Elective | 2D Classroom. CG Master Academy
Becoming a Better Artist
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Registration Starts On
Monday, Feb 26th 2018
Class Begins On
Week of April 28, 2018
Robert Chang
Art director | Illustrator | Concept Artist

Robert "Lunatique" Chang is an artist, writer/director, composer/songwriter, and photographer whose work has been featured in comic books, video games, animations, television commercials, feature films, music productions, and various publications. Rob began his career as a comic book artist and creator during the 90's, writing and illustrating his creator-owned title Enchanted (published by Sirius Entertainment) and produced artwork for titles such as Panzer Cops (Dark Horse Comics), Robotech:Invid Wars (Malibu Graphics), Avenue-X (Innovation) and more.

In the late 90's Rob made the transition to video games and worked as texture artist, concept artist, or art director on various titles such as Prince of Persia 3D (Red Orb), Battletanx: Global Assault (3DO), Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX 1&2 (Z-Axis), Risk, Battleship: Fleet Command, Polly Pride (iWin) and others.

In the film and animation realm, Rob has created artwork for Spiderman 3 and Surf's Up (Sony Pictures Imageworks) and has worked as a writer/director on television commercials. Rob also moonlighted as a photographer and a composer/songwriter, having written songs for pop-stars in Taiwan and scored for both video game and film projects.

Rob's work is renowned worldwide for its evocative beauty and strong narrative style. Rob was one of four artists to contribute to d'artiste: Digital Painting - Digital Artists Master Class and he is recognized as an artist who has made a distinctive mark within the CG Community. Rob regularly contributes to www.CGTalk.com and other digital art forums, participating in discussions, critiques, and posting his own works in progress for peer review. Currently, Rob is working on a diverse range of projects, ranging from scoring music for games and film, writing novels and screenplays, writing/illustrating graphic novels, to paintings.

Course Description

Robert Chang’s “Becoming a Better Artist” has been one of the most popular courses we’ve ever run at CGWorkshops. Why? Because no matter what  area you specialize in as a visual artist (3D, 2D, film, animation, comic books, games, illustration, visualization), this course will teach you the most critical knowledge, techniques, and creative approaches that today's artists working in highly competitive industries must know in order to function as a confident and authoritative creative force.

Have you been feeling frustrated and helpless in your artistic growth and career development, as if you’re stuck perpetually in one spot and cannot move forward? Has hoarding all kinds of instructional material been mostly unhelpful, because you don’t know how to utilize all that information, or which ones to trust? Were you disappointed by the past classes you took, because they didn’t teach you what you really needed to know to excel as a visual artist? Do you know a lot of theory and can critique other people’s work, but your own work doesn’t seem to be getting any better?


This workshop was designed to lead frustrated artists out of the dark, regardless if they are professionals or beginners. Past students ranged from working art directors, concept artists, technical directors, 3D production artists, animators, illustrators, fine artists, comic book artists, graphic designers, photographers, to aspiring artists, hobbyists and total beginners, and this course has helped them attain the kind of breakthrough they have struggled to achieve for years with no clear results. Many past students have described the workshop as an intense boot camp—one that trains you in creating artistically and technically excellent works, as well as teaches you how to develop a compelling creative vision that more than just entertains, but also evokes emotional and intellectual resonance. This course will also help troubled artists who are suffering from unhealthy biases and emotional/psychological baggage due to feeling lost and insecure for so long, and give them back the joy of creativity so they can enjoy their passions again.

Throughout the workshop, you will learn highly flexible and powerful techniques you can add to your creative arsenal, and the weekly assignments will push you to restructure your mind with eye-opening insights that will forever change the way you approach creative problem-solving in visual art. You will also learn to overcome insecurity and gain confidence in your abilities, break free of bad habits and develop positive ones, and learn how to separate effective, practical truths from time-wasting misinformation. You will learn exactly how and where you should be spending your time and energy in your artistic development, and how to avoid pitfalls and traps that will have devastating effects on your artistic growth.

A very special bonus perk unique to this workshop, is the Better Artist Lounge, created especially for the alumni students of the workshop. Once a student finishes the workshop, he'll be granted access to the private forum, where Rob will continue to mentor the students by helping them with their personal artistic and career development strategies, answering questions, giving critiques, sharing resources, as well as continue to expand and update the workshop course material to the latest version that is being offered to future students. All of this is offered free of charge, and with permanent access. Alumni students will also enjoy the privacy of a small but tight-knit community of like-minded artists, and being away from the public eye of large open forums makes it a great place for intimate friendships, honest discussions, as well as mutual support. You will never be ignored or bullied the way you might be in large open forums. Many past students have commented that the private alumni forum is the crowning jewel of the workshop, because it is a long-term mentoring program that goes far beyond what the original enrollment fee covered.

In Rob's own words: "If you become a student of mine, I remain your mentor for as long as you still need me, even long after the workshop has ended. I have made this promise to all of my past students and I have kept that promise. There are students from the earliest runs of the workshop that I still help regularly today. I have a very traditional philosophy regarding the sacred responsibilities of a teacher, and to me, a teacher-student relationship is for a lifetime. Your enrollment in the workshop is not really about what you will learn from the 8 weeks of lecture notes, videos, discussions, and critiques, but what you can learn from a long-term mentor who will be there for you throughout your artistic development.”


Robert’s broad, multidisciplinary background makes him a great lecturer for this course, which approaches the essential foundations and advanced concepts of visual art from refreshing and unique perspectives unlike any you’ve seen, and show you how to utilize them in a rapidly changing professional environment.


Please Note: The heart and soul of this workshop is the mentoring of the students by the instructor, through direct interaction, in-depth critiques and discussions, answering of difficult and complex questions asked by students, and careful monitoring of the students’ growth and development so the mentoring can be catered to each student’s specific needs and personality. This is the most important aspect of the workshop, and it is what made this workshop so popular.

The lecture notes and videos are the two other aspects of the workshop, and they tackle different areas of each week's focus. The lecture notes are the main focus and contain the most sophisticated and advanced concepts of the workshop, while the videos are mostly supplemental to the notes and aimed mainly at beginners to intermediate students. The interaction between students and instructor in the form of in-depth, thoughtful critiques for the assignments, is what takes the lessons from theory to execution, and in turn, allow the students to really absorb the knowledge and utilize them effectively.

Students will be given assignments each week that push them to think creatively, experiment, and try different approaches to solve problems and find the most effective way to communicate their visual ideas. Through extensive feedback and thoughtful critiques, the students will make great strides in ways they could not have on their own without a mentor to guide them through the journey.

The workshop assignments do not have deadlines, so you can work on them at your own pace, according to your work/school/family schedule. You will always get critiques and answers to your questions, no matter how late you hand in the assignments (even if it's weeks or months later). There are also no time-zone concerns, because all communication is done via the forum. So regardless if you are a busy professional, student, or have family obligations, you don't have to worry about not having enough free time for this workshop.

The format of this class will be Forum replies for Assignments and Forum replies for student Q&As.


CGMA policy states that all students will have access to classroom content for the duration of the class plus 4 weeks to review content. After this time is up classroom content will no longer be available.

For those classes with live Q&As, Q&A recordings as well as feedback recordings will be available for up to 6 months after the class is complete.

(Please note: All course content will still be hosted in the Alumni Lounge, with permanent access.)



CGMA policy allows students to miss up to 2 assignments per class before they become ineligible to receive their Certificate of Completion.



This workshop contains four main components:

1. Critical foundations of visual art

2. Advanced creative concepts

3. Common pitfalls, career development, and creative fulfillment

4. Powerfully flexible digital workflow and advanced techniques.

The foundation component will cover the essential foundations of visual art that all competent artists must grasp--such as composition, lighting, values, color, etc, and explores depths not easily found in other instructional materials/courses. Students will discover that what they thought they already knew from books and classes were merely the tip of the iceberg, and there’s so much still beyond their initial understanding. Other important topics include how to depict natural and expressive characters through psychological and physiological analysis, and an extensive section that covers a wide-range of drawing and painting techniques.

The advanced component tackles highly complex and sophisticated subjects that often confound even professional artists, and are rarely taught or properly explained in-depth by instructors and authors--subjects like the anatomy of visual vocabulary, the components of stylization, creating appropriate styles for specific intellectual properties, reconciling aesthetics and taste, adapting the techniques of good fiction writers for visual narratives, how to inject your emotions and intellect into your work even when doing commercial work for clients/companies, effective surface treatment for intended purpose, manipulating values for stylization, and more.

The third component of the course will guide students through the methodologies and creative approaches of advanced artists and visual storytellers, important career development tips, the quest for creative and personal fulfillment, and steer students away from all the common pitfalls that both advanced and novice artists often fall into--pitfalls that can sometimes destroy careers and the passion to create. Learn how to face insecurity, self-loathing, lack of discipline and motivation, lack of focus and decisiveness in your creative choices, loss of proper perspective in the relationship between your dreams and your life, and emotional baggage that can cripple you and prevent a fulfilling life of creativity and passion.

The fourth component of the course is a full arsenal of secret weapons that advanced professionals use on a daily basis; Workflow that allows them amazing flexibility, astounding speed, and absolute control. These are highly practical and productive techniques that once the students learn them, will never want to live without ever again.

In Rob's own words: "While putting together the material for this workshop, I came to the realization that the entire course is essentially the absolute distillation of the most essential things I have ever learned as an artist to date, and if I could travel back in time and spend eight weeks with my younger self, these are the very things I'd want him to learn."




All course feedback is tailored around the individual students ability, for this reason there is no minimum ability requirement to enroll in this course. The spectrum of students range from beginners to advanced professionals.


  • 2D painting/drawing software. Preference: Adobe Photoshop.
  • Acceptable alternatives: Any 2D art software that has similar core feature sets as Photoshop, such as layers, image editing tools, brush customizing parameters, etc.
  • Students must have access to a computer or a mobile device with the necessary hardware to run his 2D art software of choice.
  • Any graphics tablet similar to the Wacom line of products, or touchscreen stylus with comparable technology and performance (similar levels of pen pressure, adequate responsiveness).

Course Outline



Lecture notes content overview (text & images):

In the first week, students will learn about the heart of an image—what makes some images evocative and exciting while others uninspired and lifeless. Students will learn to understand different types of images such as visualization, decorative, straightforward and abstract narratives, and subcategories like voyeuristic, exhibitive, simple action, and cause & effect. Students will also learn the different purposes each serves, and learn to utilize the same storytelling techniques that good fiction writers use to make their images more compelling and entertaining. The complex subject of taste will also be analyzed and discussed, bringing to light both practical and philosophical issues that all artists must face during their artistic existence.

Week one will also demonstrate how students can inject life and personality into images of inanimate objects and scenes containing cars, products, and interiors, thus turning sterile images of artificial objects into expressive ones with emotional resonance.
To wrap up week one, Rob will bust some common myths, address typical misguided mentalities, correct popular misinformation, set the record straight about some popular controversies in the digital art community, and even demonstrate his secret weapon for preventing carpel tunnel syndrome when working very long hours repeatedly, as well as explore the importance of effective time-management and how to combat lack of motivation.

Video content overview:

Please note, each week's videos are supplemental and not the main focus, while the most important lessons are taught in the lecture notes, described in the 'Lecture notes content overview (text & images)' section above.

-Countering eye fatigue
-Going from sketch to drawing
-Flexible and efficient layer organization
-Effective brush settings for drawing and painting
-Using appropriate brush sizes.
-Importance of horizontal flip
-Sketch refinement with color variants
-Transform vs. Erasing
-Blocking in general colors and lighting



Lecture notes content overview (text & images):

For many artists, effective composition is something that eludes them. Week Two will cover various aspects of composition such as dividing up a space, choosing focal areas, uses of variations, selective detail, overlapping, framing, balance, repetition, diagonals, contrast, negative space, leading the eye, spatial depth...etc. In conjunction, perspective, camera angles, and focal lengths will also be explored to further enhance and strengthen students' ability to construct effective composition. Other topics also covered include accidental distractions and manipulation of the horizon, as well as how to create emotional intimacy with effective choice of composition, how to establish the desired psychic distance between the viewer and your characters, and how to create visual drama by using uncommon camera angles appropriately.

Video content overview:

-Maintaining layer flexibility for drastic changes
-Layer security
-Dealing with the "wrong layer"
-Finding stray pixels
-Precise shapes and edges
-Visualize everything in perspective
-Final phase painting demonstration



Lecture notes content overview (text & images):

Lighting is one of the most powerful tools for establishing the mood of an image, and it is also responsible for the sense of dimensionality in images. In week three, students will be exploring the various ways to design and construct lighting setups (dramatic, soft, low key, high key, 3-point lighting, and beyond) and learn about light quality, light type, light direction, and how to utilize them to portray different types of moods and atmosphere. The relationship between light and shadow, and the complexities of ambient light and bounced light will also be covered, as well as the varying light behaviours in relation to surface properties and viewing angles, how light falloff behaves when considering distance vs. angle, and how light sources appear in various conditions. In addition, Students will learn about the deceptive values of colors and how it can make their images too flat and uninteresting, the importance of value coherency, how and when to manipulate values for stylization purposes, and how to design their images with tonal composition for maximum readability and overall coherency.

Video content overview:

-Blocking in fast lighting
-Using gradations as foundation
-Experimenting with lighting schemes
-Adapting useful 3D workflow for 2D artworks
-Maintaining lighting flexibility and control
-Nulling lighting the easy way
-How to check values
-Final phase painting demonstration (continued)



Lecture notes content overview (text & images):

Color theory is a very complex subject, and by deconstructing the technical and artistic reasons behind color choices, students will gain insight into how colors can be deployed for specific creative effects, and how to determine the appropriate colors to use in any given situation. Students will learn about color temperature, the effects of chroma, color relativity, color contrast, color emotion…etc, and the laws of physics that play a vital role in understanding the nature of colors such as mixtures of colored light sources and how various colors behave under different colored lights. In addition, students will also learn about the common mistakes that artists make when dealing with colors, how to avoid those mistakes, and how they can be bolder with colors and use them in unconventional ways to achieve unexpected and refreshing results.

Video content overview:

-Adding punch with colored light sources
-Altering color of light sources
-Simplifying colors of reference images
-Selective color Changes
-Altering color details
-Isolated saturation
-Harmonizing chaotic colors
-Final phase painting demonstration (continued)



Lecture notes content overview (text & images):

Week five will cover the topic that stomps many artists as much as colors do—the surface treatment. Students will explore important aspects of surface treatment such as how to depict weight, distance, size, and lighting with just contour lines, various painting techniques and brushwork such as bristle marks, impastos, splatters, dry brush/scumbling, stamping, washes, scribbling, etc, when to use smudging/blending and when not to, how to avoid the dreaded “smudge-a-titus” syndrome, understanding the differences between traditional mediums vs. digital and how to utilize them each effectively. Other topics includes the importance of edge dynamics, how to create textures quickly and creatively, the proper use of textures, matching brushwork to specific surface types, how to use selective detail, when to rendering against or along forms, using appropriate brush sizes for different situations, the struggle between painting smooth/clean vs. expressive brushwork, the misconception of what “speedpainting” is and isn’t, understanding brush economy and speed vs. deliberate expressiveness, and how to gauge the amount of detail an image actually needs for the purpose it serves.

Video content overview:

-Achieving organic, expressive lines
-Hatching approaches
-Differences between brush engines of 2D applications
-The pros and cons of blending, and various approaches
-The "clean and smooth" look vs. expressive brushwork
-Effective brush marks for different surface types
-Creative and effective custom brush settings
-Extremely fast and effective texture painting
-Texturing with photos
-Determining appropriate level of detail
-Dealing with foliage and hair



Lecture notes content overview (text & images):

Week six will deal with iconic shapes, psychological and physiological analysis of expressive body language and facial expressions, the complexities of multi-layered emotions, when to exaggerate or pull back an expression/pose, and part two of the complex matter of taste that focuses on the dangers of unchecked self-indulgence. Students will also dive into the sophisticated subject of stylization and the wide range of possibilities, understanding the building blocks of visual vocabulary, and learn to create the right stylization for any given project (anime, realism, comic book, etc), as well as learn about the detriment of inappropriate stylization and the negative impact it has on intellectual properties. The matter of aesthetics will also be discussed, covering the inner workings of both masculine and feminine beauty, why many competent artists fail at depicting attractive people but do fine at everything else, and the various considerations that artists must be aware of when dealing with aesthetics such as personal biases, cultural biases, and global standards.

Video content overview:

-Dealing with hair and fabric
-Experimenting with stylization
-Final phase painting demonstration (continued)



Lecture notes content overview (text & images):

Week seven will cover cautionary advice that will help steer students away from common pitfalls that many artists, novice or veterans alike, often fall victim to—both emotional/personal ones as well as career-related ones. Rob will also teach students how to troubleshoot their own work without always relying on external help, clarify important creative philosophies and why they matter in one’s artistic growth, and list all the critical things students must do in order to become better artists, including a comprehensive strategy guide for learning, practicing, and growing in the most effective way possible that will take anyone from total beginner all the way to advanced professional, while avoiding wasting years of precious time when using ineffective methods and being a victim of bad habits. To top week seven off, Rob will also conduct a no-holds barred Q&A session with the students, where no questions will be left unanswered—be it techniques, workflow, valuable tips & tricks of the trade, career development considerations, facing industry/office politics, dealing with clients, bosses, subordinates, and co-workers, and how to achieve personal and professional fulfillment while managing disappointments, failures, and unfulfilled goals and dreams.

Video content overview:

-Maximize your dynamic range
-Final color tweaks
-Effective sharpening
-Use composite layers
-Step-by-step walkthroughs
-Final phase painting demonstration (continued)



Lecture notes content overview (text & images):

The final week is for revisions and improvements to students’ final projects—an opportunity for students to implement changes to their work after receiving critique and feedback. Week eight is vital, as students will discover just how much they have absorbed throughout the course, where their work has improved, and what areas they must continue to work hard on. At the end of week eight, Rob will assess the students and do his best to make sure that they have learned all they need in order to become self-reliant, so they will be able to continue on their own after the workshop and achieve their individual goals.

Video content overview:

Final phase painting demonstration (continued)


  • Concept Artist
  • Visual Development Artist
  • Character Artist
  • Environment Artist
  • Layout Artist
  • Illustrator
  • 2D Animator
  • Comic Book Artist