Set design: from text to scale model

Course Dates: 26/01/17 - 30/03/17
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street

Learn how to work from a playtext to develop and progress a design concept and build a 1:25 scale model of your design. Ideal for those who are doing or considering doing Higher Education, design for amateur theatre, or have a keen interest it how design happens. Tutor: Keith Orton.


What is the course about?

The course explores the skills and processes required to take a play and create a fully finished design and scale model based on that text. The choice of play could either be a personal project, a play that a learner has already begun designing or always wanted to do, or a play allocated by your tutor. Either way, you will learn the details of text analysis and how to develop design ideas from this analysis. Then you will be shown how to build a scale model box of a theatre space. After this preparation you will then go on to develop the design for a set within this theatre model. You will have model-making skills taught throughout to enable you to complete a fully finished design model.

What will we cover?

- How to do effective text analysis
- Research in all its forms
- Developing an initial design concept
- Working with a director
- The different stages of a design model
- Making a theatre model box from theatre plans
- Developing and completing a finished design model in 1:25 scale
- Creating scale finishes such as brick, wood and marble
- The importance of the scale model as a tool to the design process.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Do effective text analysis and focussed research
- Begin to develop a design process that works for you
- Model different finishes using a variety of materials
- Design and make a fully finished scale model from a selected playtext
- Identify the importance of the scale model as a tool to the design process.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

As a beginner you might never have designed or made a scale model before but are interested in Theatre and how a designer creates his designs and then models these up. You might have done some form of hobby model-making or art either at school or at college. With minimal previous experience, you will be able to complete a design to an adequate level to convey your design ideas.

As an intermediate you might have done some aspects of design before, have studied theatre at school or college, or be in the process of doing some theatre design at an amateur or semi-professional level. Previous experience will allow learners to tackle more complex design ideas and create models at a near professional level

A decision about which level you complete the course, will be decided in discussion with your tutor at the beginning of the course.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught through demonstrations and personal experimentation that will be led by your tutor in group and one-to-one contact. You will be given guidance that suits the level of ability that you have.

There is an expectation that some preparation work will be undertaken in between the taught sessions to help support the design and model-making more fully.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

City Lit provides most of the basic artist and modelling materials and some specialist materials, but you may need to buy or provide some other materials dependent upon the structures within the models that you make. You will be provided with a personal workbook (A3 cartridge) and a copy of 'Model Making for the Stage' by tutor Keith Orton.

If you would like to buy art materials for your personal use outside of the course, City Lit students receive 10% discount off everything* from Cass Art, the UK's leading art supplies retailer. Your tutor will advise you on what you should buy. You will need to show your enrolment receipt in-store to receive your discount. Visit the Charing Cross shop at 13 Charing Cross Road WC2H 0EP or find your local shop at *Terms and conditions apply, visit

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


This course has now started

Course Code: VX380

Started Thu, day, 26 Jan - 30 Mar '17

Duration: 11 sessions (over 10 weeks)

Full fee: £399.00
Senior fee: £319.00
Concession: £243.00
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Please note: Different fees may apply for international students. Read full guidance.