What could highschool students do?


After reading the FAQ, I realize that the digital/entertainment/etc. art industry is not plum pretty as an average person would think. But I want to be in it. I think ever since I started to play N64 I decided to become a game designer, but as I have found out, it is really hard to effectively participate in a lot of extracirricular educational classes revolving around it. I regret now in the second to last year before high school graduation that I haven’t done much to be prepared.

I’m just really worried about college apps. Carnegie Mellon, since I heard about it from Randy Pausch, looks like a great school I want to be in. Carnegie Mellon has this Bachelors of Computer Science and Arts, but I have no participatory experience in computer programming languages (which they highly recommend for me to be familiar with. My school doesn’t have a Computer Science class.) Nor have I kept or even pursued professional fine arts for college. (Sculptures, painting, etc.) I’ve just been, as a life interest and hobby, drawn to Blizzard like art, or the fantasy sci-fi materials. (Which I am afraid any fine arts college wouldn’t take seriously, unless I am mistaken.) I have no definitive portfolio since I just got my hands on any of the software and training since last summer.

I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to exactly get there. I am afraid that its too late to do anything about and art portfolio and Carnegie Mellon looks so pretty (might be considered a dream school.)

I’ve talked to my counselor, and I realize that there are other schools I would like to go to (such as USC) but unlike, I think, say wanting to be a lawyer, there doesn’t seem to be a obvious way to do any of this. (I might be blinded by that fact I’m only looking at major colleges.) I think I’m also used to the whole idea of a general education, just a keep a level base like school.

It all sounds so intimidating. Is there anything I can do now to push my foot not through the job door but at least onto the front lawn?

I want to become part of that creative energy that I see a lot of artists are a part of, like Samwise.


I’m a high school senior right now, my basic plan is to attend a local community college, get my associates degree in art, work on the cg stuff on the side for fun, along with expanding my traditional and digital art portfolio. After that I wanna get into Gnomon after that, but we will see what happens. Relax, there’s no rush.

You don’t need a degree to get into the cg industry, I want to aleast get my associates incase I need a backup plan or something happens. But its mostly about your work, and your demoreel/porfolio. If you want, try to enter some contests, there’s more than a few film contests for schools and what not. Even though the animation catagory is usally an after thought and don’t get much attention, all to better your chances of winning.


At least you can spell and write propper sentences, that’s pretty good already.

You could study 3d and related things on the side while you go to Uni to study something else altogether and enter the industry from a different angle. I actually think it’s better that way because if you’re any good (motivated and willing ) it will show either way and you’ll have some other, real, education.


[b]What could highschool students do?

[/b]Everything and anything :slight_smile:

Here is some material to get you orientated.



Its about the games business but I think it applies to most CG.

Good luck


I know this is a totally off-topic post, and I apologise to the original poster for not contributing constructively with information here, but I just wanted to remark on how pleasant it is to see a kid who can actually construct coherent, intelligent sentences. It seems so rare these days.

I’m quite impressed with your attitude and presentation. Good luck to you, whatever path you take.



Hey there,

I have no experience with any of this and don’t really know anything about the videogame field, so take this with large chunks of salt =)

The best thing you can do right now is try to decide whether you are more interested in the coding side (game dev, game engine dev, game AI, in game scripting, etc), the art side (look dev, character/concept design, concept art), or cg asset side which leans more towards the art side (modeling, rigging, animating, lighting). It’s not to pocket you in a area forever and ever, but a good choice for your future direction would be to pursue the area you have the most interest in or are currently the strongest in.

While getting a good grounding in both coding and foundational art is always an excellent idea, it is a longer path to get there, and the days of developing hit games in your garage in which you are the game designer, coder, artist are all but over.

If you are interested in the coding side, pursue a degree in Computer Science with an emphasis on AI and computer graphics. If you are interested in the art side, look for a school with strong traditional art training or a concept art program. If you are interested in the CG asset side, a strong traditional art training would probably give you the strongest foundation with which to expand your career opportunities in the future. A mixed program combining both traditional art training and cg modeling/animation/lighting/etc would be ideal but most programs these days may leave you weak in both areas. For the CG side you could pursue a CS degree but it would be more beneficial to do that if you have a pretty strong artistic foundation to begin with. Trying to straddle both sides… well, it depends on how long you want to be in school for.

Don’t worry too much about software or tutorials for now. Take a programming class at a local college over the summer and see how you like it, take some art classes on the side and see what you might need some work in. Or buy a game that comes with that fancy level editing software, or join online modding groups and see what you are drawn towards.

good luck!


I am sure your positive attitude will leave many good impressions on many people down the path.

But attitude aside, to be taken/considered seriously, you would need to prepare a portfolio. Your portfolio will be a professional representation of you, or of your potential.

The CG business is new, a lot of it is aimed at the entertainment side, and therefore can be very trade specific.

‘Art’ has been developed for centuries steadily, and in CG it’s the ‘techonology’ that is evolving and making great leaps every minute. You will find very few ‘art scholars’ in CG. Those who come from the academia (universities, grad school, PHDs) are most liekly people who are doing (ground breaking) scientic research that enables artists to realise their artistic vision.

There are many ways to get into the CG work force, it depends on what you want to get out of from the process, and where you want to get once you are in there.

Some may want to have a well rounded education in math, languages, arts… before they narrow their focus to learn a specific trade, some may just want to learn the specific trade right out of high school and join the work force.

To get into the field the fastest way (with the assumption that you are both talented and driven), you can go to school like Animation Mentor if you want to do animation, if VFX/gaming, you can go to Gnomon and the likes. These schools, from my understanding, are trade schools, and very good ones. You can graduate in a short time and learn enough skills (given that you are a good artist to begin with) to obtain a junior position.

To get a longer and broader (formal) education, obviously there are colleges and universities and grad schools and so on.

Once you have become a professional, most people won’t care about how you got there. You might have gone to a university and learned linear algebra or computer graphics programming, and yet on your job as a junior roto artist you are only expected to perform as well as the guy next to you who learned rotoscoping on his own. Obviously, what you learned in your university will be beneficial to you in the long run, but if you just want to ‘get a foot in the door’, then you have other options.

Personally, a 4 year universitiy education gave me the time to mature, to think and develope other interests and my own understadning on many things before I plunged into a very trade oriented profession. I feel fortunate as I know formal education could be a luxury to many people.

But everyone is different, we all have our own stories.


Ty for all the help. Thank you, leigh, for the comment. I am much obliged by it.

Well, I think I would like to concentrate more on the artistry of game design and less on the engineering or coding (though those guys are awesome too!). But it seems so scrunched right now, such as taking extra classes because I’m a junior and I’ll have to apply to colleges and universities next school year. I am taking a 2 week class for Maya modeling and 2 weeks of outdoor stuff, and that kind of complicates any steady taking of college classes in high school (The two happen closely together.)

I think I would appreciate that maturation time of becoming an adult in a 4 year college or university. I still don’t have that traditional 2-D training though, so how can I learn enough to get some professional college applicable portfolio going or should I enter a college or university on another major?

I heard computer science (or programming language) is literally learning a whole new language. At ,y school, they tend to give out a lot of hour intensive work and I do some other extra cirricular activities. Would taking a computer science class in a city college be a time consuming venture like real school?


Are you good at math? do you have a structured mind? if you don’t, think again about Computer Science. At CS they teach you more than just programming languages, there’s a lot of theory behind and you have to spend a couple of years before you even write some code. At my former school CS students learn how to program a basic OS or a compiler at the third year, a raytracer at the fourth.


I made my first 3D animation when I was in year 12 (final year highschool in Australia), and that led to all kinds of opportunities that got me where I am today. I think people appreciate youthful enthusiasm.

That said, it isn’t the easiest industry :wink: But you know, better than being a sub-prime mortgage lender.

(btw: i went to Uni for 4 years, not sure I learnt that much. Probably would have done a technical course in hindsight (like Gnomon). But might have just been my uni.)


@ Leigh: rofl hai thar :wavey: lol

Anyway, I wrote a really long reply to this but then Firefox crashed :argh:. So here’s the short, short version.

I’m pretty much in the same situation as you, same grade, except in Australia. My strategy is to pump out as much creative juice as I can before graduation, then shove it down all available throats until I get a placement. So far I have not received any art or CG education outside of school, and (at least I think so) done alright teaching myself.

Also high school is the formative and fun years of your life so don’t stress and just enjoy the ride (and party hard).


I doubt most universities are going to be really selective on the students they pick, that’s more of a private/trade/art school kind of thing. But you really should get started working on your traditional art, its something that takes a lot of work.


If you want to be a 3d artist, my advice is to just buy some sketchbooks and draw everything you see. this will hone your observational skills. If you are a keen observer who can draw, your will start to excel your freshman year. Also, do not underestimate the fruits of working REALLY hard. If you really love it, you will be able to invest yourself in it.


you basically are asking the question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”

If you could postpone college for one year, plan a trip to travel abroad or what-not; and if you came to LA for the summer after high school with the intention of being a PA or even receptionist or office-helper-boy at a vfx studio or production facility; you would be able to learn more than you would learn in a lot of class room hours…ez.

I realize that kind of talk might be blasphemy with your parents. I recently chatted with my mom about how I wasn’t ready to go to college, for chemical engineering (?!?) when I did. I completed the course, and worked after college, but I was in the wrong “place”. I joined the US Army, and really enjoyed that for almost 9 years, then I went to art school.

The point is that me and my mom agreed that maybe I should have done something for a year to help me figure these things out before college; we both agreed that there were a lot of societal pressures, I felt like there was no alternatives for me besides college.

Good luck with your big decisions ahead, but in the end you have to do what you want to do. You need to be the one who moves your own feet.


If you are wanting to do artistry of game design for a career, then I’m not sure why you are even thinking about computer science. You would be better off taking some figure drawing, painting, and sculpture courses and dabblin in a 3D package for the time being. There should be some local art schools where you can take some cheap art classes in the evenings. This will get you far further than any other method.


Hey let me tell ya what I did when I found a HUGE passion for CG in High School (I went to a tiny little private college prep school, so extra curriculars were hard to come by outside the standard band art drama) Anyways I founded the animation club at my school and membership triples almost every year. I started out teaching alot of animation others, but eventualy it became a collaborative deal where we teach and help each other and hold a gallery deal at the end of the year.

You’d be surprised how much intrested you can get with animation we worked with all kinds of programs Flash, blender, maya, game maker. etc.

Im currently a sopohmore in college now but i hear the club is still doing well. Trying starting something like that at your school and make it happen!


Is it a bad idea if I take it as a minor so I get a feel for the engineering side at least? Well rounded?


It’s probably not worth your time. The only exception I can think of is if you are interested in working for a very small studio, where their aren’t enough people to specialize.


Would it hurt if I did take minors in say history or comp sci along with the major I want to do?


It won’t hurt per se, but it will take time away from your primary focus. If you have a passion for art history or computer science, go ahead and take the minor; their are certainly jobs where either one would be useful. However, you shouldn’t feel obligated to do so.