Efficient Environment design process

Environment design is effective when it communicates a strong story.

Are you making sure your environment designs capture the emotions and mood that you want them to? This Environment design cheat sheet outlines some key fundamental steps that you should take when designing your environments.


Main Points


Establish the story

Use shapes, space, details, weather, texture etc to understand the story moment being told.

Simple statement & mood

Use silhouette, local value, light & shadow etc to create a clear emotional visual base to build on.

Shape & colour language

What shapes, colours & lines best suit the mood?

Sense of space

Use tricks such as edges, contrast, perspective.

Subtle details

Consider details coming into play over time such as gravity, props to give a sense of culture & history.

Add drama

Thematic lighting and colour will support the theme.

Add visual interest

Use colour, edges, mood, contrast etc with unity and variety to establish interesting visual effects.

Make it believable

Ensure lighting is correct with consistant top, side, bottom planes, shadows & colour temperatures etc.

Questions to ask yourself

  • What kind of people live there?

    What kind of people live there?

  • What subtle tells lend to the pre-story?

    What subtle tells lend to the pre-story?

  • What can be left out? What adds nothing?

    What can be left out? What adds nothing?

  • How can it best connect with the audience?

    How can it best connect with the audience?

  • How & Why do various lights come into play?

    How & Why do various lights come into play?

  • What message is conveyed at first place?

    What message is conveyed at first place?


Things to remember

Always ask what the image is about

Emphasize focus points, delete anything meaningless.

Inspire your audience

Evoke emotional responses with something they relate to.

Visual hierarchy

Consider what is most important and prioritize elements.

Prescribed meanings

Attach existing connotations for prescribed emotional connections with the audience, things they can relate to.

Light & colour

Consider how these will effect the tone & mood.

Consistancy of light

Make sure light stays true to reality throughout but push or exaggerate to amplify the mood or story moment.

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