertainment IndustryBusiness WorldEducation
  • Plan for shots in a live-action video
    (commercial, vlog, TV show, film, etc.)
  • Pitch a product idea
  • Keep track of characters in a text
  • Plan a narrative for animation
  • Make "How-To" instructions
  • Summarize a text
  • Plan scenery for a stage production
  • Illustrate potential outcomes
  • Show steps in an experiment
  • Plan or create a graphic novel or comic
  • Present ideas to peers and colleagues
  • Create an illustrated story

  • Film and Entertainment Industry

    The ultimate in visual storytelling is film. Storyboards were first used for this purpose and work just as well (if not better) than they did in the 1930s. By storyboarding before filming, you can better plan out your camera angles, setting, props, actors, effects and so on and be more industrious during production. Storyboarding ahead of time also checks to see that your script makes sense and allows you to correct errors before they become too expensive to fix.

    These are some film projects that greatly benefit from storyboarding.

    • Commercial advertisement
    • Television show (with or without commercial breaks)
    • Instructional video
    • Feature film
    • Independent Film
    • YouTube & Vimeo Videos


    People love stories. People can connect to stories, and often remember information better when it is wrapped up in a story. It is sometimes better to show others’ stories rather than examples that are too close to home. Give examples using fictitious characters, rather than say things like, “When your boss comes to you and says you aren’t doing a good job….”

    We forget that people have different perspectives, backgrounds, biases and other stuff that could be clouding thinking or making someone think a certain way. Often we need a way to SHOW what we mean rather than spend time describing or explaining things. Meetings will be much more productive if everyone has the same visuals and everyone is on the same page.

    Common Business Storyboard Uses

    Using a storyboard lets you rapidly and easily experiment with a number of choices until you figure out what feels natural and right for you needs. Take a look at all of our Business Resources.


    Storyboards and other graphic organizers are ideal for many aspects of education. A main thrust of a teacher's job is to relay information to students, and in turn, students must show mastery of concepts. In addition to some students being better visual learners, teachers tell narratives, describe processes, and organize information.

    Storyboard That has many Education Resources available for you to use in your classroom right now.

    Now Get Started!

    Here at Storyboard That, we have expanded on the traditional storyboard and have made multiple layouts and we encourage you to use one in any way that you can think of! Visual communication and storytelling will make you think about the most important things and get you to collaborate in a whole new way.

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