View Full Version : Game Art Degrees/Schools?

11 November 2005, 10:41 PM
I did a few searches, and didn't find many relevant topics...apologies if I missed something blatantly obvious. Also, I'm not sure if this is the right area for this topic...but it seems to be the best fit.

Right now I'm a Computer Science major at a decent school, roughly about halfway into my degree (at the point where most of my general courses are done and where I'm getting into purely CS stuff now). Problem is that although I don't dislike the work, nor is it difficult for me...I just keep thinking "wow, this is a waste of time" while I'm in class. I just cannot see myself programming for a living.

On the other hand I have been making mods for a while and am quite good at that. During my 7 odd years modding I've shifted from purely coding over to texturing (at first out of need, hard to find texture artists...then I ended up liking it a lot more than coding).

This has lead me to want to work in the gaming industry as a texture artist/3d modeler. Of course this conflicts with my CS degree so I end up going to class (and hating it), forcing myself to do the required schoolwork and then spending the leftover time texturing for mods (while wishing I had time to do it more often, and to improve my novice modeling skills).

The perfect solution would be to transfer to a school that has a degree offering what I'd want (equal focus on modeling and digital painting/traditional art skills, with some animation/application courses). However this is where I hit the wall. I've found several lists of digital art schools and really end up feeling lost in the sea of schools.

I've tried finding a list of the best digital art/modeling schools, but have had no luck. What are some of the good schools to aim for?

Also, would my previous couple years of school go to waste? Some of the schools listed require all the general classes (ie college math, english, etc. etc.), while others don't.

When switching schools, would they focus more upon my gpa and transcript (which to be honest, is far less than impressive) or more upon portfolio?

My ideal school would be somewhat close to my family (I'm in Ohio, so something on the east part of the country would be great), allows transfer of credits, has a good mix of fundamental art classes + digital (mainly modeling) and (most importantly) one I can actually get into and afford.

There is one school that might seem to have most of those qualities, the Art Institute of Pittsburg. However, their program seems really new, arenít any credentials of their professors in this shown and no real gallery is up showing student work there.

Any help, or links here would be very very much appreciated.

11 November 2005, 11:28 PM (

first school created dedicated to Game development. They have a BS in game art, if i remember right, and also an AA for experienced artists.

11 November 2005, 01:06 AM
I went to AIP for animation. The game degree is new, but I do know a couple of the profs as they were origanally in the animation department. I was happy with my education there, and it got me a job.

11 November 2005, 02:01 AM
@promo_itch, only see a BA in production animation there

@toebee_1, How is the campus and the area itself? (btw, might just be me but your site's down)

11 November 2005, 07:00 AM
for me, i went with a strategie thats not going to a game school, but an art school to learn more traditional art techniques that can quickly be applied to 3d modeling and textureing. it then just becomes learning the programs, and learning to work within constrants of the game engine. the actual Art side of things takes years to master

maybe a place like Art Center might be a place to look at. if you ever get burned out on the game industry, at least you could fall back on your other art skills and be a bit more flexible and become like a concept artist, or sculpter

11 November 2005, 01:17 PM
Yeah, what spider said. With next gen games reaching (almost) cinematic quality in graphics, studios are looking more to film and art school for graduates rather than game specific courses. There is nothing, apart maybe from Game specific design, taught on these courses that isn't taught better on more specialised courses. And I would even suggest that a good architectural/product design course will still teach more about design.

11 November 2005, 04:15 PM
im going to itt tech green bay for game design, not art. not much of an artist myself..

11 November 2005, 04:40 PM
huh, thanks for pointing out my site was down. The school isnt bad. 9 story building in downtown Pittsburgh. They have computers enough for students to work outside of class, but it is a big benifit to those that have access to computer and software outside of the school.

I think AIP has a pretty strong traditional art content to their degree. We had plenty of drawing and color theory classes and such. These I believe are important, as you need to be an artist before you are a game artist I believe, as was stated above.

11 November 2005, 04:46 PM
if you are actually interested in checking out my site try this link. Guess the server I am using has some issues. I haven't updated in a bit.

Wayne Adams
11 November 2005, 05:25 PM
The Art Institute of Pheonix isn't to bad. You just have to weed out a lot of uselss garbage from teachers and beware of bullshit course changes.

UAT is nice too. My boss graduated from there.

Then there's Collins college...hmmm yeaaa...ummm...

Savannah college of Art and Design is a fairly nice school.

Vancouver Film school is good.

Digipen or course.

Theres a few others, but those are the ones I can think of.

11 November 2005, 07:11 PM
Here is one for European schools...

Tuition fees over here is far lower than anything you'd have to contend with in the States.

I did consider all of the above name schools + in particular the impressive Guildhall at SMU, since I would have to move country anyway, so I might as well move stateside if that would be the best solution.

In England+Scotland there are a lot of games and art courses. A lot. Just do a simple keyword search on However not all of them are any good. The problem is as always to get decent teachers with real industry experience.

I did my undergraduate degree at University of Teesside, which was a BA in Computer Games Design (essentially 80% art and 20% design). There were good things and bad things about the course, but we were fortunate to have a very strong trio of experienced teachers in games art, covering modelling, texturing and animation as individual specialities. Compared to the horror stories you hear from time to time, I think we did okay.

Right now, I am doing an MA in Digital Games, which is essentially the same setup as my BA. This is at Liverpool John Moores University though. Again, it is not a perfect place, but it certainly has a lot of good things going for it.

My point is, consider European universities as well. Compared by student portfolios I think the quality of the teaching is on par with the schools in the States. And the tuition is A LOT cheaper.

If I can help with any questions, just drop me a mail.

11 November 2005, 08:03 PM

12 December 2005, 02:56 AM
Digipen's art degree may be officially called "3D Computer Animation" but don't let that fool you. It's a game-art degree. They even have a class for making 2D pixel sprites. haha.

I went there and graduated from the 2-year program. Since you've got all those math, science, etc. classes taken care of, you can transfer them and have a lighter load in the 4-year degree. However digipen's 'gen ed' classes are nothing like those you'd take in a traditonal college.

The "science" class requirment is a biology class that basically teaches you anatomy for drawing and modeling. One of the assignments I heard about from my sister-in-law that goes there now, was to create the bone and muscle anatomy for a made-up creature that they later modeled in one of their 3D classes.
The english/creative writing class is geared towards how to write a story and design for a game level, or writing a script for an animation.

When I went there I had to take a pre-production course that was all about planning out, prepping, making storyboards, etc. for an animation. Then in the next semester's 3D class, we actually made that animation.

One of the team project classes I was in had my group of 4 art-degree students work with a group of seniors from the RTIS (programming) degree who were making their senior project game. We had to make all the art assets for the game they were making.

Digipen also has a huge emphasis on traditional art skills. Lots of drawing. 2D Animation classes too - flash, etc. etc.

For the 3D courses, they teach you 3dsMax first, and in your later years they teach you Maya.

They've also got photoshop and illustrator courses. I know one course for photoshop focuses entirely on how to make good textures.

The biggest problem for you, I would assume, is that Digipen is in Washington State - pretty much as far away from Ohio as you can get without going to hawaii or alaska ^^;;

All tell you - it's a very good school. If you can survive it, you'll be pretty well equipped to get a real job in the game industry.

I work for Sony in Oregon and right now there are 5 grads from digipen's art degree here, and one guy who was in digipen's programming degree, but dropped out (he's a tester).
Our studio has about 60-some employees, so that's not a bad percentage ^_^

12 December 2005, 07:57 AM
didn't read all the posts above, sorry for any repetition.

i went to SCAD, and between people graduating in 4 different majors (Computer Art (old major), Visual Effects, Animation, and Interactive Design and Game Development) nobody felt like they got exactly what they wanted. i wanted more of a modeling/sculpture focus, other people wanted more texturing, or more rigging/level design, game design, etc.

DigiPen is a great school for programming. less so for art. i haven't been impressed.

Full Sail is a good 2-year school, but for your time and money, VFS tends to put out better stuff. but they kick you out if you're not good enough, so you have to work your @ss off.

i don't know about a whole lot of other 4-year schools. honestly, that's what i recommend: 4 years studying art, if art is what you want to do. you're not going to be able to specialize completely, because it's a general BFA with some specialization, but the real focus is in the graduate programs and industry experience, as well as what you do on your own. i think an art school is the best bet because you're going to be surrounding yourself with like-minded people, professors, etc, and it gives you more flexibility. if you decide you want to change, you have more classes that might transfer, rather than a trade school, and you can then go for graduate school if you so desire later.

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is good, but you pay for it too. if you're paying for it yourself, you'll end up with six digits worth of debt when you graduate, but school is an investment as well. i feel my time there was worth it, and if they add the masters program i just proposed, i'll come back some day for that.

but, what it really comes down to is where you are comfortable. you can get a degree in graphic design, but if your portfolio shines, you'll get a job. if you get a degree in exactly what you want to do and you don't work your tail, it's just a waste of money and a piece of paper.

12 December 2005, 11:06 AM
If I were you, I'd stick with computer science, and teach yourself art on the side. You dont need a school to teach you how to become an artist. You just need practice. The best artists I know learned almost nothing from school.

You have much better job prospects as a technical artist with a strong foundation in CS then you do as a mere artist.

But hell, its all up to you.

12 December 2005, 12:35 PM
Art school has no merit? I think that is a very presumptuous and sweeping statement that you can teach art to yourself. To some extent that might be true for some. But this is not advice to go by as a rule of thumb.

There is a big market for technical artists out there, and it will continue to grow. But that doesn't mean you must become one. If you don't have a technical bone in your body, must you become a sub-standard technical artist at all costs then, instead of a brilliant more creative artist?

I spend 3 years in the computer science department of my uni. Let me tell you right away, I have yet to meet a programmer that can teach me anything about art! It would be wonderful to know everything from every discipline. And a lot of knowledge from other fields can benefit you in your speciality, but if you want to be an artist, study art, not plumbing to help with the leaky drainage, not biology to help with the garden, not economy to help with your finances, nor computer science to help with computers.

Computers are only a tool, would you study to become a pencil manufacturer, believing that would make you a better draftsman? Computers are a tool and knowing them will help you express the vision inside, but it can not increase your creativity nor tell you how to compose an image or how proportions give everything away. Art school can.

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