3D Digital Design Bachelor of fine arts degree

3011e40a-217f-4c66-b17f-a2c001d78fb8 | 6218739


Design 3D computer graphics for gaming, virtual worlds, augmented reality, medical and scientific simulations, data visualizations, motion and broadcast graphics, architectural and engineering modeling, instructional multimedia, museum exhibits, and more.

3D digital designers use their passion to create virtual elements featured in everything from games and movies to visualizations and augmented reality.  Vehicles, avatars, lighting, and environments are all designed to imagine something new, visualize an idea, or simulate a process.  As you progress through the program you will discover new applications for your skills in creating with this advanced software. On your first day in the program, you begin learning and using the same software that professionals use in related fields. As a program in a university setting ample opportunity exists to collaborate with engineers, musicians, scientists, animators, and medical professionals which means that you will have opportunities to put your 3D design abilities to use while you are at RIT and when you graduate.

From day one, the students in the 3D digital design major use professional 3D software in game design, virtual reality, medical and scientific simulations, data visualization, models for architects and engineers, movies, motion or broadcast graphics, instructional media, and more. In addition to the 3D software, students use motion and facial capture, projection mapping, and 3D printing. Traditional design skills are augmented with principles of time, motion, lighting, rendering, and compositing to create inspiring projects. Alumni work in top companies around the country and the world applying the skills they have learned to design solutions to all kinds of problems.


  • Design

  • Animation

  • Advertising, PR, and Marketing

  • Internet and Software

  • Movies, TV, and Music

  • Computer Games

  • Non-Profit

  • Retail Stores

Typical Job Titles

Technical Artist Texture Artist
Digital Sculptor Visualization Artist
Lighting Technical Director (TD) Concept Artist
Special Effects Artist Character Artist
Digital Art Designer Forensic Artist
User Interface Artist Rigger
Motion Graphics Artist

Featured Work

Featured Profiles

Curriculum for 3D Digital Design BFA

3D Digital Design, BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
   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.
   General Education - Global Perspective: History of Western Art: 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.
   Introduction to Modeling and Motion
This course is an introduction to the representation of form and motion in three-dimensional software. The course focuses on the development of visual and verbal vocabulary as a means of exploring, developing, and understanding composition and motion with digital geometry and in virtual spaces. Topics include the basics of lines, planes, contour, transforming lines into form, composing images with a software camera, interaction of light and surface, perspective, resolution of geometry, and rendering. Perception and visual thinking are emphasized in the development of projects. Projects will include modeling organic and inorganic forms, composition, level of detail, creation of spaces and motion. Structured assignments develop skills in concept generation, basic form making, techniques for creating motion, and craftsmanship. Emphasis is placed on workflow, teamwork, and the technical and aesthetic aspects of each project.
   Introduction to Visual Design
This course is an introduction to the development of surface materials in three- dimensional software, using the basic concepts covered in Intro to Modeling and Motion. Principles of additive and subtractive color are developed as they relate to the interpretation of physical phenomena within a virtual world. The vocabulary expands to include the interaction of light and surface attributes including: color, relief, specularity, transparency, and more. Projects focus on using color, value and texture to enhance the representation of form and space. The basics of node based materials design is introduced. Additional techniques for UV layout are introduced. Concepts are introduced through lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, assigned projects, and critiques. Assignments develop skills in surface design, lighting and rendering. (Prerequisites: This class is restricted to students who have completed DDDD-101 with a C or better or equivalent course.)
   Imaging For 3D
This course provides experience in generating images, both still and moving, for use with the three-dimensional software environment. Students learn techniques for drawing perspective and orthographic views as well as cabinet drawings, oblique drawings, and other techniques. Students learn to create curves to import for model creation, to capture images photographically to use as textures, to create wrapping textures, to compile multiple frames into a movie, to merge segments together into a single movie, to record and incorporate audio elements, and to export results to the web and other media. Students learn to use a green screen to add live elements to their work. (Prerequisite: DDDD-101 or equivalent course.)
   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 Imaging Arts and Sciences)
   4D Design
4D Design introduces students to the basic concepts of art and design in time and space. Computers, video, photo, sound, and lighting equipment are used to create short-form time-based work. Students learn video, audio, camera, lighting, composite animation, and other skills relevant to all students in majors and programs required to take this course. The course explores elements of moving images, such as serial, narrative ordering, still and moving image editing, transitions and syntax, sound and image relations, and principles of movement. The course addresses the both historical conventions of time in art and recent technological advances, which are redefining the fields of fine art and design. In focusing on the relations between students' spacing and timing skills, 4D Design extends and supplements the other foundation courses, and prepares students for further work with time-based media. (Undergraduate Imaging Arts and Sciences)
   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.
   General Education - First-Year Writing (WI)
Choose one of the following:
   3D Design II
This is the second-semester of a sequential course. The focus is on composing three-dimensional form and its relationship to space. Students will build on their prior term experiences, which include the introduction to 3D principles, materials, and building processes. Students will develop the sophisticated skill of conceptualization. More advanced problems will be assigned and students will have the opportunity to explore a wide range of material and process possibilities for their resolution. A heightened awareness of idea development and design research will be explored. Inclusion of 21st century themes in the arts of social cultural and community. (Prerequisites: FDTN-131 or equivalent course.)
   3D Design II Workshop: Topic
This workshop provides students with the opportunity to learn more about 3D compositions within a more open and experimental realm while still covering the core Foundation concepts. Different topics may be taken in the same semester. Topics may only be taken once. The focus is on composing three-dimensional form and its relationship to space. Material exposure will be determined by the topic’s instructor. (Prerequisites: FDTN-131 or equivalent course.)
Choose one of the following:
   General Education - Natural Science Inquiry Perspective
   General Education - Scientific Principles Perspective
   General Education - Mathematical Perspective A or B
Second Year
   Modeling and Motion Strategies
This course provides extensive coverage of methods for modeling where evaluation of the appropriate modeling method to use in various situations is key. The emphasis in the course is on problem solving. Modeling challenges of various types are incorporated into the projects. With these techniques students create complex models of organic and inorganic forms using many techniques. (Prerequisites: This class is restricted to students who have completed DDDD-101 with a C or better or equivalent course.)
   Layers and Effects
Students learn to utilize render layers and to create effects using software that makes it possible to incorporate multiple layers of image and audio into a single project. Issues related to integrating images created using different renders is covered. Emphasis is placed on incorporating various elements into a cohesive whole matching lighting and perspective. (Prerequisites: DDDD-102 and DDDD-103 or equivalent course.)
This course covers the use of scripts to control various aspects of three-dimensional environments, models, textures, motion, production workflow and more. Students develop scripts to control particles, models, textures, motion, and interaction with the environment. Additionally students gain experience downloading scripts to micro controllers. (Prerequisites: DDDD-101 or SOFA-215 or IGME-219 or equivalent course.)
   Collaboration Project
The course focuses on playing a supportive role in the development of a three-dimensional digital design project from the planning stage, through completion and presentation. Emphasis is placed on working effectively on a team and providing leadership in a supportive team role. Methods for clearly communicating with a client are addressed including sketches, reference images, flowcharts and storyboards. (2Co-requisite: DDDD-101 or equivalent course.)
   Lighting, Materials, and Rendering
The course will focus on advanced techniques in lighting, materials, and rendering. Students will light objects and spaces. Students will use shading networks to incorporate groups of two-dimensional and three-dimensional textures into realistic and non-photorealistic materials. Students will learn to use texture maps instead of detail in models to increase interaction speeds. Textures are used to prototype simple models into complex scenes before completion of final geometry. Normal maps and displacement textures are used to create detail in model UVs. Use of the node-based system to control many aspects of the 3D environment is covered. Use of textures to simulate non-dynamic lights and shadows is introduced. Planning for the economical use of textures and for the replacement of models with texture maps in level of detail (LOD) situations will be addressed as well. Students will learn to design effective render layers and explore the strengths and weaknesses of various renderers to make effective judgments about which renderer to use in a given situation. (Prerequisites: DDDD-202 or equivalent course.)
   Anatomical Figure Drawing
Lessons introduced in lecture will be applied during figure drawing sessions. These lessons describe a proportion system developed by Robert Beverly Hale to define the human skeleton. After studying the skeleton, the course focuses on all major muscle groups and their influence on the human form.
   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 Imaging Arts and Sciences)
   General Education - Ethical Perspective
   General Education – Social Perspective
   Programming Elective
Third Year
   Professional Practice (WI-PR)
The course focuses on preparing students to enter the professional world. Projects include the development of a resume, cover letter, artist's statement, bio, and portfolio. Focus is placed on submitting work to competitions, both visual and written, related to their work. (Prerequisites: DDDD-103 or equivalent course and completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement.)
   General Education Elective: History of Digital Graphics (WI-GE)
As a historical overview of computer graphics design, this course will cover the development of digitally based graphics and imagery from its prehistory to the present. This course will explore related technologies and the growth of the computer industry. Major pioneers and their contributions are reviewed. The course traces the use of digital technology in the creation of graphics for design, interactive media, fine art, animation, visualization, and performance.
   Project Planning and Production
In this course students learn to develop design documents, timelines, budgets, marketing plans, and supporting material for potential projects. A project of their own design is then fully implemented and presented at the end of the term. (Prerequisites: DDDD-301 or equivalent course.)
   3DDD Professional Electives
   Open Electives
   General Education - Immersion 1, 2
   Art History Elective†
Fourth Year
   Senior Capstone
   3DDD Professional Electives
   Open Electives
   General Education - Immersion 3 
Total Semester Credit Hours

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.


3DDD Professional Electives
Advanced Studio
dimensional digital design not covered in other course work. Students will work closely with the instructor to research and complete tutorials in a new area. They will develop skills in that area and then create a tutorial explaining what they have learned. They will present what they have learned to the rest of the class as a means of extending their knowledge into specialized areas that are not covered in other course. Students must have an area of exploration defined in writing in advance of enrolling in the course, which must be approved by the instructor. (Prerequisites: DDDD-306 or equivalent course.)
Experimental Workshop
The course focuses on implementing, advanced, newly developing ideas in three-dimensional computer graphics. The specific topic varies and is determined by the instructor. A specific course outline is provided each time the course is taught. Potential topics include the creation of interactive installations, game asset design, digital performances, cyber fashion, network art, locative media, scientific visualization, information visualization, event design, projection design, or any new area in digital design. This course has a subtopic and may be repeated with different subtopics; subtopics cannot be repeated. (Prerequisites: DDDD-206 or equivalent course.)
Character Design and Rigging
This course will cover the design of characters and then the creation of them using three-dimensional software, inverse kinematics, parent and rigid binding, bones, and deformers. Students will design characters using techniques like interpretant matrices, model sheets, sketches, and maquettes followed by development of actual characters in software. Characters are designed for incorporation into motion graphics, games, real time applications, performance, or visualization. (Prerequisites: DDDD-201 and DDDD-203 or equivalent courses.)
Environment Design
This course covers modeling techniques useful in developing environments, both interior and exterior. The content of the course covers proportions appropriate to a variety of environments, lighting for spaces, surface design to replicate real world materials, and building to an appropriate level of detail for the circumstance. (Prerequisites: DDDD-201 and DDDD-207 or equivalent courses.)
Hard Surface Design
The course focuses on designing and constructing hard surface models including machinery, furniture, vehicles, electronics, and robots. Students explore the use of different modeling techniques in the process and are particularly interested in the flow of the topology within the geometry. Some attention is given to creating controls for moving the hard surface models. (Prerequisite: DDDD-201 or equivalent course.)
Physical Interface Design
This course covers the use of basic electronics so that students can develop embedded systems or controllers for games, design environments with ambient intelligence, design interactive museum exhibits and point of purchase installations, or embed electronics in clothing. Students use micro controllers, sensors, switches, lights, and motors to implement their designs.
Real Time Design
In this course students design levels for games or virtual worlds for a variety of applications. Once the design is complete, the design is implemented using high-end three-dimensional software. In many cases the projects will be large and will be executed by teams of students. Versioning systems will be used to keep track of the most recently developed assets. Models are imported into real time software engines for manipulation. (Prerequisite: DDDD-201 or equivalent course.)
Simulating Natural Phenomena
Students will learn to simulate gasses, liquids and forces as well as develop complex organic systems in natural environments. Students will employ particle systems, physics engines, l-systems, and software designed especially for developing richly detailed natural environments. The content of the course encompasses both modeling natural environments and also phenomena in motion, such has windstorms, fire, cloth, hair, fur, and water. (Prerequisite: DDDD-201 or equivalent course.)
Programming Electives
Computational Problem Solving for Engineers
This course introduces computational problem solving. Basic problem-solving techniques and algorithm development through the process of top-down stepwise refinement and functional decomposition are introduced throughout the course. Classical numerical problems encountered in science and engineering are used to demonstrate the development of algorithms and their implementations. May not be taken for credit by Computer Science, Software Engineering, or Computer Engineering majors. This course is designed for Electrical Engineering and Micro-Electronic Engineering majors and students interested in the Electrical Engineering minor. (Prerequisites: (MATH-181 or MATH-181A or MATH-171) and (MCEE-BS or EEEE-BS or ENGRX-UND or EEEEDU-BS or ENGXDU-UND) or equivalent courses.)
Computer Science for AP Students
This accelerated course covers material from the first-year sequence of courses and provides the foundation for all subsequent Computer Science courses. The course stresses problem solving while covering modern software development techniques and introducing essential software tools. Topics include tree and graph structures, nested data structures, objects, classes, inheritance, interfaces, object-oriented collection class libraries for abstract data types (e.g. stacks, queues, maps, and trees), and static vs. dynamic data types. Concepts of object-oriented design are a large part of the course. Software qualities related to object orientation, namely cohesion, minimal coupling, modifiability, and extensibility, are all introduced in this course, as well as a few elementary object-oriented design patterns. Input and output streams, graphical user interfaces, and exception handling are covered. Note: Requires department permission for registration.
Computer Science I
This course serves as an introduction to computational thinking using a problem-centered approach. Specific topics covered include: expression of algorithms in pseudo code and a programming language; functional and imperative programming techniques; control structures; problem solving using recursion; basic searching and sorting; elementary data structures such as lists, trees, and graphs; and correctness, testing and debugging. Assignments (both in class and for homework) requiring a pseudo code solution and an implementation are an integral part of the course. An end-of-term project is also required.
New Media Interactive Design and Algorithmic Problem Solving I
This course provides students with an introduction to problem solving, abstraction, and algorithmic thinking that is relevant across the field of new media. Students are introduced to object-oriented design methodologies through the creation of event-driven, media-intensive applications. Students will explore the development of software through the use of a range of algorithmic concepts related to the creation of applications by writing classes that employ the fundamental structures of computing, such as conditionals, loops, variables, data types, functions, and parameters. There is an early emphasis on object oriented concepts and design. (This course is restricted to students in NWMEDID-BS or NMDE-BFA with at least 2nd year standing or GAMED-MN students.)
Game Development and Algorithmic Problem Solving I
This course introduces students within the domain of game design and development to the fundamentals of computing through problem solving, abstraction, and algorithmic design. Students will learn the basic elements of game software development, including problem decomposition, the design and implementation of game applications, and the testing/debugging of their designs. (This course is restricted to GAMEDES-BS Major students.)
Principles of Computing
Computational Problem Solving in Network Domain I
A first course in using the object-oriented approach in the network domain. Students will learn to design software solutions using the object-oriented approach, to implement software solutions using a contemporary programming language, and to test these software solutions. Topics include thinking in object-oriented terms, problem definition, designing solutions using the object-oriented approach, implementing solutions using a contemporary programming language, and testing software solutions. Programming projects will be required.
Computational Problem Solving in the Information Domain I
A first course in using the object-oriented approach to solve problems in the information domain. Students will learn to design software solutions using the object-oriented approach, to visually model systems using UML, to implement software solutions using a contemporary programming language, and to test these software solutions. Additional topics include thinking in object-oriented terms, and problem definition. Programming projects will be required.

Admission Requirements

Freshman 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 

Latest News

  • March 31, 2020

    Madeleine Rabil.

    Alumni Update: Role with game developer took root at RIT

    During a 2008 visit to RIT while she was in high school, Madeleine Rabil ’13 (3D digital graphics) learned that the university’s then-called College of Imaging Arts and Sciences had just announced the creation of a new major for incoming students focusing on 3D as a medium. “I knew immediately that RIT was where I needed to be,” she says.

  • March 4, 2020

    Faculty Shaun Foster works on the computer in his office.

    Professor immersed in grant from Epic Games

    Shaun Foster, undergraduate program director of 3D Digital Design, is exploring the multidisciplinary possibilities of a game engine developed by the creators of Fortnite and other popular titles.