Storyboard & Animatic add-on
A free Blender add-on that adds a suite of tools to create traditional storyboards and modern animatics

Introduction

This Blender add-on will add a suite of tools to create traditional storyboards and modern animatics. The add-on is designed for animations made with Blender's Grease Pencil, but can be used for other animation work. The Storyboard add-on creates a series of 3D planes and a corresponding camera for each plane. It also creates a storyboard camera that gives a thumbnail view of all of the panels. A text page is also created for each camera which can be used to write in camera action instructions, dialog, or other information pertinent to each panel of the storyboard.
Each of the cameras are bound to timeline markers to switch the view to each storyboard panel over time. This allows the grease pencil drawings to be shown all at once for a storyboard view while also allowing timing for an animatic when viewed through each camera.

Download

The newest version of the add-on is available to patrons on Patreon. A sample Blender file can be downloaded and used without the add-on being installed from here.
The add-on is available for free on Gumroad.

Features

  • Storyboard panels dynamically created in a grid, horizontal strip or vertical strip
  • Swap physical order of panels
  • Arrange the layout of selected planes and cameras
  • Cameras created and setup for each board
  • An overview camera is created to view all of the storyboard panels at once
  • Filter the add-on list of cameras in the scene
  • Easily change the active view to any camera in the scene
  • Create a grease pencil object with materials and layers ready to start drawing
    • Materials in shades of grey and four custom colors
    • Layers for character and background in rough and clean versions
  • Select a grease pencil object and go into draw mode automatically
  • Automatically switch Grease Pencil objects when changing to a different panel
  • Guide objects that assist in controlling stroke lines
    • Any number of Vanishing points possible for:
      • one-point perspective
      • two-point perspective
      • three-point perspective
      • or more
    • Interactive Angle guide
    • Guide objects are visible grids that do not render
    • Material colors change when active or inactive
  • Text Editor pages created for each panel to show dialog and other notes
  • Text Editor can synchronize with camera view changes
  • Add more storyboard panels, cameras and markers
  • Copy or move Grease Pencil objects to any storyboard panel
  • Load a series of images onto panels - new panels are created if there are more images than panels - material options are Principled BSDF or Emission shaders
  • Timeline markers created for each panel
  • Cameras bound to timeline markers for automatic switching
  • Select markers to the right of the current frame to change timing of current panel
  • Jump to any marker in the scene by selecting it from a list
  • Export list of markers in the scene (shot list)
  • Create Viewport render from timeline markers
    • This feature is also available as a separate add-on available for free at Gumroad.
  • Render images from each panel (shot)
    • This feature is also available as a separate add-on available for free at Gumroad.
  • Save different storyboard views
  • Render storyboard views of multiple panels
  • Create a depth of field and rack focus controller for any camera
  • Create 3D text objects
  • Link objects to the camera (Elements of the shot)
  • Bring the 3D cursor to the current shot
  • Select object related to camera (Elements of the shot)
  • User preferences for the add-on (favorite colors, default board layout, quick start, UI tweaks)
  • Preview future features (shows new features coming to the interface)

Design Concepts

This add-on has been designed to work with Blender with very few changes in how it operates, but add features that allow for a faster workflow when creating a storyboard and animatic.
Each shot is linked in code (not parented) to a camera which is bound to a marker on the timeline. This will allow either the camera or the panel to be animated for a shot that uses a camera panning or zooming. During timeline playing, Blender will switch the active camera when it reaches a marker with a camera bound to it. Each camera is an orthographic type to allow layering of objects without getting perspective problems. The cameras can be changed to other types and aspect ratios. The markers are used to easily change timing of the shots.
The key point of the Storyboard & Animatic add-on is that multiple Grease Pencil drawings can be made at the same the time and also animated. Since a Grease Pencil drawing will automatically make a new keyframe when drawn at a different time, all drawings for each storyboard panel should be done at the same frame 1 (or 0). Pressing the next camera button will activate the camera for the next board in the storyboard space while keeping the time cursor at the same spot. In the animated GIF below, this is noted as "space". The Animatic part of the add-on is where the timing of the storyboard panels can be adjusted. In the animated GIF below, this is noted as "time". Pressing the next marker button will advance the cursor to the next marker.

Requirements

  • Blender versions 2.83 - 2.93

Installation

The newest version of the add-on is available to patrons on Patreon. When the add-on is production ready, it will be available for free on Gumroad.
  1. 1.
    From Blender's Edit menu, select "Preferences...".
  2. 2.
    In the column of buttons on the left, pick Add-ons.
  3. 3.
    Press the "Install..." button at the top right and choose the zip file for this add-on.
The Storyboard panel is available in the sidebar of the 3D View. Open the sidebar by pressing the n key while the mouse is in the 3D View.

Quick Start

Start with the Front Orthographic view (press the 1 key on the numeric keypad). Move the origin to the upper left of the view. Press the "Create Storyboard" button to make the cameras and panels. A pop-up window will allow setting the name for the cameras, the number of horizontal and vertical cameras/panels, and the time in between each shot. The panels will appear in the Viewport as the numbers are changed for horizontal or vertical. See more detailed instructions in the Get Started page.

Important Tips for Usage

  • Use the Front camera view. Press the 1 key on the numeric keypad.
  • Use the Viewport Gizmos to move the view and to toggle the camera view.
  • Use a grease pencil object for each panel and/or...
  • Use a grease pencil object with all drawings done on frame 0 or 1.
  • Turn off the Viewport Overlays or hide the collections for Storyboard and Storyboard Cameras.
  • Turn on Onion Skin in the Viewport Overlays.
  • Be sure to assign objects to each shot or parent them to the board or camera. This will allow the object to be moved with all of the other elements in a shot.
  • When using Blender 2.93.0 or later, turn on Auto Keying when drawing. Newer versions of the Storyboard add-on will make this automatic.
Auto Keying toggle button in Timeline window

Videos

A short preview video of the Storyboard & Animatic add-on presented in an animatic format.
Paul Caggegi did a livestream demonstrating the Storyboard add-on on his YouTube channel.

Future Features

The features listed below can be done now by using existing functions in Blender. They are listed here because new versions of the Storyboard & Animatic add-on will make it easier and quicker.
  • Duplicate a plane and camera
  • Expand choice of camera aspect ratios
  • Load text into Text Editor for each panel
The features listed below are not yet supported, but will be with new versions.
  • Export to PDF files (currently testing with Blender 2.93)
Last modified 3mo ago