Architect turned theatre set designer Sharon Samuels on set design:

“Whether you are creating a building, or a film set, your job is to tell a story from the narrative you are given. When it comes to architecture, the narrative comes in the form of the client’s program and requirements and in film, the narrative is the script.”

The idea of set design conjures up different images for different people; some picture the intricate and innovative set designs seen in our national theatres, others see the back of a church hall, a white sheet and some cut out cardboard trees. Whether you see the former or the latter, most can appreciate the ability of intelligent set design to create an environment in which the story can begin.  

As with many design professions, the theatre set design industry has begun to incorporate the new technologies of 3D imagery and design into their standard creative process. The concept of computer-aided design (CAD) is now standard in most theatres across the nation, with CAD skills now being listed as a requirement rather than an option in many set design job descriptions. For years set designers would send their design sketches to scenic studios, who would convert their pencil sketches into digital drawings – with the use of software such as SketchUp, designers are now able to convert their designs themselves, streamlining the process and leaving more budget for set costs!

Veteran set designer Randy Wilkins talks here about his personal use of SketchUp within set design “I first heard about SketchUp in 2003 when I saw another Set Designer using it. I was impressed with how simple it seemed to be to learn and how fast she could generate a model. It’s very hard for people who aren’t used to looking at orthographic drawings to be able to visualize them in three dimensions. We always used to build a lot of foamcore models, which can be very time-consuming. To be able to quickly build something in 3D to show someone is a lifesaver when you’re working on a tight schedule.”

Becoming proficient with 3D design software can give you the skills to transport your design ideas from concept to completion, without the bumps in the middle! Contact us now to learn more about our introduction to SketchUp courses.

Photo sourced from Quench