Illustration Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree

An illustration degree that mixes traditional drawing skills, the latest digital imaging technologies, and sculpted dimensional methods for effective visual communication.


Overview

9 Majors That Launch Your Career in Digital Media

The illustration degree prepares students for a variety of careers within the visual communications field. The major provides an educational environment that supports the creative development of students and helps them to achieve their individual goals. Course work emphasizes traditional drawing and painting skills, the application of the latest digital media, and the use of dimensional media. Students learn conceptual skills, professional practices, and narrative story telling techniques while developing an individual style. These techniques and styles are then applied to produce illustrations suitable for advertising, publishing, editorial, and the service and gaming/entertainment industries.

Electives

Students may select electives that enhance their studies or allow them to pursue an area of personal or professional interest. Electives are available in graphic design, illustration, graphic visualization, industrial design, interior design, fine arts studio, environmental design, ceramics, glass, metals, textiles, woodworking, film making, photography, and imaging technology. To be eligible for these electives, students must complete the foundation program or have the permission of the instructor. Additional selections are offered as special topics courses.

Interested in a Career in Game Arts?

We’ve got you covered. The illustration degree allows you to explore your creative interests related to video games. You'll have endless opportunities to collaborate with developers and fellow artists on game and digital media projects. Illustration alumni have gone on to establish successful careers as game artists. Learn how you can use the illustration degree to launch a career in game arts.

Pre-College Portfolio Preparation Workshop

The School of Art's annual Pre-College Portfolio Preparation Workshop is a two-week visual arts class designed to prepare the portfolios of rising high school juniors and seniors for admission to college art programs. Learn more about the Pre-College Portfolio Preparation Workshop, including information on workshop dates and how to apply.

Accelerated 4+1 MBA

An accelerated 4+1 MBA option is available to students enrolled in any of RIT’s undergraduate programs. RIT’s accelerated bachelor’s/master’s degrees can help you prepare for your future faster by enabling you to earn both a bachelor’s and an MBA in as little as five years of study.

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Careers and Experiential Learning

Typical Job Titles

Advertising Illustrator Animation Artist
Architectural Illustrator Art Director
Book Illustrator Caricaturist
Character Designer Character Concept Artist
Comic Artist Concept Artist
Courtroom Artist Digital Artist
Dimensional Illustrator Diorama Artist
E-Learning Illustrator Editorial Illustrator
Educational Design Fashion Designer
Freelance Artist Game Assets Illustrator
Graphic Designer Graphic Novel Illustrator
Illustrative Designer Motion Graphics Artist
Multimedia Illustrator New Media Artist
Political Cartoonist Presentation Illustrator
Production Artist Sequential illustrator
Storyboard Artist Technical Illustrator
Textbook Illustrator Theater Set Artist
Visual Developer

Salary and Career Information for Illustration BFA

Cooperative Education and Internships 

What makes an RIT education exceptional? It’s the ability to complete with real, relevant career experience that sets you apart. In the College of Art and Design experiential learning includes cooperative education and internships, international experiences, multidisciplinary projects, industry partnerships, and more. Participating in these opportunities is not only possible at RIT, but passionately encouraged.

Cooperative education, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities are optional but strongly encouraged for graduate students in the BFA in illustration.

Creative Industry Day

RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education hosts Creative Industry Day, which connects students majoring in art, design, film and animation, photography, and select computing majors with companies, organizations, creative agencies, design firms, and more. You'll be able to network with company representatives and interview directly for open co-op and permanent employment positions.

Featured Work

Featured Profiles

Curriculum for Illustration BFA

Illustration, BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ARTH-135
General Education – Artistic Perspective: History of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval
In this course students will examine the forms, styles, functions, and meanings of important objects and monuments dating from prehistory through the Middle Ages, and consider these works of art in their social, historical and cultural contexts. The primary goals of this course are to learn how to look, how to describe and analyze what we see, and how to use these skills to understand and explain how art visually expresses meaning. At the end of the term, students will have gained a foundational knowledge of the object, scope and methods of the discipline of art history. The knowledge obtained in this introductory course will also guide students in their own creative endeavors. Lecture 3 (Fall).
3
Choose one of the following:
3
   ARTH-124
   General Education – Global Perspective: Survey: Themes in the History of Art
This course introduces students to central issues in the history of art through the focused investigation of a specific theme. Themes will be global in scope, and potential examples include monuments and preservation; the concept of modernity in the visual arts; art and identity; diachronic studies of select works of art; or histories of a particular medium, subject, or form of patronage. Students will apply foundational methods of art history, including basic research tools, formal analysis, and contextual analysis; will engage in careful, conscious looking; will learn to describe and analyze what they see; and will articulate how works of art can express meaning. This course may be repeated with different topics. Topic is determined by the instructor. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
 
   ARTH-136
   General Education – Global Perspective: Survey: Renaissance to Modern
In this course students will examine the forms, styles, functions, and meanings of important objects and monuments dating from the European Renaissance through the beginning of the twentieth century, and consider these works of art in their social, historical and cultural contexts. The primary goals of this course are to learn how to look and how to describe and analyze what we see, and to use these skills to understand and explain how art visually expresses meaning. At the end of the term, students will have gained a foundational knowledge of the object, scope and methods of the discipline of art history. The knowledge obtained in this introductory course will also guide students in their own creative endeavors. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
 
 ARTH-137
   General Education – Global Perspective: Survey: Arts of the Ancient Americas
 
FDTN-111
Drawing I
This course is an introduction to the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, and assigned projects. Designed to provide a broad introductory experience, students will experiment with a wide variety of media, tools, techniques and subjects to develop drawing expertise and problem solving skills related to design and composition. Course work will be assessed through critique, facilitating self-assessment, and the growth of both a visual and verbal vocabulary. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication. (Undergraduate Art and Design) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring).
3
Choose one of the following:
3
   FDTN-112
   Drawing II
This course is an introduction to the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, and assigned projects. Designed to provide a broad introductory experience, students will experiment with a wide variety of media, tools, techniques and subjects to develop drawing expertise and problem solving skills related to design and composition. Course work will be assessed through critique, facilitating self-assessment, and the growth of both a visual and verbal vocabulary. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication. (Prerequisites: FDTN-111 or ITDI-211 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
 
   FDTN-212
   Drawing II Workshop: Topics
This course is an investigation of the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. This workshop provides students with the opportunity to learn more about a particular experience in drawing while still covering required foundation elements. Different topics may be taken in the same semester. Topics may only be taken once. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research and assigned projects.. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication. (Prerequisites: FDTN-111 or ITDI-211 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
 
FDTN-121
2D Design I
This course is a structured, cumulative introduction to the basic elements and principles of two-dimensional design. Organized to create a broad introductory experience, the course focuses on the development of both a visual and a verbal vocabulary as a means of exploring, developing and understanding two-dimensional compositions. Concepts are introduced through lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, assigned projects and critiques. The course addresses a wide variety of media, tools, techniques both traditional and technological, and theoretical concepts to facilitate skill development and experimentation with process. Visual comprehension, the ability to organize perceptions and horizontal thinking that crosses other disciplines and theories, are key foundational components to the development of problem solving skills. Accumulative aspects of the curriculum included the exploration of historical and cultural themes and concepts intertwined with aspects of personal interpretation and experience. (Undergraduate Art and Design) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring).
3
FDTN-122
2D Design II
This course is the second semester of a sequential, structured introduction to the basic elements and principles of two-dimensional design. Organized to create a broad introductory experience, students will build upon the visual and a verbal vocabulary, media, techniques, skill development and processes acquired during the fall semester. This term will also focus on the comprehensive exploration of color theory as well as dealing with conceptualization and more advanced issues related to problem solving. Accumulative aspects of the curriculum included the exploration of historical and cultural themes and concepts intertwined with aspects of personal interpretation and experience. (Prerequisites: FDTN-121 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
FDTN-131
3D Design I
This course presents a progressive study over two-semesters in terminology, visual principles, exploration, concept generation, process, and techniques of three-dimensional design. Using hands-on problem solving, student will develop an informed understanding of the 3D form and space with an emphasis on the elements and principles of visual design and their function as the building blocks and guidelines for ordering a 3D composition. A heightened awareness of form and space will be developed through lecture, assigned projects, and critiques. Students will also develop a personal awareness of problem seeking and solving, experimentation, and critical analysis. **Note: May be taken as a one-semester offering** (Undergraduate Art and Design) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring).
3
ILLS-209
3D Applications: The Figure
Students will build upon their experience in 3D Design I including materials, and building processes, while constructing the human figure. Sculpted figures will portray accurate human anatomic structure, inference of function, and balance. (Prerequisites: FDTN-131 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
3
YOPS-10
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies. Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
0
 
General Education – First-Year Writing (WI)
3
Choose one of the following:
3
 
   General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective
 
 
   General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective
 
 
   General Education – Mathematical Perspective A
 
Second Year
ILLS-213
Illustration I
Illustration I is the primary core course for illustration majors in their sophomore year. The students approach major elements of technique, application, and theory in relation to becoming illustrators. Studio sessions involve basic problem solving, anatomy, pictorial composition, media applications, figurative expression, use of reference tools, and illustrative techniques. Class structure allows demonstrations of processes and experimentation for assignment development. Group and individual critiques will be used to evaluate work. (Prerequisites: FDTN-111 or ITDI-211 or equivalent course.) Studio 5 (Fall, Spring).
3
ILLS-214
Anatomical Illustration
This course will provide an in-depth anatomical approach to drawing the figure. Students will obtain instruction and practice at drawing human anatomy including body and head postures, facial expressions, and hand gestures. Students will learn anatomical proportioning while drawing from observation from models to convey emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, disgust, etc. Students will also learn to use photo support references. Works will be created in black and white and in color media using light and dark, and warm and cool effects. (Prerequisite: FDTN-112 or FDTN-212 or ILLS-206 or SOFA-108 or ITDI-211 or equivalent course.) Studio 5 (Fall, Spring).
3
ILLS-219
Digital Illustration I
This course will provide students with methods of conceptualizing, organizing and executing illustrations using the computer. Projects will expose students to various types of digital techniques using vector and raster-based software applications, and a variety of input and output devices for the creation of professional level assignments. The course will emphasize conceptual problem-solving methodology and the language of visualization while providing a consistent foundation for digital illustration as it relates to professional illustration production. Color systems, digital terminology and pre-press file formats will be covered. (Prerequisites: FDTN-111 or ITDI-211 or SOFA-108 or equivalent course.) Studio 5 (Fall, Spring).
3
ILLS-371
2D/3D Pre-Visual World Building
Students will research visual standards that are employed to develop game and entertainment worlds. Each student is required to select a fictional world, which is then dissected, analyzed in its constituent parts, and reassembled, with emphasis on how elements interrelate to create a coherent whole. The wide range of possible subjects provides unlimited opportunities for exploration and development of individual styles and expressions. Students produce research materials, sketches and models of the chosen environment. (Prerequisites: ILLS-213 or ILLS-219 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall).
3
 
Art History Elective†
3
 
CAD Studio Electives‡
6
 
Illustration Professional Elective§
3
 
General Education – Ethical Perspective
3
 
General Education – Social Perspective
3
Third Year
ILLS-313
Illustration II
This course will focus on preparing students to create work for a variety of illustration markets including the advertising, editorial, corporate and book publishing markets. Emphasis will be placed on the development and creation of a variety of finished illustrations that will demonstrate understanding of current industry trends and standards. Students will gain insight into the differences and nuances of these illustration specializations. Creative problem solving, stylistic self-expression, and technical proficiency will be emphasized. Students will participate in individual and group reviews and critiques. (Prerequisites: ILLS-213 or equivalent course.) Studio 5 (Fall, Spring).
3
 
Illustration Professional Electives§
12
 
CAD Studio Elective‡
3
 
Art History Elective†
3
 
Open Elective
3
 
General Education – Immersion 1 (WI), 2
6
Fourth Year
ILLS-413
Illustration III
This course will focus on preparing students to function as professional working illustrators. Students will prepare and supply professional business materials such as job cost estimates, work and job delivery schedules, etc. along with assignment work. Emphasis will be placed on the development and creation of a variety of finished illustrations that will demonstrate understanding of current industry standards. Students will gain insight into pricing, time management, and effective communication relative to the illustration profession. Creative problem solving, stylistic self-expression, and technical proficiency will also be emphasized. Students will participate in individual and group reviews and critiques. (Prerequisites: ILLS-313 or equivalent course.) Studio 5 (Fall, Spring).
3
ILLS-501
Illustration Portfolio (WI-PR)
Illustration Portfolio is the final preparatory course for the Illustration major. Its purpose is to provide students with information, strategies and guided instruction to market themselves and organize and create their final portfolio. Writing will be a substantial component of this course. The course will include marketing and business practices for the professional illustrator. Students will receive individual critique and analysis of work created in prior studio classes and progress to the definition of a career agenda. Projects will be customized for each students body of work and their career intentions. Presentation methods and business protocol will also be addressed. The final culminating project will be a finished portfolio. In addition to the portfolio document, students will be instructed in job seeking strategies including creating mailers and promotional materials, interviewing dynamics, resume writing, and correspondence. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Studio 5 (Spring).
3
 
Illustration Professional Electives§
6
 
CAD Studio Elective‡
3
 
Open Electives
9
 
General Education – Immersion
3
 
General Education – Elective
3
Total Semester Credit Hours
120

Please see General Education Curriculum (GE) for more information.

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.

† Art History electives are non-studio courses searchable in SIS with the Art History attribute of ARTH.

‡ CAD Studio elective courses are any College of Art and Design course with a studio or lab component, per catalog restrictions.

§ Illustration Professional Electives are ILLS-300-level or higher.

Admission Requirements

Freshmen Admission

For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.

Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations

  • Studio art experience and a portfolio of original artwork are required for all programs in the schools of Art and Design.
  • A portfolio must be submitted. View Portfolio Requirements for more information.

Transfer Admission

Transfer course recommendations without associate degree
Courses in studio art, art history, and liberal arts. A portfolio of original artwork is required to determine admissions, studio art credit, and year level in the program. View Portfolio Requirements for more information.

Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
Related programs or studio art experience in desired disciplines. A portfolio of original artwork is required to determine admissions, studio art credit, and year level in the program. View Portfolio Requirements for more information. Summer courses can lead to third-year status in most programs.

Learn about admissions, cost, and financial aid 

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