Set Painting/Scenic

What do Set Painting/Scenics do?

Scenic Artists paint backdrops, murals and many other elements on film sets. Working to briefs set by production designers, they are usually highly trained artists, with an art school background, or they may have trained as scenic artists for theater productions. The role requires excellent artistic skills, combined with the ability to work independently, accurately and to deadlines.

Scenic Artists are usually briefed by the production designer and/or the chargehand painter to produce one or several scenic works for films, such as cloud backdrops, or the backdrop of a city such as New York or London, which is to be viewed out of a set window. They may also be briefed to paint the murals or paintings required on sets, and to touch-up or finish work undertaken by the painting team. They may be asked to paint complex prop pieces. They are responsible for scheduling their own work, buying in the necessary supplies, and translating the production designer's vision into reality.

Scenic Artists must ensure that their work is carried out to the agreed standards and deadlines. They assist at the load in, and strike, of all their work. They must adhere to strict health and safety guidelines, carry out their tasks in a safe work environment, and clean up and dispose of any waste in their work area.

Scenic Artists need excellent, comprehensive artistic and scenic skills. They should have a good knowledge of basic scenic painting techniques, layout and paint application skills, and color mixing. Scenic Artists' abilities should include the traditional fine arts skills of sketching, rendering, and painting. They must also be well versed in techniques such as marbling, ragging, and wood graining and texturing, and should have a good understanding of art history, period styles, motifs and architecture. They must be able to interpret designers' small-scale ideas, and develop them into full-scale reproductions, perhaps even improving on the design during the process. They must be able to handle scenic painting materials safely. They should be able to work independently, but also as part of a team, and to deadlines.

Most Scenic Artists acquire their qualifications at art schools, and have a good understanding of art history, architecture and color theory. Many gain experience by painting backdrops for theater productions. Detailed knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures when working with paints is essential. As the role involves travel, a full driving license is required.

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Job description sources include (but are not limited to), and wikipedia.