Introduction to Visual Development

Victoria Ying
9 Lessons (6h 2m)
9 Week(s)

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Course Description

As artists, our sole job is to communicate; usually we do this visually.

But visual communication is more complicated than it sounds, and yet not. In this introduction to Visual Development, I will focus on principles of design and give you an overview of the skills needed for effective visual communication, especially as it applies to the entertainment industry. I will cover the basics of design thinking, character design, color theory, and perspective, and share with you tips and techniques that I personally use in my own work.

Through this class, you will learn the fundamentals you will need to launch and advance your career as a visual development artist.

No matter your skill level, these lessons in design thinking will influence every decision, from the seed of your idea to your finished project, and help you work confidently and efficiently.

  • Adobe Photoshop

Lesson Plan

In this first lesson, I will start with the design principles of shape, silhouette, and proportion. Using these simple elements, we will deconstruct abstract artworks and show how the principles of design make them appealing despite the lack of literal content. We will take the basic shapes of a circle, triangle, and rectangle, and rearrange them as ideas to create appealing compositions.

Continuing from what was taught previously, we will apply design fundamentals to analyze great design in recognizable objects. I will also demo the design of an item using fundamental design principles.

In terms of visual development, the goal is not just to create well-designed characters that appear static on a page. Our character designs also have to function well in a moving, breathing story. In this lesson, we will define "acting" and "storytelling" and discuss how to apply design fundamentals to "animated actors".

In this lesson, we will use photographs to discuss one-, two-, and three-point perspective, and analyze space and lens. I will also demo a drawing from scratch using these principles.

Build a rough model of a set in SketchUp and present 3 different options for set dressing within that space.

Take your 3 set drawings from last week and color them with just their local colors, keeping in mind the major harmonies of color.

Take your 3 drawings from last week and light them each in 2 different ways, each expressing a different emotion. You should have a total of 6 lighting studies by the end of this assignment.

Do one painting using some kind of discovery process. You are welcome to explore your own discovery process, but make sure it's a process that you don't usually use.

Take all the work that you have done in class and present it in an appealing portfolio.


Victoria Ying

Growing up in Southern California, Victoria Ying's art career started with a love for comic books. This eventually led her to Art Center where she studied illustration and entertainment design. At Disney, she focused on visual development and storytelling. Her film credits include Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, "Paperman", Big Hero 6, and Moana. Her debut picture book, "Meow!", is available in stores now. Victoria currently lives in Los Angeles with her dog.