Scenic Painting


 - Scenic painting is the art of replicating and producing certain painting styles to work with the scene design itself to communicate the design to the audience.  A scenic painter needs to have experience with many different styles of painting, be it realism, texturing, or painting fine details on large scale objects.  In more non-profit and community theatres, the scenic painter and scenic designer are usually one and the same.  



The idea of scenically designing a full flat or even a full show sounds pretty daunting, so take a look at this video for learning how to create stencils, which most designers use to create wallpaper patterns and other repeated designs.


-Similar to the Set Designer, the Scenic Designer and Painter have to follow basic design rules to complete their design. However, the Scenic Designer and Painter (which is sometimes the same person, sometimes different people) has to have a basic knowledge of art to be able to convey their ideas to the director and other designers.  

-These tools listed below are basic criteria for basic drawing and creating a design but you do not have to be an incredible drawer, just as long as you have a general understanding of how the set should be drawn.

 ****Though these aren't physical tools, they're vital to understand while designing.  

1)  Line:  An understanding of the lines of composition.  

2)  Mass:  The size of the physical items onstage.

3)  Composition:  How are the actual physical items onstage arranged in the space? (symmetrical, balanced, unbalanced)

4)  Space:  An understanding of the physical area of the stage, and if it's taken up by positive space (taken up by physical objects) or negative space (open space).

5)  Texture:  Either two-dimensional or three-dimenstional variations in material, color, or pattern.  

6)  Color, which has four properties:  Hue:  what we think of as "color", the mixture of a certain amount of pigment to create the desired color.  Saturation:  The intensity of the color itself.  Value:  The presence of black in the color, varying from 0 (Black) to 100 (White).  Finally, there's Temperature:  an emotional quality of a color (ie:  warm colors vs. cool colors).

l' apres-midi d'un faune ​(2008), American Repertory Ensemble, Austin TX, Scene Design: Szu-Feng Chen

Check out the National Theatre in London discussing basic Scenic Art. 


Some scenic artists will be in charge of painting custom backdrops, something that can take days, weeks, even months.  Instead of painting every backdrop they intend to use, some scenic artists will rent backdrops from local companies.  Check the list below for some great backdrop rental companies.