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March 2, 2023

What is a Storyboard in Film?

When you’re in the early stages of planning a script a storyboard can be a helpful way of plotting key elements and taking action to get your project off the ground.

A storyboard will also be used by production teams when they come to turn your script into a film, especially if it’s an animation.

Let’s dive into what is a storyboard in film and what storyboarding apps for Mac can best help you.

What is a Storyboard in film?

A storyboard breakdowns the key elements of your story in small windows that gives you a sense of how the main plot points come together.

Before you begging putting pen to paper or indeed typing our your script on your laptop then you can create a storyboard as part of your planning.

You can do this:

  • On paper
  • Using a specific software
  • Or by using a free productivity software such as Notion

Either way, however, you decide to write your storyboard there are certain elements it should contain.

What elements should a storyboard contain?

If you’re writing a storyboard to plan your script and give you an overview then there are not set rules, it is simply a visual aid to assist you early on in plotting your script.

As a rule, though it should contain most of your main plot points. Some storyboards break things down frame by frame. You might want to consider writing a breakdown in the style of Save the Cat or Dan Harmon’s Story Circle and doing a storyboard entry for each beat in those sequences.

Your storyboard should give an indication of how we get from the exposition and intro hook right the way through the denouement at the end.

Storyboarding in pre-production

The other time you may encounter a storyboard is when your film has already been green-lit. A storyboard will often be the first step in the pre-production composition process as producers and set designers start to turn your ideas to life from an outline. It will take the form of sketches and illustrations

Storyboarding is particularly important if you have written an animation. Since there are no actors to cast it’s vital for everyone on board with the film to understand the vision from the get-go.

Increasingly CGI and special effects plays some role in most movies so stroyboarding gives the director, cinematographer, and others the chance to visualize those elements of the film before investing any time and money in them.

As a screenwriter you probably won’t be too heavily involved in this process, if at all. You will probably be consulted at a later date.

Storyboarding software for films

If you want to visualize your story before it comes to life then there are some storyboarding app for mac and for Windows that can be useful.

Arc Studio

Arc Studio is your friend here. It can do plot mapping and let you visualize your plot points with some stunning visuals.

A screengrab showing how you can use Arc Studio to stoyboard your script as a writer
Arc Studio has some storyboarding tools to help you map out your plot

The perfect thing about Arc Studio is that it does this automatically based on the data you’ve input as you’re writing your script.

What’s more Arc Studio is entirely free in the first instance.

If you want to learn more about that be sure to check out our blog on how to storyboard here.

Storyboard Fountain

This is a new app and is currently free. It allows you to sketch out your storyboard using a mouse or a graphics tablet.

It’s very easy to use which is great if you are a beginner and don’t want to invest hours in learning a whole new software.


A subscription to photo shop is pretty pricey these days, even if you opt for the subscription. Plus one of the downsides of Photoshop is just how much there is to learn.

If you’re not familiar with it you’re probably going to need to jump on a course to get familiar with it and this can take a lot of time when you want to represent what your film looks like quickly.

However, if you use it for other projects and already have a subscription why not jump in and try to draw your storyboard using this program.

How you can use AI to help you storyboard

Technology is changing and AI tools are getting better and better, whilst by no means perfect. One way of plotting your storyboard might be to input your scene headings into an A.I image generator tool. Many think these tools will soon constitute a revolution in the storyboarding process.

The results might surprise you. Get creative by using clever prompts and you might have a way of creating a strunning storyboard. You can also use real-life actors as prompts.

If you have multiple characters and a very specific scene an AI image generator might struggle with what to do. But it can handle basic scenes very well.

Tools you might want to consider:

  • Dall-e
  • Midjourney
  • Jasper AI Art

Storyboarding an help make your scripts stronger.

Storyboarding is essentially just brainstorming for films. And brainstorming is a way of expresing and organising your ideas on a page so that you can see them more clearly.

Great writing - fiction or non-fiction - is about great thinking. The more clearly you can see your ideas, characters, and plot points and how they match up the easier making revisions to your script becomes.

Don’t forget Arc Studio is your number one stop to productivity and planning your next script and the standard version is completely free. Download it here.


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What is a Storyboard in Film?
Harry Verity

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen using Arc Studio. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, Readers' Digest and Newsweek, amongst many other publications. He has just finished his second novel for young adults, set in a boarding school. He holds a BA in English from Loughborough University.

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