|1||Savannah College of Art and Design||Savannah, Georgia|
|2||University of Wisconsin-Stout||Menomonie, Wisconsin|
|3||Full Sail University||Winter Park, Florida|
|4||Champlain College||Burlington, Vermont|
|5||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||Troy, New York|
|6||Southern New Hampshire University||Manchester, New Hampshire|
|7||University of Advancing Technology||Tempe, Arizona|
|8||Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus||Teaneck, New Jersey|
|9||Ringling College of Art and Design||Sarasota, Florida|
|10||Maryland Institute College of Art||Baltimore, Maryland|
|11||DePaul University||Chicago, Illinois|
|12||Regent University||Virginia Beach, Virginia|
|13||Woodbury University||Burbank, California|
|14||Monmouth University||West Long Branch, New Jersey|
|15||The University of Texas at Dallas||Richardson, Texas|
|16||Towson University||Towson, Maryland|
|17||Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design||Lakewood, Colorado|
|18||Becker College||Worcester, Massachusetts|
|19||Lynn University||Boca Raton, Florida|
Successful Student has ranked the The Video Best Game Art and Animation Degrees in the U.S. This ranking is designed for students to make informed college and degree decisions for getting a degree in Game Art and Animation.
These colleges offer on-campus and a few online programs in Video Game Art and Animation. This ranking is comprised mostly of bachelor’s degrees in Game Art and Game Animation.
Digital Art for video games is a necessary part of game design and creation. As technology advances so does the ability to create a more masterful and detailed digital world.
Game Artists apply the skills of light, motion, texture, and more to the world of 2D and 3D characters to bring game worlds to life. Whether it is a single player or an online multiplayer role playing game, each has an artistic element which requires the skill of a Game Artist.
Related Game Design Rankings:
- The 50 Best Video Game Design Colleges
- The 10 Best Online Video Game Design Colleges
- The Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science: Game Design
- The Best Online Certificates in Game Design and Game Art
Career Information for Game Designers and Graphic Artists:
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Animation is a career field that is projected to grow at 4 percent until 2029. In 2020 the yearly median wage for a Multimedia artist was $77,700. Though some artists work in a company office, it is also common for artists to be able to work from home.
Most employers will require the minimum of a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or similar field, however it is the talent of the artists which will be most critical. The following programs will help you develop your skill and help you build connections to the field.
See our article: What Do Game Designers Earn? Salary Information
How to be a Game Designer:
Featured Game Art and Animation Colleges:
We selected the schools with the highest academic influence in game art and game animation, and factored in the particulars of each program (the degrees and variety of courses offered), and academic prestige.
Savannah College of Art and Design
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers three degrees in Animation: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts, and Master of Arts.
SCAD is unique, in that they offer something called GRADpath, where freshmen begin earning undergrad and graduate courses continuously, which means that students can finish their B.F.A and M.A. in four years, and the B.F.A. and M.F.A in five years. This is a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in 4 or 5 years, which usually takes at least six years on normal degree tracks.
SCAD offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation on campus. It consists of 180 hours total, which includes 75 hours towards the major, with classes such as History of Animation, Principles of 3-D Animation, and Principles of Screen Design.
The Master of Arts in Animation is 45 hours, and is available on campus and online. Classes include Animation Context and History, Art Criticism, and Drawing in Motion.
The Master of Fine Arts in Animation is 90 hours, and is also available on campus and online. Classes include Character Animation and Basics, Animation Character Set Up, and Animation Aesthetics and Practice. SCAD has campuses in Savannah, Georgia, Hong Kong, and Atlanta, Georgia, and offers certain degrees fully online.
University of Wisconsin-Stout
The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Game Design and Development with a focus on Art offered at the University of Wisconsin encourages a hands-on learning experience through cutting edge facilities with state of the art equipment. Students in this program have access to three different computer labs with equipment such as:
- AAA development kits
- Intuos Cintiq displays
- HD and 3-D projectors
- Virtual reality headsets
Accolades of the program include national co-champion as the E3 College Game Competition. The comprehensive and progressive nature of the program has lead both Princeton Review and Animation Career Review to rank this program as one of the best in the country.
Full Sail University
Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail is one of the premiere entertainment educators in America. Their Bachelor of Science in Game Art can be completed on campus or entirely online. This will take students an average of 20 months to complete on campus or 29 months to complete online.
The detailed curriculum will cover essential topics to help students master traditional art and animation principles. Students will then be able to effectively apply these skills to 3-D models for a realistic outcome which can be added to an ongoing portfolio that will be built up each semester. Career development modules are interspersed throughout the curriculum to help student build connections to the industry and work field.
At Champlain College, the Game Art and Animation degree offers an ‘Upside-Down’ curriculum where students can take up to six courses towards their major during their first year. This has the benefit of opening up early internship opportunities and a full portfolio for a highly marketable resume.
Students enrolled in this degree have access to the Game Studio, which allows for collaboration with students in related majors such as Game Programming and Game Design. Additionally, the Emergent Media Center offers paid positions to Game Art and Animation majors as early as their freshman year for hands-on experience.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Troy, New York
Rensselaer Tech manages the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences which offers a Bachelor of Science in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences. The total 128 required credits for this degree include:
- 36 credits for the major
- 36 credits in concentration courses
- 24 credits in Math and Science core courses
- 20 credits of electives related to the Humanities, Arts, or Social Sciences
- 12 credits of free electives
The core courses for the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences concentration include:
- History and Culture of Games
- Art for Interactive Media
- Character and Story for Games
- Game Development I and II
Southern New Hampshire University
School of Arts and Sciences
Manchester, New Hampshire
As one of the most affordable private, nonprofit institutes for higher education, Southern New Hampshire University offers more than 200 online and on campus programs with a student-first approach to the curriculum. One such comprehensive degree is the Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Development offered through the School of Arts and Sciences. Here students will gain a well-rounded knowledge of video game art asset creation through classes such as:
- Concept Art and Color Theory
- 3-D Modeling and Animation
- Interactive Animation
- Environment Design
As a traditional undergraduate major, this program should take approximately four years to complete.Get Information
University of Advancing Technology
The University of Advancing Technology has created a unique, technology centered academic environment for the tech geek of toady seeking to create new and improved technology for tomorrow. Classes are kept small, with the average attendance being 15 students, to encourage peer connections and a more personalized education from the professor. The Bachelor of Art in Game Art and Animation degree is a comprehensive program which immerses students in the artistic principles of 3-D video game art including the topics of:
- Color Theory
- Lighting and Shading
- Life Drawing and Anatomy
- Scene Staging
- 3-D Mesh Topology
- Motion Capture and Facial Animation
Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus
Teaneck, New Jersey
At Fairleigh Dickinson University, the Visual and Performing Arts Department offers a Film and Animation major with a Video Game Animation concentration. The curriculum emphasized the more artistic side of video games concentrating on the visual and design components in addition to learning the necessary software. Students will become familiar with programs such as 3-D Studio Max, Unreal, Unity and ZBrush. There are 42-45 credits required for the major with courses such as:
- Motion Graphics with After Effects
- 3-D Asset Creation for Video Games
- 3-D Particle Animation and Effects
- Logo and Product Animation
- Custom 3-D Character Rigging and Animation
Ringling College of Art and Design
Though small is size, with a total enrollment of approximately 1,400 students, Ringling College of Art and Design has been making large strides in the area of visual and technological arts. The College offers a four year Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art degree which requires 120 credits for graduation. The curriculum of the degree focuses on designing, creating, and analyzing the visual art for computer and video games. Some of the courses for the major include:
- 3-D for Games I, II III, and IV
- Game Design I, II, and III
- Programming for Artists
- Visual Development for Games I and II
- Traditional Animation
Maryland Institute College of Art
As part of the Interactive Arts major, the Maryland Institute College of Art offers a Game Arts Studio Concentration. The curriculum focuses on two main areas of gaming, Art and Design. The Art classes will use concepts of drawing and painting as applied to the digital world. Students will gain experience critiquing the function of art in various modalities. The Design classes focus more on game theory and developing gaming systems. In total students will have to complete 15 credits for the Game Arts Studio concentration. Required courses may include:
- 2-D Game Studio
- 3-D Game Design
- Level and Narrative Design
- Virtual and Augmented Realities
- TableTop Game Studio
Through the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University students may enroll in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation which offers a concentration in Game Art. As part of the total undergraduate credits for this degree, students must dedicate a minimum of 20 credits towards the focus area. Courses for the specialization may include:
- Advanced 3-D Character Animation
- Hand-drawn Character Animation
- Animation Production
- Making Comics
Students enrolled in the Game Art concentration are also required to take three Studio Art courses such as:
- Beginning Sculpture
- Watercolor Painting
- Screen Printing
- Advanced Figure Drawing
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Supported by a Christian foundation and encouraging academic environment, students at Regent University have access to 128 graduate and undergraduate areas of study offered both online and on campus. The College of Arts and Sciences offers the Bachelor of Arts in Animation on campus only, though weekend and evening classes may be available. This program requires a minimum of 120 credits with tuition currently set at $555 per credit hour for full-time on campus students. Courses for this degree may include:
- Composition and Sound for Animators
- The Art of the Storyboard
- Advanced 3-D Animation Techniques
- Digital Special Effects for Film and Television
- The Business of Animation
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art and Design at Woodbury University is offered through the School of Media, Culture, and Design. The program has been regionally and nationally recognized by the Animation Career Review as one of the best degrees of its kind. Students may choose to specialize in specifically Game Art or Game Design as they progress through the degree. Game Art focuses on character and environmental design while Game Design focuses on game conceptualization and play mechanics. Internships are a required element for graduation. Core courses for both specializations include:
- Game Fundamentals
- Game Design Documentation
- Game Prototyping
- Sound Synthesis and Design for Games
West Long Branch, New Jersey
The School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University is comprised of 10 departments. One of these is the Department of Art and Design. Here students can enroll in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design and Animation with concentration in Animation. The curriculum covers a variety of relevant and engaging topics such as:
- 3-D Model Development
- Rendering, Animation, and Sound
Classes may include:
- Digital Illustration
- Principles of 3-D Animation
- Animation/Motion Graphics I and II
- Advanced Digital Imaging and Illustration
A similar Graphic and Interactive Design concentration is also offered. Students in this specialty area will be exposed to motion graphics, web design, creative book arts, fine art imaging, and more.
The University of Texas at Dallas
The University of Texas School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication offers a comprehensive Bachelor of Arts in Arts and Technology with a concentration in Gaming. The 120 total credits include 45 credits for the major and 33 credits for electives giving students an academic flexibility for a variety of concentrations and areas of specializations. Courses for the major and concentration may include:
- Computer Graphics for Artists and Designers
- Digital Content Design and Usability
- Virtual Environments
- User Experience Design for Games
Throughout the curriculum, students will be exposed to not only the creation and design of games, but also the cultural implications of interactive media.
College of Fine Arts and Communication
At Towson University in the College of Fine Arts and Communication, students may enroll in the comprehensive Bachelor of Fine Arts Art and Design major, which offers a Digital Art and Design concentration. There are 21 required units for all Art and Design majors and an additional 60 units for the concentration. There are three additional areas of focus offered within the concentration:
- Digital Arts
Examples of possible courses focusing on digital art and design include:
- Illustration principles for designers and illustrators
- History of Modern Design
- Interactive Media: Theory and Application
- Digital Object Design
- Photo Imaging – Advanced Motion
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
Since its founding in 1963, the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design has had a passion for educating students in the creative arts. The current Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art degree has merged technical and artistic coursework into one comprehensive program. Students are expected to complete 123 credits for graduation which include:
- 15 credits Art History classes
- 30 credits Liberal Arts classes
- 24 credits Foundation classes
- 48 credits Core classes
- 6 credits Studio electives
Courses for the major will cover the principle topics of:
- 3-D Modeling
- Visual Storytelling
- Level Design
- Lighting and Texture
- Character Rigging and Animation
- Business Ethics and Copyrights
At Becker College, the Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Media Design with a Game Arts concentration is offered by the School of Design and Technology. This traditional four year undergraduate degree requires 121 total credits for graduation. Course examples may include:
- History of Game Development
- Digital 3-D Modeling
- Life Drawing
- Game Industry Trends
- Game Studio
Students in this program also have access to the Massachusetts Digital Game Institute. This facility is a statewide research center which opens up opportunities for networking, collaborative research, academic cooperation, and more. After graduation, students from this program have gone on to work for companies such as:
- Blizzard StudioX
- Demiurge Turtleboy Games
- Harmonix Horseplay
Boca Raton, Florida
At Lynn University, students will be exposed to all aspects of the gaming and animation design process in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Animation with concentration in Game Art degree. Concepts covered in the program include:
- Screenplay writing
- 3-D modeling
- Texturing and animating characters and environments
- Use of cinematic lighting
- Technical direction
Students in the Game Art concentration will focus specifically on:
- Character modeling
- Concept art
- Texturing for games
- Strategic planning
A total of 29 credits should be dedicated to the concentration with a total of 127 credits for the complete undergraduate degree.
Credit to Riot Games for this instructive series on Game Art.
1. Introduction to Game Art
This information is useful to the prospective game animator to determine what’s involved in game art. This includes learning about larger categories of art. These categories include:
- Tech Art
- Concept Art
- Environment Art
- Visual Effects
- Sound Design
- UI Design (User Interface Design)
- Game Design
2. Concept Art
Concept art helps illuminate and clarify ideas. These ideas can come from any team or department within a game design project. Concept art takes the more ephemeral idea and develops it into the conceptual framework by visually representing the ideas in art.
Because these ideas originate with people other than the artist, there is a lot of communication and refining in the art as it’s developed. The concept art aspect is crucial to fleshing out and developing new ideas and paths forward in making new games.
As the name indicates, Character Art involves creating and refining the characters that appear in game design. This can include 2D or 3D art for characters, depending on the game type and needs. Character artists provide the texturing and scale of the characters, bringing them to life.
As the name indicates, Environment Artists create the environment and settings in which the games take place. This includes world-building, which includes most of the visual field of games. The entire setting and environment needs to be created. Environment artists are the liaisons between the Concept Artists and the Game Designers.
Tech Artists are the artists that can also code and program in programming languages as part of the artistic process. There are degrees in Computer Science and Information Technology, which teach the technical aspects of game design.
See our ranking of The Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science: Game Design for the best technical degrees in Game Design within Computer Science programs.
Character Animation is bringing the game characters to life, in concert with the overall game theme. There is a lot of variation in the actions (or inactions) of characters, so artists need to know how to develop these elements. This ability includes bringing the characters to life, and differentiating them from other characters. The characters also need to be believable and consistent in their motions.
The Visual Effects artist determines how to take the visual elements in the game and make them intelligible and serve their purposes within the game. A cannon ball needs to be intelligible as a cannon ball. A river needs to be intelligible as a river. Trees need to look like trees in order to be considered trees by the user. One key component to the affective valence of the visual effects is in their proportion to each other. Certain elements may need to be visually muted or suppressed so that other effects in their vicinity become all the more salient and stand out. This contrast lends itself to the dynamics and enthusiasm of the user experience.
Sound Designers provide all of the audio elements to games. These include sound cues which are communicating something to the user that’s occurring in the game (such as danger or reward), thematic sounds (is the game epic, lighthearted, or dark and scary, etc.), excitement, tension, resolution, and user feedback.
User Interface Design refers to the interactive interface elements in games. These interfaces include elements such as a legend, or a map, or a remaining life percentage, or a weapons and ammunition counter, and so on. These interfaces are often interactive and serve a specific purpose to the user to navigate and understand the game.
Game Design involves developing the overarching game concept and architecture. This includes developing game elements such as the purpose, plot, user experience, theme, and game mechanics. Art is an integral part of this architecture. Game Artists supply the thematic artistic elements that comply with the mechanics and plot.