Our Early Registration Discount is available until Wednesday the 29th of May at 11:59 PM.

Design Principles for Artists

Learn essential design principles that will give your creations visual cohesion and appeal

Teacher Artwork by Antonio Rizzatti

This class is full. More seats may become available this term or we may open a new section. You can also check out our Digital Painting and Constructive Figure Drawing classes.

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Teacher Artwork by Antonio Rizzatti

Design Principles for Artists

Being well versed in the principles of design is key to making visually appealing and unique artwork. Under the direction of your instructor Antonio Rizzatti, you will be presented with design rules and methods to confidently guide you in your creative decisions.

Whether it be designing a prop, character, vehicle or an environment, Antonio will guide you through the importance of iteration, composition, and style analysis. You will also be instructed on topics of narrative, gestures, shape language and values.

By the end of this course, you will have gained the knowledge to apply crucial design principles to your work, influencing how it is effectively presented in your portfolio and making it more competitive and compelling for the industry.

  • Course Type Inactive Classes
  • Duration 10 weeks
  • Skill Level
    Level 2
    Level 2

    Second level classes are for students who have a good foundation in the basics of realistic drawing (such as perspective, proportion, shading and colour theory) and already know how to use Photoshop, but need more in-depth knowledge to create professional and complex artwork.

    This level is about expanding knowledge, strengthening skills, and transitioning to the world of concept art and illustration.

  • Language English


Note: This class will be offered online only

Term: TBD

Class Timings: TBD

Date of first class: TBD

Duration: 10 weeks


If you are unable to attend the class during the times listed above, you will still have access to video recordings of the class lectures and will still receive personalized feedback from your instructor.

It should be noted that students should set aside a minimum of 3 hours per week to complete assignments for this class. Students may even require a bit more time (4-5 hours per week) depending on how quickly they can work through assignments.


*Please note that this class' duration is subject to change (to either 1.5 hours or 2 hours) depending on the number of enrolled students.

These shorter class formats are conducted with more of a personalized mentorship style, allowing students to have more time devoted to their assignments' critiques and the ability to ask more questions in class, while still maintaining all of the theory and planned curriculum for the regular class length.



Skill requirements 

To enroll in this course you should have: 

If you are unsure of your skill level, please contact [email protected] for additional guidance.


Language and age requirements

You should have at least intermediate level English to take this class. Please be advised that there could be artistic nudity in our classes. Students should be 14 years old to enroll.

Required Materials

Material List: 

  • A desktop computer or laptop with Photoshop installed*
  • A  graphic tablet with pressure sensitivity (from brands such as Wacom, Huion, or Xencelabs), OR a tablet-laptop hybrid (also with Photoshop installed) with pressure sensitivity (such as the Wacom Cintiq Companion or Microsoft Surface Pro).


Important note: 

Please note that the vast majority of our digital classes are taught using Adobe Photoshop and that this is also the recommended program for students to use. You may consult our FAQ for more information on other software which may be potentially used for class, however, please note that no technical assistance will be provided by instructors on the use of alternative painting software as they may not be familiar with the program.


Please ensure that all of your hardware and software are functioning properly before the start of the term; there will not be any time to resolve technical issues in class.

*Please consult our Tech Requirements below for more precise computer specifications.


Tech Requirements for Attending Syn Studio Online Classes

Minimum Requirements

  • A strong uninterrupted broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE) connection with a minimum 600kbps bandwidth (up/down).
  • A Laptop/Desktop computer equipped with a single core processor (at least 1 GHZ processing speed) or a smartphone/tablet with equivalent processing capabilities
  • Good speakers/earphones to listen to the classes
  • Browser - IE7+, Safari 5+, Firefox, Chrome
  • Operating System - Windows XP, Mac OS 10.6, Linux distro based on 3.0 kernel, Android 5.0, iOS 10


Syn Studio Recommendations

  • A strong uninterrupted broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE) connection with a minimum 1.5Mbps bandwidth (up/down). You can also connect to the internet directly using your ethernet cable to improve your experience.
  • Laptop/Desktop computer equipped with a dual core processor with at least 2 GHZ processing speed and a 4 GB RAM
  • High Quality speakers/earphones to listen to the classes
  • Browser & Operating System - We recommend using the latest version of the browser and operating system for an optimal online classroom experience.

Course Outline

*Please note that the following outline is subject to change slightly at the teacher's discretion.

Week 1 - Differences between Concept Art and Illustration and why Design principles are important.

  • Importance of the Iteration principle
  • Overview of the Design Principles - 80/20, framing.
  • Studies and exercises for the next week.
  • Research and Set-Dressing

Week 2 - Big, Medium and Small

  • Principles of large, medium and small and how to compose details.
  • Reference research exercise and iterations with drawing and painting.
  • Shape Language - Examples of design exploration and composition.


Week 3 - Principle of echo and repetition in Design and Composition.

- How to use lines and assets in a scene to guide the player's or spectator's eye: researching movie frames and game scenes to analyze echo, repetition and gesture principle.


Week 4 - Gesture principle: How to create and observe fluidity in designs, assets and

scenery compositions.


Week 5 - Style analysis: What to observe about visual language and how to keep the

visual cohesion in the construction of a single asset and in the creation of different universes in games.


Week 6 - Idealizing a project with narrative: exercise of assembling

reference boards in pureref or preferred software, collecting images from Google, books,

Pinterest, Shutterstock, shotdeck and 3d asset libraries


Week 7 - Values and Contrast.

  • Tone value in assets and scene compositions: how to group shots of the

image to give greater importance to the focal point: frame analysis exercise and game screenshots studies.


Week 8 - Painting for Concept Art: Painting style analysis, rendering and

Photobashing (Match Color and selection other selection techniques, observing exaggeration or simplification of color palettes in various paintings, movies and games.


Week 9 - Composition and design refinement 

  • Wrapping up and presenting a project.


Week 10 - The Concept Art and Illustration market, final feedback and conclusion.

  • Presenting your work on your portfolio.
  • How to apply for different studios and prepare for art tests.
  • What to study next.



Check out the entire outline


Questions and Assistance

Feel free to send us an email at [email protected] or give us a call at 514-998-7625

Please consult our FAQ; most of the commonly asked questions are answered in detail there. If you cannot find the answer to your question, please feel free to fill out the form below, or, send an email to [email protected]

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