Welcome to TDU!

Need a scene to light? TDU has got you covered!!

Download This Fully Modeled & Textured 3D Scene!

Scroll through the gallery to see examples of what other students have created.

Tired of never having a good model to light? TDU is here to change that!
Download this ready-to-light asset now!! Start creating beautiful work for your demo reel and secure that dream job in computer animation!


Jasmine & Mike

Co-Founders :: TDU

(Model and Textures created by Anuar Figueroa + *Updated Arnold version optimized by Dorien Gunnels)

Meet the Artists Who Started Their Careers at TDU

Check out these stories of artists that used TDU to catapult their lives into the world of animation and visual effects.

Meet Anthony

Senior Lighting TD at Blue Sky Studios

“I don’t believe I would have been able to get the job I have today without the skills and knowledge I gained from TDU.

I was a little hesitant about signing up because I wanted to make sure I was getting my money’s worth out of an online class. These courses are worth every penny and then some! The investment I have made in my career.”

Meet Chris

Compositing & Finishing at The Foundry

“I knew I wanted to be a lighter, but didn’t feel I had enough experience or quality showreel material to get the jobs I wanted.

The showreel I used to get my current job contained a large majority of work from the assignments I did at TD-U. It has also helped improve how I go about breaking down the lighting in a shot and ensuring that my lighting starts on strong fundamentals.”

Meet Anuar 

Lighting TD at Sony Imageworks

“This course was so beneficial in my career because now I no longer doubt the decisions I make regarding my work.

Also, I didn’t have money to afford college so I did not want to spend time just doing some boring tutorials I would just forget.  I use what I learned from TDU everyday!”

“I’ve learned more about lighting in a week compared to three years at college.

I’m dead serious!”


“I recently re-lit my thesis character with techniques I learned from TDU and it looks much better!”


“I was searching a lot for a specialized lighting course. When I found TDU course I thought I could try it. Today I can say that it’s great!”


“Thank you so much guys! This workshop is more than I have hoped for.”


I’m very happy with TDU. Because of you, I’m living the dream! I’m working as a Junior Lighter!!”


“This workshop trained my eyes to see everything in different way then I was before. Thank you.”



Is TDU right for you?

If any of this sounds like you, TDU is right for you.

  • Are you someone that has always dreamed of a challenging, rewarding career that pushes you both technically and artistically? TDU is right for you.
  • Have you been trying and trying to make better looking 3D images, but just can’t figure out where to begin? TDU is right for you.
  • Are there no schools in your hometown that teach visual effects or computer animation? TDU is right for you.
  • Are you looking to change careers but paying to go back to a traditional school sounds like torture? TDU is right for you.
  • Have you ever dreamed of seeing your name in the credits of the next animated or VFX film? TDU is right for you.


Still, not sure if TDU is right for you?

Believe me, we get it. Although these courses are a fraction of the cost you would pay a traditional school, this is still a lot of money. So here are some reasons why you should be willing to give us a try.

  • We have our free, online webinar that gives you a little taste of TDU as well as provides you with some truly valuable information. This one-hour class will help you get to know us and see if we are right for you.
  • We also offer a 15-day money back guarantee. If you sign up and find that TDU isn’t right for you, we will offer a refund, no questions asked.
  • We offer lifetime access to all our courses. This means that you will have access to all the updates and changes we make to the classes as this ever-changing industry continues to evolve.
  • We offer access to our Facebook Private group that allows you the ability to connect with artists and industry professionals all over the world.


TDU Student Work

Check out some of the beautiful images created in TDU courses that helped these students land their first jobs!

Take action to jumpstart your career!

Click on an option below

Our Free Course

Learn How To Successfully Light A Shot In 3 Steps in this one-hour free course!

Check out the courses

Browse our current and future course offerings.

Join our networks

Get connected to our network of artists around the world!

Power of Light

Dreaming of making the move to become a Lighitng Artist but don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered! The Power of Light teaches you how to create and utilize lights to make the beautiful images that can launch your career!

Getting & Succeeding at Your Job

Applying for your first job is a grueling, stressful experience. TDU is here to help you navigate this difficult time by providing insider information about building your demo reel, creating your resume, interviewing for the position, negotiating your salary, and kicking off the career of your dreams!

Lighting a CG Character

Demonstrating the ability to light a character is the first thing recruiters look for in a lighting candidate. Learn concepts like Rembrandt Lighting, mood lighting, working with hero colors, and eye lighting to make your demo reel stand out from the rest!

Materials and Shaders for the Lighting Artist

Many studios require Lighting Artists to be responsible for the material and shader work as well as the lighting. Jasmine will show you all her techniques to make incredible materials and shaders that will look fantastic and elevate your lighting game!

Compositing for the Lighting Artist

In large animation companies, Lighters are often the compositor too. Learn how to control color corrections, render passes, depth of field, and countless other techniques to give your shots the polish and refinement that hiring managers are looking for!

Lighting a CG Environment

Modelers may build the world but it is the Lighter’s job to make that world beautiful! Master the art of lighting both interior and exterior scenes in a variety of scenarios to make your demo reel more robust!

Master Lighting : Lighting an Animated Film

Feel like you are ready to light animated characters? Lighting an Animated Film is for you!!! This course has everything! Animated characters, complete sets, and training from both Jasmine and Mike on how to light animated shots to go directly onto your demo reel and get you your first job!

Arnold for Maya Workshop

Have you downloaded a recent version of Maya and noticed Mental Ray is no longer included? In it’s place you there is this new guy named Arnold? Who the heck is Arnold!?!?!

Don’t worry. TDU has got you covered.

Arnold is one of the leading renderers available on the market today. This software, originally co-developed with Sony Pictures Imageworks, has been used by over 300 studios worldwide on films like Blade Runner 2049, Thor: Ragnarok, Gravity, Guardians of the Galaxy, and many more. Arnold functions as a standalone renderer or can be used with almost any 3D software package like Autodesk’s Maya, 3D Studio Max, Houdini, and Cinema 4D.

This technical workshop covers everything you need to know about using Arnold in Maya. Every button, every slider, every adjustment will be analyzed so you can take full advantage of all that Arnold has to offer. This workshop was designed to be combined with our other lighting courses to provide you with both the artistic and technical knowledge to create the incredible images you have always dreamed of!

Our Courses Will Provide You With The Artwork You Need To Build A Demo Reel And Compete For A Job As A Lighting Artist!

The Ultimate Lighting Bundle

The Ultimate Lighting Bundle is a combination of 8…that’s right 8…of TDU’s lighting courses including:

  • The Power of Light
  • Character Lighting for Animated Films
  • Environment Lighting for Animated Films
  • Materials for the Lighting Artist
  • Compositing for the Lighting Artist
  • Lighting an Animated Film
  • Getting & Succeeding in Your First Job in Animation
  • TDU’s Arnold For Maya Workshop

All these courses normally add up to $3593, but wait…while some of these courses are still in development you will get a super-sized discount of $1999.

Whaaaaa!?!?!?!? What are you waiting for! Sign up for Today!!

Certificate of Advanced Studies in Lighting


Receive TDU’S Certificate of Advanced Studies in Lighting by completing the following requirements:

  • Completion of a minimum of 5 TDU courses
  • Five still images representing a variety of proficiencies in different lighting conditions.
  • A minimum 10 seconds of lighting work done on animated characters.

Certificate submissions will be reviewed by industry professionals.

TDU works hard to create courses that will provide value to our students. We are confident you’ll LOVE this course, too. But if for some reason you don’t, then we will gladly give you a full refund within 15 days.

Exclusive access to professional & peer feedback in TDU’S private FB group

Will students receive feedback on their work?

YES you will! Personalized Critiques Are TDU’s Secret Ingredient To Success!


This may seem like a strange statement coming from us, but here is a secret…TDU lectures alone won’t make you a better artist. You can watch all the lectures and demo videos you want, but that is not enough to improve your skills.

To become a better artist, you must create work and be critiqued. You must put yourself out there and show your work in an environment that allows qualified individuals to review your work, offer critiques, and provide you with the guidelines to improve your craft.

This is exactly what TDU can provide. When you register for any TDU course, you receive access to our private Facebook group. In this group, you will not only receive exclusive information, you will also be able to post your work and receive written and/or video feedback from Jasmine, Mike, or any of the many other industry professionals from all over the world.

This is all about community and building relationships. Together we will grow and become better artists!

Below are examples of critiques you will receive:

What makes being part of the TDU community so powerful?

The personal attention to professionals and peers giving feedback on your work!

* Once you register for a TDU course, follow the link or click here to request exclusive access to this group! *

About TDU

Here’s a little secret about our industry…film companies don’t care what software packages you know.

They have proprietary renderers and proprietary software and proprietary workflows that they need to teach all new hires so it doesn’t matter if you know VRay or Nuke or whatever. What they look for are individuals that can demonstrate an ability to create a beautiful image that elicits an emotional reaction from the audience. An artist that can generate a cohesive, well-composed image that shows an artistic eye. This is what TDU focuses on. We’ve designed courses that will not only train you how to initially create a beautiful image, but also how to analyze that image and improve it through iterative steps to ultimately have a successful final product.

What are the origins of TDU? 

TDU is the brainchild of two Lighting TDs who decided to explore a different way of educating students on the non-animation disciplines of animated features and visual effects. TDU is designed to be an online education system that was affordable and accessible to everyone looking to get started in computer graphics or expanding their existing knowledge in this ever-changing industry.

While there are many options for students and professionals to improve their skills in character animation, there were very few options for those interested in lighting, compositing, rigging, materials, FX, and all other crafts in the industry.

tdu is here to change that!

Why did we create TDU?

We created TDU because working in animated features and visual effects has been a dream come true and we wanted to share that experience with you. It is an extremely complex and challenging industry, both technically and artistically, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.

What are the main philosophies of TDU?

  • Students are trained by current working industry professionals to learn the most up to date practices and techniques.
  • The goal of TDU is not to teach specific software packages. Instead, we focus on teaching the art of creating beautiful images and arming individuals with the well-trained eye needed to be successful in this industry.
  • TDU is an affordable, reasonable way to elevate aspiring artists into the career of their dreams!

Who is behind TDU?

Jasmine Katatikarn and Michael Tanzillo are the Co-Founders of TDU. They are both Senior Lighting Artists at Blue Sky Studios with a combined 20+ years of working on VFX and Animated Films. 

Mike and Jasmine created TDU because working in animated features and visual effects has been a dream come true. They were both struggling, young artists who were a bit lost before making the decision to try and become lighting artists. Since then, they have been able to launch careers that have allowed them the opportunity to not only work in an industry that is challenging and fulfilling, but also lead a full life outside of work including traveling the world and starting a family.

This success did not come without a price. Mike and Jasmine have combined to spend over $100,000 on their education before getting their first jobs in animation. Even after that, there was still a gap between what they learned in school and what they needed to know to ultimately succeed in this industry. Now, after more than 20 films and countless student loan payments, they have designed a way to teach artists the necessary skills in order to be successful in this industry without the huge financial burden. The system included a school designed to be an online education system that was affordable and accessible to everyone around the world who wants to chase their dream of working on the next big animated film.

In other words, they have designed a school they wish existed so they could get their dream job faster and save $100,000 in the process.

That school is TDU.

P. Jasmine Katatikarn

Co-Founder , TDU

When I graduated from College with an Economics degree from Vassar College, I felt a bit lost on what career path I wanted in life. I went to many finance related job interviews and quickly decided it was not the path for me. This is when I went back to what my original passion, the arts. Since I was young, I was taught I should not pursue anything artistic if I wanted a realistic career that did not involve struggling for money. I was always pushed to do something more practical instead, thus the economics degree. It was not until I was 21 years old that I decided to forget about “being practical” and do what would give me inspiration every day and I haven’t looked back since.

I started building a portfolio from scratch the summer after I graduated from college and, by some miracle, landed a job in package design at Godiva Chocolatier. During this time I was introduced to the world of 3D animation through an instructor that was teaching me basic 2D graphic skills. I was instantly intrigued by this new art medium that combined both aesthetic and technical skills. This is when I applied to graduate school at NYU for a Masters of Science in Digital Imaging and Design.

My first job in animation was working on 3D medical visualization. From that experience, I was able to propel myself into VFX and commercial projects at The Mill, Framestore, and RhinoFX for seven years before moving into feature animated film work at Blue Sky Studios. Along with working on animated films, I also had the pleasure of co-authoring a book entitled Lighting for Animation: The Art of Visual Storytelling.

I have never looked back and am so grateful I decided to follow my dreams and chase the “unpractical” career route. Not only am I not a starving artist, I am very financially successful but more importantly I am doing something that I love to do. I am living my own dream and I hope to bring the same to you!


Jasmine is currently a Senior Lighting Technical Director at Blue Sky Studios. Her lighting credits include Ferdinand, Peanuts, Rio 2, Epic, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Rio, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Ghost Town, and The Nanny Diaries.


Michael Tanzillo

Co-Founder , TDU

In 2004, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had just finished college and had a degree in photography but felt completely lost because I still didn’t know what career I wanted. I was making ends meet by waiting tables and working any odd job I could get my hands on.

Then I watched Finding Nemo and my life changed forever.

More specifically I watched a behind the scenes that showed artists scuba diving off the coast of Australia to obtain reference for the look of the film. It showed how they altered the color of the water in certain scenes to specifically elicit an emotional reaction from the audience. I was blown away. I had no idea there were artists that did that kind of visual work on an animated film.

So I did a lot of research and discovered the role of Lighting Artist and I immediately knew this was the career for me. Unfortunately, I also discovered I was grossly under-qualified for such a position and, therefore, I decided to bite the bullet, head back to school, and work my butt off to gain the necessary knowledge to build a demo reel to apply for jobs with animation companies.

Now it is over a decade later and I am working on my 9th feature film as a Senior Lighting TD at Blue Sky Studios and it’s better than I could have imagined. This industry is the combination of artistic creativity and scientific exploration that I always dreamed it would be. It has allowed me the chance to work with some of the most creative and inspiring people I could ever imagine. It has allowed me to accomplish another life goal of becoming a published author when Jasmine and I released Lighting For Animation: The Art of Visual Storytelling. This industry has given me a career that I am proud of and now I can create a future for my family.


Mike is currently a Senior Lighting TD at Blue Sky Studios. His lighting credits include Rio 2, Epic, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Rio, Scrat’s Continental Crack-up, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Peanuts and Ferdinand.


Lighting for Animation

the art of visual storytelling

By P. Jasmine Katatikarn & Michael Tanzillo

Lighting for Animation is designed with one goal in mind – to make you a better artist. Over the course of the book, Jasmine Katatikarn and Michael Tanzillo (Senior Lighting TDs, Blue Sky Studios) will strive to train your eye to analyze your work more critically by teaching you approaches and techniques that will enable you to improve your craft.  This book will focus on the main philosophies and core concepts utilized by industry professionals with the intention of building your foundation for a successful career as a lighting artist in visual effects and computer animation.

This is the average salary for a Lighting TD according to Glass Door.

Would you like to make a 6-figure salary working a job that is both technically and aesthetically rewarding on animated films?

TDU can help!

Say Hi!

Contact us with any questions or just to say hi!

4 + 15 =


Frequently Asked Questions

What makes TDU different?

TDU’S commitment to connecting industry professionals with students is something you don’t often find. We feel passionately that in order for students to learn the most current techniques in this ever-changing industry, they must be trained by those currently working.

Our focus on training the art of these different crafts is what also makes TDU unique. Our goal is not just to teach you Maya or Nuke or Houdini. There are countless websites, tutorials, and manuals available to do just that. We are here to teach you how to be an artist in this industry. We are teaching you how to look at your images differently and evaluate them in such a way that will lead you to creating the best image possible.

When do the classes take place? Are the lectures live?
That is one of the benefits of tdu. There are no set class times. You do it whenever it is convenient for you.

The full course is available for you as soon as you register with no expiration date so that you can take the course as fast or slow as you would like.

You can also post questions and comments to the private fb group page and interact/network with your peers and professionals in the industry.

Other questions?
Don’t be shy! Contact us here.

We would love to hear from you!

How are the courses structured?
All courses follow the same basic structure:

  • Courses are all online and are available immediately.
  • At the end of each section, the instructor will give the students a challenge to complete (with assets depending on the course)
  • Students are encouraged to post their challenges, comments and questions to the private group page.

What software is used in the courses?
In our lectures, we will generally use Arnold in Maya and Nuke to demonstrate our lighting techniques.
That being said, we don’t focus on teaching a renderer in our courses. Our courses focus on the art of lighting and making you a better artist.  Our goal is to train your eye and give you the skills to a successful artist.
We have had students use a variety of renderers for our courses in the past (VRay, Mental Ray, PRMan, C4D, Maxwell and others). It really doesn’t matter. The techniques we teach will work in every renderer you will use.

Learn and Create!

We can’t wait to see all the beautiful things you will create. Start learning instantly now!

Join the TDU community

TDU’S community is a place where you can ask questions, post work for feedback,

See what other people are doing and most importantly connect and learn from others in the industry!

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