Syllabus Fall 2015
An introduction to the application of computer hardware and software to design for the theatre, including instruction and practice in CAD, color imaging, and 3-D modeling.
Monday & Wednesday 11 - 12:50 a.m.            GTC Design Studio
Matthew A. Knewtson, Professor of Theatre
1115 Gilmore Theatre Complex Office Hours: Noon - 1 pm Tuesday and by appointment
Phone: 387-3218 E-mail:

Like paper, pencils and paintbrushes -- computers and software applications are tools used by theatrical designers to communicate, represent, and eventually realize vision.  It is the primary goal of this course to help the student develop proficiency with these tools.  As with any other tool used in the creation of theatre, skill comes from practice.  In this course students will practice the use of computer applications to visually communicate idea.

The core content of this course will revolve around mastery of three basic applications, which serve specific purposes.  Those applications are VectorWorks – for drafting, Photoshop – for pixel based image manipulation, and SketchUp – for 3D modeling.  Additioanlly this semester we will be working with MakerWare to implement 3D Printing. The student is expected to gain an understanding of the use of these tools as it applies to theatrical design and production.

Because technology is constantly changing, and because not all artist prefer to paint with the same type of brush, it is important that this course also help the student gain an understanding of how to explore and discover the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of differing software packages.  There are now, and certainly will be in the future, other applications that may serve the student’s needs. This course will not offer instruction in these other programs, but will equip the student to approach these applications on there own.

This course will be roughly divided into four sections.  They are as follows:

  1. Technical Drawing – This section will focus on Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) in Nemeschek’s VectorWorks.
  2. Image Manipulation / Digital Painting – This section will focus on the use of Adobe Photoshop as a Drawing and painting tool, but will also include the manipulation of existing images.
  3. Computer Modeling – The creation of 3D objects and environments in Google SketchUp.
  4. The Final Section / “Putting it all together” – This section will focus on using multiple applications to create area specific design presentations.  This sections will be tailored individually to the students selected areas of interest.


  • USB Drive (Minimum 1 GB Capacity)
  • Although the majority of the assignments will be turned in digitally, there may be some printing cost associated with the final project.  These are the responsibility of the student and will vary depending of the specifics of the project assigned.

Attendance is taken at the beginning of each class. If you come to class late, you are welcome, but will be counted absent for that class period. Three absence are permitted for any reason including religious observations. Additional absences will lower your final grade one letter grade for each absence. Illness with a valid medical excuse from the health center or a private physician is an excused absence. It is the students responsibility to make up any missed in class work and get notes on material covered in class.

Department of Theatre policy requires you attain a final course grade of C or better to apply this course to the requirements of the major or minor.

You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Undergraduate Catalog that pertain to Academic Honesty. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. [The policies can be found at under Academic Policies, Student Rights and Responsibilities.] If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charges. If you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with your instructor if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.


Classroom Participation


Daily Exercises


Technical Drawing Project


Sept. 28

Image Manipulation Project


Oct. 5

Digital Painting Project


Oct. 19

Scenic Modeling Project


Nov. 16
3D Printing 5%
Nov. 23

Section Exams


Final Project


Dec. 16, 8 AM

Projects and Exercises are assessed a grade on the due date.  Failure to turn in a project will result in an E grade (or no credit on exercises.)  Partially complete projects will receive a D grade. Projects and exercises submitted or resubmitted after the deadline will be evaluated and the two grades will be averaged.