candy apples and a dancing person

Illustration (BFA)

The Bachelors of Fine Arts program in Illustration educates the next generation of creative industry professionals. Illustrators possess the ability to create a narrative and affect how consumers visualize the world. The program prepares students who wish to pursue careers in visual development such as creating characters, storyboards, and concept art for film or video games. Students will also gain the skill sets needed to become comic artists, graphic novelists and cartoonists, or illustrate for books, magazines, motion graphics, and the retail licensing industry. The BFA in Illustration helps students build a professional network by requiring attendance to events and conventions including the MOCCA Arts Cartooning and Comics Festival in NYC. Students also learn how to develop portfolio websites, create contracts, and negotiate rates.

Successful completion of the program concludes with an exhibition of the student’s final project along with a portfolio, both tailored to the specific clientele the student wishes to pursue.

What You Will Study

As an Illustration major, you will take courses in both traditional and digital media, learning the techniques to develop an illustration for various markets.
The multidisciplinary curriculum includes:

Fine Arts Studio courses

– Progressive levels of illustration courses, including:

  • Intro to Illustration
  • Digital Painting Methods
  • Digital Illustration
  • Character Design
  • Narrative Illustration
  • 2-D Animation
  • Cartooning
  • Products and Zines
  • Professional Business Practices
  • Intermediate Digital Painting
  • Text and Image
  • Illustration Studio Concepts
  • Editorial Illustration
  • Advanced Illustration

– Initial project assignments include:

  • Storyboard
  • Mini Comic Zine
  • Concept Art
  • World Building
  • Character Study Sheets
  • Animated Walk Cycle

– Advanced projects include:

  • Editorial Cartoon
  • Editorial Cover
  • Website Development
  • Promotional and Marketing Materials
  • Portfolio Development
  • Final Project

For complete Illustration BFA course requirements and descriptions, go to:

Illustration Major (BFA) – Undergraduate CurriculumView the 4-Year Plan for Illustration

B.F.A. in Illustration Portfolio Requirements

Prospective students must meet MSU entry requirements.

Please put together a professional presentation of 15-20 works that include labels (ex: title, medium, year completed). All work should indicate a specific light source by use of value and understanding of composition.

The portfolio MUST include the following:

  • 7-10 works of observational drawing (such as still life, landscape life studies, and drawing what is in front of you)
  • 3-5 examples of portraiture and figure drawing
  • At least 1 three-point perspective of some form of architecture (e.g. buildings, room interior, etc.)
  • Sketchbook pages
  • Optional: You may also include a few examples of sequential narratives (e.g. comic book panels), original character studies, or conceptual illustration ONLY if you consider this your best work.

Please Do NOT include:

  • More than 3 examples of character studies/ sequential narratives
  • Unoriginal Fan Art such as drawings of licensed cartoon characters
  • Artwork that is copied from another artist’s photograph

Evaluation is based upon:

  • An indication of interest in narrative illustration and conceptual thinking.
  • Execution and presentation of the portfolio reflecting an understanding of basic principles of art-making such as composition, design, value, color, and light.
  • Sketchbook examples of ideation, that is of concept process and development.
  • Potential for success in the program through a prospective concentration in the field.

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Contact Head of Illustration: Christina Rodriguez-Unalt
Calcia Hall Room 212