The Art of Steamboy Part I : The Storyboards

Posted By yonghow on September 26th, 2010

Otomo Katsuhiro’s epic animated film “Steamboy” can best be described as a botched masterpiece – the project was infamous for taking almost 10 years to complete ( there was lull period in the middle as production halted due to budget issues ), and when it was finally released in 2004 interest in the project had waned. I remember catching the film at Roppongi Hill’s swanky Toho Cinema and had practically the whole theatre to myself.

Years later I joined Steamboy Studios  Sunrise ( see pic below ) to work on Freedom Project, and had the fortitude of meeting many of the amazing artists behind the film, including Otomo Katsuhiro himself.

Anyhow, imperfect as Steamboy was, the film had some of the most astounding artwork created for an animated feature; let’s begin by taking a look at the storyboards :

Page after page of incredibly detailed boards for the film, all 770 pages of them housed in this hardback book. The boards give the reader a very comprehensive look at the layout, camera move, actions involved in each cut.

(above ) Love the small little tidbits of information / scribbles with explanatory notes and sketches.

How much time Otomo-san spent on these beautiful boards I cannot fathom – certainly, they are a veritable work of art themselves.

(below) A glossary of terms used in Japanese anime storyboarding – it took me a while to remember all of them when I first started out working in Sunrise.

“Steamboy The Storyboard book” artbook details :

– Dimensions – 8.4 x 5.9 x 2 inches
– Hardcover with jacket, 780 pages
– Black and White

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Stay tuned for Part II.  Anyone else feel Steamboy was a missed opportunity at a grand masterpiece ?

Posted in Anime, Book Reviews

11 Responses to “The Art of Steamboy Part I : The Storyboards”


Otomo’s storyboards are always great to look at indeed. Does he do rougher storyboards first before he settles on the final or does he do it perfect like that in one go? I suppose that putting so much time into a story board would make you not want to change a scene to make it better.


Roy – I can’t be a 100% sure, but I think he does go through a quick, rougher version of it before settling on something as high quality as this – once this is done the scene usually doesn’t change – but some do get left out of the whole film because it just doesn’t cut well.

ps love your new blog layout. :]


Indeed, great movie passing without much notice, anyway, people who love animation know for sure that Steamboy it´s a piece of art.

Love the book and recognize the wonderful job of Katsuhiro Otomo.

ps. Everyone at freedom proyect must feel proud for the amazing job Mr. Yonghow.


i can’t wait to get this. i just ordered the Miyazaki book and i already want so much more!

Rafael Pizzo

Otomo has such a perfection even on storyboards, I’m really impressed with such lineart quality!
The common storyboards should be just a sketch or guide to work…
But, well, since Steamboy’s arts are amazing they should been doing this since the very beggining~

Mr. Yonghow, is so nice to know you had worked with them!


Zack – Haha, its worth the money, I promise ! :p

rulascalaca/Rafael – Thanks guys !


STEAMBOY & FREEDOM are masterworks..


Heads up Otomo fans!! If you’re like me and you missed this one, finding a used copy at a low price has been really hard.

But it seems like there may be a reprint coming soon? It’s listed on amazon japan for retail price so get your order in now while you have a chance!!


Josh – Thank you so much for the heads up on this ! :]


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