A first glimpse: Creating a storyboard on the iPhone


(In this post, Thierry Schiel shares his first experiences in creating a storyboard completely on the iPhone. Thierry is a traditional animator on some 10 feature films and has also created and directed two full length CGI feature films “Tristan and Isolde” and “Renart the Fox”. He is also one of the most skillful fingerpainters you’ll find.)

Making a storyboard for a short film means doing between 150 to 200 drawings to tell a story. For my current CGI film I decided to try changing my PC/Wacom habits and to use the combined strength of Sketchbook Mobile and Hitchcock apps on my iPod Touch.

But would it work like it should?

The drawing part

It was very easy to do a drawing test as I had already used for some time Sketchbook Mobile  and really appreciated its qualities. At first I was really impressed by how close a result I get to what I usually do on my desktop. With SBM  I get the unique combination of  layers, high resolution and  beautiful lines for my drawings.


It’s really fast to rough out and polish drawings for quick import in the editing application and the drawings look almost as good as on my Mac or my PC.  I usually use that app for color work and drawings for storyboards need to be done a bit differently.


Here is how I proceed: I use a first layer for very rough pose, angle and background setup with a very light gray single pixel pencil. I add another layer on which I clean the drawing with a dark size one (thicker for close ups on characters)pencil and go back after that to the light gray rough layer. I erase it and use then  that layer for light shadings. For this step  I use the main brush (sometimes the airbrush) on the Marking Menu with various tones of gray to obtain contrast and mood. That’s basically it for the drawing part.


The storyboard part

Enter Hitchcock, which is not the cheapest app on the store(15.99€) but as a tool aimed at professionals it is after all moderately (I could say very cheap compared to Premiere and the like…) priced. But it had to work for my needs…  Once bought, I very quickly  saw the potential  and took my decision, this could work! But the real question was to finding out if it could hold the whole board?


To be honest,  Hitchcock is still missing some important features I would need for this type of work, like fade to black, cross fades, more elaborate camera movements with rotation for example, but globally it works fine for a first version and it gets the job done, which is essentially timing each frame of the board with a constant eye on the whole project(with sound if needed). I can only hope they will implement the missing features in the next upgrade. I’m now reaching the end of my board with around seven minutes worth of boarded film and the app is still playing smoothly in one single chunk all my drawings!


I have a 3rd generation iPod and it works like a charm without slowing down any of my steps. That device is the most incredible one I’ve had and I’ve had a few nice ones over the years, from Pocket PCs to the more heavy but still portable HTC Shift. And besides doing fingerpainting on it I can now even use it professionally for preparing my films.  Life can be so cool!…sometimes 😉

(all material showed is copyright of Iris Productions)

8 Responses to “A first glimpse: Creating a storyboard on the iPhone”

  • Bristles & Nibs Says:

    Really cool workflow! I’m inspired to try this myself on my next storyboard. Seems quicker than the desktop/tablet route especially with an app like Hitchcock

  • Matthew Says:

    Thierry, that is execptional. The app, the post and above all you work.

  • Susan Murtaugh Says:

    I am so impressed with how quickly apps are making this little machine function as well as the laptop or desktop. It’s certainly mobil and Thierry shows us how professional it is too. Beautiful work too thierry, you are a master at making us believe we are in another world. Surround by fantastic creatures and life. Bravo.

  • kevin Says:

    great post! I will share this with some of my animation friends. I am hoping to better utilize my iphone/fingerpainting skills for my job when i start development of 2010 product and toy designs in December.

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  • la legra negra Says:

    Hardly amazed for this post Thierry. It was great if we can view the final video of the storyboard.

  • thierry Says:

    Thanks Bristles, it is I think slightly faster than on the desktop, though on the desktop more sophisticated boards are possible.

    Matthew, thanks for the nice comment my friend! Glad you like.

    Dear Susan, thank you for liking my world and work:) Though tiny, this device can be indeed be used professionally for certain tasks, this is one of them and I believe with time we’ll see more other places where it can be of great help.

    Thanks Kevin, thanks also for spreading the info. Hope we’ll see what you will come up with.

    Thanks Joseandres, I’m afraid this will be more difficult as the board will get refinements for some time. I will try in a few months to put some parts of it on Youtube, if the producer is ok with it… Will keep you updated. Cheers! 🙂

  • Tweets that mention A first glimpse: Creating a storyboard on the iPhone | iPhone, iPad and iPod fingerpainting blog -- Topsy.com Says:

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