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Composition, Lighting and Illustration

An advanced 10 week course where you become proficient in the essential principles of composition and lighting so you can create realistic and visually compelling illustrations

Student Artwork by Christopher Scoles

This class is full. Please send an email to [email protected] to be on the waiting list.
You can also check out our Concept Sculpting in ZBrush, Environment Design with Blender and Prop and Vehicle Design classes.

Teacher Artwork by Donald Caron

Composition, Lighting and Illustration

Do you possess basic perspective, value and digital painting skills but have trouble creating visually compelling illustrations? Do you wish to gain a greater understanding of lighting and composition so you can create professional looking images for your work or portfolio?

A thorough understanding of composition and lighting is essential for any digital illustrator or concept artist looking to maximize the visual appeal of their images. In this advanced illustration course, industry veteran Donald Caron will provide you with the skills, tools and techniques to compose stunning and lifelike images.

Composition refers to arranging or placing elements to create a complete, visually appealing piece of art. The essential principles of composition have been passed down from master artists and painters for centuries and successful digital illustrators of today still follow these same principles while creating their artwork.

In this course you will become proficient in these principles and gain expertise in composing with light so you can create luminous, well composed artwork. You will learn how to best arrange your lighting so that your illustrations express the desired mood and atmosphere, making them appear vibrant and lifelike and maximizing their emotional impact.

Thumbnails are an important and effective tool for illustrators and concept artists when creating new art pieces. You will gain proficiency in creating thumbnail sketches within a short amount of time. In addition to this, you will learn how to effectively perform colour studies over these thumbnails so you can explore multiple ideas and design dynamic and realistic images. You will acquire the skills required to refine and polish your thumbnail sketches, providing you with powerful base that can be used to create spectacular illustrations.

By the end of this course, you will have the experience of having completed an illustration project while receiving one on one feedback from a master illustrator. Furthermore, you will have become proficient at composition and lighting. Your knowledge and ability to create and use thumbnail sketches will have taken a giant leap forward giving you the ability to create well composed and realistic illustrations.

  • Course Type Concept Art and Illustration Courses
  • Duration 10 weeks
  • Skill Level
    Level 3
    Level 3

    These courses are for people who can already draw and paint realistically, and can create complete digital illustrations.

    Level 3 classes will help students to give a new edge to their images, properly render their digital work, and bring them to a professional level.

  • Language English


Note: This class will be offered online only

Class Timings: Tuesdays from 2 PM to 5 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT or UTC -4 h)

Date of first class: July 7th

Duration: 10 weeks

If you are unable to attend the class during the times listed above, you will still have access to video recordings of the class lectures and will still receive personalized feedback from your instructor.



This is an advanced digital media class. To take this class, you need to either have equivalent experience OR have taken Digital Painting or Digital Sketching for Production.

Language requirements: You need at least intermediate level English to take this class (the teacher is bilingual and can explain concepts and give feedback in both languages).


Required Materials

You must bring your own laptop, equipped with a Wacom tablet and Photoshop to each class.

In addition, please bring a sketchbook, some pencils and a blue ballpoint pen.


Tech Requirements for Attending Syn Studio Online Classes

Minimum Requirements

  • A strong uninterrupted broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE) connection with a minimum 600kbps bandwidth (up/down).
  • A Laptop/Desktop computer equipped with a single core processor (at least 1 GHZ processing speed) or a smartphone/tablet with equivalent processing capabilities
  • Good speakers/earphones to listen to the classes 
  • Browser - IE7+, Safari 5+, Firefox, Chrome 
  • Operating System - Windows XP, Mac OS 10.6, Linux distro based on 3.0 kernel, Android 5.0, iOS 10


Syn Studio Recommendations

  • A strong uninterrupted broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE) connection with a minimum 1.5Mbps bandwidth (up/down). You can also connect to the internet directly using your ethernet cable to improve your experience.
  • Laptop/Desktop computer equipped with a dual core processor with at least 2 GHZ processing speed and a 4 GB RAM
  • High Quality speakers/earphones to listen to the classes
  • Browser & Operating System - We recommend using the latest version of the browser and operating system for an optimal online classroom experience.

Course Outline

*Please note that this outline is from the last time we held this class and we may make some updates and improvements for the coming term.

Weeks 1 & 2 - Learn essential principles of composition so you can create compelling illustrations. Understand how best to use basic shapes to create simple and powerful compositions.

Weeks 3 & 4 - Become proficient in choosing the correct lighting for your composition and learn how to best position your light source to create the desired atmosphere and visual rhythm for your image.

Weeks 5 to 7 - Gain expertise in creating fast and efficient thumbnail sketches for your illustration project. Gain proficiency in doing greyscale and colour studies so you can experiment, research and design your image for maximum impact.

Weeks 8 to 10 - Gain the skills required to render, refine and polish your sketches so you can use these as a reference to build your final illustration with the perfect composition and lighting.

Check out the entire outline

Speak to an advisor

Feel free to send us an email at [email protected] or give us a call at 514-998-7625
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