Game Art (BFA)

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.

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.

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.

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)
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

Admissions Deadline: There is no set deadline. UArts operates on a rolling admissions basis, which means we will receive and process applications throughout the year as space remains available in each program. 

The following materials are required for your application.

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A completed application for admission
A nonrefundable $60 application fee

A nonrefundable $60 application fee.

Official Transcripts
  • Official transcripts from the high school(s) you have attended are required. For transfer students, transcripts from each college you have attended are required. They must be mailed directly by your school in a sealed envelope to the Office of Admissions, emailed directly from your school, or sent through a secure electronic transcript delivery service. Transcripts sent or emailed by students are not considered official. They should be sent to the Office of Admissions, University of the Arts, 320 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19102 or via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu
  • For transcripts from outside the U.S., refer to the instructions for international students.
A personal statement
  • Your individual voice and personal insights play an equally important and valued role in an admissions review. Your personal statement allows you to share your story, express yourself and place a spotlight on your creative journey—past, present or future. It helps us get to know you and your dreams, ideas, challenges, opportunities and/or goals in a way your transcripts and other application materials can’t. 

  • Here are some questions to help you shape your personal statement. Interpret them as you wish. There are no right or wrong answers—there’s only your story.

    1. When and how did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

    2. How will University of the Arts help you achieve your creative and professional goals?

    3. How do you want your creativity to affect the future?

  • There is no word count requirement, but we recommend you share your story in 250 to 500 words. Upload your personal statement with your application for admission or email it to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu.

Your portfolio

All students applying to visual arts programs—those in the schools of Art, Film and Design—are required to submit 15–20 examples of original artwork. For the School of Film, artwork also includes animation, film, video and interactive media. You may choose to include work from a variety of media or select one area of focus you want to highlight. For time-based media, you may submit up to five screenshots per project. Your portfolio should demonstrate your creativity, showcase your skills, represent the art forms you have studied and highlight your ability to communicate ideas. Get more tips about submitting your portfolio.

International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency

International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency.

Optional materials

You can also submit SAT scores, a résumé and/or letters of recommendation. None of these materials are required. Learn more about submitting optional materials.

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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