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Best Books for Entertainment Designers

Whether you are new to the entertainment industry or a seasoned pro, these six go-to books will be valuable tools to grow and refine your skillset. Below are short and sweet reviews of each book to help you sort out which ones might be right for you.

In a world of video tutorials and forums, there is something so appealing about pouring over a good old fashioned book. I hope these reviews help make your journey as a designer easier and more enjoyable. ?

1.  Vectorworks for Entertainment Design

By Kevin Lee Allen

This recently updated second edition is a popular recommendation choice. Allen provides a detailed introduction to the software interface, and covers typical industry-specific drafting needs. The author knows this software inside and out.

Vectorworks for Entertainment Design is a great resource for anyone who prefers to learn with a good ol’ fashioned book. Move at your own pace in a well-planned order. Best of all, it comes with downloadable resources, like project files or images, that go along with the exercises.

2.  Freelancers Guide to Corporate Event Design

By Troy Halsey

I bought this book in 2014 when I was getting ready to move from assistant to lead production designer. It gave me the confidence I needed to move ahead on my own. Somehow I managed to highlight something on seemingly every page!

Freelancer’s Guide to Corporate Event Design is full of practical information, and really nailed the corporate events design process. I also love the design brainstorming techniques, some of which I still use today.

3.  Designer Drafting and Visualizing for the Entertainment World

By Patricia Woodbridge & Hal Tine

As one of the first books he purchased as a theater major, Jorge Munoz of still keeps Designer Drafting and Visualizing on his shelf as a comprehensive reference and to inspire his rendering techniques.

Munoz explains, “It clearly shows us the history and progression into the digital artform of CAD and Visualization.” He confidently recommends the read calling it one of “the best reference books for all Drafting Standards… a must-have for any Theater professional.”

4.  The Assistant Lighting Designers Toolkit

By Anne E. McMills

According to Gary Echelmeyer, lead Lighting Supervisor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, The Assistant Lighting Designer’s Toolkit offers practical strategies and versatile skills to apply as your role as an assistant changes from designer to designer.

Echelmeyer recommends this book saying, “Not only does it have a lot of informative text, but it also provides photos in real-life applications along with superb paperwork samples that can really be helpful if, as an assistant, you’ve never had to tackle certain documentation before.”

5.  The Business of Theatrical Design

By James L. Moody

Don’t let the 2013 publish date dissuade you. The Business of Theatrical Design is still a relevant resource today. Gary Echelmeyer also recommends this book and explains, “While some of the technology has changed with digital transmission, all of the business concepts are still applicable.”

The Business of Theatrical Design is a great resource for jumpstarting one’s career and business from the ground up. Echelmeyer says, “The book covers all of the seemingly obvious but really subtle details such as the basics from what to wear for an interview or when meeting up with a designer for the first time to negotiating contracts with producing organizations.”

6.  The Craft and Art of Scenic Design

By Robert Klingelhoefer

When I polled the Vectorworks Spotlight group on facebook about The Craft and Art of Scenic Design, I received all positive comments. It seems to be a popular choice as a teaching textbook.

Being a corporate events designer with no background in theater, I wasn’t sure if I would resonate with this book. Luckily, with so many beautiful color images scattered throughout, it was easy to expand my appreciation for the artform. I also enjoyed the introduction to the history of scenic design. The last two chapters had some solid practical advice on making this craft into a career.


Thanks again to Jorge Munoz and Gary Echelmeyer for sharing their knowledge and opinions with us! Follow me on Linkedin for more Vectorworks tips & tricks.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


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