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The goal of the DigiPen MFA in Digital Arts is to develop industry-quality graduates who have an innovative, creative, and sincere point of view. As such, the MFA thesis is a body of work that demonstrates the MFA candidate's professional level of expertise with industry tools and showcases their unique voice in digital media.

This rigorously researched and produced project, which requires a written and oral thesis defense, serves as a fitting capstone for the candidate's hard work and study in the MFA program. Past thesis projects have explored everything from computer-generated animated filmmaking to physically fabricated action figures and more.

This page highlights a small sample of prior MFA thesis work.

Featured Thesis Projects


Designing a Title Sequence for One Hundred Years of Solitude

Student Author

María Paz Muñoz Balharry

Thesis Advisor

Year Published

2019

Abstract

The novel One Hundred Years of Solitude has not yet been developed as a Film or TV Series. However, this project develops a Title Sequence for it, as if the book had its own live action or animated version. This sequence analyzes the novel and develops a short film that represents the novel. It does so, by using a metaphor of a lady who has a skirt with a town on it that ages with her, to express the theme of passage of time. At the same time, the sequence has the emotional armature of giving a sense wonder, through the presentation of magic realism. It also addresses the emotion of nostalgia present in the novel. The project develops a unique look, by focusing on developing a digital paper style. It also integrates the influence of the Mola textiles, extracts of the book and lively color choices to present a South American visual style.


Prototyping an Interactive Ebook Concept for Adult Fantasy Readers

Student Author

Lauren C. Maricle

Thesis Advisor

Year Published

2018

Abstract

The eBook market is largely dominated by limiting standardized formats that do not make use of the freedom digital publishing provides. Though artistic interactive eBooks exist, they are largely targeted for child audiences, rather than adult readers. Despite this trend, I believe adults would be equally receptive to interactivity and art assets in their eBook experiences, if formatted for a more mature audience. Through this project, I want to explore the untapped adult market for interactive eBooks. Using Unity, I created a prototype application for a new format that combines video game inspired assets with traditional eReader functionality similar to a Kindle or iBook. In addition to the reader, the application contains separate pages for an interactive map of the world and 3D models of characters from the story. Though this project is only a prototype and was limited in scope due to my ability and time frame, the basic concept allows room for expansion and improvement. My hope is that this project provides the foundation for more inclusion of art and interactive elements into reading experiences for adult fantasy readers.


Exploring an Illustrated Narrative in VR

Student Author

Nayaki Anandan

Thesis Advisor

Year Published

2018

Abstract

This thesis presents a narrative experience in virtual reality titled “The Forest Temple” that aims to present an original artistic aesthetic that, in combination with narrative and compositional cues, drives the player forward through the plot. Using Virtual Reality platforms in conjunction with Illustrative tools creates a compelling and emotional player-driven narrative with the power to alter perception. The artistic aesthetic of the experience is a heavily researched and tested watercolor technique that shows evidence of the original medium and creation in the final product. “The Forest Temple” guides a player through the environment using sound, posing, composition, and the player’s innate curiosity. This storybook-like experience demonstrates a new way to present a narrative in virtual reality, without animation or complex interaction. This project shows potential for extended applications in therapy, entertainment, and problem solving, and gives artists and storytellers a new format in which to create.


Creating Cohesion Between 2D and 3D Boardgame Character Assets

Student Author

Taylor Phillip Lehmann

Thesis Advisor

Year Published

2018

Abstract

I was introduced to the tabletop board game hobby and it reignited my passion for collecting toys. From the 2d illustrations to the 3d miniatures, board games are the complete package. Before starting this project, I was primarily practiced in 2d mediums, while only dabbling in the 3d realm. I was curious to study the relationships between the two and how they could be applied to a board game pipeline. Most importantly, I wanted to ensure the assets I was creating would fit together into a cohesive package that could stand up to industry standards.

In this thesis project I develop a visual aesthetic that is the result of 3d sculpted creatures and how they will be presented in 2d illustrations. I will refine my working pipeline to better suit my visual style and apply what I’ve learned to create board game assets.


Integration of Environment and Realtime Weather in an Executable Program

Student Author

Zoey Schlemper

Thesis Advisor

Year Published

2018

Abstract

Dynamic weather systems are utilized in a wide variety of videogames, and are made up of various techniques including particle systems and graphic shaders. The wide assortment of elements must interconnect and be driven by controllable variables in the game engine logic. They are traditionally controlled by code in the service of game logic. This Thesis presents a dynamic weather system that connects to the internet and retrieves weather data from stations across the United States in order to drive this suite of effects. It also features a graphic user interface for controlling the elements manually. This is both an artistic statement through surrender of technologic control to nature and a prototype for a system that could be implemented in a variety of products, including videogames, real estate, and virtual training applications.


Andraste

Student Author

Isabel Anderson

Year Published

2016

Abstract

Female protagonists and women-driven narratives in Western media are severely lacking. When one does find them, they often feature one-dimensional characters with unrealistic body types that cater towards the male gaze, rather than serving to inspire or represent real women. This thesis, titled Andraste, is an attempt to create a visual prototype for a set of collectible dolls from an original fantasy narrative that is driven by strong, multi-dimensional female characters. The project incorporates a wide range of skillsets, including creative writing, concept illustration, 3D modeling, 3D printing, and hands-on fabrication techniques like latex mold casting, crochet, sewing, and airbushing. Potential packaging, branding, and designs for an online storefront, which would sell the dolls alongside an accompanying comic book, are also explored.


Art Direction, Character Modeling, and Lighting: Orientation Center for the Unseen

Student Author

Francisco Alexandro Guerrero

Year Published

2015

Abstract

This team effort is a 3D animated short film made in the style of a corporate tutorial video that explains the process of “Ooberty,” the transitional phase between life and death, as it happens to our main character Ted. Even though the project is 3D, we attempted to create a unique 2D feel with the film, accomplished through a novel approach the team developed for creating model textures. Similarly, an original “ghost shader” was made using Maya’s Hypershade tool to give our unliving characters a distinct spectral quality that was directly inspired by the bioluminescence of sea creatures. Although DigiPen MFA theses are typically a solo endeavor, this project was unusual in that it was a collaboration between four MFA students, as well as four BFA students.

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