Enviroment Support Group


This thread is dedicated to the Fall 06 - Class of Philip Straub and open to all those interested in improving in terms of Industrial and Enviromental Design.

                      [b]Assignment:[/b] Every [u]month[/u], a new theme will be posted to explore various aspect of Enviromental and Industrial design. 
                      [b]Objective:[/b] Improve, strengthen and share various methodologies in concept design from start to finish, with the aim of producing a finished digital "concept piece or illustration"
                      between various participants
           [b]Design:[/b] To generate a [u]design philosophy[/u] that can be incorporated in one's daily workflow be it the games and movie industry artist or the casual pursuit of self-improvement. This allows the improvement and ease in generating strong concrete design on a regular basis

[b]Theme 04: Enviromental Composition & Perspective

 [/b]This month,

I’d like for us to get back to basics as the crucial point any any painters skillset is really how strong their understanding and grasp is of the most basic skills.

In contrast, there are no fixed rules (like the way a gifted musician can play an instrument without prior knowledge but by ear) but not all of us are gifted musician or can paint a Monet by sight alone. And thus, it helps if we do know some basic rules (and then rightfully break out of them)

A favourite qoute Vilppu is often wont to say is " There are no rules, just tools!"


Week 1-2

Introduction to types of composition used in landscape painting

 1/ [b]Reference[/b] - find 1-2 images/paintings that best exemplify the various composition

 2/ [b]Value study[/b] - To break down each choosen reference into a greyscale or black and white value plan into simple masses to analyze the location of shapes and ideas that make each piece work

Introduction to perspective as a compositional tool, and other elements such as texture, form, quality of line that when combined with composition allows your image to be believable

3/ Reference - find 1-2 images/paintings that exemplify various perspectives and draw the perspective rules over them

Weeks 3-6

4/ To use the rules of composition and perspective to draw an enviromental theme based on any fantasy industrial setting
in purely greyscale only

5/ Feedback and critique of participants entries

Enviroment Composition & Perspective

    Welcome to this back to basics mini workshop. 
    As a self taught artist, I have collated various influences and my understanding of their art methodologies namely: [b]Philip Straub[/b] (NCSoft Art Director and regular IFX contributor for all things enviromental), [b]Glenn Vilppu[/b] (Maestro of figurative anatomy), [b]Singer Sargeant[/b] (known more for his figurative swarthes of colour, he had an eye for landscapes as well),  [b]JMW Turner[/b] (mood and atmosphere) and [b]Joseph Gandy[/b] (unsung artist and architect hero) into what I hope is a simplified overview of this vast subject.

The aim of this workshop is really get most of the beginners to enviromental art a good solid grounding and a nice summary for moderate to advanced users about the these fundamentals that make or break a picture.

    As Vilppu is often wont to qoute: " there are no rules, just tools"

This is true to a certain extent for all things related to art, and as an analogy of comparing a natural self taught pianist playing by ear) and one who formally learns the art of playing the piano, we can extrapolate these apply to digital and traditional art

    Even so, not all of us are naturally gifted or talented, 

but with hard work, determination and constant critical analysis and understanding, I feel that the whole process of the journey with art, will be a lifelong fruitful one.

    Daniel Dociu sums it up best: "[b]Real talent is effort, work and sweat.[/b] I think that what we percieve as talent is simply a person who has found a way to connect paint A and point Z in their brain by a very convoluted path that we don't relate to and can't understand. Good-calibre talent is hard to find. It's really hard to get through hordes of people who have no business being near a pencil" 

[li]Format[/li][li]Composition as a tool[/li][li]Material source and Reference[/li][li]Focal Point - Rule of Thirds & Golden Ratio[/li][li]Types of Compositions[/li][li]Additional Tools & Shapes[/li][li]Left brain + Right brain thinking[/li][li]Perspective[/li][/ol]Before attempting any type of enviromental or figurative painting/drawing; it is helpful to have a design plan.

Some artists will elaborately produce line sketches and have a definative plan that they adhere to throughout the paitning process, some will start with an abstraction and define the forms as the painting progresses, others use an amalgamation and intuition, allowing for an evolution of shapes and themes resulting in a different final outcome from the initial desired.

    In all of these, there are no hard and fast rules.

And it is best to stipulate that the best tool and methd is best used depending on the desired outcome, and that is varies

  [b]Philip Straub:  

Philip’s meticulously detailed digital and traditional oil paintings are purely based on the fantastic. Currently employed by NCSoft as Art Director, Philip Straub has been working as in illustrator/concept artist in the entertainment industry for over 10 years at the same time as merging his art into many other markets with previous work as EA’s sports Art Director and Universal Pictures.

  [b]Glenn Vilppu: [/b]


Glenn is a living art maestro of figurative art. However, the fundamental precepts of value, form and lighting which translate wholeheartdely to enviromental art as well.

“In over 45 years of teaching drawing my focus has been to bring to the student logic and practical application of drawing in communication. Drawing is thinking and feeling and the needs of the artist today to communicate are no different than they have been down through the ages. All artists have the same problems that they must deal with the differences are in their interests and the order of importance they give to various elements. I do not teach a style, I teach tools of communication and give direction to acquiring knowledge. Knowledge coupled with the development of skill and feeling is what creates the magic. There are no Rules, just tools.”

  [b]Singer Sargeant (1856-1925): 

[size=2]In May 1874, Sargent entered the teaching atelier of a youthful, stylish painter, Carolus-Duran, who encouraged his students to paint immediately, to exploit broad planes of viscous pigment, and to preserve the freshness of the sketch in completed works. [/size][size=2]
[size=2]Although Sargent painted, showed, and won praise for both portraits and subject pictures at the Salons between 1877 and 1882, commissions for portraits increasingly demanded his attention and defined his reputation. [/size][font=geneva,arial,sans-serif][size=2]Sargent flourished particularly as a purveyor of likenesses to the English aristocracy. He maintained a dialogue with tradition, creating grand-manner pendants to family heirlooms by van Dyck, Reynolds, and others. American patrons also continued to call upon Sargent's skills. [/size][/font][font=geneva,arial,sans-serif][size=2]After the turn of the century, Sargent grew tired of the demands of portrait painting. He was constantly preoccupied with mural paintings for the Boston Public Library, [/size][/font][font=geneva,arial,sans-serif][size=2]Sargent engineered his career so astutely that by 1907, when he pledged not to accept any more portrait commissions, he had established a solid reputation as a watercolorist.[/size][/font]
  [b]Joseph Gandy (1771-1843):[/b]
  [b] [img]http://www.hughpearman.com/2006/illustrations/GandyBankofEnglandrruin_01a.jpg[/img][/b]

“Once upon a time, there was a wizard who knew what Heaven and Hell looked like. In fact, he designed them. He also drew the greatest royal palaces that Britain has ever dreamed of, and a massive new Parliament building. He assembled complete, monumental cities and prototype skyscrapers. The name of this magician was Joseph Michael Gandy, and he did all this in the first few decades of the 19th century. Gandy was doomed to disappointment - he built very little in the real world, and was destined to be comprehensively eclipsed by another architect. He died a mad, penniless, abandoned old man. But he was no failure, because his extraordinary visions survive.”

to be continued…
Part I: Format



Suggested Themes:

Variosu themes and subjects wil be posted here

Difficulty: hard
Movie/Game/Cover art style themes geared towards professional briefs. May encompass multiple light sources, 2-3 point perspective, multiple colour techniques and matte techniques

[li]Entry into a Lost city within a vast cavern: Limited lighting, atmospheric perspective[/li][li]Religous festival within a cathedral: Low-moderate lighting, atmospheric perspective[/li][li]Explorer in a Deserted Marketplace[/li][li]Seaport night landscape assault[/li][/ul]Difficulty: Moderate

 [i]Focused themes with simple compositional, colour, perspective and lighting

[li]Siege on a mountain pass[/li][li]Dock on a secluded island retreat[/li][li]Landing on a space colony[/li][li]Giant statues in cliff face[/li][li]Approaching an Underwater colony[/li][li]Rearm and refuel vehicle[/li][/ul]

[li]Grand temple exterior theme (completed Dec 1-21)[/li][li]Vehicle in hangar bay (completed Jan 2007): Interior lighting, Balanced lighting + shadows[/li][/ul]Difficulty: Easy

 [i]Open ended theme allowing a wide scope of technical range and abilities

[li]Iconic grand tower[/li][li]Ancient Ruins[/li][li]Hidden waterfall[/li][li]Chemical plant[/li][li]Desert warzone[/li][li]Hostile takeover[/li][li]Swamp headquarters[/li][li]Supernatural discovery[/li][/ul]------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Archive of previous themes

[li]ESG 001 (Dec 1-15) Grand Temple Exterior[/li][li]ESG 002 (Jan 2007) SciFi vehicle in a hangar[/li]



Hey Chee, great to get things rolling. Aside from contributing other ideas on subject matter, let’s choose an assignment to start off with. We can try to structure this similarly to the class… start with value compositions working on composition, perspective, value, lighting and then work on up to color. Just a suggestion that’s all :slight_smile:

I’m more of a metal/sci-fi kinda guy, so I lean towards “Ship in the hangar bay”


Hi Shane,

Yeah. Each theme would probably be grounded in all the basics Monsieur Le Straub has gifted to us. Hopefully. Most of us would be able to do an amalgamation of

1/ Initial 1-5 Thumbnails

2/ Value/Compo studies

3/ Colour studies

4/ Producing a final piece

I think alot of us have problems with our colour compositions, and hopefully after another 2-3 sessions this will improve


Sounds like an excellent plan. Hopefully we’ll get more classmates in here soon so we could begin to share crits and ideas. Time to start cracking!


Hi guys. This is Oliver in case u were wondering :wink:

This all sounds great. I had a rough idea for an image of a kind of grand temple exterior theme. Tho I’m quite happy to go with one of these.
I like the steps you’ve got there too Chee.


Found Ya! :slight_smile:

Thanks Chee for setting this up! I’ll be mostly watching… and enjoying! :thumbsup:


Hey there guys :slight_smile:

I’m curious, if we didn’t take the class, can we still join in?? I’d love to take a stab at something like this. But if you think I’ll be too slow or not up to snuff, just let me know, I’ll be happy to take a backseat and watch, too :slight_smile:


Ollie and Terry, good to see you guys out here! :slight_smile:

Runecaster - you’re more than welcome to join :slight_smile: You might be a little out of the loop in terms of what steps we used in the class, but I’m sure you’ll catch on fast. Koshime (Chee) basically nailed it down to the basics:

1/ Initial 1-5 Thumbnails (black and white quick thumbnails to get the basic concept out)

2/ Value/Compo studies (adding value and composition to the subject matter, start refining the lighting, add more detail, all still in b&w)

3/ Colour studies (selecting a color palatte, applying as such)

4/ Producing a final piece (self-explanatory)



ill be boarding too if i may. I have done similar classes in my school and would like to continue and keep myself in the loop and practice. It is awsome you guys do something like this. Thread wich has a leaning torwards industrial design and etc. :thumbsup:


Welcome aboard Arlekin.

I’m sure you’ll be up to speed in no time at all. I tend to document the steps…pretty much step by step (with my limited technical skill and via standing on the shoulder of giants of artists within the digital world/past/present, hope whosoever is following …can benefit in some small way)

To start off,
I think we should go for something light and not too hard to finish.

So, in that regards we can opt to do the Vehicle in the Hangar on the subsequent theme 02 (as technically, there are some difficult issues concerning 1/ vehicle design 2/ interior lighting 3/ balanced lighting)

If all are in accord,
we can start the bimonthly theme with:

BiMonthly Theme 01: Grand Temple exterior
Dec 1 - Dec 15 2006

During Dec 16-17 we can all self appraise/help each other finalise our paintings prior to starting the next theme


Too cool of an idea! I suck at enviros, so I may have to give this a whirl when you guys really start up. Thanks for this koshime, it’s the perfect kick in the pants. :slight_smile: I’ve stuck the thread so that it’s easier to find.


oh guys this is EXCELENT! im busy for one night and when i come back all is taken care of! brilliant! sorry i wasnt so active last night when you guys where fixing all this. ill be more active from now on.

i think its a great theme to start of with. im having ideas already. too bad im at work so i have to wait until tonight to get crackin…

anyways its great that we could do this! for the last week i have been trying to think of ways to keep the motivation and momentum going from the course and this is perfect! and i think that because most of us know eachother from the course we are not afraid to give honest crits and that is SO important if we really want to progress.

nuff said, lets get crackin! the 15th is just 2 weeks away!


[message removed… having some posting trouble]


hey nice to see you all again in this forum. :thumbsup:
I´ll do my best to participate.

Jenn :slight_smile:


WoW!!! Guys. This is awsome. I’ll try to keep step with you. It really sounds promising and it allready was great fun with you all at Phils.
So, I’m looking foward having some extra good time here with you.



Initial preambulatory thoughts about how to BUILD a grand temple (armchair achaeo-paleantologist)

[b]Temple Building Philosophy

[/b] An effective temple is the epitome, the capstone of urban architecture that effectively communicates an Art process and the spiritual in a volumetric form. In that regard, a sucessful architect is able to unify both symbolism, architecture and volume in simple masses of sacred geometry (cylindrical, circular, tower, pyramidal, mountain, cross) in both vertical and horizontal masses

 In such an undertaking, one should consider:
 [b]A/ Function of a Grand Temple[/b]

[li]Symbolism of nations power - Sumerian[/li][li]Place of worship[/li][li]Abode of Gods - egyptian[/li][li]Mountain Abode of Gods - Aztecs/Mayan[/li][li]Symbol of enlightenment - Stupas of india/china[/li][li]Understanding or worship of Afterlife[/li][li]Gateway to Gods - Afikan[/li][li]Tomb of Gods - Egyptian[/li][li]Place of meditation/seclusion - Shintoism/Naturalism[/li][/ol]B/ Materials Available

[li]Mudbrick - Sumerian (ziggurat/receding plaform tiers to represent a temple on a tall mountain)[/li][li]Sandstone - Egyptian (allows ornamentation/facades and subtle details)[/li][li]Stone - highly Durable +++, heavy, difficult to work with (in 1000 years, when semiconductors, metals, wood, brick stone fade away, only stone and gold remain. Thus, an advanced civilization is more easily forgotten with time)[/li][li]Gold (white/yellow) - Precious, infinite durability, malleable (great to work with, moderate difficulty to purify, great semi conductor, possess M-state, memory, allow for digital storage[/li][li]Concrete - Easy to work with fortified, ugly, require trabecular meshwork, prone to rot, moderate durability[/li][li]Steel/Alloy - High technological processes required, difficult to work with, highly durable[/li][li]Wood/ratan - Natural resource, easy to work with, prone to rot adn decay, allow for geometric/curve shapes, poor durability[/li][li]Space-Age materials - Ceramics/Light polymers: allows for tensile structure and 1/2 to 1/3 weight bearing load[/li][/ul]C/ Sacred geometry & symbolism

[li]Dome/Spherical configurations - anti earthquake/tsunami, hurricane, wind, energy efficient[/li][li]Pyramidal - mystical volume, shares similar properties to the above. Difficult to errect[/li][li]Cube - mystical volume revered by Jewish/Moslem/Christian architects[/li][li]Open Columns and wall - uniquely Grecian. simplicity and oneness with landscape.[/li][/ul]D/ Ornamentation/Facades

[li]Afford for decorations, information storage/retrieval[/li][li]Aesthetic qualities[/li][/ul]Conclusion: In the design of such a sacred building, one at least needs to consider these paramenters better prior to designing/concepting a piece for either aesthetic/functional purposes



Hey Chee this is really cool stuff from you again. Thanks a lot :thumbsup:


Temple sounds good for a first assignment, good way to ease into the workflow of this thread. Off to do a bit of research!


Thanks for the sticky Rebecca! We’ll try not to disappoint :slight_smile: