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CGMA – Fundamentals of Environment Design

CGMA – Fundamentals of Environment Design with Kalen ChockFundamentals of Environment Design


Fundamentals of Environment Design with Kalen Chock : An 8-week course developing fundamental skills used to create appealing environment design for films, games, animation, and illustration

Develop world building skills

Whether for film, video games, or digital feature animation, this class will focus on what it takes to create a compelling environment from the ground up. We will explore fundamentals such as perspective, drawing, storytelling, painting, creating atmosphere, establishing lighting, and how we can combine all these different elements into a full scene. By the end of this class, students will have the process and structure to give them the confidence they need to create more solid environments.


LECTURE TYPE: Pre-recorded

FEEDBACK: Individual recordings

DURATION: 8 weeks

MATERIALS: Photoshop or Painter, Wacom tablet (or equivalent)

SKILLS LEVEL: Intermediate

PREREQUISITES: Digital Painting and Environment Sketching or good drawing and digital painting foundations


The more you know, the better.

Week 1 | Introduction to Photoshop, Brushes & Tools

Here we will take a comprehensive look at the process in which students will paint environments. We will go over the start of designing environments, and we will study fundamental tools and theories in order to create compelling environments. From there, we will establish a process that is comfortable for you and discuss how to think critically when encountering problems.

Week 2 | Graphic Reads and Design Principles

Because environments can naturally be complicated, it is important that our environments read well graphically. We’ll talk about what makes a good graphical image as well as some basic design principles we can use to make our environments interesting. This will include topics like: composition, keeping things in “3’s,” as well as learning to analyze the masters.

Week 3 | Learning Some Fundamentals

Keep things simple in the beginning! We will discuss some terminology when it comes to environments and build more on design principles, review some perspective terms, and also discuss camera basics. We will then walk through some of the basic steps to create an environment.

Week 4 | Shape Language

We will discuss ways to improve our visual library, which will be important for us in terms of coming up with creative ideas. We will also discuss line, shape, and form. With these three tools, we will be able to create anything in our environments.

Week 5 | Values

Values can be one of the most powerful tools in terms of creating environments and digital paintings. Here we will discuss some lighting terminology to better understand how we can apply them to environments, and we will also discuss some of my favorite go-to brushes and lighting types to use when painting.

Week 6 | Color & Light

Color can be very intimidating but learning how to simplify our color choices is key to making it work. We will break down color into my 4 favorite categories and talk about some of my favorite ways to practice color. We will talk about using photography and how it can be a powerful tool to help us understand color. In addition, we will take a look at some old masters to help give us some guidance for ways we can approach using color.

Week 7 | Creating Form

Now that we will have covered a lot of the basic tools for creating environments, we can now discuss how we balance all the tools at once to paint with more confidence. We will discuss the theory of additive/subtractive painting, painting in a XYZ coordinates system, and ways to add some texture to our paintings.

Week 8 | Let’s Just Paint

You now have all the tools to create an environment painting, so now let’s just have fun and paint! Our goal here is take whatever idea we may have in our mind and communicate it effectively on the digital canvas.

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