Darwin Reid Payne's approach to theatrical design is that of a computer advocate and pioneer. With Computer Scenographics, he ushers in a new generation of scenery design by applying state-of-the-art technology to the traditional methods of scenography. Though not a how-to book, Computer Scenographics is a general introduction to, and an affirmation of, the value of computer graphics for both student and working scenographers.
Payne acknowledges that many scenographers would not want to use computers exclusively in the preparation of their designs. Today's scenographers continue to value the manual skills of drawing and painting, learned and perfected over time, and would not consider abandoning these skills entirely. And it is unlikely that the most powerful computer or most sophisticated software could ever supplant that intimate interaction of hand and mind provided by traditional tools and materials. Nevertheless, Payne's utilization of the Virtus Walk-Through computer program to facilitate set design expands the tools of the artist to new dimensions.
Aided by 129 illustrations, Payne addresses four major topics: (1) how computer studios are set up; (2) how computers serve as storage for visual ideas and as conceptual tools; (3) how technical information needed for producing a scenographer's ideas onstage is created with computers; (4) and how modelmaking has been changed by computer-generated three-dimensional possibilities, especially by the introduction of "virtual reality" onto the computer platform.