BA in Game Art and Development

Why Choose a Degree in Game Art and Development?

Develop your Skills as a Game Artist
Whether it’s creating lifelike characters, imagining rich virtual game worlds, or designing creatures from another planet, SNHU’s Game Art and Development degree can get you on your way to working in the fast-paced, exciting world of video game art. The program balances fundamental skill development with advanced training in the techniques used by industry professional today. Students learn and apply principles used in video game art asset creation such as 3D modeling, lighting, shading, anatomy illustration, digital painting, 3D mesh topology, texturing, and rigging. Courses mirror the standard workflow pipeline used in industry for the production of art assets for multiple video games platforms, including web, console, PC, and mobile. When you graduate, you will have a deep toolkit from which to draw.

Connect with Faculty Members who really know the Industry:
Faculty will push, inspire, and encourage you to realize your full potential as a game artist. At Southern New Hampshire University, we keep classes small, allowing you to connect with faculty who are there to support you on your journey. Take Professor Ed Brillant, for example – a former Art Director at Seven45 Studios in Boston with over 10 years of experience in the game art industry, having worked on games for companies such as Microsoft, Sony, and Apple. Students are consistently connected with faculty members who really know what it takes to be successful in the industry. At SNHU, we don't want you to just get a job - we want you to have a career.

Develop your Network
In addition to faculty with industry experience, SNHU’s Game Art and Development program helps you develop deep connections with other professionals. Students have opportunities to complete internships with game development companies, interact with industry professionals who regularly speak on campus, and join a vibrant community of game developers in the game design club. Most importantly, students in the program work on teams to develop publication-quality games as part of GameJams and other competitions held throughout the school year. We want to make sure that when you graduate, you have connections in the industry and a rich portfolio of work to show prospective employers.

What Can I Do with a Degree in Game Art and Development from SNHU?

Prepare for a Growing Industry
The game design industry is the single most lucrative field in the entertainment industry today, with an estimated $68 billion in annual revenue. The need for innovative, creative professionals is on the rise and the SNHU Game Art and Development program prepares you well for positions such as Game Artist, Character Artist, Environment Artist, Technical Artist, and Animator. Creativity, critical thinking, and technical skills will all come together in a degree that is both fast-paced and always changing.

Required Core Courses

General Education Program

School of Arts and Science Required Courses

ENG-226: Introduction to Creative Writing
An introductory creative writing course designed to acquaint students with the craft of creating writing and the skills that will be required in subsequent creative writing workshops. Students will explore such craft issues as point of view, voice, characterization, dialogue, setting, conflict, rhythm, imagery, poetic structure, and dramatic scene development. Students will be expected to submit a number of writing exercises, including stories and poems. Student will also be expected to read and comment on their peers' writing with thoughtful and constructive criticism, as well as read and discuss published work.
FAS-110: Introductory Drawing
In this course, students are introduced to the fundamentals of drawing from observation and imagination in a variety of media. A series of in-class drawing exercises will introduce the basic visual elements and their application to pictorial composition. Still life, figurative, and abstract drawing projects will afford students multi-faceted experiences in the creation of composition. Class meets 60 hours per term.
LIT-229: World Mythology
This course introduces students to the study of mythology. We will read and discuss myths from both western and non-western cultures. Students will also choose one cultures myth to concentrate on for a final project.
ENG-10, ENG-120, ENG-121H or ENG-200

Game Art and Development Major Courses

FAS-310: Illustration
This course builds upon skills and concepts learned in FAS-110 (Introductory Drawing) with the focus shifting to applications of drawing in projects related to the discipline of graphic design. Drawing skills will be applied to such practical applications as storyboarding, text illustration and display, packaging design, web design, video animation and multimedia.
GRA-101: Basic Design and Color Theory
This course examines the basic elements and principles of design, including balance, emphasis, proportion and rhythm. Students are introduced to visual designing systems that guide the student through the application of computer graphics tools. The basic visual design elements of line, space, texture and color are creatively explored as students complete a series of projects that relate to advertising layout and design and visual merchandising.
GRA-201: Intro to Digital Sculpting
In this course students will be introduced into Digital sculpting with zbrush. Also understand how digital sculpting fits into a pipeline in a game production environment. Techniques covered in this course will be software navigation, sculpting with multiple brushes, masking, poly painting, and materials. The course will cover some practices used to prep a model for the next stage in creating a game model. Some techniques will show how zbrush can work seamlessly with other 3D modeling software. The class will also have assignments that include observational and concept drawing.
GRA-202: 3-D Modeling and Animation
In this course students will be introduced to 3DS max. It will give them an overview of what max does specifically for games. This course will be focused on modeling. Students will learn the basics of modeling low poly and high poly models. How they are unwrapped and used in conjunction with textures. It will also show a wide range of techniques used in the industry for modeling for mobile, PC and current generation consoles.
GRA-211: Interactive Animation
This course focuses on programming capabilities to enhance graphic animations and user interfaces to provide spectacular interactive results. Those benefiting from this course include students in game development, advertising, marketing, education, web development, art and other fields that can benefit from interactive animated graphics helping to convey concepts. The course is intended for those with no programming experience as well as those with some programming background. The use and creation of animations will be covered at a level of interest to both those new as well as experienced. The results can be displayed by a browser from the internet or as standalone results displayable on a range of operating systems. This is a hands on computer based course in which the students create a number of individual projects based on their interests and capabilities, focusing on creativity and programming aspects of interactive animation. The course utilizes emerging technologies in interactive animation.
GRA-212: 3-D Character Animation
This course will introduce students to character animation by learning the 12 principles of animation. We will also be going over the pipeline for skinning and rigging a character.
GRA-220: Introduction to Digital Imaging
Using Photoshop and Illustrator software, this course is a Mac-based introduction to professional computer graphics creation and to the software and hardware typically used in the graphic design, video, photography and interactive Web/multimedia industries. Emphasis will be placed on the professional use of image- capturing devices, such as scanners, digital still cameras and video cameras. Image editing and color management systems will be discussed and demonstrated. The important differences between vector and bitmap graphics will be defined, as will the significant differences in preparing images for print, broadcast and Web distribution. Students will be encouraged to experiment with their own and preexisting images using sophisticated digital editing techniques such as layering, channel masking, filtering, cloning and montaging. Students will output their work from inkjet printers and record it on CD, video and film. Special attention will be paid to copyright awareness in the age of digital image.
GRA-311: Environment Design
In the first half of this course students will be introduced to a pipeline for the creation of environments inside of a game studio. Students will be shown how to use reference drawings and images to help build props and environment pieces. Students will also be shown how these assets can be used, not only as standalone assets but to create other bigger picture assets when used as a modular set piece. Then the students will digitally sculpt environment assets from references provided to them. When the sculpting phase is finished the students will learn how to build a game model from their digital sculpt. Students will then create the textures that will be used for a final render. In the second half of this course students will be able to go through this same pipeline but instead of using provided artwork, they will create something from their own imagination.
GRA-201 and GRA-202
GRA-401: Character Design
This course will involve a combination of concept, texturing, digital sculpting and 3d modeling to create characters that would appear on both mobile and current generation consoles. Students will learn a proven pipeline used in the gaming industry to bring a concept to creation and ready for game implementation. The course will begin showing students how this pipeline works in combination of different types of software following a given concept. They will have the understanding of how specific software works along the path of the pipeline to create a character. Students will then be asked to create their own concept following the techniques used in class to present a finished game character for their final project.
GRA-201 and GRA-202
GRA-402: Creature Design
In this course students will be shown how creatures are created from an idea to a fully fleshed out game model. They will work through weekly assignments to see the connection of real world animals and fantasy creatures. Students will follow step by step instruction with supplied concepts to build a fantasy creature through real world animal anatomy and the creative process. In the second half of this course students will learn how to go through this same process of using reference of actual creatures/animals from the real world as a spring board to create their own fantasy creature.
GRA-201 and GRA-202
GRA-440: 3-D Art and Design
In this course students will explore how their individual creative strengths and digital skill sets fit into a professional work flow of commercial game production. Students will choose one or multiple aspects of game art creation: Character design, Environment design, or Animation. All creative work produced in this course will be executed in the context of strict deadlines that simulate industry expectation. Students will concentrate on game development source control and integration of art assets into a production pipeline. Each student develops a digital portfolio and website that showcase their ability to create professional creative art work. Students will learn the process of objective self-evaluation and peer criticism and preparing their portfolios to match professional job board postings.
GRA-311 and GRA-402

Required Hardware and Software: Game Design Majors

It is essential that Game Design students have industry-standard hardware and software equipment. Student discounts are available.

Required Hardware

Laptop specifications:

Minimum Recommended
Intel i7 or equivalent processor Intel i7 or equivalent processor
16 GB of RAM 16 GB of DDR3 RAM
5400 RPM hard drive 7200 RPM hard drive and/or solid state
Screen size - 15 inch Screen size - 17 inch
Screen resolution - 1440x900 Screen resolution - 1920x1080
Dedicated video card, 1 GB Dedicated video card, 2 GB+

Must have accessories:

  • Drawing Tablet - A drawing tablet is consists of a stylus and pad that connects to your computer via USB. Tablets are used to draw in graphics applications like Photoshop or zBrush. If you are a game art major, the head of the department recommends purchasing a Wacom tablet. A great tablet is the Wacom Intuos. We recommend a medium size since the large is better suited for a stationary setup. A smaller tablet is more portable.
  • 32 GB Flash Drive or Hard Drive
  • USB Mouse

Required Software

  • Game Engines - Software that assists with the creation of games.
    • Unity - 3D engine that uses C# and JavaScript.
    • Unreal Engine 4 - 3D Game engine that uses C++ and Blueprint scripting
    • Construct - 2D engine for rapid prototyping and codeless development.
  • 3D Modeling Software - Used in the creation of 3D objects.
  • 2D Software
  • Adobe Photoshop - 2D software for texturing and painting 3D models.

Frequently Asked Questions for Game Majors

  • Should I get an extended warranty? - The school offers a help desk for most software related issues, but hardware repair costs can get expensive. An extended manufacturer’s warranty may help in the case of hardware issues. If you’re going to spend the money on a warranty, accidental coverage is recommended. Most laptops have a one year manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Mac vs. PC? - Either is fine as long as it meets the recommended hardware requirements. Macs will need a bootcamp installation so they can run Windows for specific software. The MacBook Pro usually runs over $2000 for our required specifications.
  • Are desktop computers available as well? - Yes! We have a gaming lab with desktop computers that have all necessary software preinstalled. Students are allowed to use the lab when there is no class in session, though some game design teachers will permit students to work while class is in session. Some students choose not to purchase gaming laptops, but be aware that the lab is not open past midnight.

University Accreditation

SNHU is a fully accredited university. Access our list of accreditations. More...