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For this month’s ASIFA blog, we are proudly to present Lok-Mon Chan, who worked at Cartoon Network as a Production Intern. We have useful tips and advice below on how to make it into the industry as a storyboard artist and how to make your work stand out amongst others.

“What are the things that recruiters would look for in storyboards?”

Lok-Mon: “From my experience, what they are looking is dependent on what kind of studio it is or even the show. Like in a studio where there is more comedy into play work on the delivery and set up of your boards to create a joke. In more cinematic projects – I feel the tone and dynamic camera angles. Having a variety can help to show recruiters that you are flexible too.”

Figure 1: Using gridlines can easily convey the perspective, giving depth and dynamic camera angles. Source: Storyboarding Tips from Dreamworks

Lok-Mon: “Another thing I was told by recruiters was that if they are looking into serious candidates they will look at your Instagram and portfolio to see if you update often. If you do, it’s a good sign that you are consistent and you can reliably pump out work.”

“What did you learn from your work experience with Cartoon Network?”

Lok-Mon: “I’m sure other people knew this without my internship but for me personally I was able to watch an episode from its initial idea to its final boards/animatic set to be animated. I didn’t know that there were storyboard revisionists involved before either (but that’s me coming initially from a social work and psychology major). This isn’t about the board artist at CN but I was told common mistakes that people make trying to become board artists is that they don’t have dynamic enough storyboards or not enough boards to convey an action clearly. There are also many people who don’t have a solid foundation in terms of their gesture drawings so it shows within their boards their lack of drawing experience.”

Figure 2: Gesture drawings provide a solid foundation in capturing the poses, communicate the action effectively. Source: Griz and Norm Tuesday Tips.

Win’s comment: “I agree! I feel that gesture drawing is very important to improve storyboarding skills. What is surprising is that they are often overlooked among students.”

Lok-mon: Exactly! My interpretation for storyboards is that they are basically key poses to give you an understanding of the action so if you don’t have the experience to capture that pose in a drawing – it will fail at making the person next in the pipeline understand what’s happening.”

Figure 3: Lok-mon’s storyboards with the project ToonStar shorts. Keeping the drawings expressive and simple are the key factors in making storyboards effective so that they can be helpful for the next artist in the production pipeline.

“Any parting advice for prospective artists?”

Lok-mon: “This is something I struggle with: keep working and getting better as an artist by going after your craft. If you really want to make this into your career, you have to persevere. Many times, I look, compare, and beat myself up when I’m not where I want to be in my career right now but everyone is feeling the same way. We have to be patient but ambitious. If you can’t do that, this career path will eat you alive. Just keep working and don’t be afraid to ask for help to improve yourself.”

Figure 4: Storyboard for AdultSwim short, Lizard Queen. Storyboards can be drawn from the shots and be as detailed as capturing the beats so that the timing can be more precise as these drawings are edited into an animatic.

Lok-mon Chan is an alumnus from SCAD with a BFA in animation. She currently works for social media animation ToonStar, a cartoon venue which garnered over 290k followers on Instagram. Prior to this she worked for Cartoon Network as Production Intern and following that, she worked for Adult Swim for the Short Film, Lizard Queen. You can find more of her works at https://www.lokmonchan.com/

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