Best Tutorial Ever? has spawned countless careers, including my own. There is a good chance that whether you have been on there or not, over the years you have in some way benefited from the sound advice of Mograph’s very own wise sage, Binky.

Here Binky, also known here as Carey, lays down some great insight into the process of storyboarding and concept development. The title of this post may be a bit loaded but in the sea of mediocre tutorials that focus primarily on the execution of one thing, this tutorial really rises to the top. Whether you are a seasoned vet or a student I think this tutorial has something for you in it.

When starting out, storyboarding is one of those mythical things where there is no right way to do it but seemingly many wrong ways. I really wish this was around a few years ago for my own use!

You can view some of his other tutorials below.


How to cut a reel:
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Please show him some love so that he can continue to make these great tutorials that will undoubtedly help tons of people.

Also, go make an account on, contribute and help this community grow.


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About the author

Joe Donaldson

Joe Donaldson is a director, designer, and animator who worked on Motionograpgher from 2014-2020. Previously, he was an art director at Buck. Over the past decade, he's lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles and has directed work for clients such as Apple, Google, Instagram, The New York Times, Unicef, Etsy, and The New Yorker. In addition to his creative work, in 2018 he started Holdframe. He's now working as a professor at Ringling College of Art and Design and when not teaching he can be found spending time with his family or out running.


tuesday mcgowan

Incredibly insightful. Well done!

Dave Glanz (@daveglanz)

Correct – Binky/Kerry has been *crushing it* with these tutorials. They are equally inspiring and informative.

Andrew Hoeveler (@andreworbit)

Tuesday! What’s up? I’m seeking you out on twitter now. So cool to find you here.




I really enjoyed this. It was really helpful!


This is inspirational in its own right. Thank you!

Joe Donaldson

Just finished the one on composition. I highly recommend checking that one out as well!


Oh man! So articulate. Please keep em coming


the new motionographer sucks so baddd…… please change this non sense


Best thing ever! Binky is the man.



are these on Vimeo as well? I’m asking because of crazy youtube-music-copyright-issues if you’re watching reel epsiodes 2 & 4 from Germany.

Brilliant stuff by the way!

Carey Smith is the juice you’re lookin for.


Proxtube, Steahlthy and Youtube Unblocker don´t work on my mac (OSX 10.6.8) and Firefox :/ any other advices?

Justin Cone

The storyboard tutorial actually makes a pretty compelling case for pitching. From the client perspective, storyboards can present ideas that a client might never have conceived of and give clients the courage to bankroll them.

If you’re being hired outside of a pitch process (i.e. based solely on your portfolio), clients will invariable expect something that merely echoes what they’ve already seen in your (and other’s) portfolios. That’s not terribly exciting for anyone involved.

Carey Smith

True. This pocket of the industry tends to severely undervalue the pitch process, when it clearly has the potential to generate huge value for all involved. Concept designers for film are valued much more highly for no discernible reason, other than that their skillset is assumed to be more closely aligned with classical art techniques (ie. drawing/painting). It would be interesting to see the effect of studios getting paid significantly to ideate, as opposed to just getting paid for production.


Huh? I think it’s actually pretty awesome for clients to actually seek you out because they like the style of work you do, to be comfortable with you making similar but not derivative work, and to give you a paycheck to develop a concept and artwork for their campaign and not making you work on spec to come up with those first and only pay you if they like them.

But that’s crazy, right?

Justin Cone

Point taken, Bran. But I have met very few clients capable of imagining “similar not derivative” work. This might be a scale thing, as this issue tends to be worse the larger the client is.

And you’re going to an extreme bringing spec work into the discussion. I’m talking about style frames. It’s also crucial that you (as a creator) protect yourself with work agreements before you do anything.


You mentioned the “being hired outside of a pitch process” … so I thought you were talking about the classic ad agency asking three or more studios to pitch styleframes on a script or concept. Usually that’s the unpaid part, no? When someone “wins” the job, they get a budget for the production aspect, but not the initial styleframes.

Joe Nicklo

As someone who is just starting out in the world of Motion Design but who has been doing Print/Web work for years, this is really helpful. Knowing that I can harness the skills I already possess in the other applications is encouraging. I’d love to see how he took the storyboard from stills to animation.


I still make ‘storyboards’ in the traditional sense for motion graphics (simple sketches for each key moment to describe action and framing) for many job, and what you are calling ‘storyboards’ are actually ‘styleframes’. Semantics, I know, but certainly distinct. We will generally do 2-4 styleframes and storyboards additionally. Just wanted to mention it because when a lot of studios ask for storyboards they aren’t referring to what the video is and that could be really confusing.

Joe Donaldson

I definitely feel that the line has been blurred between styleframes and storyboards. As Justin mentions above, I typically make 2 or 3 styleframes of key scenes to set the general tone and follow that up with more traditional pencil sketched storyboards of the entire piece. I prefer to work this way and feel it is more productive.

I have found though, more and more, that when asked for storyboards the studios have been expecting essentially a fully fleshed out sequence of styleframes.

There is definitely a lot of grey area though and a lot is dependent on the studio as well as the style being explored.

Jessica Weiss

Your are pretty good at finding well designed inspiration for your work. Do you have a couple sites you would be willing to share to find these images?


Great post Joe! A lot of informative goodies on here. I especially liked the composition video. It’s very easy to overthink scenes while working on projects so knowing the fundamentals of composition is key.

Thanks for this.


When asked to define boards in an email, I differentiated the use scenarios as “The three ‘P’s” – Pitch, Production, and Plan. Here is the content of that email.

“Pitch” boards are created to win a job or account. If the intent is not to win work, these boards may also be known as styleframes. Pitch boards need to do a few things simultaneously. They need to give the client or other artists a clear indication of what the project could look like. They may represent a still of the most interesting action from the intended final work. If they are to try and win an account, they may also be an exploration of different styles and creative approaches to show options of a direction a project could take. They also serve as a roadmap and visual guide for everyone involved with a project. Style frames and pitch boards are great to hang on a wall and refer back to during the animation and production process.

Some artists work as pitch and boards artists exclusively. That is, they work in motion graphics, but specialize in producing the style frames and artwork to win an account for a production company or client. These artists need to be incredibly skilled for many reasons. They need to understand the need of production and have working knowledge of the technology used to produce the final project. This means that, if the final project will be produced in 2D or 3D software, the boards artist will need to understand and have knowledge of the wide breadth of what’s possible, and more than likely know how to operate and work with it. The intent of a pitch is to win an account, so the level of polish needs to very high. A pitch boards artist is interested and illustrates the key visual moments in the project, not the nuts and bolts concerns of production or necessarily the transitions. This work needs to be produced very quickly. If it is a pitch, a studio may be producing the work “on spec.” This means they are hoping to win the account but have not been awarded money by the client or company they are working with. “Spec” work stands for “speculative” and means that the work produced needs to be of high caliber to win a project, but produced quickly enough that is not a high expense for the designer producing it. Spec work is controversial in the design industry. Some designers are adamantly against it and will only produce work after being hired, while some accept it as a cost of doing business. Whether pitch boards are produced on spec or not, they serve the same function: get everyone involved with a project excited and ready to produce the work based on one or a few images.

“Plan” or “pencil” boards also serve as pre-production art but differ in key ways. This is art that is created to work out sequence and define production. These boards are incredibly loose and sketchy. The very nature of them is to be anti-precious and changeable. Some studios may even produce them using post-it notes on a wall, or the digital equivalent of this process. These pencil boards are usually used to work out the animation itself. The entire sequence will be sketched out from beginning to finish, and then rearranged and reworked. The function of these boards is production. Typically they are not shared with anyone outside of the actual artists producing the work, so the client will probably not view pencil boards. Additionally, these boards are very helpful in producing an asset list. An asset list is the group of production art pieces that needs to be produced for a job. When it is in list format, it becomes easier to price and schedule a job. Additionally, these boards are very handy for collaboration between multiple artists, particularly if different artists are working on different shots. This way they have context for where the art and animation they are producing fits in the context of the edit and the overall communication of the project.

“Production” boards split the difference, and may be used on smaller or more causal jobs. The actual art from the production boards will be used in production of the animation. This is helpful for small jobs which require only one or two check-ins between creator and collaborator or client. It reduces the approval process. Once a board has been approved, it will move directly into production. The reason to work this way is to save time and money. It’s common when the designer and animator are the same artist; they are planning the animation while producing the boards with the actual art assets. This style of working becomes impractical when working on large projects or projects that will go through many revisions. Additionally, it is a significant time investment from the outset, as the art produced for the boards must be polished and ready for production, which takes time and organization.


glenford hermosa

awesome job! will wait for more!


I could have saved tens of thousands on art school and a whole lot of time had these been available back then. Most tutorials make me have to fight to keep my eyes open but these tutorials are excellent and entertaining. I think its very beneficial to be able to see, in depth, the conceptual process of such a talented mograph artist. The sound and pace of these, reminds me of Roman Mars, 99% Invisible, a very well made design based podcast.

Are these the only ones Carey Smith has done? I am not finding any others.

Well done Binky! Thank you!


What is the software and tool you are using to outline and trace images? Thanks!


Incredibly helpful! Thanks!


Really good process, helps to be reminded of how to execute a exclusive idea and still hang with client’s references and requests. What I’m really impressed about is the confidence and justification of the designer’s direction, it was solid.

Gabriel Rocha

Hey, im very pleased to see my frames used as example. Thanks a lot guys.

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