Computer Graphics for Theatre (Vectorworks) Syllabus

submitted by Matt Reynolds, Theatre & Dance, University of Alabama

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to Computer Aided Drafting, learning the basic concepts and techniques that can be directly applied to general and advanced theatrical drafting. This course is intended for the student who is already proficient with standard theatrical drafting techniques. This course will primarily use Vectorworks software, but references to other software packages may be included in order to familiarize the student with commonalities between CAD systems.

CLASS OBJECTIVES: The professor will demonstrate and discuss basic to intermediate CAD standards, setup, layout, execution, and plotting.

STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES: Students will master the basic skills in 2D and 3D drafting with Vectorworks software to generate technical drawings for theatre.

CLASS GUIDELINES: It is required to comport yourselves with the utmost work ethic and attitude. This means you must arrive on time, with your materials. You must display a positive attitude and attentiveness to your surroundings and instructions. You may lose points and/or be dismissed from class for infractions including but not limited to: improper use of electronic devices, failure to bring necessary materials, exhaustion, illness, intoxication, or poor attitude. Check your UA email daily. Required materials: architect’s scale rule (imperial) and access to a printer. Recommended texts: Vectorworks for Entertainment Design by Kevin Lee Allen; Light Plot Deconstructed by Gregg Hillmar, Backstage Handbook by Paul Carter.

ASSIGNMENTS: There are no exams in the class. The class is based on project work, with the projects becoming more significant as the student gains skills and knowledge. As such, much of the class time will be spent working on your class projects. Students will be expected to complete a large number of very detailed drawings. Each project builds on the previous one, so a minor mistake early on can have consequences later on. Small projects will be completed on a weekly or daily basis and larger projects will be due as assigned. The six major drawing projects are Title Block, Logo, Orthographic/Isometric, Groundplan, Section, and Construction. The 3D Set and Final Project also build on the previous projects. 527 students are required to complete the 3D Set project, but 427 students can do this project for extra credit. I will allow students to use class time to work on outside Vectorworks projects (such as the shows we are mounting) as long as it is Vectorworks work only and you do not fall behind in your class projects.


Participation      30%      300pts                       
6 Projects          60%      600@100ea 

Final Project      10%      100                             


Participation 25% 250pts

6 projets 60% 600@100ea

Final project 10% 100

3D set project 5% 50

>96.6 93.3 -96.6% 90- 93.3% 86.6- 90% 83.3- 86.6% 80- 83.3% 78.3- 80% 76.6- 78.3% 75- 76.6% 73.3- 75% 71.6-73.3% 70- 71.6% <70%
4.0 (A+) 4.0 (A) 3.7 (A-) 3.3 (B+) 3.0 (B) 2.7 (B-) 2.3 (C+) 2.0 (C) 2.0 (C-) 1.0 (D+) 1.0 (D) 1.0 (D-) 0.0 (F)


>90% 80- 89.9% 75- 79.9% 70- 74.9% <70%
4.0 (A) 3.0 (B) 2.0 (C) 1.0 (D) 0.0 (F)

A final grade of I (incomplete) is given for passable work that could not be completed due to circumstances beyond the student’s control. The I grade cannot be used to avoid a student receiving a D or F grade.

POLICY ON MISSED EXAMS & CLASSWORK: Late work will be docked 5% of the assignment total for each week it is late (starting the first day it is late). That doesn’t sound like much, but since each project builds on the previous one, it snowballs quickly, particularly around tech weeks. I cannot stress enough: do not fall behind. If submissions are complete and late by 10 weeks or more, I will accept them until the last day of classes for up to half credit. Proof of valid excused absences (e.g. doctor’s note) is required to turn in makeup work without penalty. Office hours are available to gain clarification on class topics, not to reteach missed class time.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: Students are allowed 3 unexcused absences after the first full week of classes without penalty. Each subsequent absence will incur a 5% final grade penalty. Three tardies will constitute an absence. Please email me if you expect to be late or miss class.

ELASTICITY STATEMENT: The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.


Week 1 Syllabus, Review, Texts, Drafting Standards, Title Blocks, Scale Rules

Week 2 Introduction to Vectorworks and Interface, Page Setup; Coordinates and Units [Title Block Due]
Week 3 Drawing, Viewing, Printing Simple Objects; Object Editing Techniques [Logo Due]
Week 4 Layers, Linetypes, and Drawing Information; Work Session [Orthographic Roughdraft Due]
Week 5 Text, Dimensions; Layouts and Viewports (TOM tech) [Personal Objects]
Week 6 Work Sessions (ARDT tech) [Orthographic/Isometric Due]
Week 7 Advanced Editing/Hatching, Groundplans; Work Session (BRIGHT tech)
Week 8 Attributes; 3D Drawing [Groundplan Due]
Week 9 3D Drawing/Section; No Class (SETC)

Week 10 No Class (Spring Break/USITT)
Week 11 Construction Drawings (DA! tech) [Section Due]
Week 12 3D Images; Texture Mapping
Week 13 Light Plots (IG tech) [Construction Drawings Due]
Week 14 Light Plots (SWEENEY tech)
Week 15 Channel Hookups, File Formats/Translations [3D Set Due]

Week 16 Final Project Work Sessions [Light Plot & Ch Hookup Roughdrafts Due]
Thursday, May 3, 8AM Final Project Due [Light Plot & Ch Hookup Due]

Emergency Contact Information: UA’s primary communication tool for sending out information is through its web site at In the event of an emergency, students should consult this site for further directions. Additional course information will be posted using Blackboard Learn.

Severe Weather Guidelines: The guiding principle at The University of Alabama is to promote the personal safety of our students, faculty and staff during severe weather events. It is impossible to develop policies which anticipate every weather-related emergency. These guidelines are intended to provide additional assistance for responding to severe weather on campus.

UA is a residential campus with many students living on or near campus. In general, classes will remain in session until the National Weather Service issues safety warnings for the city of Tuscaloosa. Clearly, some students and faculty commute from adjacent counties. These counties may experience weather related problems not encountered in Tuscaloosa. Individuals should follow the advice of the National Weather Service for that area taking the necessary precautions to ensure personal safety. Whenever the National Weather Service and the Emergency Management Agency issue a warning, people in the path of the storm (tornado or severe thunderstorm) should take immediate life-saving actions. When West Alabama is under a severe weather advisory, conditions can change rapidly. It is imperative to get to where you can receive information from the National Weather Service and to follow the instructions provided. Personal safety should dictate the actions that faculty, staff and students take.

The Office of University Relations will disseminate the latest information regarding conditions on campus in the following ways:

Weather advisory posted on the UA homepage

Weather advisory sent out through UA Alerts to faculty, staff and students

Weather advisory broadcast over WVUA at 90.7 FM

Weather advisory broadcast over Alabama Public Radio (WUAL) at 91.5 FM

Weather advisory broadcast over WVUA-TV/WUOA-TV, and on the website at

WVUA-TV Home Team Weather provides a free service you can subscribe to which allows you to receive weather warnings for Tuscaloosa via e-mail or cell phone. Check for more details and to sign up for weather alerts.

In the case of a tornado warning (tornado has been sighted or detected by radar; sirens activated), all university activities are automatically suspended, including all classes and laboratories. If you are in a building, please move immediately to the lowest level and toward the center of the building away from windows (interior classrooms, offices, or corridors) and remain there until the tornado warning has expired. Classes in session when the tornado warning is issued can resume immediately after the warning has expired at the discretion of the instructor. Classes that have not yet begun will resume 30 minutes after the tornado warning has expired provided at least half of the class period remains.

Disability Statement: If you are registered with the Office of Disability Services, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible to discuss any course accommodations that may be necessary. If you have a disability, but have not contacted the Office of Disability Services, please call (205) 348-4285 (Voice) or (205) 348-3081 (TTY) or visit 133-B Martha Parham Hall East to register for services. Students who may need course adaptations because of a disability are welcome to make an appointment to see me during office hours. Students with disabilities must be registered with the Office of Disability Services, 133-B Martha Parham Hall East, before receiving academic adjustments.

Policy on Academic Misconduct: All students in attendance at The University of Alabama are expected to be honorable and to observe standards of conduct appropriate to a community of scholars. The University of Alabama expects from its students a higher standard of conduct than the minimum required to avoid discipline. At the beginning of each semester and on examinations and projects, the professor, department, or division may require that each student sign the following Academic Honor Pledge: “I promise or affirm that I will not at any time be involved with cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or misrepresentation while enrolled as a student at The University of Alabama.” Please see for academic misconduct policy.