BGSU’s nationally ranked Digital Arts program is housed within a traditional School of Art, which provides students an exceptional opportunity to explore leading-edge tools for creating animation, digital imagery, and interactive experiences. Our courses investigate the theoretical, aesthetic, cultural, and technical aspects of digital media. Core classes are designed to give students a strong foundation in animation, digital imaging, character design, visual storytelling, creative code, and 3D modeling.
Digital Arts students can choose to specialize in one area of Digital Arts or explore a variety of digital media, emphasizing an integration of media elements. The result is a B.F.A. or B.A. degree that prepares you for the rapidly changing technical and creative markets of contemporary digital culture. Many of our students go on to work in professions related to what they focused on in school, such as animation, game art and design, visual effects, or interactive design.
Click on the Studies & Careers tab to learn more about Digital Arts degree options, careers, and more. And be sure to check out some of the student work posted at the bottom of each page of our website!
Digital Arts is art for your real world.
Over the past 30 years, digital technology has become increasingly vital to how we operate in the world. How many times a day do you use computers, mobile phones, tablets, cameras, social media, and other digital technology? Digital Arts at BGSU focuses on using these devices as tools to create art, and we create art to be displayed on these devices.
What kind of art? Animations, virtual environments, games, character designs, and interactive stories are a few of the types of art possible using digital technology. We are even researching the emerging fields of artificial intelligence, data visualization, 3D printing, and robotics.
As new devices and technologies are invented, we research their potential for making new art – but older technologies can still be powerful art making tools too! In Digital Arts we are interested in assisting you in making YOUR art. Our Digital Arts BFA and BA graduates use creativity as their most valuable asset when continuing in their chosen profession after college.
Ask yourself the following:
Are you curious, highly motivated, and imaginative?
Do you love using images to tell stories?
Are you a team player who is committed to collaborating with and helping others?
Do you have a passion for technology?
Do you like to doodle and draw?
Do you prefer the challenge of trying something new, rather than sticking with what you already know?
Do you want to use your creative voice to have a positive impact on society?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might just be the type of student that will succeed in our Digital Arts program!
Our Digital Arts program lets you focus your studies on the area that best meets your needs for the career path you want to follow: Animation, Gaming & Virtual Environments, or Interdisciplinary. Click to expand the areas below to learn more about our areas of focus, degree options, and more.
Our animation track begins with traditional animation principles and techniques. Students learn character design, story development, and cinematics which they use in the creation of narrative and non-narrative animations.
We offer a strong emphasis on 3D animation that begins with modeling, lighting, texturing, rendering, and rigging. Advanced courses include environment design, special effects, simulations, and compositing (combining different images into one scene).
In higher-level courses, students take on larger-scale projects where they learn how to incorporate aspects of technique, aesthetic, and storytelling into one coherent, finished piece. For instance, in ARTC 4410 Collaborative Digital Art Development students work for real-world clients to produce animations where they gain valuable experience and professional skills.
The animation degree track culminates in a semester-long senior capstone project that is screened at The Wolfe Center for the Arts during the School of Art's annual B.F.A. exhibition.
Opportunities in Animation are available in a wide variety of fields, including entertainment, advertising, communications, education, science, and technology. These opportunities might include:
2D or 3D animators
Video game animators
Web design animators
Special effects artists
Motion graphics artists
Advanced courses explore emerging interactive technologies including virtual reality, augmented reality, and physical computing.
While entertainment-based video games may be the most familiar career path for this focus, many interesting opportunities are also available in the areas of training and education, science, and technology. These opportunities might include:
Environmentally, Socially, and Culturally Conscious Games
Serious Games (medical, scientific, industrial, military, etc.)
Virtual Environment Artist
Human/Computer Interaction Artist
Physical Computing Artist
Interactive Simulation Artist
Web Illustrations, Interactivity, and Development
Interactive Data Visualization Artist
When choosing an interdisciplinary track, students can focus on their personal area of interest or maintain a broader approach. Students can also incorporate classes from within other areas of the School of Art (i.e. Glass, Graphic Design, Sculpture, Drawing, Photography, etc.). This track is designed to develop a broad range of skills for artistic expression that can be applied across the widest range of possibilities.
Students learn the fundamentals of creating digital images using digital painting, 3D modeling, vector drawing, photo manipulation, and more. They can develop skills in character design, environmental concept art, storyboarding, and explore the connections between digital and traditional media.
Advanced studies are more self-directed, according to your specific interests and needs. Advanced 3D Modeling courses explore lighting, texture and rendering options; Advanced Imaging courses allow students to further their digital painting or digital photo skills; Studio courses allow students to create jewelry, sculptures, or rapid prototypes from digital 3D models.
Concept Design and Development
Digital Photo Processing and Production
Creative Product Design
Experimental Image Artist
Once a student has been accepted into BGSU then they are also accepted into the School of Art and can pursue a Bachelor of Art (BA), a Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA), or a minor in Digital Arts. A Master of Fine Art (MFA) in Digital Arts is also available for graduate students.
BA in Digital Arts allows for a broad range of courses and requires you to choose a minor. Many BA Digital Arts choose minors in Film, Computer Science, Biology, Creative Writing, or Media & Communications, but there are many more options to choose from. A BA degree can be a good option for transfer students, or students that already have an associate degree.
BFA in Digital Arts focuses more heavily on studio art courses and requires a thesis project in your Senior year. This degree provides ample opportunity to challenge yourself artistically and begin to develop a professional digital art portfolio.
Minor in Digital Arts allows students to stretch themselves creatively in Digital Arts courses, while primarily focusing on other academic interests at BGSU. A Digital Arts minor pairs well with Computer Science and other STEM disciplines, as well as Music, Business, or just about any major.
Master of Fine Art in Digital Arts is a two-year program available to students who have earned a related Bachelor’s degree, and are interested in advanced research and artistry in computer animation, gaming, AI, physical computing, visualization, virtual worlds, and hybrid media.
Bachelor of Art (BA), or Minor
Students pursuing a BA degree or a minor in Digital Arts are fully admitted and are not required to submit a portfolio review.
There is no thesis requirement for either of these options.
Students are encouraged to discuss with their advisor which is the best degree option for them.
Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA)
Students that choose the BFA degree are admitted as pre-Digital Arts students and are required to pass an art portfolio review in the School of Art. The art portfolio review is competitive, and the work is evaluated on specific criteria including creativity, technical skills, and conceptual development. Students are encouraged to apply for the portfolio review during their sophomore year. When a student passes the art portfolio review, they officially become BFA candidates.
In the Fall semester of their senior year, BFA candidates complete a thesis project that allows them to creatively apply what they’ve learned to a personal artwork of larger scope. This could take the form of an animated short, a video game or interactive artwork, art installation, or any number of other options. The work is juried by the Digital Arts faculty and may be selected for exhibition in the BFA Thesis Exhibition and Film Festival.
Scholarships are available to incoming freshmen, both through the School of Art (Incoming Freshman Talent Award, based on a portfolio submission) and through the University (80% of BGSU students receive some type of financial assistance; $25+ million in academic scholarships offered to incoming freshmen).
Our highly accomplished faculty use a wide range of instructional strategies to keep students engaged, push you creatively, and broaden your technical expertise. Small class sizes (usually 12-18 students) encourage lots of interaction during studio time, critiques, demonstrations, and lectures. Professors are also available during office hours to individually mentor students, helping you find your unique path to success.
Our Digital Arts students are at the heart of everything we do, and the community formed in our studios can last for life – and result in connections that transform careers. Explore some of the fun opportunities available, and look at what some of our alumni have accomplished so far.
There are hundreds of student organizations available, but here are a few that our Digital Arts students often participate in:
The Computer Art Club is open to all undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Art. The overall goal of the club is to promote awareness of Digital Arts, to highlight advances and opportunities in the field, and to assist Digital Arts students. Club activities include demonstrations, art shows, trips to conferences (SIGGRAPH), and social events. Past activities have included guest speakers from the computer graphics industry, Digital Arts exhibitions on and off campus, and various field trips including the Ottawa Animation Festival. Digital Arts Club members share information and knowledge with each other in a cross-collaborative environment. The CAC is also an ACM SIGGRAPH Student Chapter.
2-DAA is a student organization dedicated to creating alternative study and promotional opportunities for 2-D art students, especially those involved with painting and drawing (although all students are welcome). Field trips, workshops, socials, exhibitions and fund-raisers are part of the rich experience of being a club member.
Bowling Green Gaming Society is a club where people of all sorts can gather to play games of all sorts. Whether it's card games, board games, video games, or pen and paper roleplaying games, you can play them all here!
The Game and Anime Music Ensemble is a group located in Bowling Green State University‘s Kreischer Arts Village Learning Community. The group is dedicated to performing–you guessed it–video game and anime (Japanese animation) music.
BG Inklings: We are a friendly, welcoming creative writing club. Our goals are to practice and improve our writing and to grow as a community of writers.
Gary Davis (BFA 1992), senior technical sales specialist at Autodesk
Chad Greene (BFA 1992), art director at Microsoft Studios
Brian Yetzer (BFA 1998) Augmented Reality Experience Design Specialist, Yetzer Studios
Hunter Grant (BFA 1999), lead animator at Blizzard Entertainment
Eric Foos (BFA 1999) Lead Artist at Wevr
Paul Gaboury (BFA, 2002), 3D Product Development Manager, Pixologic
Paul Johnson (BFA 2002), Singularity Productions
Matt Simmons (BFA 2002), Animation Technical Lead at Blue Sky Studios
Trevor Roth (BFA 2003 ) VFX/CG Supervisor, Digital Image Studios
Scott Smalley (BFA 2003), 3D Modeler at Rockstar Games
Aaron Halifax (BFA 2003), animator at Valve Software
Jonathan Schmidt (BFA 2003), Texture/Shader Artist at Naughty Dog
Maury Mountain (BFA 2003), art lead at Epic Games
David Donar (MFA 2004), Professor of Animation, Clemson University
Andy Lyon (BFA 2004), Creative Director at Royale
Kevin Paskowski (BFA 2004), Game Development, Jam City
Doni Permedi (BFA 2004), Animation Supervisor at POSSIBLE
Tony Greco (BFA 2004), Bethesda Softworks
Bryan Woodard (BFA 2005) 3D AR/VR at OpalSoft
Patrick Lichty (MFA 2006), Visiting Assistant Professor at American University of Sharjah
Jake Williams (BFA 2006), 3D Character Artist at OMNOM! Workshop
Joshua Fry (BFA 2006), lighting artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios
Andy Lyon (BFA 2007) Creative Director and Animator at BUCK
Jacob Gardner (BFA 2007), Animation Director at Agora.studio
Walter Behrnes (BFA 2007), Senior 3D Pipeline Engineer at Nike
Mary Twohig (BFA 2007), character TD at Walt Disney Animation Studios
Greg Wark (BFA 2008) Gamification Specialist at Designing Digital
Kary Yohee (BFA 2008) Animator at Framestore
Thomas Jech (BFA 2008), senior animator at Riot Games
Jim Levasseur (BFA 2008), cinematic animator at Bungie
James Maloney (BFA 2009), Character Animator at Cinesite
Eric Buescher (BFA 2011) Art Director at Max Gaming Studios
Ken Fairclough (MFA 2012) Lead Concept Artist at Bioware
Chloe Cherubin (BFA 2013) Animator at Off Center Pictures LLC
Ben Rubey (BFA 2014) 3D Art Lead at Marxent
Jose Borges (BFA 2014) Concept Artist ar Blur Studio
Federico Cuatlacuatl (MFA 2015), Animation Professor, The Ohio State University
Dennis Recchia (MFA 2015), Animation Professor, University of Connecticut
Colby Wahl (BFA 2015) Environment Artist at Squanch Games
Ben Midkiff(BFA 2016), 3D Artist, Pinnacle Studios
Liam Cullen (BFA 2017) Creative Lead at Multifacet Studios
Helen Holman (BFA 2018), Elliott Connie PLLC, Chicago, IL, Digital Media Specialist
Paige Livesay (BFA 2020). Hype Club, Animator/Colorist/Effects Artist
Rachel Immel (BFA 2020) CatCow Animation Studio in Milwaukee, WI
The Digital Arts studios are housed within The Wolfe Center for the Arts - an elegantly designed modern building, centered between the Fine Arts Building and the Moore Musical Arts Center. This “Arts Campus” configuration fosters creative and synergistic partnerships among actors, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, and digital artists. Each year, students from all these areas work together to produce an Arts Extravaganza (ArtsX) that celebrates our activities with the wider community.
Our studios in the Wolfe Center feature 3 state-of-the-art computer labs designed to produce 3D animation, digital illustration, and video editing production. Our software includes the latest versions of Autodesk Maya, 3DS Max, Motion Builder, ZBrush, Mudbox, Adobe Creative Suite with Sapphire Plugins, Corel Painter, Unity 3D, Processing and Dragonframe stop motion software.
Digital Arts has access to three 20-seat computer labs:
A PC-based 20-core/32GB/Nvida Quatro p5000 3D animation lab.
A PC-based 18-core/32GB/Nvidia Quatro k5000 imaging/illustration lab with 22" 4k Cintiq tablets at each seat.
A Mac-based 12-core/32GB/AMD Duel AMD FirePro D700 video lab.
Our lab equipment and software are regularly maintained and updated. The labs are available for students to use during scheduled times. Students may volunteer to serve as lab monitors, which gives them full access to the labs.
The Stop-Motion Animation Studio features 10 iMacs running DragonFrame. The lab is equipped to teach sand, paint on glass, puppet, cut paper, object, pixilation, rotoscoping, hand-drawn, clay and mixed media animation.
The Production Studio is equipped with Pro level lighting (Flash Packs, LEDs, Soft Box Lighting and a small infinity Wall.) This is perfect for professional quality photo and video shoots, and artwork documentation.
The Integrated Fabrication Studio is also available for our students who wish to bring their digital creations into 3D reality. Digital equipment includes a plotter, multiple (6-8) 3D printers, a CNC router, a CNC plasma cutter, and two Laser cutters. The Integrated Studio also features a fully equipped wood shop.
Digital Arts students are encouraged to take advantage of the tremendous studio opportunities offered by the School of Art, including Photo Darkroom, Glass Hot and Cold Shops, Jewelry and Metals, Ceramics Studio, Printmaking, Drawing and Painting.
Our staffed Media Center allows students to check out professional audio and video recording equipment (DSLR cameras, HD camcorders, omnidirectional camera and light kits), VR/AR gear, and more – all at no charge if equipment is returned on time and in good condition.
High-end, archival quality inkjet printing is also available to students, priced to cover the cost of materials only.