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5 Books Every Set Design Student Should Read

Learn more about the set design books every student should read at least once!

The set on a stage acts as a vessel for the entire show. To be able to design, create, and build a set requires years of training and education. A set designer needs to have a creative mindset and learn the vocabulary that goes into scenic design. Here are the five books every set design student should read at least once!


5 Books Every Set Design Student Should Read Creative and Successful Set Designs: How to Make Imaginative Stage Sets with Limited Resources by Todd Muffatti

Filled with dozens of photos, illustrations, and technical diagrams, Todd Muffatti's Creative and Successful Set Designs guides theatre teachers through the preparation and design steps necessary to build an appropriate and effective stage set. Using his 40-year career as a professional set designer and university professor, Muffatti shares tips from his creative process and offers practical ideas about how to approach and accomplish imaginative set designs for high school theatre.

Creative and Successful Set Designs discusses the spatial relationship of the auditorium and stage, the factors to be considered when choosing a script, and the research necessary to arrive at a proper visual metaphor for a production. Muffatti covers many design style options and creative approaches that don't require extensive building expertise, large amounts of time, or great expense. He shows how a small stock of basic scenery can be used to creatively serve multiple set designs with minimal additions. Muffatti outlines the skills involved in the design process from sketching and drafting, to set dressing and model building and provides illustrations to offer further guidance. Creative and Successful Set Designs instills in high school drama teachers the imaginative, practical, and safe set designing habits that will help lift their student's dramatic performances to their highest levels of achievement.

Purchase on Amazon Here.


5 Books Every Set Design Student Should Read The Handbook of Set Design Paperback by Colin Winslow

The Handbook of Set Design is a comprehensive guide to designing scenery of all kinds for a wide variety of stages, large and small. From concept to final dress rehearsal and performance, it takes you through the practical process of turning initial ideas and sketches into final sets that enhance the audience's understanding of the play as well as providing a memorable experience in their own right. Many photographs of stage sets designed by the author are included, together with explanatory illustrations, stage plans, technical drawings, models, and color renderings for a wide range of productions.

Purchase on Amazon Here.


5 Books Every Set Design Student Should Read Making the Scene: A History of Stage Design and Technology in Europe and the United States by Oscar G. Brockett (Author), Margaret Mitchell (Author), Linda Hardberger (Editor)

Theatrical scene design is one of the most beautiful, varied, and lively art forms. Yet there are relatively few books on the subject, and almost none for a general audience that combine expansive scholarship with lavish design. Making the Scene offers an unprecedented survey of the evolving context, theory, and practice of scene design from ancient Greek times to the present, coauthored by the world's best-known authority on the subject and enhanced by three hundred full-color illustrations. Individual chapters of the book focus on Greece, Rome, Medieval Europe (including liturgical drama, street pageants, festival outdoor drama, Spanish religious drama, and royal entries), the Italian Renaissance, eighteenth-century Europe, Classicism to Romanticism, Realism and Naturalism, Modernism, and contemporary scene design.

Making the Scene's authors review everything from the effects of social status on theatre design to the sea changes between Classicism, Romanticism, and Naturalism and the influence of perspective-based thought. Particularly intriguing is their rediscovery of lost tricks and techniques, from the classical deus ex machina and special effects in coliseums to medieval roving stage wagons and the floating ships of the Renaissance to the computerized practices of today's theatres. Such ingenious techniques, interwoven with the sweeping beauty of scene design through the ages, combine with the keen scholarship of Oscar Brockett and Margaret Mitchell to create a book as involving as the art it showcases.

Purchase on Amazon Here.


5 Books Every Set Design Student Should Read Scene Design and Stage Lighting 10th Edition by R. Craig Wolf and Dick Block

Now in full color and packed with professional information and cutting-edge technologies, Scene Design and Stage Lighting Tenth Edition equips you with the most up-to-date coverage available on scenery, lighting, sound, and technology. Completely current, the exciting new tenth edition has two new chapters on digital integration in scene design and lighting design, a new chapter on getting work in the profession, and mirrors the best of real-world practices. Vibrant color production photographs support the text and spotlight examples of contemporary work.

The book retains its strong emphasis on modern technology, with many changes in the lighting design and sound design chapters, reflecting the latest practices. The text also includes an expanded section on television design, as well as an emphasis on health and safety issues. The authors emphasize collaboration in all sections of the text, and they provide insight via interviews with professional lighting and scenery designers in two features: "Working Professionals" and "Designers at Work."

Purchase on Amazon Here.


5 Books Every Set Design Student Should Read Scene Design: A Guide to the Stage by Henning Nelms

Anyone working on scene design for the first time will find this book indispensable - amateur and semi-professional groups, high school students and their teachers, even puppeteers who will find the advice on model building invaluable for their own sets. Whatever play you are putting on, designing the set will be no problem when you have this book to guide you.


It contains an excellent discussion of scenery, sets, models, the principles of design, painting scenery, and arena design. Throughout this discussion, the author gives many tips that will save you much wasted materials and hours of work; working out sightlines before you design the set, choosing among different kinds of sets, constructing flats, making a truly realistic model, constructing a convertible set, working with a color chart and tone solid, spatter painting, adding touches, and much more. When technical terms are used, all are defined with extreme clarity: raked set, cyclorama, set axes, flats, flippers, masking pieces, etc. The author's 110 drawings and diagrams are especially helpful floor plans of sets, audience views, reverse views, different scene designs on the same basic set, and similar material.

Purchase on Amazon Here.

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5 Books Every Set Design Student Should Read5 Books Every Set Design Student Should Read
August 20, 2022

The set on a stage acts as a vessel for the entire show. To be able to design, create, and build a set requires years of training and education. A set designer needs to have a creative mindset and learn the vocabulary that goes into scenic design. Here are the five books every set design student should read at least once!

5 Books Every Lighting Design Student Should Read5 Books Every Lighting Design Student Should Read
August 16, 2022

Lighting has the ability to tell a story all on its own. It has the ability to provoke a certain emotion from audience members without having to say anything. With that said, many don't realize the work and detail that goes into lighting a show from behind the scenes. Lighting designers are such a crucial part of any performance and should be praised for their knowledge and skill.

5 Books Every Sound Design Student Should Read5 Books Every Sound Design Student Should Read
August 13, 2022

Contrary to what many people believe, a sound designer does not simply find music for a show. They contribute in big ways making sure everyone's mics are operating properly down to the small tasks like picking out all the sound effects for the show. While having a background in music is key, having the proper education is a priority. Here at the top five books every sound design student should read at least once!

5 Books Every Costume Design Student Should Read5 Books Every Costume Design Student Should Read
August 8, 2022

Costume designers are an integral part of any theatre. While the audience might see a beautiful costume on stage, behind the scenes there is a great amount of detail and work put into preparing each costume design. Costume designers shine through their work on stage by understanding not just each individual piece, but the history behind it. Here are the five books every costume design student should read at least once! 

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