Solutions & Apps
Ten great tools for storyboarding

Storyboarding is an essential part of the design process because it is at this initial stage when you can try your ideas more freely, encounter key questions about User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) and explore different alternatives until you find the best solution to present the content. If you miss this stage, you are jumping too prematurely to a final solution without exploring different possibilities that could work best at the end.

by Mayra Aixa Villar, freelance instructional designer & eLearning consultant for companies and independent researcher at Universidad Nacional de Cuyo.


I always take the time to let my ideas grow by drawing the overall picture first and then, refine and improve those ideas as I build up a functional prototype. These are the 10 tools that I recommend.

1- Desktop Applications


Articulate Storyline

As I said in that forum thread, the new Articulate Storyline is a wonderful tool to show the general structure of your courses. The Story View displays the overall project organization, making it very easy to identify scenes, information flow, different relationships among pages (screens) and so on.  In addition, I can use annotated screenshots to communicate my ideas more effectively.

Articulate Storyline


Mind Maps and PowerPoint

I have also used mind maps and diagrams created with a free online tool called and also commercial software, such as MindManager. The mind map you can see in the slideshow below was created with and it is based on Tom Kulhmann´s useful suggestions on building branched eLearning scenarios. This approach has proven to be very useful for coming to an agreement on fundamental aspects before developing a functional prototype in PowerPoint.




This is a quite simple and free application to create a non-linear story that allows you to graphically organize how your scenarios will unfold. You can read Cathy Moore´s impressions about Twine here and watch this video to get started. In the flowchart view, each page or scene is displayed in small boxes that are linked according to the learner´s options. So as you write your story, you build a map of possible paths. The final output is a single web page that you can share with stakeholders and something that works as a functional prototype too.




This is a free tool that was included in Craig Weiss´ list of course authoring tools and allows you to write audiovisual scripts, plays, comic books and film storyboards. You can include your own pictures and sketches together with written descriptions of your scenes, scripts, notes, directions and so on.  I have just started using this product but it seems to be a robust pre-production system with standard script formats, media integration and possibilities for collaboration. You can download it here.



2- Free iPad Apps


Drawing apps: Paper, Bamboo paper and SketchBook Express

I have left the best for last. Most people think that mobile devices are just great for content consumption at the exact moment of need. However, I believe that mobile devices make me more productive and creative and this is why I love CREATING content by using, particularly, my iPad.

In my honest opinion, intuitive drawing apps that have been created from the ground up for natural touch gestures are great for idea generation as they stimulate the usual way our brain works for making connections. Apps like Paper by 53, Bamboo Paper and SketchBook Express help me capture and sketch my ideas as well as create and explore UI/UX designs, graphics and data visualizations and a new course structure and navigation.



Animation Desk Lite

This is a more sophisticated app than the previous three, but if you want to free your imagination and find new sources of inspiration, it is worthwhile to try it. You can create hand-drawn animations by using different tools like brushes and palettes as well as professional animation resources like frames, skins and close-up view. You can even create an animation and embed it in your eLearning courses since it can be exported as a YouTube video.

Animation Desk Lite


Storyboards 3D

By far, this is my favorite app for storyboarding. If you lack drawing skills or just don´t have enough time, this is a great tool for quickly drafting and presenting your ideas. You can position and rotate 3D characters and objects in all directions, include text blocks and speech bubbles, insert photos in every shot or scene, add notes and even record audio. You might find the free version a little bit limiting but you can purchase packs and develop a whole story right there on you iPad.

Storyboards 3D: Create a new project

Storyboards 3D: Give a title to your project

Storyboards 3D: Character´s expressions

Storyboards 3D: Script notes

Storyboards 3D: Font Styles

Storyboards 3D: Add a new scene

Storyboards 3D: Object Placement

Storyboards 3D: Characters´poses

Storyboards 3D: Organize shots

Storyboards 3D: Scenes Overview


I know that sometimes we are snowed under with work and we can´t try every single tool out there or explore new approaches that may seem time-consuming at the beginning. However, I think it can be worth renewing our design kit once in a while in order to become more innovative and resourceful as we broaden our repertoire of skills.


Source: Creative Design of Learning Experiences (


Mayra Aixa Villar started her career as an English teacher in 2004. Since then, she has felt a keen interest in technology as an enabler and enhancer of learning and teaching processes. In 2009, she started to research into eLearning, the research was part of her M.A. thesis on Applied Linguistics (sub-field Computer Assisted Language Learning). This project allowed her to successfully complete an internship at United Nations Headquarters, where she had the opportunity to evaluate eLearning as well as instructor-led courses. In 2010, she started to work as a freelance instructional designer and eLearning consultant for companies in Argentina.

Mayra is also an independent researcher at Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina, where she has recently completed her M.A. programme in Applied Linguistics. She loves exploring new technologies, sketching UIs and finding real-world applications based on instructional theories.