Department of Digital Arts

Alain Schneuwly

Department Chair, Digital Arts

Alain Schneuwly graduated from the Geneva Business School in Geneva, Switzerland. He then took two years of computer programming, after which he decided to immigrate to Vancouver, Canada. In 1996, he attended and graduated from Vancouver Film School, which at the time offered 3D Animation and Modeling training through DigiPen. He then joined the production team at DigiNin in Canada as a 3D animator making video game demos for Nintendo. He moved to Nintendo full time in 1998.

Over the next eight and half years, Schneuwly was a lead artist and technical artist for Nintendo, working on various various games for various consoles, including Bionic Commando, Crystalis, Ridge Racer 64, Wave Race: Blue Storm, 1080° Avalanche, Ridge Racer DS, Metroid Prime Hunters, and the unreleased Wii title Project H.A.M.M.E.R.

In 2007, Schneuwly rejoined the production team at DigiPen Corporation as Senior Technical Artist and worked on projects for Boeing, Renault F1, and the iPhone. Schneuwly typically co-teaches PRJ400/450.

Randy Briley

Senior Lecturer

Randy Briley believes in a world where outstanding art, originality, and a creative spark can be combined to tell stories that touch our hearts and inspire our lives.

As an Art Director for over 20 years in the game industry, he’s been honored to direct over sixty successful games across all platforms and partner with Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Newline, EA, Microsoft, and others to entertain millions of happy gamers around the world.

When he’s not teaching, you can find him in his studio hunched over a glowing screen or covered in muck trying to find the proper mix of clay, paint, words, pixels, and magic to conjure into life a new universe filled with heroes, monsters, and misfits. 

Discover more about the peculiar worlds of Randy Briley at www.ravenmadstudios.com and www.randybriley.com.

Mark Henne

Senior Lecturer, Digital Arts
Program Director, Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts

Mark Henne started working in animation and visual effects in 1990 when he joined Rhythm & Hues Studios in Los Angeles. In 1994, he moved to Pixar, where he worked on the original Toy Story, and continued there until recently. On their film Brave, he spent four years refining the technology and finished look of the hair and clothing. His major credits include Crowd and Simulation Supervisor for WALL-E and Hair and Cloth Simulation Supervisor on The Incredibles. His other projects include Ratatouille, Monsters, Inc., A Bug's Life, and the short film The Blue Umbrella.

Mark has spoken in courses at SIGGRAPH about his work on Toy Story and Monsters, Inc., and co-authored a Pixar technical report titled "Volumetric Methods for Simulation and Rendering of Hair."

While at Rhythm & Hues in 1993, Mark earned a Primetime Emmy certificate for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects, recognizing his work on the wormhole effect for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His pioneering cloth animation for the 1992 Lexus "Car Cloth" commercial was included in the New York Museum of Modern Art's presentation titled "The Art and Craft of the American Television Commercial." Mark also worked on smooth skin articulation algorithms for the very first Coca Cola Polar Bears commercials.

Mark has an MS in Computer Science from the University of California Santa Cruz. His expertise is in using simulations to create organic movement in computer animation, and the design and implementation of facial articulation software and controls.

Rob Kmiec

Rob Kmiec, Principal Lecturer, Department of Digital Arts at DigiPen

Department Chair, Fine Arts
Principal Lecturer, Digital Arts

Rob Kmiec hails from Boston, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration from Massachusetts College of Art in 1995. After graduating, he worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer.

He discovered a passion for education after volunteering to teach Adobe Photoshop to middle school students at the Cambridge Community Art Center. From 1997 until 2005, Kmiec taught at Catholic Memorial School in Boston, where he also served as Chair of the Fine Art Department. During this time, he continued to freelance as an illustrator, and in 1999 was a finalist in the Illustrators of the Future competition.

After being presented the Juror’s Choice Award (2000) in an exhibition sponsored by the Falmouth Artist’s Guild, Kmiec turned his attention toward creating a personal body of work, exhibiting and selling pieces regularly at venues across Massachusetts including the Dorchester Historical Society, Cedar Grove Gallery, and Boston City Hall.

Striving to be a life-long learner, Kmiec furthered his education and earned a Master of Arts in Illustration from Syracuse University in 2003.

In 2005 he joined DigiPen Institute of Technology as an associate professor. Since then, he has instructed students in courses such as ART 125: Tone, Color and Composition; ART 201: Advanced Life Drawing; ART 234: Sequential Art; ART 251: Character Design; and CG 201: Two-Dimensional Raster Graphics and Animation.

On top of his teaching duties, Kmiec stays active in the art community as a freelance illustrator. He has delivered guest lectures on Adobe Photoshop at the University of Washington and worked as Art Director and Lead Artist on a local, independent film, Render Me Dead, for Frenettik Productions. In his spare time Rob also co-curates the Gallery at the OK Hotel in Seattle, where he has a studio and continues to build a personal body of art.

Kmiec enjoys teaching DigiPen students because their work ethic is so intense. "It’s exciting and rewarding to see a student progress so rapidly in this program," he says.

"Because of my longstanding experience in both art education and illustration, I am able to see multiple sides of the art experience,” Kmiec says. "This allows me to render the best possible solutions in the classroom, solutions that are rooted in both pedagogical and professional grounds. Because of my experience in the traditional and digital realms of art, I can bridge both worlds and help the students to do the same."

Monte Michaelis

Monte Michaelis, Senior Lecturer of Digital ArtsSenior Lecturer, Digital Arts

Monte Michaelis taught his first course at DigiPen Institute of Technology, Introduction to Animation, in 2002. An industry veteran with degrees in graphic design and animation, Monte has since taught courses in storyboarding, character design, vector animation, and portfolio design.

Monte has worked on two of the biggest casual game franchises in the world: perennial favorite Bejeweled and the ludicrously popular Plants vs Zombies. His career is built on creating work for clients who take fun seriously (Disney, PBS, Nickelodeon, Adult Swim, and Nintendo, to name a few) and his students have been placed at major labels in the game industry such as PopCap, Valve, Epic Games, and Bungie. Monte is creative director at the home of the world's largest treasure hunt, Geocaching HQ, and the co-founder of Heavy Skeleton, an independent game company based in Seattle, WA.

Monte plays ukulele, writes comics, collects outdated video game and music formats, and he still owns the Star Wars lunch he carried in kindergarten. He can be followed online at www.thisismonte.com.

Brigitte Samson

Senior Lecturer, Digital Arts

Brigitte Samson is a computer graphics artist with more than 20 years of experience in video game and TV/film productions. She has six published game credits, including the 2014 game of the year Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. She has taught for DigiPen’s Department of Digital Arts since 2012.

Born and raised in Québec, Canada, Brigitte is fluent in French and English. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Arts with Honors from the University of Québec in Montréal.

Along with her mentor, Andréa Beaulieu-Green, Brigitte co-founded the Institut de Création Artistique et de Recherche en Infographie (ICARI) in Montréal in 1993. ICARI was a private professional training center that taught students high-tech image creation methods and offered degrees in Character Animation, Computer Animation/Digital Art, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Multimedia/Games, and Web Graphics/Design. Since its founding, ICARI has been integrated into the Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne in Montréal.

Brigitte has freelanced as a computer artist and animator for clients such as Microsoft, Disney Imagineering, NBC, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Nabisco, and General Motors. Along with her game and computer graphics credits, Brigitte’s background in art, music, and dancing helps her support students producing and creating content for their games.

Her awards for games and TV ads include “Best of the Bunch, Top 10” from Animation World Magazine’s Gaming Report, an “ADDIE” award for Best Commercial from the American Institute of Graphics Association, and an International Milia d’Or (Golden) Edutainment Award for 3D MovieMaker.

Game Credits:

  • Middle-Eearth: Shadow of Mordor, Monolith Productions
  • République, Camouflaj
  • The Suffering 2: Ties That Bind, Surreal
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Surreal
  • Drakan The Ancients’ Gates, Surreal
  • Nickelodeon 3D MovieMakee, Illumin8
  • 3D MovieMaker, Illumin8