MFA Art Portfolio

Applicants to the Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts degree are required to submit an art portfolio. This portfolio must contain original artwork by the applicant as outlined below and demonstrate that the applicant has the strong foundational art and observational skills necessary to handle the rigors of the curriculum. Master copies (reproductions of other artists' work) must not be used except when producing a drawing of a sculpture through live observation (no photo reference). In all instances, the original work must be cited. The portfolio, as a whole, should demonstrate an applicant's artistic range and skill.

Samples of digital art are encouraged, but please note where traditional media are requested. Please include the date for all artwork and note the length of time spent on each drawing. If necessary, DigiPen may request more samples for review.

Our applicants are expected to have diverse backgrounds and interests. In your essay, please identify your primary Concentration from one of the following: Character Artist, Concept Artist, or Environment Artist. If there isn't a single Concentration that fits accurately, pick the closest one. Your choice will not formally limit the courses you take, but will provide a framework for evaluating your portfolio. If you do not identify a single Concentration, we will categorize your work as we see fit for portfolio evaluation. Numerous electives are available to all MFA students outside of these concentrations.

We encourage the demonstration of artistic process by presenting concept or early work compared to final versions.

The portfolio should contain the following items. Each item category is described in the File Description tables at the bottom of this section.

Character Artist

Character Artists design characters for digital media, and build them in 3D. Requisite skills include understanding the human form in anatomy, proportion, volume, emotion, and appeal. General skills are evaluated for an understanding of perspective, and the use of color, value, and composition. Elective coursework at DigiPen might include a focus on anatomy, character design, organic modeling and sculpting, rigging, or other topics.

Files to Submit

Figure

Perspective

Composition & Color

Range of Skill

2 pages Gesture AND
5 drawings:
- 3 Intermediate Pose
- 2 Sustained Pose

1 drawing:
- 1 Interior OR
- 1 Exterior

4 drawings or paintings:
- 2 must be Observational
- 2 must be in color

Complete your portfolio
with up to 13 files selected
from this category.

(Portfolio must include no more than 25 files total.)

Concept Artist

Concept Artists concentrate on 2D illustration skills, visualizing story elements and providing the conceptual look and feel of a project. Requisite skills include a strong sense of composition and lighting, perspective, visual narrative, and clarity of form. Advanced artists will exhibit a fluent range in visual style. Elective coursework at DigiPen might include conceptual illustration, painting, storyboarding, lighting, or other topics.

Files to Submit

Figure

Perspective

Composition & Color

Range of Skill

5 drawings:
- 3 Intermediate Pose
- 2 Sustained Pose

3 drawings:
- 1 Interior
- 1 Exterior
- 1 Design

6 drawings or paintings:
- 3 must be Observational
- 4 must be in color

Complete your portfolio
with up to 11 files selected
from this category.

(Portfolio must include no more than 25 files total.)

Environment Artist

Environment Artists design environmental spaces for digital media, and build them in 3D. Requisite skills include architectural or environment design, perspective, composition, and clarity of form. Advanced artists will exhibit rendering skills in common with Concept Artists. Elective coursework at DigiPen might include conceptual illustration, hard surface modeling, lighting, shading and texturing, or other topics.

Files to Submit

Figure

Perspective

Composition & Color

Range of Skill

Optional, but may be
helpful

5 drawings:
- 1 Interior
- 1 Exterior
- 3 Design

4 drawings or paintings:
- 2 must be Observational
- 2 must be in color

Complete your portfolio
with up to 16 files selected
from this category.

(Portfolio must include no more than 25 files total.)


File Descriptions

Figure

The human figure Gesture, Intermediate Pose, and Sustained Pose drawings should be done using traditional drawing media and a live model (not from the applicant's imagination or from two-dimensional references such as photographs). Directly observed drawings of figure sculpture may also be included, but the source must be cited. The drawings should clearly communicate the structure and three-dimensional form of the subject. The emphasis should be on representational accuracy, gesture, and structure rather than on cartooning or stylization.

Gesture

Approximately six gesture drawings composited on each page. These must be from poses of a nude model, including the entire figure with an emphasis on weight and kinetics. They should evoke life, movement, volume, attitude, and structure. Pose duration of 30 seconds to five minutes.

Intermediate Pose

Drawings of a nude model showing an ability to synthesize the figure in the pose with accurate proportion, weight and gesture. Pose duration of 20 to 30 minutes.

Sustainable Pose

Drawings showing applicant's ability to resolve the figure in an anatomically accurate way. This could be a portrait or full body pose, of either a nude or clothed figure. Pose duration of at least three hours.

Perspective

These will be evaluated for the ability to use western linear perspective and the ability to create a pleasing composition combining architecture and nature. The Exterior and Interior drawings should be made directly from observation and not from the applicant’s imagination or from two-dimensional references such as photographs.

Exterior Architecture

Exterior architecture line drawing from direct observation in perspective and including some trees or vegetation.

Interior Architecture

Room interior line drawing from direct observation in perspective, illustrating walls, furniture, and other contents.

Designs

Design illustrations showing original concept work for architecture or a constructed environment. A design will likely include multiple drawings, where some may be orthographic and others in perspective.

Composition & Color

Drawings or paintings of subjects such as still lifes, landscapes, or other subjects. These will be evaluated for composition, use of value, observation, and ability to mix and control color. All pieces must be original compositions, not to be based on two-dimensional reference such as photographs.

Observational

Drawings or paintings from direct observation of real subjects, and should not be from the applicant's imagination or from two-dimensional references such as photographs.

Free Form

Images from the applicant's imagination, and should not be from two-dimensional references such as photographs.

Range of Skill

These samples demonstrate the applicant's range and skill. In particular, samples of digital media are highly encouraged. The works will be assessed on their strength of design, composition, and technical facility with the chosen medium. These pieces could be used to demonstrate a particular interest, for example, a character artist could include drawings, renditions of the same character in different positions, and three-dimensional models sculpted in modeling clay or digital media.

Examples of Range of Skill pieces include (but are not limited to):

General Work

Art works in painting, sculpture, animation, figure/animal studies, character designs, architectural renderings, and landscape studies.

Location Sketches

Observational drawings of people or animals going about the everyday routines of life. These drawings explore the gestures and attitudes of their subjects.

2D Digital Work

Designs or illustrations done with digital media demonstrating work showing appeal, compositional mastery, or overall fluency in applying artistic skill with digital illustration tools.

3D Digital Work

3D digital examples, each piece consisting of one unique item such as a character, vehicle, or lit scene. Images of models should include textured versions and examples showing polygonal structure.

Animation Reel

Either 2D or 3D character animation. Ideally, multiple characters, and at least 15 seconds in total duration. Assessment will be done in categories of personality, physicality, and timing, among others.


Guidelines for All Portfolio Submissions

  1. Submit the portfolio via Slideroom. Slideroom requires a $10 fee to upload portfolios; however, this fee may be waived for students who demonstrate financial need through participation in a need-based program.
  2. All artwork should be submitted as .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif, .tif, .tiff, or .bmp, files. (Each image must be under 5MB.)
  3. Label all artwork with the date of completion and the medium used. If a reference was used; be sure to cite the reference in the description. Please note: DigiPen prefers that the artwork submitted be less than two years old, but may consider older work.
  4. Avoid samples that rely heavily on exaggerated physical features such as large eyes, big hair, and elongated limbs, or samples copied directly from manga, animé, Disney, and similar sources. Instead, focus on creating works that demonstrate your ability to draw from observation and your own imagination.