Karen Kuo

Karen Kuo

Introduction To
Visual Development

Adobe Photoshop



Karen Kuo is a Visual Development Artist at Dreamworks TV. In this course she will focus on developing a scene painting. This workshop is for anyone who wants to create better artwork and illustrations for their work. Karen will also show you the fastest way to develop scenes using research and Photoshop.

Learn from
the best

Photoshop and Illustrator are incredibly deep tools. They are used across industries and are capable of a million different uses. This workshop is designed for Motion Designers and the way we use these tools while ultimately ending up in After Effects. 

Project based

This workshop is all about making great 2d environmental art. This is a project based workshop that’s designed to help you understand the best techniques in Adobe Photoshop. Through this project you’ll walk away with a deep understanding of visual development. And, you’ll have a sample for your own portfolio. 

Learn the shortcuts used in production

Creating original environments will make your work better. But often, it’s too slow and time consuming to incorporate into your actual production work. Karen wants to help you create polished illustrations, faster! Using her processes you’ll be able to quickly get from concept to polished completion in time to make a deadline.

Course content

What you'll learn from this workshop

Shape Language & Visual Research

Visual Development artists must understand shape language. This simply means the relationship between the shape of objects and the mood they convey to the audience. Doing visual research is a staple of the visual development process.  

Blocking & Line Work

Before painting textures and atmospheric effects, you need to plan out your scene. Planning and line work set the stage for doing your value study. This allows you to quickly decide about the quality of your shot before commitment to painting the final details. 

Framing, Values & Layout

With your overall blocking completed you’ll work on your final shot framing. Then you’ll work on your final value study to determine the lighting and shadows in the scene. This will allow you to layout the scene lighting independent of the final color palette for you scene.

Textures, Gradients & Painting

Now that your value study and framing are dialed in, it’s time to add the magic touch of color, textures and environmental effects. Karen will show you how to quickly create flat textures that can be used correctly in perspective. She will show you her technique for using gradients for lighting effects. 

Lighting & Final Tweaks

The final step of this process is the scene lighting and final details. Karen will show you how to create an atmosphere that casts over the scene and creates a cohesive feel. Then she will add highlights and adjust shadows until it feels just right. This is the final stage of Karen’s process in this workshop. 

Course Apprentice Case Study

For this workshop we asked Ringling graduate Cari Robaldo to be Karen’s apprentice. You will see her go through each step in the process and follow the workshop prompt. This will help you to see the same process repeated by someone else and reinforce the value of this process, starting with visual research, into line work and finally into color and lighting. 

Course Preview

Sneak peek of the course


Karen Kuo

Visual Development Artist, Dreamworks TV

Karen Kuo is an illustrator and visual development artist currently based in southern California. She has a BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

She is currently a Visual Development Artist at Dreamworks Television working on Kung Fu Panda, Paws of Destiny.


Join our community

Upon your enrollment, you’ll receive an invitation in your email inbox to sign up for our Private Slack Channel. You can also join our Facebook Group. 

Each workshop has a dedicated channel where you can share your work and get feedback from other students and the MoGraph Mentor Crew.

We can’t wait to see what you’ll create!

Slack Facebook Group illustration


Enroll any time

Tons of content

Hours of content

Follow Karen’s process every steps of the way

In-depth tools and techniques review

Watch Cary Robaldo, Ringling graduate, recreate these assignments

And more!

Lifetime Access

Download ressources

Visual Development : Environments with Karen Kuo

Learn to create 2D environmental art with a Dreamworks artist.

Enroll now for $149 US


Have questions?

We’ve got you covered. Check out the answers below or visit the help center for anything else.

Why this course?

This course is designed to help improve your visual development skills. Use Adobe Photoshop to create compelling environmental works.

Is there A Live forum?

Yes. Registering for this workshop will give you access to the MoGraph Mentor slack forum. There you can ask questions, post work and share resources with the wider community. 

What will I know by the end?

How to use these tools to better serve your motion design needs. You’ll understand how to create artwork and techniques using Adobe Photoshop.

When does it start?

Right when you sign up! This is an online course is ready when you are. 

How long do I have access to the course?

How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like – across any and all devices you own.


To follow this course, you need Adobe Photoshop and some drawing skills on a tablet for accurate lines. Wacom Intuos or Cintiq will do the job. It depends on your personal preference (and budget).

What level do I need to follow this workshop

To finish this course, you’ll need some experience working with the software and understand its basic principles. Being familiar with the interface is enough.

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