Sam Nielson


  • Sony Pictures Animation
  • Blizzard Software
  • Skylanders Activision
  • Harper Collins
  • Scholastic


Sam Nielson

Sam Nielson's twenty-plus years of industry experience has given him a wealth of knowledge that he applies to both painting and design work. Sam got his start in the video game industry by making games in the basement as a young teenager with his older brother. Sam used one of these games as his portfolio to get a job with a game studio at the age of sixteen. After establishing his career in video games, Sam later returned to college, studying animation at Brigham Young University. While a student at BYU, he was instrumental in the development of the computer-animated short "Pajama Gladiator", which won the Student Academy Award for Animation in 2009. Sam graduated Magna Cum Laude from BYU in 2007. He spent 10 years at Disney Interactive, working as a concept artist. Sam's education and work experience have allowed him to accumulate extensive experience in character design, environment design, modeling, rendering, surfacing, and lighting.

Sam's unique, scientific approach to art and painting has been driven by his innate fascination with science. His marriage into a family of physicists hasn't hurt either. His drive to learn, combined with his access to invaluable resources and great mentors, allow him to constantly incorporate new knowledge into his artistic philosophy and process. Sam currently works as animation faculty at BYU and as a freelance concept artist and illustrator. His clients include Sony Pictures Animation, Blizzard Software, Skylanders Activision, Harper Collins, Scholastic, and many others.

Courses By Sam Nielson

  • Lighting for Story and Concept Art

    Lighting for Story and Concept Art

  • Fundamentals of Lighting

    Fundamentals of Lighting

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