Well, any tech blog about set design will be more than willing to tell you this: a great set is that which helps to achieve two things: helping the actors perform, as well as helping the audience to believe. While at times it is a collaborative process, involving a Set Designer, a Director, and a Master Carpenter, for more minimal and less expensive productions this is usually the same person.
Hence, when designing scenery, there are two things that any good set designer must take into account. First, of course, is the element of performance. It is the task of the set designer to make sure that the actors can all perform without fear of risk or danger. Second is the element of believability. The set designer must also be able to think as the audience does. How can you convince them of the context, the same way bloggers convince their website visitors?
Tips for Scenery Design
Lay out your Design Brief. Your Design Brief is basically your answer to a set of questions, summarized as 5 W’s and 1 H (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How). The answers to these questions will basically make up the framework of the entire story, and, as a consequence, the framework of your entire set as well. That’s how important your design brief is. It basically lines out how you are going to proceed in designing your set.
Don’t forget to be careful in assessing risk. Install handrails if you need to put up stairs in your set. Risks such as fall from height and other dangers do pose as threats to any set design, and so it’s necessary that you, as set designer, have the capacity to think ahead and keep certain risks from happening by installing accident-proof mechanisms in your design. As Carlotta says in the The Phantom of the Opera, “Until you can stop these things from happening, these things don’t happen.”
Play with light. Some set designers undermine the role of lighting in set design. This is a sad bias. You see, there’s so much that light can do. Light can help establish time, place, feelings, and many more. If you learn to see how to use light to your advantage, then you’re in the right place.