When storyboarding originated at Walt Disney’s studio 100 years ago, it took a whole team of artists to start sketching out the individual frames of their animated movies. Today, you will be happy to hear storyboarding is a lot more accessible. Now, storyboarding is easier and more affordable than ever before thanks to the range and quality of storyboarding software available to professionals and the everyday creative.
The entertainment industry may have a prescriptive and rigid format for scripts, but this is not the case with storyboards, which enjoy much more liberal guidelines for how they need to look.
There is a wide spectrum of acceptable layouts and designs, so you have much more creative liberty when designing your storyboard. This range of creative opportunity means you can decide to use color or not, or keep your designs precise or sketched. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to storyboarding, so you can let your creative flag fly high!
Whether you have a film or TV show script you want to bring to life or simply some social media content you’re keen to map out, storyboarding is the all-important step between a script and shooting the action.
Put simply, storyboards are a series of sketches which aim to depict how your project will look in each shot. Frame by frame, your storyboard will map out what your characters are doing on screen and how the camera is capturing all of their actions and conversations. Storyboards are not far from the style used by comic books; storyboards and comics both show still images to represent a lot of action and drama!
What are the Best Storyboarding Softwares?
Thankfully, there are a multitude of softwares available today that help automate and manage a lot of these creative efforts for you. Typically storyboard software takes one of these paths when it comes to pricing:
- A free desktop software (typically the free options will restrict your free access to a small number of projects)
- A one-time fee to buy access to a desktop software for life
- A subscription model which charges a monthly or annual fee to their software
Below, we’ve taken a look at the entire storyboard software market and put together a comprehensive list of the 11 best options available on the market for 2022.
Celtx is a very sleek piece of software which caters to users involved at all stages of pre-production, writing and filming of their project. In other words, Celtx can offer you far more than a strong set of storyboarding software tools.
Celtx lets you upload images and sketches you may already have ready to add to your storyboard tiles and allows you to piece brand new images with their drawing tools. You can draw images online or stack and arrange the pre-made illustrations they offer. The library of illustrations is extensive and organized by category, such as furniture and figures, so it is very easy to navigate and to create new, polished storyboard tiles in just minutes.
Celtx’s software makes it easy to bridge the gap between your script and making a storyboard through its easy navigation function which essentially allows you to easily move and reference the script and your new storyboard at the same time. Celtx makes it straightforward to keep your storyboard’s frames aligned to the action in your script so you never miss your place.
Each storyboard frame on Celtx gives you an organized space to add essential camera details for filming your content: the frame, angle, focal length, camera movement, equipment, and more are neatly attached to each storyboard tile.
Celtx Price: 7 Day Free Trial followed by paid plans at a very affordable $22.49 a month.
Celtx bottom line: Very comprehensive software with professional-grade features that feels beginner-friendly.
2. Storyboarder by Wonder Unit
Storyboarder is consistently well-reviewed and trusted by many users, and it is easy to see why when you start poking around. This software is very refined and no frills, making it supremely easy to use. It’s simplicity and quality may be partly due to Storyboarder software being free and open source, so it is frequently refined to suit the evolving needs of its users.
Storyboarder prides its software on being so user-friendly that storyboarding becomes as fast as your ability to draw a stick figure.
There are only 6 drawing tools available for users on Storyboarder, which may sound like too few to some, but it means sketches are as effortless as possible. You have access to a light pencil, hard pencil, a pen, a brush to tone, a note pen, and eraser. That’s it! Despite this smaller set of tools, Storyboarder storyboards can look incredibly professional when used well.
Storyboarder, like any quality storyboarding software, allows you space for the important notes to accompany your visuals, such as the frame’s duration, dialogue, action, and notes. Storyboarder also lets you watch your storyboard tiles flow together, so you can check out how your storyboard is working during this process.
But what about adding color or special effects to your storyboard? If you are wanting to add more texture and life into your rough sketches, then Storyboarder makes this simple too. All you have to do is click the edit in photoshop button and continue tweaking your work.
Also, Storyboarder make things a lot simpler for those who are less comfortable sketching online. You can print out their worksheets, draw by hand and take a picture of your work and upload them into the software. Storyboarder can automatically import your work into storyboards.
Pretty nice, right?
Storyboarder Price: Free!
Plot was designed by animators and designed with the sole purpose of making storyboarding streamlined and efficient for others. Plot is a web-based storyboard creator which also includes script editing tools.
You are able to draw new images of your own of upload images to create your storyboard tiles when using Plot. The drawing tools offer you just enough to feel creativity liberated without overwhelming you. Your script is neatly infused into your storyboard as each tile allows room for notes on action and characters’ dialogue.
The collaboration features on Plot are great too. Teams are able to leave comments and add notes into the storyboard without cluttering the visuals. The way comments can be added and replied to on Plot is reminiscent of how Google docs operate or how Word can track changes. It’s a sleek platform for storyboard collaboration!
However, to collaborate with others in the platform, this requires everyone to be paid users of Plot. If you are seeking feedback on your work and do not have other Plot users in your network, then you can very quickly export your storyboard work into a PDF doc and print it out and share it with others.
Also, if you like chipping away at your work on the go then you will be interested in Plot’s great mobile app.
Plot Price: It starts at $10 per month for a single user and $15 for the pro package. There is also a free 14-day trial available.
4. Clip Studio Paint
Clip Studio Paint is really designed for the artists and those who love to draw.
Clip Studio Paint is a software which allows you to make very detailed and intricate drawings, and the plethora of features this storyboard software includes is unmatched. If you are hoping to make your storyboard as detailed as possible, then it is worth checking out Clip Studio Paint.
The quality of Clip Studio Paint’s art tools and digital art features make it an advanced storyboarding tool, allowing you to create stunning and detailed backgrounds and character work. Digital drawing does not get more sophisticated than Clip Studio Paint’s animation and digital art software.
Storyboard art does parallel many aspects of comic book artwork and Clip Studio Paint caters to the production of both art forms. The Comic Creation section of this software allows you to create frames for a comic or storyboard.
Clip Studio Paint is not a particularly beginner-friendly software for those new to storyboard sketches. However, there are many helpful Clip Studio Paint tutorial videos and if you are looking for an artistic challenge then go give it a try!
Clip Studio Paint Price: The Paint Pro plan is best suited to storyboarding needs and costs $49.99 for a one-time purchase, or $.99 a month. There is a free trial available.
5. Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop is another awesome software for bringing your script into its storyboard form. Adobe Photoshop is a reputable software which many entertainment art departments rely on for the heavy lifting of their pre-production work – which, of course, includes storyboard creation!
Sadly, a couple years ago Adobe decided to discontinue their Adobe Story software which was dedicated to script development tools. However, there are still ways to create awesome storyboard visuals with Adobe.
By using Adobe Photoshop, open a file and use the “artboards”. This will open a file which you can freely draw on and allows you to upload new images too, just like Photoshop.
One piece of warning before using Adobe Photoshop for your storyboarding needs is to be aware that there are no prompts or spaces available for notes or dialogue. Therefore, you cannot easily add in details for the camera angels and movements, nevermind characters’ dialogue and actions.
Adobe Photoshop allows you to create a visual storyboard but does not easily facilitate a storyboard which is ready for production.
Adobe Photoshop Price: $21 per month, with a 7-day free trial before buying.
PanelForge is a storyboarding software to its core. It is a dedicated storyboarding producer and has designed all its features to make that process seamless. This desktop software ensures all you need is in-house for you to make incredible work.
PanelForge 2D is a drawing canvas which allows you to sketch your own frames of your action sequences. You can choose to keep it simple or fill each frame with layers of custom-made characters and effects. The 2D canvas allows for a more traditional storyboard aesthetic as it will show your drawings as flat sketches.
However, if you use the Virtual 3D Stage on PanelForge, you will be able to design and orientate your characters in environments with an authentic sense of depth perspective. PanelForge really allows you to scale up your storyboard designs or keep them neat and simple.
One of the great perks of using PanelForge is the range of ways it allows you to export and share your work after you’re happy with the storyboard you have created. You can choose to export it as a video, PDF, PNG, Animation cache, Edit XML, Project XML and Autodesk. You are never going to short of options for sharing your work!
PanelForge Price: A free Beta version or less than $8 per month for a single user plan.
7. Studio Binder
StudioBinder is used at several studios and is also a favorite with many creatives in the entertainment industry. StudioBinder is a web-based film and TV production software which includes excellent storyboard tools as part of their pre-production package.
StudioBinder is versatile and its popularity means bringing your script to life and into a storyboard is a well-trodden StudioBinder path. Your script would be joining a long list of films and TV productions with origins in StudioBinder’s software!
To make your storyboard on StudioBinder, you drag and drop images and the software automatically forms these images into storyboard frames for you. Adjusting the layout, order, composition, and aspect ratios for all the frames in your storyboard can be done easily with a few clicks to alter your settings.
The presentation mode on StudioBinder allows you to watch your storyboard, so you can start to gather a sense of what your audiences will watch when these storyboard tiles come into action. Or, the presentation mode feature will be the perfect opportunity for you to make adjustments which, because of StudioBinder’s flexible settings, can be done in seconds.
This is a beginner friendly platform with professional grade software.
StudioBinder Price: $29 per month for a solo user, $49 per month for a professional plan and $99 a month for a studio. (All of these plans include the storyboard features).
Canva may be best known for its marketing and social media templates, but its generous library of free templates and designs also make it an ideal start for many writers to get storyboarding.
Canva is web-based platform which serves many creative industries with colorful, modern, and customizable content. Their storyboard templates are ideal for beginners or for those who are searching for high-quality templates which they can print out and sketch on by hand.
However, Canva is also a reliable choice for those less interested in getting their pens and paints out! Canva also makes millions of stock images available so would be suited to a user wanting to use more pre-made images.
Signing up to Canva takes a few minutes, then finding a suitable template takes even less time. Later, when you are wanting to move your designs from Canva to your computer or other software, the process is straightforward: at any stage of the creative process, you can download your work into multiple formats, such as PDF or PNG.
Canva is a tried and tested media hub for creating presentations, collages, and mood boards; Canva’s simple navigation and library of templates and images lend very well to storyboarding.
Canva Price: Free plan and a Professional plan for $120 per year.
Boords is synonymous with storyboarding creation. This storyboarding software is especially strong for those working collaboratively to create their action-packed frames. Boords allows you to draw or lean on the image library which is full of royalty-free images and icons which are ready to use.
Boords is perfect for teams as it allows users to make frame-specific comments, so there’s built-in room for in-edpth feedback. (No one wants general feedback on their creative projects). This detailed system for comments and feedback is idea for collaborators as it ensures no creative ideas are lost in the shuffle.
Many storyboarding softwares can show you a presentation of your storyboard tiles in action, but Boords goes a step further and allows you to add sound to your tiles. Adding sound at this stage goes a long way in allowing you to envision the final product.
Sound design is a massive component of what creates atmosphere and evokes emotion from audiences, yet sound it is often only added at the last stages of post-production. Boords gives you a sneak peek and allows you to experience post-production privileges before any cameras are rolling.
Heads up: the paid plan for 1 person allows for 3 users to use one plan, so it may make sense to team up with a friend or fellow creative when picking this storyboarding software.
Boords Price: Free trial, then plans starting at $29 per month for 1-3 users on the Studio plan.
10. Toon Boom Storyboard Pro
Toon Boom Storyboard Pro is squarely in the high-end of storyboarding software market as it’s noticeably more expensive compared to its competitors.
Is it worth the money? If you are an animator, yes. If you are not likely to fully maximize this Emmy-winning art technology, then I would recommend another software for you.
This desktop storyboard software brings very high-quality drawing and animation tools together into one software. A suite of art tools allow for you to create precise artwork in fine detail, and an arsenal of digital brushes and effects prepares you well for creating incredible storybaords and other pre-production artworks, such as concept art.
Despite Toon Boom Storyboard Pro being capable of keeping up with the artistic demands of big studios, the canvas and the software is user-friendly and intuitive. There are no hidden settings tucked away into dark corners, the tools are thoughtfully designed and an eager beginner could get a handle on them with some practice.
Toon Boom Storyboard Pro Price: It’s expensive. $60 a month or $999 for a one-time fee.
Another Emmy-winning storyboarding software capable of producing awesome storyboards is FrameForge. If your script was written for live action, then FrameForge is a strong choice. You can great compelling storyboards with FrameForge and the software is beginner-friendly.
FrameForge’s major selling point is that storyboards are optically accurate for camera lenses. This means FrameForge software copies the optical properties of many camera lenses to ensure the frames you storyboard will be possible behind a camera lens. This optical guarantee promised by FrameForge is perfectly suited to creatives who plan to jump into filming straight after the storyboard process.
Again, FrameForge is rooted in practicalities for production crews because it keeps in mind the needs of cinematographers and directors by having key information on each storyboard, such as technical camera information including focal length, angle of view, and camera height.
FrameForge Price: Free trials available. FrameForge 4 Core plan starts at $12.99 per month and FrameForge 4 Pro starts at $24.99 per month.
Will you be working solo or with a team? If you plan to create the storyboard on your own, then this may sway your decision to invest in software which is well suited to collaborative storyboarding.
Do you want to sketch your storyboards by hand or layer pre-packaged visuals together or do a mixture of both? Having a sense of your own hands-on artistic involvement will be useful for deciding which is the best software for you.
You can produce amazing storyboards because you have incredible options for storyboard software. These top storyboard software providers can support your creative goals no matter the scale of your project.
You may have a documentary, a short animation, a period drama feature film, or a VR game script ready to go. There is an amazing storyboard software ready for you – whatever your creative preferences or the kind of script you have in hand!