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 for Illustration BFA

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.

Combined Accelerated Bachelor's/Master's Degrees

Today’s careers require advanced degrees grounded in real-world experience. RIT’s Combined Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Degrees enable you to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in as little as five years of study, all while gaining the valuable hands-on experience that comes from co-ops, internships, research, study abroad, and more.

+1 MBA: Students who enroll in a qualifying undergraduate degree have the opportunity to add an MBA to their bachelor’s degree after their first year of study, depending on their program. Learn how the +1 MBA can accelerate your learning and position you for success.

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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

Industries

  • Journalism, Media, and Publishing
  • Performing and Fine Arts
  • Advertising, PR, and Marketing
  • Design

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. It’s exposure–early and often–to a variety of professional work environments, career paths, and industries.

In the College of Art and Design, experiential learning includes cooperative education and internships, international experiences, multidisciplinary projects, industry partnerships, and more. 

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

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

Featured Profiles

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Illustration BFA

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Illustration, BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ARTH-###
Any 100-level ARTH course (General Education-Artistic Perspective)
3
ARTH-###
Any 100-level ARTH course (General Education-Global Perspective)
3
FDTN-111
Drawing I
This course is an introduction to the visualization of form, thought, and expression through the drawing process and is the first of two sequential courses that are the foundation of the drawing curriculum in the College of Art and Design. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, and demonstrations which are designed to provide a broad introductory experience. Students will experiment with a wide variety of media, tools, techniques and subjects to develop drawing and problem-solving skills related to form and composition. 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. **Fee: A materials fee is required for this course, and an additional course fee applied via student account** Studio 6 (Fall or Spring).
3
Choose one of the following:
3
   FDTN-112
   Drawing II
From observation of still life, the figure, and interior/exterior spaces, Drawing II continues to build on the foundation of the College of Art and Design drawing curriculum. This course continues the study of traditional drawing mediums and techniques while introducing color and a selection of contemporary practices and tools through examining organic and geometric mark making, form, space and value. Core concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, and demonstrations; the primary assessment method of course work will be through critiques which facilitate 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 self-expression, communication and continued development of creative practice and problem solving. **Fee: A materials fee is required for this course, and an additional course fee applied via student account** (Prerequisites: FDTN-111 or ITDI-211 or equivalent course.) Studio 6 (Fall or Spring).
 
   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 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).
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 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).
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. (This class is restricted to incoming 1st year or global campus students.) 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 professional 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-112 or equivalent course.) Studio 5 (Fall or Spring).
3
ILLS-214
Anatomical Illustration
This course will provide an in-depth anatomical approach to drawing the figure. Students will practice 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 photographic support references when drawing the figure. By the conclusion of the semester students will be able to have intermediate to advanced level anatomical drawing skills. (Prerequisites: ILLS-209 or equivalent course.) Studio 5 (Fall or Spring).
3
ILLS-219
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).
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-209 and ILLS-213 or equivalent course.) Studio 5 (Fall or Spring).
3
ILLS-550
Topics in Illustration: Character Design
This course will focus on the investigation of, and practice in, a selected topic in illustration. Subject offerings will vary by sub-field specializations in the illustration field. A subtopic course description will be published each term course is offered and may have limited repeatability. The course, however can be repeated. Lab 3, Lecture 2 (Fall, Spring).
3
 
Art History Elective†
3
 
CAD Studio Electives‡
6
 
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
ILLS-319
Digital Illustration II
Digital Illustration II will provide students with advanced 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 also be covered. (Prerequisites: ILLS-219 or equivalent course.) Lab 2, Studio 3 (Fall or Spring).
3
 
Illustration Professional Electives§
9
 
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 a culminating 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. Writing conventions will be covered in the lecture portion of the 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 student’s body of work and their career intentions. Presentation methods and business protocol will also be addressed. (Prerequisites: ILLS-413 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
 
Illustration Professional Electives§
6
 
CAD Studio Elective‡
3
 
Open Electives
9
 
General Education – Immersion 3
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; and are 200 level or above.

‡ 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.

Admissions and Financial Aid

First-Year Admission

A strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. This includes:

  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of social studies and/or history
  • 3-4 years of mathematics
  • 2-3 years of science
  • Studio art experience and a portfolio of original artwork are required. 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 How to Apply

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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