This course is a serious exploration of using color and light to create compelling concept art and environment design for entertainment art projects. Additionally, I'll show you how the production pipeline works at an entertainment design studio and the role of the art department in the design process. We'll go through the entire process of developing an idea by taking it through the stages of thumbnail comp, tonal rough, color rough and final color.
I'll take you step by step through the practical application of:
- Color theory to create powerful color statements.
- Color choices that create a variety of emotional beats for storytelling.
- Designing atmosphere for a sense of environment and mood.
- Lighting design.
- Building your concept art portfolio.
Lesson 1 - Engaging Your Audience
In my first lecture I'll give an introduction and class overview that will put you squarely on the path to engage your audience through the theatrical use of color and light. I'll take you through the entire design and development pipeline for an entertainment project and show you how an art department and individual artists use color and light to create a project that thrills their audience.
Assignment: Standing on the shoulders of giants: put together a reference file of the most compelling and engaging artwork that you can find and start making thumbnail copies. Reference a range of sources including concept art, photography, fine art, "art of" books, frame capture from films and animated movies, etc. These thumbnail copies will help train you to use color and light effectively and will be the beginning of a habit that keeps your eye fresh throughout your career. Keep each study under an hour each and do at least two a day. You'll turn in a minimum of 10 of these studies for your first week's assignment, be sure to include the original you worked from. Please avoid using the color picker.
Lesson 2 - Believability
Even a high fantasy project has to be believable in order to create an immersive experience for your audience. In this lecture, I will cover principles for understanding color and light on a practical level to give a compelling believability to your work.
Assignment: Download the gray scene render provided and paint over it in such a way as to create a sense of lighting that is both believable and dynamic. Use warm light coming from one side and cool light from the other. Consider the interaction of light color and surface color and also the influence of bounce light and subsurface scattering.
Lesson 3 - Harmonies of Color
Color design is potentially complex and confusing but there are simple principles that can make color manageable for you. In this lecture, I'll show you my techniques for organizing the complexities of color into engaging harmonies that will create a sense of mood and environment in your work.
Assignment: Create a color rough of a scene and paint five thumbnail versions of it, creating a different and unique color harmony in each.
Lesson 4 - Color Design and Storytelling
This week, I will focus on the profound relationship between color and emotion. Gaining an understanding of which color combinations elicit specific emotional responses in your audience will enhance your ability to tell a complex visual story.
Assignment: This will be similar to last week's assignment but now we'll target specific emotions. Create a concept rough of any subject or scene you like and rework it five times using different color combinations to create a dramatically different sense of mood and emotion in each. Label each scene with the emotion you're intending to convey.
Lesson 5 - Photoshop Demonstration (I)
In this demonstration, I'll apply the techniques taught in the previous lessons in a demo done in Photoshop to show how lighting, color design and harmony work together in a concept illustration.
Assignment: Create a new concept illustration of any subject that interests you based on the principles taught in the demonstration. Emphasize creating a compelling sense of environment through the use of color and light.
Lesson 6 - Light and Atmosphere
Atmospheric effects can have a profound impact on the emotional content of an environment. This week, I will share my tips and techniques for creating a sense of mood and environment in a piece of work using the effects of light and atmosphere.
Assignment: Download the frame render provided and paint over it to create an illustration that powerfully emphasizes a sense of atmosphere. Take care to subdue any details or contrasts that distract from the overall atmospheric effect.
Lesson 7 - Designing with Light
Guiding the audience with passages of light and shadow can be one of your most powerful artistic skills. In this lecture, I will show you how to use light and shadow as design elements to guide the eye and tell a story.
Assignment: Over the course of the next 3 weeks we will be taking on the challenge of developing a leading portfolio piece. You'll create a final concept illustration of any subject that interests you based on the principles taught throughout the class. Emphasize creating a compelling sense of story through the use of value, color and light; go through the development process by beginning with sketches, a tonal rough and then a color rough. Due next week: numerous quick sketches exploring and developing your idea. Settle on a final idea and present it as a value comp (value only, no color).
Lesson 8 - Photoshop Demonstration (II)
This lecture will consist of my Photoshop demo bringing together all the techniques and principles we have discussed into a concept illustration. We'll focus on how to keep the complexities and challenges of concept illustration manageable and organized.
Assignment (2 weeks): Create a final concept illustration of any subject that interests you based on the principles taught throughout the class. Emphasize creating a compelling sense of story through the use of color and light; go through the development process by beginning with sketches, a tonal rough and then a color rough.
Lesson 9 - Dynamic Design with Color and Light: Color Scripting
A color script addresses the color and light design of an entire project sequentially rather than in a single illustration. My final lecture will combine principles from all the previous week as I show you how to get all the different elements of dynamic color and light design working together in the form of a color script.
Assignment: Continuing from previous week, take your illustration to a finish striving for a portfolio quality image. This is an opportunity to show what you can do, so knock it out of the park!Download Links
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