Game Arts Option - 3D Digital Design BFA

Overview for Game Arts Option - 3D Digital Design BFA

The game arts option focuses on the creation of visual elements and assets for a wide range of game platforms. The option allows you to pursue creative interests in game arts, from designing virtual elements and lighting to animated characters and backgrounds. An innovative and adaptive curriculum prepares you for a career in the emergent fields associated with games culture while encouraging critical analysis of these fields through the dynamic general elective courses offered throughout RIT. This option is part of the 3D digital design BFA degree.

You will be exposed to the advanced technologies, interactive interfaces, and explorative processing necessary in game arts. You will explore 3D modeling, sculpting, lighting, materials, effects, real-time game engines, AR, VR, and XR, pre-visualization, and virtual production–a technique that blends visual effects, film, and game technologies, all with a tighter focus on game pipelines. While technologies constantly change, this option focuses on teaching lifelong skills of critical and design thinking and collaboration through a game arts focus.

In this option, you will have opportunities to regularly collaborate with game developers. This option complements RIT’s nationally recognized game design and development BS, ranked 4th nationally among Princeton Review’s “Top 50 Game Design Programs: Undergraduate Category” (2022), offered by the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. MAGIC Spell Studios, the university’s state-of-the-art media production facility, is a creative hub where artists and programmers frequently work together on imaginative game projects, some of which have been published. MAGIC also invites students to engage in research to discover new possibilities in games and digital media.

You will graduate well positioned to pursue careers in the game arts industry. Alumni and faculty are the creative minds behind the environments, characters, and objects in games you know and love. Graduates have been hired by leading studios to work on games for all platforms. Hiring partners include Bethesda, Insomniac Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Workinman Interactive.

Invaluable Resources

Whether it's MAGIC Spell Studios or one of the many computer labs in the College of Art and Design, you will have access to professional-level 3D and animation software to build skills and execute projects. Further, the array of opportunities at RIT aligns with the game industry’s convergence of many different fields. Programs at the university are adaptive and prepare you for lifelong learning, creativity, critical thinking, and skills in future technologies such as VR/AR/MR and virtual production, the revolutionary filmmaking technique combining computer-generated graphics, 3D art, motion capture, and real-time rendering via game engines. RIT, with support from an Epic Games grant, built a virtual production curriculum that is driven by the use of large LED walls installed in MAGIC Spell Studios.

RIT is also positioned in a city with first-hand grounding in the history of games. The Strong National Museum of Play, the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play, is located 15 minutes from campus in downtown Rochester. It holds didactic materials that can help you study and understand the origin of games, and their many forms, while you help create the future of the industry.

Industry Grade Facilities

RIT’s relationships with industry facilitate unique explorations for students. Game arts professionals are also invited to RIT to lead lectures, discussions, and demos that give you added perspective of the 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 game arts option are strongly encouraged to complete a cooperative education or internship experience.

Featured Work

Featured Profiles

Curriculum for Game Arts Option - 3D Digital Design BFA

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 (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 (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 (Spring).
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).
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).
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).
Game Arts Seminar
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).
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 (Fall).
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.) Lab 2 (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 (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 (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 (Spring).
Game Design & Development I
This course examines the core process of game design, from ideation and structured brainstorming in an entertainment technology context through the examination of industry standard processes and techniques for documenting and managing the design process. This course specifically examines techniques for assessing and quantifying the validity of a given design, for managing innovation and creativity in a game development-specific context, and for world and character design. Specific emphasis is placed on both the examination and deconstruction of historical successes and failures, along with presentation of ethical and cultural issues related to the design and development of interactive software and the role of individuals in a team-oriented design methodology. Students in this class are expected to actively participate and engage in the culture of design and critique as it relates to the field. (This course is restricted to students in GAMEDES-BS or NWMEDID-BS or GAMED-MN or GAMEDD-MN YR 2-5 students.) Lec/Lab 3 (Fall, Spring).
Choose one of the following:
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 (Spring).
Digital Illustration I
This course will provide students with methods of conceptualizing, organizing, and executing illustrations using digital media. Projects will expose students to various types of digital techniques using current software applications 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 of picture making as it relates to professional illustration production. Color systems, creation tools, and digital terminology and workflow will also be emphasized within this course. (Prerequisites: FDTN-122 or FDTN-222 or SOFA-108 or ILLS-206 or equivalent course.) Studio 5 (Fall or Spring).
General Education – Ethical Perspective
General Education – Social Perspective
Art History 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).
The History of Game Arts
Contemporary Practices: Technology in Game Arts
Game Design & Development II
This course continues to examine the core theories of game design as they relate to the professional field. Beginning with a formalized pitch process, this course examines the design and development paradigm from story-boarding and pre-visualization through rapid iteration, refinement, and structured prototyping exercises to further examine the validity of a given design. Specific emphasis is placed on iterative prototyping models, and on methodologies for both informal and formal critique. This course also explores production techniques and life-cycle in the professional industry. (Prerequisites: (IGME-202 and IGME-220 or equivalent courses and GAMEDES-BS or NWMEDID-BS or GAMEDD-MN students) or (IGME-102 and IGME-220 or equivalent courses and GAMED-MN students).) Lec/Lab 3 (Fall, Spring).
IGM Production Studio
This course will allow students to work as domain specialists on teams completing one or more large projects over the course of the semester. The projects will be relevant to experiences of the interactive games and media programs, but will require expertise in a variety of sub-domains, including web design and development, social computing, computer game development, multi-user media, human-computer interaction and streaming media. Students will learn to apply concepts of project management and scheduling, production roles and responsibilities, and their domain skill sets to multidisciplinary projects. Students will complete design documents, progress reports and final assessments of themselves and their teammates in addition to completing their assigned responsibilities on the main projects. (Prerequisites: IGME-330 or equivalent course and restricted to students in NWMEDID-BS or IGME-320 or equivalent course and restricted to students in GAMEDES-BS.) Lec/Lab 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Open Electives
Game Arts Elective
General Education Elective
General Education – Immersion 1, 2
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-306 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).
Contemporary Practices: Technology in Game Arts
Open Electives
Game Arts Elective
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.


Game Arts Electives

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-306 or SOFA-226 or ILLM-506 or equivalent course.) Lab 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. (Prerequisites: DDDD-206 or equivalent course.) Lecture 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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (Spring).
Maps, Mapping and Geospatial Technologies
This course provides a survey of underlying concepts and technologies used to represent and understand the earth, a form of new media collectively referred to as Geospatial Technologies (GTs). Students will gain hands-on experience with GTs, including Global Positioning Systems (GPSs), Geographic Information Systems (GISs), remote sensing, Virtual Globes, and geographically-oriented new media such as mapping mashups. Students also will develop basic spatial thinking, reasoning, problem solving, and literacy skills. Lec/Lab 3 (Fall).
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
This course introduces students to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for understanding and representing people, places and culture through new media. Through applied research projects, students will learn how GIS is a support mechanism for spatially-oriented thinking, reasoning, literacy, and problem-solving at the global scale. Such global problems include international disaster management, digital humanities, climate change, and sustainable development. Course lectures, writing and reading assignments, and in-class activities cover a mix of conceptual, practical and technical GIS topics. Topics include interactions among people, places and cultures around the world, GIS data models, basic cartography, geodatabases, spatial data acquisition and creation, and spatial analysis. This general education course also examines GIS ethical issues such as privacy, information ownership, accuracy, and mapping and social power. Lec/Lab 3 (Spring).
Geographic Visualization
This course examines the use of maps for geographic problem solving and scientific inquiry. Students will learn theory, concepts and techniques associated with maps and new media such as geographic problem solving and scientific inquiry devices such as map comprehension, evaluation, construction, usage, and assessment. Students will also learn how to compare, contrast, and implement map-based geographic problem solving and scientific inquiry techniques with geographically-oriented new media such as thematic cartography, geographic information visualization, three dimensional modeling and animated and interactive maps. A geographic problem solving research project that incorporates thematic cartography and geographic visualization solutions is required. (This class is restricted to undergraduate students with at least 3rd year standing.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Concept and Character Design
This course will introduce students to the basics of design as applied to characters and environments for animated productions. Students will create and develop a cast of characters for an imagined property, focusing on group dynamics, visual appeal and personality development. Line, color, texture, shape, form and story are referenced when developing characters and environments. Students will institute a process of visual development through a variety of exercises, working toward a final, finished project. (Prerequisite: SOFA-203 or equivalent course.) Lab 3 (Spring).
Drawing for Animation
This course focuses on the mechanics of motion as applied to animated characters, both human and non-human. Working directly from a live model, costumed and nude, and also employing visualization techniques, students will apply figure-drawing skills along with gesture drawing, focusing on the correct representation of weight, energy and force in sequential poses. Specific attention is paid to improving drawing skills in order to create stronger storytelling poses for animated properties. A variety of drawn animation examples will be screened in class. (Prerequisite: SOFA-121 or equivalent course. Co-requisite: SOFA-107 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
Principles of Animation
This course will introduce the concepts and mechanics of movement for animation, focusing on, but not limited to, character based movement. Animation principles will be introduced and applied using hand-drawn methods, which will serve as the foundation for their application in any desired medium. Weekly exercises will be recorded using standard animation software, and will be reviewed, discussed and open to group critique. (Prerequisite: SOFA-121 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Zoological and Botanical Illustration
This course utilizes subjects found in the natural world as resources for applied and fine art applications. Working from live and preserved subjects, students will accurately depict animal and plant images, which may be used descriptively in print and electronic media. (Prerequisites: FDTN-112 and FDTN-122 or ILLS-206 or equivalent courses.) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring).
Fantastic Illustration
This course will focus on the visual interpretation of subject matter specific to these specialized genres of illustration. Emphasis will be placed on creating a wide variety of finished illustrations. Critical thinking, visual criticism, and rhetoric will also be a required component of work generation and imaginative conceptualizing. Stylistic options and technical approaches to the subject matter will be emphasized. Studio 5 (Fall).
Concept and Story-Inspired Art
Students create images that visually represent new narratives or scenarios derived from existing games, animation, films, and/or themed concepts. They develop their individual methods for visualizing materials, props, wardrobes, and other objects that match their chosen theme. Initially, the class focuses on representing ideas through painting and sketching. The latter portion of the course translates these studies into digital 2D and/or 3D assets according to their intended use. (Prerequisites: ILLS-213 or ILLS-219 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Spring).
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-209 and ILLS-213 or equivalent course.) Studio 5 (Fall or 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.
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