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 piece. If necessary, DigiPen may request more samples for review.

The portfolio should contain the following items. Each item category is described in the File Description tables at the bottom of this section. We encourage the demonstration of artistic process by including sketches or studies along with a final piece.

Throughout these instructions, Observational means work produced by direct observation of a subject in real life, not from the applicant's imagination or from two-dimensional references such as photographs.

Required Submission Pieces




Composition & Color


2 pages of either:
Gesture drawings OR
Urban Sketches

4 drawings:
- 2 Intermediate Pose
- 2 Sustained Pose

2 drawings:
- 1 Interior
- 1 Exterior

5 drawings or paintings:
- 3+ must be Observational
- 3+ must be in color

At least one image
satisfying the
Creativity criteria below.

Please see the File Description section for explanations of each type of work.

Range of Skill Submission Pieces

Supplement the required application portfolio with Range of Skill artwork. These can be a variety of pieces of the applicant's choosing, demonstrating their artistic skill. It can include 2D and 3D digital art, animation, or any type of general artwork. The overall portfolio must include no more than 25 files total.

File Descriptions


The Gesture drawings or Urban Sketches must be Observational and done using traditional drawing media, not on a digital tablet or computer. They are not to be done from the applicant's imagination or from two-dimensional references such as photographs. The emphasis should be on representational accuracy, gesture, and structure rather than on cartooning or stylization.


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.

Urban Skecthes

Observational drawings of people or animals going about the everyday routines of life. These drawings must be done quickly out of necessity, and explore the gestures and attitudes of their subjects. At least one drawing per page.


The human figure 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 rather than on cartooning or stylization.

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.


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

Interior Architecture

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

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 produced from two-dimensional reference such as photographs. Submitted pieces are either considered Observational or Free Form.


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.


Pick a story from recent newspaper headlines. Use the story as your creative starting point for a new work in any medium that displays your creative and aesthetic point of view. Interpret through your personal lens, and demonstrate what is interesting about this story.

Document your choice in the Admissions Statement, including the story being referenced and describing how your piece relates to it.

Your work will be judged on creativity as well as aesthetics and execution, and is not expected to be a literal interpretation. This item may be comprised of one or more images.

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, garment designs, constructed environments, architectural renderings, landscape studies, or other work.

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.