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Designing with Color and Light

Nathan Fowkes

Nathan Fowkes
Beginner to Intermediate
9 Lessons, X Hrs Total
9 Weeks



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Course Description

This course is a serious exploration of using color and light to create compelling concept art and environment design for entertainment art projects. 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.

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.

  • Adobe Photoshop

Lesson Plan

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Nathan Fowkes

Nathan Fowkes is a veteran entertainment industry artist with credits on 11 feature films including The Prince of Egypt, Spirit, several projects within the Shrek Universe, How to Train Your Dragon, The Legend of Puss in Boots and Rio2. Nathan's upcoming projects are animated feature films from Disney, Blue Sky Studios and Paramount Animation.

Nathan is also well known as a teacher of color, light and design; he is is a regular guest lecturer at Art Center College of Design and has taught at The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art and the Laguna College of Art and Design. Additionally Nathan has been sought after as a consultant for game studios to enhance the quality of their theatrical presentation. He has worked with numerous clients including Blizzard Entertainment, King, Disney Interactive, Riot Games, Ubisoft and Rovio.

Nathan is also author of the best selling instructional book How to Draw Portraits in Charcoal, his work can be seen on his website.

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