See below the cut for a list helpful books, articles, and recommended films to study for learning storyboarding and cinematography. (This is mostly a reminder for me!)

Recommended Books

Click the title to view a sample.

The Visual Story: Seeing the Structure of Film, TV, and New Media
Bruce Block
This quick read provides really clear explanations and examples of the visual components that go into any 2-dimensional composition and how you can control them to influence how viewers respond. It emphasizes composing shots to support the story you’re telling, not just because they look cool.

Prepare to Board! Creating Story and Characters for Animated Features and Shorts
Nancy Beiman
“This book delivers clear direction on how animators can create characters and stories that have originality and appeal. Learn how the animation storyboard differs from live action boards and how characters must be developed simultaneously with the story. Positive and negative examples of storyboard and character design are presented and analyzed to demonstrate successful problem-solving techniques.”

Picture This: How Pictures Work
Molly Bang
Uses “Little Red Riding Hood” as an example to build effective illustrations with the simplest shapes and colors possible. It really demonstrates what visual cues an audience will understand intuitively, and how to push the basics to make your underlying composition as strong as possible.

Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers
Marcos Mateu-Mestre
Hundreds of gorgeous black-and-white drawings illustrate 20-year feature animation veteran, Marcos Mateu-Mestre’s, techniques for composing pictures with an emphasis on storytelling.


Directing the Story: Professional Storytelling and Storyboarding Techniques for Live Action and Animation
Francis Glebas
This one focuses less on individual compositions and more on overall story-creation, but it explores everything related to storyboarding for feature film.

Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes Volume 1: Volume 1: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures by [Stanchfield, Walt]Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes
Walt Stanchfield
A 2-volume set of lectures and illustrations by Walt Stanchfield for animators at Disney Feature Animation. Not really a guide on the basics of animation, but I find it really inspiring to read a few lessons right before doing any drawing.

The Animator’s Survival Kit: A Manual of Methods, Principles and Formulas
Richard Williams
“Williams provides the underlying principles of animation that every animator . . . [He] illustrates his points with hundreds of drawings, distilling the secrets of the masters into a working system in order to create a book that will become the standard work on all forms of animation for professionals, students, and fans.”

Useful Reading (Online)

In no particular order…

Temple of the Seven Golden Camels: Everything I know about the art of storyboarding
Mark Kennedy (blog)

Every Film a Painting
Film Analysis, emphasis on editing

James JC Chiang (blog)

Drawing & Composition for Visual Storytelling
Ron Doucet

Cinematography Posts
Ron Doucet (blog)

Art & History of Filmmaking Posts
Ron Doucet (blog)

Brad Bird on How to Compose Shots for Storyboard and Layout Artists

“KND Storyboarding 201 Refresher Course” Part 1 / Part 2
Guy Moore

Storyboarding/Design Notes
Rob Koo (Dreamworks)

Storyboard Tutorials
Sherm Cohen (blog)

Steven Universe: “Gem Glow” Full Storyboard

Steven Universe Complete Storyboards

Operation: Got Your 6 (Penguins from Madagascar)” Storyboards
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8 / Part 9
Toby Shelton (blog)

Disney’s “Tangled” Storyboards & Character Art

ROYGBIV: A Pixar Supercut
Edited by Rishi Kaneria
A one minute supercut examining (and celebrating) Pixar’s use of color

Living Lines Library

Animation pencil tests & concept art

Films to Watch

ASC’s Articles on the Top Ten Best Shot Films (1894-1949)

  1. Citizen Kane (1941)
  2. Gone with the Wind (1939)
  3. Sunrise (1927)
  4. Metropolis (1927)
  5. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  6. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  7. Casablanca (1942)
  8. Battleship Potemkin (1926)
  9. The Third Man (1950)
  10. The Birth of a Nation (1915)

ASC’s Articles on the Top Ten Best Shot Films (1950-1997)

  1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  2. The Godfather (1971)
  3. 2001: A space Odyssey (1969)
  4. Days of Heaven (1978)
  5. Schindler’s List (1993)
  6. Apocalypse Now (1979)
  7. The Conformist (1970)
  8. Raging Bull (1980)
  9. Blade Runner (1982)
  10. Touch of Evil (1958)

Film Recommendations from The Visual Story (see above):

Klute (1971) flat space
Manhattan (1979) flat space/tonal control due to reflectance or incidence
Witness (1985) flat space
American Beauty (1999) flat space
Ordinary People (1980) flat space
Fanny and Alexander (1982) limited space
Suspicion (1941) limited space
Don’t Look Now (1973) ambiguous space
Brazil (1985) ambiguous space
Notorious (1946) vertical/horizontal motif
Driving Miss Daisy (1989) vertical/horizontal motif
Die Hard (1988) diagonal/linear motif
Star Wars (1977) shapes of space
The Shining (1980) shapes of space/warm-cool colors
Contempt (1963) shapes of space
Sunset Boulevard (1950) contrast of tone
T-Men (1947)  contrast of tone
In Cold Blood (1967)  contrast of tone
Cat People (1942) contrast of tone
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) contrast and affinity of tone
A Night at the Opera (1935) tonal control due to reflectance or incidence
Repulsion (1965) tonal control due to reflectance or incidence
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) tonal control due to reflectance or incidence
Yojimbo (1961) tonal control due to reflectance orincidence
Cries and Whispers (1971) saturated hue
Ran (1985)  saturated hue
Man in the Moon (1991) complementary colors
The English Patient (1996) complementary colors
Wings of the Dove (1997) warm-cool colors
The Last Emperor (1987) warm-cool colors

Additional movies on my to-(re)watch list:

The Fall (2006)
The Road (2009)
Amélie (2001)
Life of Pi (2012)
Into the Wild (2007)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Inception (2010)
Alien (1979)
Fight Club (1999)
Jurassic Park (1993)
The Matrix (1999)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Thief (1981)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2002)
The Nightmare Before Christmas
101 Dalmatians
Sleeping Beauty
How to Train Your Dragon
Grave of the Fireflies
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
The Lion King
Lady & the Tramp