The Art of Theatrical Design : Elements of Visual Composition, Methods, and Practice book cover
1st Edition

The Art of Theatrical Design
Elements of Visual Composition, Methods, and Practice

ISBN 9781138021501
Published October 3, 2014 by Routledge
340 Pages

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Book Description

The Art of Theatrical Design: Elements of Visual Composition, Methods, and Practice addresses the core principles that develop the student designer into a true artist, providing a foundation that ensures success with each production design. This text concentrates on the skills necessary to create effective, evocative, and engaging theatrical designs that support the play contextually, thematically, and visually. It gives students the grounding in core design principles they need to approach design challenges and make design decisions in both assigned class projects and realized productions. This book features:

  • In-depth discussions of design elements and principles for costume, set, lighting, sound, and projection designs
  • Coverage of key concepts such as content, context, genre, style, play structure and format, and the demands and limitations of various theatrical spaces
  • Essential principles, including collaboration, inspiration, conceptualization, script analysis, conducting effective research, building a visual library, developing an individual design process, and the role of the critique in collaboration
  • Information on recent digital drawing tool technology, such as the Wacom® Inkling pen, Wacom® Intuos digitizing tablets and digital sketching, and rendering programs such as Autodesk® Sketchbook Pro and Adobe® Photoshop®
  • Chapter exercises and key terms designed to provide an engaging experience with the material and to facilitate student understanding

Table of Contents



I. Beginnings

  • Chapter 1 – What is Design?
  • Chapter 2 - Content and Context
  • Chapter 3 - Genre
  • Chapter 4 - Style
  • Chapter 5 - Structure and Format

II. Elements of Design

  • Chapter 6 - Line
  • Chapter 7 - Shape/Form/Mass/Space
  • Chapter 8 - Value
  • Chapter 9 - Color
  • Chapter 10 - Texture
  • Chapter 11 – Creating the Illusion of Depth on a flat Surface

III. Principles of Design

  • Chapter 12 - Unity and Variety
  • Chapter 13 - Balance
  • Chapter 14 - Repetition/Pattern/Rhythm
  • Chapter 15 - Scale and Proportion
  • Chapter 16 - Emphasis and Subordination

IV. Core Principles for the Theatrical Designer

  • Chapter 17 - Collaboration
  • Chapter 18 - Analysis
  • Chapter 19 - Conceptualization
  • Chapter 20 - The Design Process
  • Chapter 21 - The Role of the Critique
  • Chapter 22 - Drawing as Our Common Language
  • Chapter 23 - Rendering Techniques

V. Individual Design Areas

  • Chapter 24 - Costume Design
  • Chapter 25 - Scene Design
  • Chapter 26 - Lighting Design
  • Chapter 27 – Sound Design
  • Chapter 28 – Projection Design




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Kaoime E. Malloy is an Associate Professor of Costume Design for the University of Wisconsin Green Bay Department of Theatre and Dance, where she teaches Costume Design, Stage Makeup, Costume Technology, Introduction to Theatre Design, Understanding the Arts, Fashion History, Costume Crafts,and special topics in design and technology. A member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 and IATSE, she freelances as a theatre designer, makeup artist, and technician throughout the United States.


[The Art of Theatrical Design]… is one of the best, most comprehensive looks at theatrical design that I have come across. It is a perfect book for a beginning designer; chock full of new terms, information, exercises, examples, and illustrations. 

-Craig Choma, Associate Professor of Theatre, Knox College