Game Art (BFA)

Game Art Major

 

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree program in Game Art addresses an area of specialization with 2-D and 3-D graphics for real-time systems such as games and simulations.

In the Game Art Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program, you’ll express your creativity and prepare for a productive career. Our students enter the Game Art degree program with experience in traditional art or design. Prior experience in game art is not necessary, as you’ll learn those skills and techniques during your studies. This degree program develops fine artists with a strong core foundation who use contemporary technology. You’ll be prepared to become an effective, creative partner—whether co-founding your own indie development studio or working on a large AAA title.

The Center for Immersive Media

UArts’ commitment to this rapidly emerging field is undeniable. In 2019, we opened the 5,600-square-foot Center for Immersive Media, dedicated to motion-capture and immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality. Game Art Program Director Erik Van Horn taught one of the world’s first Artmaking in VR courses here. Learn more about the Center for Immersive Media.

A Part of the Philadelphia Video Game Community

Video games are one of the leading forms of entertainment in the U.S. with total sales exceeding $43.4 billion in 2018. The growing industry is full of opportunities for game artists. Philadelphia is the place to study game design, as it’s hailed as the best place in the U.S. for startup businesses, is home to AAA Studios and has an active indie video game development scene. UArts’ Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in Game Art is active in the local game development community, and our students work hand in hand with industry professionals in game jams and other industry events. Our campus is located on the Avenue of the Arts in Center City, which means you’ll be at the center of the local scene.

In 2021, the Game Art program at UArts was named in the top game design schools in Pennsylvania and in the top east coast game design schools by Animation Career Review.

Game Art is a synthesis of storytelling, graphics, sound & music, cinema & theater, animation, and fine art skills. With its rich multidisciplinary history, UArts is the perfect environment to mold the Game Artist of the future.
— Erik Van Horn, Program Director Game Art (BFA)

About the Curriculum

Sample Courses in the Game Art Major

Game art of a character standing at the edge of a cliff with tall stone sculptures surrounding, birds flying in the distance and a yellow and blue sky by Krys Galvez BFA ’19
Krys Galvez BFA ’19, "Rehn A Concise Worldguide"

Successful practice engaging gaming, virtual/XR and real-time technologies requires a deep foundation in traditional methods and approaches in the visual arts. Drawing on the longstanding history of UArts in both applied and fine arts, the Game Art BFA degree program is uniquely positioned to accomplish this goal. 

Game development is a cross-disciplinary field, and our approach uses a collaborative, interdisciplinary framework to develop skilled, virtual 3-D artists who can create compelling, complex digital worlds, from concept through realization. Nowhere but UArts will you find such a diversity of disciplines combined with the support of a small creative community.

By emphasizing the artistic components of immersive media creation, we are able to rethink and reframe the visualization of game worlds and experiences

Students who complete the Game Art program will demonstrate ability to

  • utilize 3-D-game development tools and systems to produce technically competent works of art; 
  • imagine and express creative, innovative, visually engaging virtual worlds and characters;
  • participate and collaborate successfully as effective members of creative development teams; and 
  • develop meaningful 3-D virtual objects, characters and worlds across a wide range of aesthetic styles while they adapt to rapid changes in the industry.

Sample Curriculum
Duration: 4 years, full time
Credits: 120 credits
 
Major requirements: 63 credits
Discipline history: 12 credits 
Critical Studies: 30 credits 
Free electives: 15 credits

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First Year

Fall semester: 16.5 credits
Image/Time (3c)
Computer Art Studio (3c)
Drawing: Objects & Space or Object/Environment (3c)
Art History Survey I or II (3c)
Writing I Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1.5c)

Spring semester: 16.5 credits
Intro to Interface Design (3c)
Drawing: Objects & Space, Object/Environment, Video Production, Body as Form or Found & Fabricated (choose one) (3c)
Color (3c)
Thinking Through Science (3c)
Writing II Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1.5c)

Second Year

Fall semester: 15 credits
Sound Design (3c)
Programming for Creatives (3c)
Intro to 3-D Animation (3c)
History of Games (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring semester: 15 credits
Intro to 2-D Computer Animation, Illustration I: Pictorial Foundation or Figure Anatomy (choose one) (3c)
Virtual Environments (3c)
Advanced 3-D Computer Modeling & Lighting (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Third Year

Fall semester: 15 credits
Advanced 3-D Animation (3c)
Game Concepts I (3c)
Virtual Environments II (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring semester: 15 credits
Professional Practices (3c)
Game Concepts II (3c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Fourth Year

Fall semester: 15 credits
Digital Studio (1.5c) or Design Internship (3c)
Senior Studio I (3c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice, based on choice above) (3–4.5c)

Spring semester: 12 credits
Senior Studio II (3c)
3-D Simulation & Effects or Special Effects Composition (choose one) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Explore the Full Curriculum

Faculty

Our award-winning faculty are active in the industry, including the CEO and co-founder of THIS IS POP, a Manhattan-based game studio currently creating games for networks like Adult Swim; the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the IGDA; organizers for the local game guild Philly Game Mechanics; and the digital art director for several internationally best-selling AAA game titles.

Erik Van Horn
Erik Van Horn

Game Art (BFA)
Program Director; Digital Art Director, 'Magic: The Gathering'; Disney Animation Studios
Jessica Creane - UArts GameArt Faculty
Jessica Creane

Game Art (BFA)
Founder of IKantKoan Games; Author of 'Chaos Theory' theater production that blends gaming and theater
Jeremy Maas headshot
Jeremy Maas

Game Art (BFA)
Designer of applications, games and experiences

Career Development

A student in the Game Art program makes art using VR software.

The game industry is the biggest entertainment industry in the world today, employing more artists than any other industry. Games-as-entertainment is just the tip of the iceberg. A mastery of real-time graphics and game engine technology is the most in-demand skill set for designers in any field and applies to industries ranging from entertainment to medical visualization, scientific modeling, educational applications and more. Professional careers include 3-D generalist, environment artist, character artist, gameplay animator, game designer, level designer, UI artist, UX designer and VFX artist.

The Game Art program prepares you to enter the industry through real-world projects and networking opportunities. In classes such as Professional Practices and Digital Studio, you’ll establish a professional identity, learn to create an effective work environment and collaborate on multimedia projects for outside clients. You can gain further practical experience through an internship with a regional or local company.

Companies that have hosted UArts interns include Analytical Graphics Inc; Comcast; Perfect Prototype and PHL Collective. Recruiters that have visited the Game Art program include Bethesda Softworks, Sony’s Santa Monica Studio and more.

Recent Graduates

UArts alumni have gone on to work on titles like the God of War series (Sony) and the World of Warcraft series (Blizzard). Recently, Danielle Vuono BFA ’19 was nominated for best student game at the Independent Games Festival 2019, where well-known games such as Night in the Woods and Celeste have been recognized. She went on to win the prestigious WomenIn Scholarship from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
 

A headshot of Danielle Vuono BFA '19 (Game Art)
Danielle Vuono

BFA '19

Game Art (BFA)
Game artist who won the WomenIn Scholarship from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences

Events

Facilities

The game design industry is constantly growing and changing with new technologies. In the Game Art program, you’ll become proficient with the contemporary software and tools needed to start your desired career.

A student in the Game Art program uses VR hardware

You will learn to use

  • game engines such as Unity and Unreal, 
  • 3-D modeling and animation software like Autodesk Maya, 
  • 3-D sculpting and concepting programs including ZBrush and Mudbox, and 
  • 3-D texturing/surfacing programs such as Adobe Substance Suite.

Game Art facilities include

  • three high-end PC workstation labs,
    • two with Cintiq monitors and one with double-wide monitors;
  • an equipment room with cameras, microphones, and VR and AV equipment available for checkout; and
  • digital audio workstations and edit bays.

Center for Immersive Media 

A student tests out motion-capture technology with projections.

UArts’ Center for Immersive Media (CIM) is a 5,600-square-foot facility dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction through collaboration across the disciplines of the visual and performing arts. The space includes

  • an optical motion-capture system for full-body performance capture and location-based VR applications;
  • a four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, as well as a control station; 
  • a 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering; and 
  • two large project rooms with ceiling grids for the development of installations and virtual environments.

Learn more about CIM.
 

How to Apply

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline.

Spring 2022 priority deadline: Dec. 4, 2021

Fall 2022 priority deadline: Feb. 15, 2022

We cannot accept spring 2022 applications after Jan. 10, 2022, and cannot accept fall 2022 applications after Aug. 12, 2022.

The following materials are required for your application.

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A completed application for admission

Start or resume your application. 

  • The application includes two required short-answer questions: What excites you about UArts? What inspires you?

 

A nonrefundable $60 application fee
  • If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.

Official high school transcript

 

  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

  • International transcript requirements 

  • Transfer student transcript requirements

    • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.

    • Official college(s)

      • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

      • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available

Your portfolio

A portfolio is required for all Art, Design, Film and Writing programs. Your portfolio may be uploaded during the application process or via your applicant status portal after submission. You must confirm when your submission is complete via the linked electronic form before your portfolio can be reviewed for admission.

Learn more about portfolio requirements. 

International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency
Optional letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

Apply now.

Scholarships & Financial Aid

UArts recognizes the extraordinary talent of our students through a range of merit-based scholarships. All applicants are automatically considered for such scholarships—no special application is necessary.

Nearly 80 percent of UArts’ undergraduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about tuition and financial aid. 

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