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My father was a commercial artist and so I was privileged to observe his discipline at illustrating narrative from a script form with Indian ink and a sable brush on Bristol board. As I graduated in Fine Art I was drawn towards film design and became fascinated with the incredible artistic skills of Anton Grot, William Cameron Menzies, John De Cuir. The glorious technicolor wonders displayed by the imaginations of Alfred Junge, Hein Heckroth and the worlds they created for film. 

Sketching set designs and the development of ideas for me begins with the initial response to a narrative discussed with a director and cinematographer, sharing thumbnail sketches that are then discussed and developed further to wide key frames. The limitless boundaries and possibilities - exploring and expanding what a world, object or environment could potentially become - tends to work best as a rough wide frame that then can be the basic structure for the final drawing.


Despite the time constraints that apply to this discipline it can often be a process of elimination while allowing your imagination the fluidity to explore emerging ideas with an economy of superfluous detail. Ken Adams' bold structural strong lines are a masterclass at this technique.

I have often found the immediacy of this process more satisfying, as the sketches connect on a more tactile human level than a fully rendered concept image that often lacks the inflexibility of suggestion that drawing offers.


The visual expression of a set drawing should inform space and dimension that will allow the required narrative to play out and can be a strong guide for the Art Department to extrapolate the technical drawings for construction.

Lighting is a key consideration in how the form and space can be revealed, and so I like to propose suggestions and provide opportunities like frames within frames, apertures and layers that could create more depth, colour and texture, which I love indicating in the set drawings.


The drawings realised as physical three dimensional spaces and object is a thrilling privilege, but the excitement for me is still the potential of a simple sheet of paper and a pencil.

upper deck layout.jpg