Elective | 2D Classroom. CG Master Academy
The Art of Composition
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Registration Starts On
Monday, Feb 26th 2018
Class Begins On
Week of April 28, 2018
Mauricio Abril
Freelance Concept Artist

Once upon a time Mauricio graduated from UCLA with a degree in Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology, but he learned a little too late that it didn’t fit him as well as he had hoped. Eventually Mauricio found another career at the Art Center College of Design in Entertainment Design.

Mauricio has been working as an Art Director/Concept Artist for various entertainment companies, most notably The Walt Disney Company, as well as a part time instructor at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art. He's currently an Art Director at BRC Imagination Arts where he works on multiple experiential entertainment projects.

Course Description

This class will cover the fundamental principles used to create visually striking images as applied to illustration, film, games, animation and publishing.

The class will first begin by exploring how composition functions as a visual design language across a 2-dimensional surface by covering concepts like mass, proportion, movement, and symmetry. These concepts will then be studied as they relate to illustration and entertainment-based mediums in the form of focal point, rhythm, depth, camera, space, and more. Clear visual communication will also be emphasized with regard to how the basic principles help communicate a compelling story/idea. Students will refine their understanding of composition through assignments that include graphic studies, thumbnail sketches, background/layout design, and story-based drawings.

Course Pre-requisite:

Students should have a very good understanding of drawing fundamentals including but not limited to figures, environments, and general perspective.

Software Requirements:

Adobe Photoshop is recommended along with any preferred digital drawing tools (tablet, stylus, etc). Though most of the homework can be done without digital tools, students should still have the ability to make, format and upload any traditional media drawings as digital files for review.

Course Format

Course Format: Standard
Duration: 8 Weeks
Lecture Type: Pre-recorded
Assignment: Deadlines each week.
Feedback: Individual Recordings
Q&A: Once a week.

*For classes with less than 6 students feedback may be provided during the live Q&A session.

Course Outline


Introduction / Composition as 2D Design

This class will define the Illustrator's Intent as well as what is meant by composition using examples from throughout the world of art/photography/film and more. Composition will be formally introduced using abstract spatial principles & defining the need for Visual Context. It will also discuss the tools of Visual Language and how they form the basis for all composition


Line vs Shape (Mass vs Form)

This lecture will introduce the concept of Notan vs Form and use examples from art history and film to explain how line and mass relate to the story message. It will also continue with the abstract spatial principles already introduced as they relate to line and shape


Single Image Composition: Part 1

This lecture will introduce the topics of Focal Point, Division of Space, Depth, Rhythm, etc as they relate to overall layout design which includes but is not limited to Environment and Background design


Single Image Composition: Part 2

This lecture will take the previously discussed topics of Focal Point, Division of Space, Depth, Rhythm, etc and apply them toward more advanced character-driven compositions that tell a story


Composition with Value

This lecture will take the previously introduced value matrix and expand upon it by focusing on value as a design tool.


Lighting & Color

The topics of lighting and color will also be discussed as additional visual tools in furthering the composition's story message


Film Conventions, Camera, and Perspective

Building on the concepts introduced so far this class will explore how different camera "lenses" can be used for different compositional goals. Perspective concepts will also be discussed as a visual tool for thumbnail exploration


Composition for Sequential Illustration & Other Formats

This lecture will focus on compostion as it relates to media not entirely dependent on a single image such as the graphic novel, children's books, poster art, and other unconventional formats


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