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5 tips for better theatrical sets

November 11, 2017


Are you a set painter? Or maybe a freelancer just starting out? Well, then maybe I can help you out with a few tips on set making! Well, I'm certainly going to try.

1.) Listen to the Designer

So, this should be a no brainer, but in some regards it needs to be said. While some projects allow for freebirding your set, the safest bet in the theatre industry is listening to what the designer has to say. The more you know about what the idea for the set is, the better off you'll be. 

2.) Know your techniques

Is it a spatter or a rag roll? Or maybe even sponging? What about wet blend? Knowing how each of these techniques looks and fits into your set helps you get everything done faster.

3.) Labels

I cannot stress enough that labels are important. Do you know how stressful it is to have twenty buckets of paint with only half being labeled? It's not fun! Label you buckets as you go. That means putting the date, the show, the paint name (or main use), the contents, and who mixed it. It only takes a minute to do, so don't leave it!

4.) Manage your Time

So, no one likes deadlines. They loom in the distance and they jump on you almost like and RKO out of no where. But they are a fact of life, especially theatre. So pull out your planners, make your paint list, and start managing what needs done and what can wait for the carpenters to get done first. It helps, but also leave time to make notes on what else needs done around the set and what can be worked on.

5.) Paint Lists

Paint lists are... Interesting. But not impossible! Basically, write down the treatment steps for each area that your designer put in the paint elevations. I.e., wall 1 needs this, that, and the other thing while wall 2 needs that, the other thing, and this done to it. Make it work how you'd like, but keep it close at hand so you can check on yourself if you get confused.


You may think 20 buckets is an exaggeration, but it's not! Not a chance! Label your buckets!!


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