3D Visualization Option - 3D Digital Design BFA

RIT’s 3D design visualization degree emphasizes the creation and simulation of environments and objects for virtual spaces for a growing number of real-world opportunities.


Overview for 3D Visualization Option - 3D Digital Design BFA

Why Study Digital Visualization at RIT

  • 3D Visualization Lecturers: 3D Visualization professionals are invited to RIT to lead lectures, discussions, and demos that give you an informed industry perspective.
  • Industry Networking: Take part in Creative Industry Day, which allows you to connect with professionals in your field of study.
  • Strong Career Paths: Alumni of the 3D visualization option can be found designing solutions to a broad range of challenges at top companies around the world in medicine, robotics, and other fields.

3d visualization design emphasizes creating and simulating environments and objects for virtual spaces for a growing number of real-world opportunities. RIT’s 3D digital design major offers a 3D design visualization option that gives you the flexibility to pursue a broad range of applications that use digital design as the platform for 3D content creation. Visit the 3D digital design BFA program page for information on curriculum and elective courses for this option.

3D Visualization Option Curriculum

From your first day in 3D design visualization, you’ll learn the design software professionals use for real-world digital design. You will also have the opportunity to:

  • Use the computer labs in the College of Art and Design, which will provide you with access to professional-level 3D and animation software
  • Collaborate with engineers, musicians, scientists, animators, and medical professionals, putting your 3D design abilities to use before you even graduate

Our digital visualization degree teaches you how to combine traditional design skills with the aesthetic and technical expertise to create virtual elements featured in TV and movies, virtual worlds, motion and broadcast graphics, and instructional multimedia. The 3D design visualization option also teaches skill such as:

  • Data visualizations
  • Augmented reality
  • Medical and scientific simulations
  • Architectural and engineering modeling
  • Simulation for synthetic data generation
  • Machine learning

The vehicles, avatars, lighting, and environments you make are all designed to imagine something new, visualize an idea, or simulate a process. Explore exciting and new discoveries in VR and augmented reality visualization, or try designing 3D environments in this digital visualization option. As you progress through the options you will discover new applications for your skills while working with advanced tools in a growing industry. 




Careers and Experiential Learning

Cooperative Education and Internships

What’s different about an RIT education? It’s the career experience you gain by completing cooperative education and internships with top companies in every single industry. You’ll earn more than a degree. You’ll gain real-world career experience that sets you apart.

Co-ops and internships take your knowledge and turn it into know-how. Your art and design co-ops will provide hands-on experience that enables you to apply your artistic capabilities in dynamic professional settings while you make valuable connections between classwork and real-world applications.

Students in the 3D visualization option are strongly encouraged to complete a cooperative education or internship experience.

Creative Industry Days

Connect with Design Industry Leaders

RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education hosts Creative Industry Days, which connects students majoring in art, design, film and animation, photography, and select computing majors with companies, organizations, creative agencies, design firms, and more. Creative Industry Days are a series of events that allow you to network with company representatives and interview directly for open co-op and full-time employment positions.

Featured Work

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Curriculum for 2023-2024 for 3D Visualization Option - 3D Digital Design BFA

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

3D Digital Design - 3D Visualization Option, BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
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. Lecture 2, Studio 2 (Fall).
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.) Lecture 2, Studio 2 (Spring).
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.) Lecture 2, Studio 2 (Spring).
2D Design I
This course is an introduction to the basic elements and principles of two-dimensional design and is foundational to the College of Art and Design curriculum. The focus of this course is the development of visual and verbal vocabularies as a means of exploring and understanding two-dimensional design. Students will engage with a wide variety of media, tools, and techniques to develop skills while delving into the theoretical and experimentational processes of contemporary art and design. The exploration of historical and cultural themes and concepts intertwined with aspects of personal interpretation and experience will be included in the curriculum. **Fee: A materials fee is required for this course, and an additional course fee applied via student account** Studio 6 (Fall or Spring).
3D Design I
This course presents a progressive study in terminology, visual principles, exploration, concept generation, process, and techniques of three-dimensional design and is foundational to the College of Art and Design curriculum. Using hands-on problem solving, student will develop an informed understanding of the three-dimensional 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 three-dimensional 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. **Fee: A materials fee is required for this course, and an additional course fee applied via student account** Studio 6 (Fall or Spring).
4D Design
4D Design introduces students to the basic concepts of art and design in time and space. The course explores elements of moving images such as continuity, still and moving image editing, transitions and syntax, sound and image relations, and principles of movement. Computers, video, photo, sound and lighting equipment are used to create short-form time-based work relevant to students in all majors and programs required to take this course. 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 Art and Design) Lab 5 (Fall, Spring).
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. (This class is restricted to incoming 1st year or global campus students.) Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
General Education – First-Year Writing (WI)
Any 100-level ARTH course (General Education-Artistic Perspective)
Any 100-level ARTH course (General Education-Global Perspective)
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.) Lab 2, Lecture 2 (Fall).
Layers and Effects
In this course students will apply visual effects and enhancements to incorporate multiple layers of still images, video and audio into a single project. Emphasis is placed on incorporating various visual elements into a cohesive cinematic design. At the completion of this course, students will be able to troubleshoot technical challenges and present their work for addition to a professional portfolio. (Prerequisites: DDDD-102 and DDDD-103 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall or Spring).
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.) Lab 2, Lecture 2 (Fall).
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-102 or equivalent course.) Lecture 2, Studio 2 (Spring).
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.) Lecture 2, Studio 3 (Spring).
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. Lab 3, Studio 3 (Spring).
General Education – Ethical Perspective
General Education – Social Perspective
CAD Elective§
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.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
General Education Elective: History of Digital Graphics (WI-PR)
This course will focus on three-dimensional design, covering the development of digitally based 3D graphics and imagery from their prehistory to the present. Additionally, the course will explore related technologies and the growth of the computer graphics industry. Major pioneers and their contributions to the field are reviewed. The course traces the use of 3D digital tools in the creation of graphics for design, interactive media, fine art, animation, visualization, and performance: providing students with a solid foundation in the history and development of the discipline. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Collaboration Project
This course contextualizes mid-career acquired technical and aesthetic 3D Digital Design skills within a professional production setting. Students join or are assigned to collaborative teams that work with internal or external clients in the design, development, and completion of a long-form 3D Digital Design project that meets specific client-centered goals. Project scope, outcomes, milestones, deadlines and deliverables are negotiated and agreed upon between the client and the student team. The course focuses on the development of collaboration skills among the team members, and in the differentiation between team objectives and individual goals. Students will learn the process of clear communication with a client in a professional setting. (Prerequisites: DDDD-209 or equivalent course.) Lab 2, Lecture 2 (Fall or Spring).
3DDD Professional Electives
Open Electives
General Education – Immersion 1, 2
Art History Elective†
Fourth Year
Senior Capstone I
The course focuses on implementation of a three-dimensional digital design project from the planning stage, through completion and presentation. By the end of the term the student will have completed at least half of the project and have made all of the aesthetic decisions relative to the project in preparation for an intense critique at the end of the term. (Prerequisites: DDDD-209 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Senior Capstone II
The course focuses on the completion of a major three-dimensional digital design project from the planning stage, through completion and presentation. Based on the feedback received in the critique at the end of the previous sections of Senior Capstone I, students will refine and complete their project and prepare to submit their work to competitions and integrate it into their portfolio. Finished projects are presented in a Senior Capstone show. (Co-requisite: DDDD-402 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
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.

§ CAD elective refers to any course in the College of Art and Design.


3DDD Professional Electives

3D Motion Graphics
This course addresses the technical and aesthetic concerns in the production of 3D motion graphics for various implementations, including station identifications for television networks, film titles, public service broadcast, music video, scoreboard graphics and logos for advertising. The course also examines current trends and implications for future application of 3D motion graphics in the broader field of 3D communication design. Major areas of focus are the use of three-dimensional typography, design development and presentation, screen composition, timing, transition and content. 3D Visual Effects as they pertain to 3D motion graphics are also addressed. (Prerequisite: DDDD-101 or equivalent course.) Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall or Spring).
Advanced Studio: Topic
This course will focus on working in a studio environment to explore or refine skills in an area of three-dimensional digital design. 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 articulate what they have learned. An area of exploration will be defined by the topic for the course. Topics can not be re-taken. (Prerequisite: DDDD-209 or SOFA-226 or ILLM-506 or equivalent course.) Lab 2, Lecture 2 (Fall or Spring).
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. (Prerequisite: DDDD-201 or equivalent course.) Lecture 2, Studio 2 (Fall, Spring).
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. Co-requisite: DDDD-208 or equivalent course.) Lecture 2, Studio 2 (Fall).
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.) Lecture 2, Studio 2 (Fall).
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.) Lecture 2, Studio 2 (Fall).
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. Lecture 2, Studio 2 (Spring).
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.) Lecture 2, Studio 3 (Fall or Spring).
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.) Lecture 2, Studio 2 (Spring).

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.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
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. Lec/Lab 6 (Fall, Spring).
Software Development and Problem Solving
A first course introducing students to the fundamentals of computational problem solving. Students will learn a systematic approach to problem solving, including how to frame a problem in computational terms, how to decompose larger problems into smaller components, how to implement innovative software solutions using a contemporary programming language, how to critically debug their solutions, and how to assess the adequacy of the software solution. Additional topics include an introduction to object-oriented programming and data structures such as arrays and stacks. Students will complete both in-class and out-of-class assignments. Lab 6 (Fall, Spring).
Software Development for Transfers
This accelerated course covers material from the first-year sequence of computing courses and provides the theoretical and practical foundation for all subsequent computing courses that require software development. The course stresses problem solving while covering modern software models, and theoretical approaches. Concepts of object-oriented design are a large part of the course including theoretical abstractions such as classes, objects, encapsulation, inheritance, interfaces, polymorphism, software design comprising multiple classes, data structures (e.g. lists, trees, sets, maps, and graphs), exception/error handling, concurrency, and graphical user interfaces. Additional topics include basic software design principles (coupling, cohesion, information expertise, open-closed principle, etc.), test driven development, design patterns, data integrity, and data security. The abstract nature of objects is discussed in several domains. Seminar 5 (Fall, Spring).
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.) Lec/Lab 6 (Fall, Spring).
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.) Lec/Lab 6 (Fall, Spring).
Principles of Computing
This course is designed to introduce students to the central ideas of computing. Students will engage in activities that show how computing changes the world and impacts daily lives. Students will develop step-by-step written solutions to basic problems and implement their solutions using a programming language. Assignments will be completed both individually and in small teams. Students will be required to demonstrate oral and written communication skills through such assignments as short papers, homework, group discussions and debates, and development of a term paper. Computer Science majors may take this course only with department approval, and may not apply these credits toward their degree requirements. Lec/Lab 3 (Fall, Spring).

Admissions and Financial Aid

This program is STEM designated when studying on campus and full time.

This option is part of the 3D digital design BFA. Please visit the degree program page for admission requirements.

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Financial Aid and Scholarships

100% of all incoming first-year and transfer students receive aid.

RIT’s personalized and comprehensive financial aid program includes scholarships, grants, loans, and campus employment programs. When all these are put to work, your actual cost may be much lower than the published estimated cost of attendance.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships

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