Students interested in studying gaming art online should closely consider a program's level, technology requirements, software experience requirements and internship experiences. Here we discuss these considerations in detail, as well as some of the available programs and schools.
How to Select an Online Gaming Art School
Online gaming art programs train students to become integral members of game design teams. These programs typically focus on the creation of graphic images for video games and can include courses in animation, 3D modeling and game characters. Students learn how to work with a variety of video game genres and platforms, such as computers, game consoles, handheld game units and mobile phones. Students should weigh the program level and technology requirements with industry software experience and internship opportunities.
When selecting an online school, students should first determine what level of education they want to achieve and how much time they wish to invest in their education.
A bachelor's degree program typically takes four years to complete, although some schools offer accelerated programs. Coursework generally provides an in-depth study of subjects such as advanced animation techniques, gaming history and character creation. Certificate programs usually can be completed in under a year and often provide a more generalized overview of the gaming industry and graphics creation.
Most schools have strict requirements on the computer systems, programs and accessories that will be used in the courses. Some schools offer discounts on these items through their bookstores or through affiliated vendors, while other schools may require students to buy these items on their own.
A high-speed Internet connection is typically needed to download and send large graphic files. Students will often be required to have a computer with a considerable amount of usable memory (RAM) and hard disk space to accommodate their gaming art projects.
Typically, newer computer operating systems are required, as well as updated browsers, to run the graphic art and animation software that will be used in the courses. Programs may also specify what type of graphic cards and input devices that will be needed for assignments.
Experience with Industry Software
Some programs require students to have prior experience in working with a specific brand or type of software. Most programs require a variety of software that typically includes animation, 3D graphic and photo enhancement programs.
Some online bachelor's programs also include an internship at a game design studio or participation in a collaborative final project, where students can gain experience working in the game production process.
Online Gaming Art Programs
Certificate programs generally provide the skills needed for entry-level positions in video game development. Topics ranging from game production to the business practices of leading game manufacturers provide students with an overview of the video game industry. A significant portion of most certificate programs focuses on game creation and the design elements that go into creating a realistic gaming environment. Programs are typically a combination of study, examinations and projects. Students may be assigned to online teams to gain experience in working on collaborative gaming projects. Coursework includes topics such as:
- Basic illustration
- Game testing, design and development
- Lighting and surfacing
- 2D and 3D design, modeling and rendering
In a distance learning bachelor's degree program, students learn the skills needed to create interactive gaming software and how to work as a member of a game design team. Design studio internships are sometimes included, which may require students to relocate to a different area for a few months, while collaborative projects are generally done entirely online with students from the school's other game design programs, such as audio and programming. Students take courses in:
- Model creation
- Texture painting and sculpting
- Character design
- Art history and creation
- Shading and lighting
Schools With Online Programs in Gaming Art
Sessions College for Professional Design has unique advanced certificate programs that are available online. Game Art is an available concentration for this program and teaches students texturing and modeling in Autodesk Maya. The program requires three courses entitled Intro to Game Development, Photoshop for Game Artists and Maya Basics.
Full Sail University offers a Bachelor of Science in Game Art degree program that can be completed in 20 months on-campus or 32 months online. Students develop a professional portfolio throughout the program, as well as participate in career development modules. Students take courses in art, animation, art history and motion capture.
The Academy of Art University offers several online undergraduate and graduate degree programs in game development, including a Bachelor of Fine Arts. The BFA program provides students with a thorough art education, focusing on animation, 3-D modeling and lighting for game production. Students also get hands-on experience with current game engines to prototype games.
Online certificate and bachelor's degree programs are available in gaming art, but the majority of these programs are available on-campus. Students considering the online programs need to decide what award level to pursue, and research a program's technology, experience and internship requirements.