Fundamentals of Environment Design

An 8-week course developing fundamental skills used to create appealing environment design for films, games, animation, and illustration

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

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 explore fundamentals such as perspective, drawing, storytelling, painting, creating atmosphere, establishing lighting, and how we can combine all these different elements for 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.

Course Format:   Standard
Lecture Type:   Pre-recorded
Feedback:   Individual recordings
Duration:   8 weeks
Assignment:   Due each week. Expect to spend 8-10 hrs/wk viewing lectures, q&a, and time on assignments.
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Photoshop or Painter, Wacom tablet (or equivalent)
Skills level:   Intermediate
Prerequisites:   Digital Painting and Environment Sketching or good drawing and digital painting foundations

Fundamentals of Environment Design WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

expand all
collapse all
Here we will do a comprehensive look at the students process in which they 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 to you and discuss how to think critically when encountering problems
Study on composition, perspective, thumbnailing, and value | While adding in atmosphere, students will create a top-down map in which they will create environment thumbs from different locations on their maps | This week also covers different perspective types and camera lenses | Move on to creating and breaking down compositions to understand how to arrange elements for creating intriguing and interesting imagery
We will talk about form language and how it elicits different feelings and moods in environments (call outs, developing overall look and feel of an environment) | Discover how culture, aesthetics, visual library, and graphics are used to create the environment around you, as everything that surrounds us has form language | See how things around you work and break down to the simplest form to create visual appeal and feeling | Great ways to improve your visual knowledge and awareness are to draw from history; these things will enhance your form language to express your story effectively
Begin to discuss value and texture ; we will also discuss taking a thumbnail to a rendered finish | This week we will discuss the importance of value and how paintings are built on the strength of your values | Understand how to convey depth and atmosphere by manipulating values | Learn how to control your values by keeping things simple and observing how light and materials affect the values of your images
We will begin discussing color and how to apply it to your environment (time of day, season, mood) | This topic can be one of the trickiest things to understand, but we will be simplifying color in order to grasp its many intricacies | Look at different examples of color in photographs while keeping in mind the concept of unity/variety | Study how values work in real life, affected by atmosphere and the science of the human eye
Color/lighting with an environment (conveying a mood): discussing different lighting scenarios and how they can affect your designs | We will be returning to working with value only to get a better grasp of how lighting works and the way it can affect the feel of its environment | Study the mechanics of how objects interact with light in order for us to recreate them successfully | Learn to create different moods for storytelling purposes
Learning about soft edges, hard edges, smooth & rough surfaces, and how it applies to stylizing environments | Study the ways of texture, style, and rendering to find ways to create a unique style that feels right for you or a client | Try different layer/blending modes and Photoshop brush settings to create different types of texturing tools
Putting it all together using all the techniques learned in this class | For this final week we will put everything together into a final piece | Sketch along with the lecture and proceed with your final images

Take your skills to the next level

Kalen Chock is a Visual Development Artist currently living in the Bay Area. He has always had a strong passion for art and enjoys any means of creative expression. Kalen's client list include: Industrial Light and Magic , Autodesk, Ember Lab, Fantasy Flight, and Virtual Toys in Madrid. Currently Kalen is working on his own tactical RPG with Coda Games that will be released on Steam and PS4. When he is not working he enjoys all things active including: soccer , basketball , and dancing..


April 20th!

spring TERM Registration

Feb 11, 2019 - Apr 26, 2019




April 20th!

Pricing & Schedule

Even though our courses are the most affordable for the quality of education.

These Finance Options allow you to focus on your goals instead of the barriers that keep you from reaching them.

Employer Reimbursement

Animation Guild CSATTF

Payment Plan

Companies that hire our students

  • Naughty Dog
  • Luma Pictures
  • Google
  • EA Games
  • DreamWorks Animation
  • Blizzard Entertainment

environment design Benefits


What makes this learning experience unique?

Personal Feedback

Receive personal individual feedback on all submitted assignments from the industries best artist.

1+ Year Access

Enjoy over 365 days of full course access. This includes all lectures, feedback, and Live Q&A recordings.

Certificate of Completion

Earn a Certificate of Completion when you complete and turn in 80% of course assignments.

Flexible Learning

Learn anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace with our online courses.

Speak to an advisor

Need guidance or course recommendations? Let us help!

Have you taken a course with us before?

Show us your skills

Not sure if you have the skills, or are you proving you do? Show us.

Have you taken a course with us before?