Visualize scenes for your film with a storyboard in Milanote

Film storyboard guide example

Follow this simple step-by-step guide to learn the modern process of storyboarding in Milanote, a free tool used by top creatives.

Film storyboard guide example

How to create a film storyboard in 6 easy steps

Storyboards are a powerful way to visually organize the composition, action and look of a film before you start filming. As director, producer and screenwriter Martin Scorsese said, “The storyboard is the way to visualize the entire movie in advance.”

Traditionally, a storyboard would be sketched on paper, but with a modern digital tool, you can use photography, animation, notes to highlight key characters and scenes and easily go back and make edits. Many people devote their entire careers to storyboarding and they are one of the key tools used by directors, producers, and many other film crew members to communicate and bring a film to life.

Whether you’re creating a storyboard for a documentary, animation or feature film, this guide will take you through every step to refine your process and create a modern storyboard.

1. Identify key scenes in the script

When creating a storyboard, it’s crucial to know what story you’re telling. The best starting point is to break up the script or narrative you’ll be working from.

Mark up the key parts of the story by highlighting major beats such as actions, locations, wardrobe, staging, narrative arches, and major plot points. This will help you form the frames for the storyboard and figure out how you’ll move from one scene to the next.

Film Storyboard Step1
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Create a new board for your storyboard.

    Create a new board

    Drag a board out from the toolbar. Give it a name, then double click to open it.

  2. Add a note and paste a scene from your script.

    Drag a note card onto your board

    Start typing then use the formatting tools in the left hand toolbar.

  3. Highlight the key scenes with the text highlighter.

2. Map out the key scenes

Next, map out the scenes you identified in the script. Give each one a number and a relevant title so it's easy to link them back to the broader story in the script.

Film Storyboard Step2
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Add a column for each frame.

    Drag a column onto your board

    Name it, then drag any relevant notes or images into your column

3. Add images or sketches

Now it’s time to begin visualizing each scene. This part of the process has been referred to as “idea landscaping”—a place to brainstorm the visual features of each beat within the landscape of a story.

Some storyboard artists might begin sketching with a pen and paper first, but with modern storyboards you can collect reference photography, illustrations, screenshots, location shoots, and even motion from anywhere.

Film storyboard guide step03
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Upload images for each frame.

    Upload a file or document  

    Click the "Upload file" button or just drag a file onto your board. You can add images, logos, documents, videos, audio and much more.

Pro tip:

Websites like Shotdeck and Filmgrab are great places to gather reference images if you're not confident sketching.

4. Describe what happens in each frame

While each frame is a static image, try to communicate how it will look and feel as a moving sequence. Describes the style, mood, and behavior of characters. As you write out the details of each scene, consider some of the following:

  • Composition and Framing: Decide how characters and objects will be framed within each shot. Use the rule of thirds and other compositional techniques to create visually appealing and balanced frames.
  • Transitions: Plan how each shot transitions to the next. Smooth transitions create a cohesive flow, while abrupt changes can be used for dramatic effect.
  • Character Blocking: Determine character positions and movements within each shot. Show how they interact with each other and the environment.
  • Emotion and Expression: Define a character's facial expressions and body language to capture their emotions and reactions.
  • Annotations: Use additional notes or captions for things that can't be easily conveyed in the visuals.
  • Dynamic Action: For action scenes, break down fast-paced movements into a sequence of panels to ensure clarity.
Film storyboard guide step04
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Add a note to describe each frame.

    Drag a note card onto your board

    Start typing then use the formatting tools in the left-hand toolbar.

5. Share it with your team

When you're ready, invite your team to review your storyboard and share their feedback. This is the perfect moment to see how others interpret your vision for the story. It's also a great opportunity to make any final tweaks while in pre-production. Adjust the order of your frames or edit the content based on everyone's feedback.

Film storyboard guide step06
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Share the storyboard with your team.

    Invite editors to your board

    Open the "Editors" menu from the title bar of your board. Add email addresses of the people you'd like to collaborate with—they'll receive an invitation via email.

  2. Start a comment thread.

    Start a comment thread

    Drag out a comment from the toolbar on the left and place it on your board. Other editors can reply to your comment.

  3. Mention teammates to get their attention.

    Mention teammates to get their attention

    Type '@' in any text field to mention someone who has access to your board. They'll receive a notification and be able to respond to your comment.

6. Finally, reference it on the day

Traditionally, you'd print out your storyboards to refer to on the day, but online storyboards can be accessed on phones or laptops. This way, you can reference it with ease as you prepare for each scene.

Film storyboard guide step07
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Download the Milanote mobile app.

You're done!

Now that your storyboard is complete, you have a clear vision for your film! Remember, just as creativity and inspiration are constantly evolving, so are ideas. Come back and edit your storyboard when inspiration strikes. Use the template below to create a new storyboard in minutes or check out our full guide on how to plan a film.

Start your storyboard

Get started for free with Milanote's easy to use storyboard template.