Kris Pearn Storyboarding class assignment

Kris Pearn storyboard class “week” 1

What’s something you can do to get better at storyboarding? Why take a class on storyboarding of course! I’ve been meaning to take Kris Pearn’s class on for some time, despite it being an older class I heard it was very good and very accessible.

Normally I prefer learning from a book because I can read at my own pace and I have trouble focusing on long lectures. I’ve even been known to fall asleep during one. (Especially when they have that new age-y soft music on in the background, that puts me right out every time.)

But luckily no such trouble with Kris! His excitement and passion are contagious and he stays on topic without becoming too dry. The course audio does sound as if it was recorded inside a computer fan but Kris’ lectures quickly drew away my attention from that.

Kris Pearn Storyboard class

Kris Pearn making sense.

I don’t think Kris still does a critique version of the class but even if he did I couldn’t afford it. Luckily my friend and senpai Dirk was willing to critique my assignments for this class! I only asked him after I completed assignment 3 hence the first two I’ll show here won’t have the benefit of his feedback.

One last thing before I dive in: this class like all schoolism classes was meant to taken on a weekly basis: 1 lecture from the instructor and 1 completed assignment from the student. I’m not doing that, I’m taking my time. I keep working on an assignment until I get it right. Even repeating it from scratch if I need to. That’s the upside to taking the self study version of these classes. (And yes of course in a professional setting speed is important but I’m a firm believer in get first good then get fast.)

Week 1

This was one of the most entertaining lectures I’ve ever seen. Kris goes through the fundamentals of storyboarding and pitches a really cool sequence (I know that’s what you call it after this lecture) he did for Open Season. He does a great job pitching and his enthusiasm is inspiring!

The first assignment is pretty basic and makes more sense in a critiqued version of the class: make a short sequence (around 20 boards) that tells the story “how did I get here”. The “here” in this case referring to the class and not an invitation to tell the story of your conception and birth. Though that might be an interesting challenge as well…

I decided to go for a simple little sequence describing how frustrated and bored I was as kid in school (this was decades ago, I’m sure schools these days are all supportive and nurturing institutions…). I thumbnailed the sequence in OneNote, the app that houses all my hopes, plans and brainfarts.

Kris Pearn Storyboarding class

thumbnails for first assignment

They look awful but looking back I think I should’ve stuck to them more. I’ll explain momentarily…

After this I did some character designs, they were great fun. I started drawing myself with that bulbous nose earlier this year and It really stuck. (In reality my nose while large isn’t all that round, it’s more your classic “beak-like” structure) It was fun translating that to a child version of me and adding my lost-to-the-tides-of-fashion mullet.

Kris Pearn Storyboarding class

Character designs for first assignment

Lastly I jumped straight from thumbnails to animatic….and maybe overdid it a little. The clean(ish) lines and lighting are really not necessary for a quick storyboard assignment. But I enjoyed the process and I think the end result looks pretty good.

As said I haven’t had any feedback on this one but just looking at it myself I regret changing the teacher’s approach from behind to facing the kid. Also the shot where the teacher tears out the page with the robot drawing is too busy now I think. It should’ve been a close up and separate reaction shot like I did in the thumbnails.

Looking back it also instantly dawned on me why you don’t go for this level of polish straight away – it’ll make you reluctant to make the edits necessary to make the whole sequence flow better. Pretty basic logic of course but the obvious stuff is sometimes easy to overlook.


At the time of writing this I’m actually working on assignment 4 but so you don’t fall asleep reading this I’m sticking to 1 post per assignment. See you in the next post dear readers!

What's something you can do to get better at storyboarding? Why take a class on storyboarding of course!

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