Learn the complete process for building effective paintings to help sell any story. From thumbnails and color compositions, through final polishing techniques, Sam provides a clear understanding of all the necessary steps to create bold imagery for entertainment, otherwise known as Visual Storytelling. Students will work with their own story ideas as well as a predetermined story, since it will often be crucial to be comfortable with creating visuals for someone else’s story.

BIO: Samuel Michlap began his animation career in 1992 as a layout artist on Walt Disney’s Classic “The Lion King,” and key set designer on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. Sam was influential at DreamWorks as a Lead Visual Development Artist, Art Director, and ultimately Production Designer. He contributed to “The Prince of Egypt”, “The Road to El Dorado”, “Sinbad”, “Shrek”, “SharkTale”, ”Monsters Vs. Aliens”, “Tusker”, “Madagascar 3″, “Turbo”, “MegaMind” and “The Rise of the Guardians”. Sam has been recently working on the Guardian of the Galaxy feature films for Marvel. He is an accomplished Fine Art Gallery Painter. His clientele includes: Disney, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Sony, BlueSky, IDT, Imagi Studios, Universal, IM Digital, EA Games and Buena Vista Visual. He shows at Howard Mandville Gallery, Trailside Gallery, Ann Hughes Fine Art Gallery and Settler’s West Gallery.


Course Curriculum

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Visual Storytelling: Movie Moments 1 | Preview FREE 00:05:00
Preview for Visual Storytelling: Movie Moments 1 with Sam Michlap.
Section 1
Visual Storytelling: Movie Moments 1 | Introduction 00:26:00
Sam introduces the class, discussing the importance of learning film language and how to design and break down space. The emphasis will be on building a strong base on a small scale when designing a composition. Thinking like a director and cinematographer is essential in designing space for movie moments.
Staging 00:24:00
Examples of thumbnails and movie stills are presented to help students brainstorm composition ideas. Simplify designs to the fewest elements, juxtaposing light and dark spaces.
Abstract Design FREE 00:30:00
Designing space begins with building bold abstract shapes. Sam presents examples of his work and discusses his process of developing them.
Storytelling MM1: Questions and Homework Assignment 1 00:28:00
Sam answers questions about what is expected from this class. Shape language is discussed and how to create sets that relate to characters and vice versa. He discusses the homework assignment and gives guidance on how to approach it.
Visual Storytelling MM1: Research 00:24:00
Sam encourages students to use the internet for research. He discusses using the film The Third Man for the homework assignment in creating strong thumbnail images.
Storytelling MM1: Getting Started 00:22:00
Sam answers more questions and discusses the pros and cons of using camera simulation for developing compositions.
Pen Tool Demo 00:24:00
Sam discusses how he uses Photoshop for creating images and demonstrates how he uses the pen tool for sketching.
Section 2
Storytelling MM1 | Critique 1 00:26:00
Sam begins the class by looking at the first week’s homework assignment. Simplification of masses and shapes is reiterated to help avoid fractured compositions. Pushing dark and light values to be readable at a reduced scale is key in creating a strong image.
Purpose of the Shot 00:40:00
Sam shows his process of subdividing an image with boxes to develop a strong base. He demonstrates how situational lighting and accents of light and shadow can be used to communicate an idea.
Graphic Shapes 00:23:00
Sam demos over student thumbnails, discussing his thoughts on how to strengthen compositions. He creates focal points by adjusting values and shapes to break up light patterns.
Stretching Value 00:32:00
Get clear graphic shapes by increasing the contrast between large masses. Sam discusses his process of creating a composition.
Visual Storytelling MM1: Thumbnails 00:27:00
Another composition is broken down to show the step by step thought process in creating an image. A series of thumbnail images for films are presented to begin the process of placing characters in an environment.
Visual Storytelling MM1: Homework Assignment 2 00:30:00
Sam introduces the first class project and discusses researching a subject to help understand the intellectual property. He discusses how to approach the assignment by preparing a log-line, mood boards, and thumbnails.
Section 3
Visual Storytelling MM1: Critique 2 00:26:00
Sam discusses the class project with each student. He draws over and critiques student work throughout the class to help develop dynamic thumbnails.
Visual Storytelling MM1: Boxes 00:25:00
Using boxes as a tool for subdividing large masses to help direct focus in a composition. Abstract shapes should support the intent and the focus of a shot.
Abstract Composition 00:39:00
Sam brainstorms with students to help strengthen story ideas. Thinking about the emotional context of a shot can influence the direction of a design.
Cinematic Language 00:32:00
When creating thumbnails, varying the horizon line can help develop dynamic images. Sam lectures on researching movies to learn cinematic language.
Visual Storytelling MM1: Energy 00:28:00
The first step in creating a composition is to identify the point of interest. Adding emotion and energy to the thumbnail will help support the idea of a composition.
Visual Storytelling MM1: Critique and Homework 3 00:23:00
Two moments will be chosen to develop ten compositions for the next class. An aspect ratio should be added, and variations in staging and compostion should be explored to help support the "big idea".
Section 4
Visual Storytelling MM1: Focus 00:43:00
Sam will demo over student work and discuss his thoughts on how to improve them. He discusses the challenges of pulling the focus and how to convey intent in a shot. Images from classic films are shown to help inspire composition and design ideas.
Visual Storytelling MM1: Movement 00:39:00
Create movement with dynamic shapes and angles. Continue making adjustments in exploring ideas for strong statements.
Abstract Shapes 00:31:00
The thumbnail stage is for simplicity. Sam emphasizes making abstract shapes when creating a thumbnail.
Value Register 00:54:00
Using similar registers of value in masses can help develop a strong base. Design the environment to help support the big ideas in the shots.
Slow is Fast 00:39:00
Sam discusses how to design light so that it doesn't destroy the integrity of the big shapes. Strong clean values will help create strong graphic compositions.
Section 5
Visual Storytelling MM1: Critique 4 00:35:00
Sam will demo over projects as he helps students develop dynamic thumbnails. He pushes for a variety of types of compositions and discusses a variety of lighting and blocking possibilities.
Communicating Story 00:28:00
The work of Mark Davis is explored to inspire the telling of a story with single images. Sam shares his process of creating compositions with paintings and break-downs for film projects.
Next Stage 00:34:00
Sam shows images relating to the next stage of the class. He talks about how he learned color and offers tips on how to practice painting from life. He clarifies how to develop the foreground, middle-ground and background.
Perspective 00:37:00
Sam discusses perspective and critiques student work. He also demonstrates how he uses brushes.
Graphic Approach 00:29:00
The intent of the shot determines the use of a particular lens. Sam encourages lots of practice in being bold in order to achieve strong graphic compositions.
Storytelling MM1: Critique and Homework 5 00:42:00
How to move forward with your projects. He demos over the remaining assignments to guide them into stronger designs.
Section 6
Step by Step FREE 00:25:00
Sam presents a step by step process video explaining how he builds an image. He discusses how he deals with challenges when working in the industry.
Refining the Idea 00:31:00
Sam will break down student work with demos. He discusses simple ways of designing light in exploring composition possibilities.
Clarity 00:34:00
Sam offers his advice to students struggling in their development stage. He continues making adjustment demos over compositions.
Dominance 00:33:00
Pushing the division of abstract shapes to help strengthen the work.
Visualization 00:43:00
Different methods of visualization. The challenges of translating thumbnails into color.
Visual Storytelling MM1: Symbology and Homework 6 00:44:00
Sam works with students to develop graphic shapes that support the big story ideas. The homework is to refine thumbnails.
Section 7
Visual Storytelling MM1: Critique 6 00:22:00
Sam looks over the homework assignments and revisits the box method introduced earlier in the class. The box method is a way to subdivide an image to support a strong composition.
Box Demo 00:38:00
Sam will demonstrate how to avoid unintentional focal points by managing proportions with the box method. Developing clear ideas is essential in preparation for large complicated projects.
Rhythm 00:41:00
Sam continues to demo over student work using lines and rhythm to pull focus. Great rhythm results from the contrast created by big, medium, and small shapes.
Pulling the Eye 00:47:00
Sam discusses the importance of "pulling the eye" when creating focal points. He references the book How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way when designing and framing shots.
Visual Storytelling MM1: Color and Homework 7 00:45:00
Reference images will be collected and used for designing interiors, costumes, and props for the final class. Sam demonstrates how to control color and value. Think boldly with color to avoid a fractured design. He shows his process of making color notes and discusses broken color techniques.
Section 8
Movie Moments 00:45:00
Sam presents work produced for films to explain his process of maintaining contrast of value when transitioning to color. He demonstrates the meaning of contrast of color when learning how to paint with color. The design of a composition should still be readable on a reduced scale regardless of the amount of detail added.
Refining Images 00:55:00
Sam demonstrates how to make colors vibrate by using opposing hue and temperature. Keeping the identity of color is essential in maintaining color harmony.
Visual Storytelling MM1: Color 00:53:00
Every color has warm and cool version. Color is relative, and can only be judged effectively when another color is next to it. Sam discusses why and when to break the rules when exploring new and interesting ideas in design.
Pushing the Raw Idea 00:46:00
A discussion on shape language introduces ideas on character design. Demonstrations are made over student work, continuing to refine compositions.
Large and Small Frequency 00:28:00
Foreground and background possibilities are explored using devices that move the feeling of light across the image. Large and small frequency within objects can be used to add energy and interest to objects.
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