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  • Live Webinars weekly

  • over 18 hours of Video

  • Difficulty Level:

    workshop-level-f F
  • Keywords: 2D


During this 8 week digital painting workshop you will learn how to paint environment concept art for games and film. The course will be heavily focused on developing the fundamentals of your painting skills. Simon Scales takes you through, step-by-step, the process of learning how to paint and design in Photoshop. Topics that will be covered in-depth throughout the course include: composition, value, perspective, color theory, painting with colour, creating color palettes and a strong emphasis on design and shape language.

This course is for people who are beginning to paint either traditionally or digitally in Photoshop right through to those who are at an intermediate level but would like a more solid grounding in the foundations of painting and composition.

During the 8 weeks of the course Simon will guide you through a methodical learning process to build up your understanding of how and what to know to be able to paint well. Learn how to paint and render spheres and cubes, paint still life, create thumbnails and value studies. Learn about painting and drawing in perspective. Learn about the principles that can help you composit and how this can influence your painting and decision making process.

Each week you will be set homework with a clear outcome building on the previous weeks' learning. By the end of the course you will be painting in full colour. Simon will share his Photoshop brushes, tool presets and templates throughout the course for you to work with.

Each week this workshop features a live webinar session where you can ask questions and receive personal, one-on-one feedback on your assignments. These will be recorded for those who can't make it.

This course is a pathway to Advanced Environment Design for Games with Simon Scales.


Week 1 - Learning to Paint Digitally with Photoshop

In this first week you will learn how to navigate your way around Photoshop. Simon will share with you ways to generate ideas, gather reference and use your reference successfully. Learn how to set up an effective workspace in Photoshop, set up brushes and also keyboard shortcuts to create a professional workflow.


  • How to paint a sphere, a cube and a still life.  (Templates provided) 
  • Creating Thumbnails and composition.
  • Linework ­ Drawing in Photoshop. Creating Value Studies.
  • Gathering Reference. Generating Ideas.


  • Paint 3 spheres. Matte, Gloss, Metal.
  • Paint 5 cubes. Use a different angle of lighting for each one. 1 Still life painting from the reference provided.
  • Create 5 or more unique B&W environments using the techniques you see used in this week's demo. Spend around 30 mins on each composition.

Week 2 - Shapes and Design

In the second week we will go through different ways of creating really dynamic shapes for your paintings and learning how to design. The most important part of being an artist is your design sensibility and training your eye to see good design.

We will start by thinking about why the opening scene in Prometheus looks so great, Why? How? Why is the ship so cool? What makes us feel that? Find out who the designers were and check out their work.

Simon will show you how you can incorporate dynamic design into your work. We will look at creating basic shapes and learning how to arrange these shapes. You will learn how to create custom shapes and custom brushes in Photoshop that can help with speeding up the painting and design process. Simon will also go through with you how you can implement tools in your paintings.


  • Basic Shapes Demo ­ Putting things together. Learn how to design shapes.
  • How to create custom shapes.
  • How to create a custom brush.
  • Using shapes to ‘find’ compositions.
  • Value studies ­ Using your shapes to create interesting compositions.
  • Gathering Reference. Generating Ideas.


  • Put together 10 basic shapes combinations ­ Using the Circle, Triangle & Square template.
  • Create a minimum of 15 unique and interesting custom shapes in B&W.
  • Paint 3 value studies from your custom shapes.

Week 3 - Composition

Balance, Harmony, Rhythm and Contrast. We will learn how these are used within composition.

Composition is a natural innate sensibility but it is learned through understanding the basic design principles. Learning how to control and arrange all the elements is one of the most important fundamentals to understand how to create striking paintings.

This week you will learn the fundamentals behind composition. Simon will show you ways to use striking and compelling compositions in your paintings to lead the viewers eye and create strong story and design in your artwork. You will learn about very traditional techniques and how they can be used and pushed in a digital painting. Simon will go over some simple compositional rules, how they work and how you can break them. Also, Simon will demonstrate how you can design your paintings so that they become stronger pieces of artwork. We will look at other artists/cinematographers work and breakdown the reasons as to why and how they work so well.


  • How to create and use the rule of thirds, breaking up your canvas using various types of different compositional rules.
  • Principles of composition, what they are and how to control them.
  • B&W study of movie/tv still. Template/reference provided.
  • Creating ‘abstract’ compositions using your shapes
  • Painting thumbnails from custom shapes and brushes. (Template provided).


  • Paint 2 studies from movies or high quality tv shows in B&W. Use the principles that you have learned from the demo’s to paint up some still frames. Only using black & white to paint the values. Simon will supply the stills you can paint from. Spend 1 hour on each study.
  • Use your shapes from week two create 10 interesting ‘abstract’ compositions from the process you see in the demo.
  • Using your shapes from week two, paint 5 thumbnails using the information from the composition demo.

Week 4 - Value Studies

This week we will focus on creating some more finalized value studies, planning a painting and creating dynamic and interesting compositions. You will start bringing together all your previous studies and exercises and really start working on creating depth and structure to your B&W paintings. By just using shape and value, learn how to construct and organize your paintings so they really communicate your story to the viewer.

Simon will also start talking about color and looking at how you can study color photographs to help your painting skills and start learning about how to ‘SEE’ color.

Simon will demonstrate various exercises on how you can start to think about using color in your work in a more proficient and effective way.


  • How to paint detailed B&W value studies in preparation for adding color. Bringing it all together. How to paint B&W studies of color photos. How to ‘SEE’ value.
  • How to create more complex compositions, how and where to start.


  • 2 B&W photo studies. (Reference and templates provided).
  • Paint 5 new value studies. Use the principles that you have learned from the demo’s so far to really work these images up. Only using black & white to paint the values. Spend 1 hour on each painting.

Week 5 - Perspective

Simon will teach you some simple ways to set up perspective grids in 1, 2 and 3 point perspective and show how planning out your perspective can really help your composition as well as your drawings/paintings.

Simon will demo how you can incorporate your perspective grid into your value studies and also show you lots of reference of how these different types of perspective work in real life and also in other paintings.


  • 1 point perspective, 2 point perspective and 3 point perspective.
  • Studying photos and understanding perspective grids. Painting a city.
  • Applying a perspective grid to your value studies and using that to flesh them out further.


  • Draw/paint 5 shapes in perspective. 1, 2 and 3 point.
  • 1 City painting from photo provided, using perspective grids.
  • Choose 3 of your value studies, apply a perspective grid to them and work more details into the original paintings.

Week 6 - Color Theory

Simon will give you notes and a video lecture/demo about how you can start using color in your work. Learn how to create a mood and a feeling in your work and also how to use color to direct the viewer’s eye around your paintings. We will cover how to create and use colour palettes, mixing colours and how/what techniques to use in Photoshop to color your images. We will go through the color wheel, value, hue and temperature. Simon will break these large principles down into simple, easy to handle steps that you can follow along with.

Simon will show you different techniques for coloring your images ‘up’ from your B&W value studies and learn how to do/control this process. We will be looking at what references to use and how to use them.
This week we will look at some master paintings and study how they use color to achieve a sense of mood and believability. We will also look at some digital paintings and analyze how modern artists handle the coloring process.


  • Color theory lecture/demo. Master painting demo. Color thumbnails demo.


  • Paint up 3 color palette studies. Template provided.
  • Paint 2 Master paintings studies. Reference and template provided.
  • Colour 3 of your B&W value studies, you can change the compositions around or start from new B&W paintings if you are not happy with your previous versions.

Week 7 - Using Color in Your Paintings

This week you will start your own paintings in color from the beginning of the painting process. Simon will show ideas and techniques that you can use to make this process much easier and far less daunting. We will go through different ways to start your paintings in colour and how to build this process up and look at some ‘speed painting’ techniques, using photos in your paintings and custom brushes. This week we will also do some rendering exercises so you can practice how to create color and texture more efficiently/realistically.


  • Different rendering techniques for different spheres. (Template provided)
  • How to start your paintings in color from scratch.
  • Various demos for coloring techniques.


  • Create 3 new colour paintings using the color techniques you have learned. Spend around 1 hour on each painting.
  • Paint up 5 different renderings of Colour spheres from template provided.

Week 8 - Textures and Finalizing a Painting

This week Simon will show how to add those finishing touches to your painting to really tie them together. The demo will show how to add textures and photos into your painting. Learn how to use lighting, contrast and saturation to push the viewer's eye around the composition and using adjustment layers to give your painting a really polished finish. In this final week you will pull together a finished colored painting for your portfolio using all the techniques you have learnt through the previous 7 weeks..


  • Various paintings showing different techniques to start and complete paintings.
  • Demo’s will include techniques and topics such as: using textures, using photos as textures, using photos as a starting base, contrast, saturation, lighting, adjustment layers.


  • Finish up your paintings and post them on the forum for Simon to give final feedback during the week.





Graphics tablet, preferably Wacom. 

  • “ You get a lot of nice tips/trick along the way, including great videos and very cool Webinars each week where feedback is given live on your picture (webinar available on forum later). ”
  • “ During the course Simon gave excellent feedback for all the work submitted....the Webinars were just brilliant! ”
  • “ I took Simon's "Environment Design for Games and it's brilliant. You learn a lot picking Simon's brain, and he let you in on some very interesting tricks and techniques. ”