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CGMaster Academy – Environment Concept Design

CGMaster Academy – Environment Concept DesignEnvironment Concept Design


Environment Concept Design : An 8-week course utilizing industry techniques for developing environments for games, film, and more.

Tell a story through world building

Environment Concept Design includes the basic and general outline of creating an environment as used in illustration and concept design for the video game and film industries. There will be a firm focus on creating thumbnail and final illustrations, composition, value studies, perspective and digital painting techniques in Photoshop. The class will also focus on incorporating 3D programs into an environment concept creation workflow.


LECTURE TYPE: Pre-recorded

FEEDBACK: Individual recordings

DURATION: 8 weeks

MATERIALS: Photoshop (any), Modo, Wacom tablet or equivalent

SKILLS LEVEL: Intermediate to Advanced

PREREQUISITES: Environment Sketching and Fundamentals of Environment Design, or excellent drawing and digital painting foundations


The more you know, the better.

Week 1 | Class Introduction, Instructor Art Presentation

The art of studying: value master copies and composition studies from film, animation, or existing paintings. Students will learn the basics of composition, perspective, and get an introduction to value management.

Week 2 | Lighting & Value

In this class we will discuss value as it pertains to lighting and atmosphere within a composition. A short demo will be done covering these topics in grayscale. We will differentiate between different types of lighting and make decisions on which best suits our design needs.

Week 3 | Visual Development

Designing a cohesive look through sketching process. Regardless of drawing ability, it is extremely important for an artist to be able to design from the imagination and construct a rule system, which will keep a style cohesive and believable. We will also be discussing spatial sophistication, shape design, tangents, rhythm, and the rule of threes.

Week 4 | Color

This session of class will cover different ways to use color in the context of entertainment, and general color relativity. While color is important for creating a finished image, it is only as good as the value underneath. The demo will cover painting directly in color but will retain all that we have previously learned about value, lighting, and composition. Students will be given all criteria and directions for the final assignment.

Week 5 | Intro to Modo (3D)

Using 3D to solve a multitude of problems before painting, this session will cover how to design and block out a scene in Modo whether it’s architectural or natural. This has become an essential tool for a production artist working in film or games. No previous knowledge of 3D software is required, as this session is meant only to inspire students. Students are not required to use 3D to develop their work in this class. Week 5 will include a lecture on thought process and use of reference for the final.

Week 6 | Art Direction and Storytelling

In addition to reviewing thumbnails, this class will focus on reinforcing the art direction and storytelling of the final. Refining the design language and creating props will be covered. Before moving into the rendering part of the process, the design should be solid. Although 3D is becoming more and more widely used for constructing hard surface illustrations, this does not replace an artist’s ability to visualize and understand the construction and engineering of a completely original design from scratch.

Week 7 | Finessing Techniques

This last week of lecture will cover several finishing techniques in Photoshop. Taking our work-in-progress, we can quickly move it towards a finish with techniques designed to create detail and texture at the same time. This is the last 10% of refinement and can make or break an image.

Week 8 | Final Review

Our final class will cover idea presentation and portfolio creation. As a professional artist, how your work is presented becomes almost as important as the images themselves. Students will learn how to best present their concepts to a director. Page layouts and general presentation of ideas will be stressed. We will commence with the FINAL REVIEW.

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