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Undergraduate study
Computer Games Art

W212 BA/CGA (W283 BA/CGAFY for Year 0 entry)

 
 

Course overview

Are you creative and love computer games? Want to combine your traditional art skills with cutting-edge creative technology? A computer games artist creates a game's characters, assets, environments, creatures and vehicles, as well as producing concept art and storyboards at the planning stages. This course includes an optional work placement year, at no extra cost.

The popularity of computer games shows no signs of slowing down with the regular release of new sophisticated and innovative products – many are developed in the UK. The appeal of games has also broadened with the increasing popularity of exercise and educational releases. Smartphone apps are also another growth area. We help you develop your artistic skills and explore specialised areas including:

  • 3D character sculpting
  • Photo-real texturing and surfaces
  • Hard surface modelling
  • Shaders, material, lighting and effects
  • Game engine implementation
  • Concept Art
  • Environment art
  • Character art.



Alongside the optional work placement year, you can gain valuable experience and engagement with the sector through our shorter work placements, internships and work experience opportunities. Find out more

Take part in Animex our annual international festival of games and animation which brings together experts from world-renowned studios including Rockstar, Pixar, Aardman, Disney, ILM, Sony Interactive and Supermassive Games.

You also have the chance to enter our local, national and international GameJam events, take part in our industry competitions, attend industry events, and Beta test some upcoming games before they are released.

Professional accreditation

ScreenSkills This course is recognised by ScreenSkills, the skills body for the UK’s screen-based industries. Upon completion of this course you are prepared for a career in the screen industries having completed a course carrying the ScreenSkills Select quality mark.

 
 

Course details

Course structure

Year 0 (foundation year) core modules

2D Digital Art

You are introduced to the creative possibilities of image making using digital tools. The fundamental principles of design and composition will be addressed and a range of image creation techniques will be explored using appropriate graphics software. Skills and topics introduced include: layers, transparencies, vectors, bitmaps, Outcomes & reproduction (web/print/screen) and Input devices

Case Studies

This module provides tools in your reading of cultural texts. Focusing on computer games, animation and film, you gain an introductory level of understanding in the context of your chosen fields of study.
As well as looking at the historical and contextual overview of the history of animation, film and computer games, you also look at how we interpret these types of media historically and materially. You choose a text from within your area of interest and undertake an analytical review in the form of a case study.

Creativity and Design

You develop your design and drawing styles, essential for the creative development of interesting and innovative visual solutions.

You are guided through a range of techniques and encouraged to push your ideas and designs in alternative directions, expanding your creative thinking and developing your ideas in new ways.

You produce a range of visual images and worksheets to develop your drawing and image-making styles and process. Throughout the module, you are encouraged to experiment with a variety of drawing and mark-making media and techniques.

You are also encouraged to make connections between seemingly unrelated beginnings and outcomes with briefs that allow creative freedom and broad interpretation.

Drawing Principles

You gain confidence in creating rudimentary images using traditional tools such as pencil and charcoal. The teaching enables you to develop your drawing technique and approach, and helps you produce images that effectively communicate simple ideas.

With a range of traditional materials, you are encouraged to experiment with different approaches to drawing. You learn methods and techniques to improve your observational skills in relation to still life drawing. You also look at other formal elements including tone, proportion, perspective and basic human anatomy.

Foundation Game

You produce an individual project artefact, with the supervision of a member of academic staff. This involves you producing a small game project.
You take your existing knowledge and develop a small game from start to finish. This includes writing a high level concept document (proposal), early demo and testing (progress review) and a completed demo made within a contemporary game engine or similar.

Modelling Principles

You learn some of the basic principles of 3D computer modelling, lighting and texturing. You use 3D software to produce a simple 3D model that will be textured and rendered with basic lighting. Through guided tutorial tasks, you learn some of the first principles of 3D modelling with the view to creating a small collection of elementary assets for computer games and animation. You create simple textures in appropriate software, such as Photoshop, and consider basic CG lighting.

 

Year 1 core modules

Animation Basics

This module introduces you to the fundamentals of computer games animation. Using industry-standard hardware and software, the module develops the core skills required for the games animation industry.

You study the artistic and technical aspects necessary in a games animation role. You do this by using tried and tested animation techniques, producing a range of simple 3D and sprite-based animations. You work is presented in a suitable game engine.

Environment Production for Games

You are introduced to the production processes behind the research, design and construction of a real-time game environment within a contemporary game engine, such as Unreal Engine.

You model and texture modular components with a view to compilation, set design and lighting within Unreal Engine

Industry Briefs

This module involves you working as individuals to produce an artefact in relation to a game experience using an Industry brief.

You experience working with a real production brief set by industry. It provides you with an opportunity to target specific and current production skills within your chosen field of study.

Introduction to Digital Sculpting

This module looks at how digital sculpting software is used to create organic multiresolution 3D models for game, animation or film purposes. Skills required will include basic 3D modelling and UV unwrapping.

Introduction to Texturing

You focus on developing skills and workflows for texture creation for integrated implementation with materials and shaders for real time rendering. You are introduced to utilising multiple texturing techniques to create efficient high quality solutions to support industry standard workflows and application.

You develop your knowledge in a variety of scalable texturing techniques, such as, trim sheets, detail textures, decals, tillable textures, as well as, optimisation for a variety of solutions.


Modelling for Games

You study the fundamental principles used to produce real-time 3D models and 2D textures within a real-time game environment. You create a 3D asset which can be used as prop within a game engine or other real-time applications such as virtual reality.

Lectures explain the principles of the modelling tools available in advanced modelling software and expose you to examples of how these techniques have been used in producing finished computer games.

In practical terms you use a combination of industry-standard 3D software for modelling and industry-standard texturing software to create textures. We give specific attention to art pipelines, which are used by practising game modellers.

 

Year 2 core modules

Games Technical Art

You focus on developing your skills and workflow through integration of games art into a level using an industry standard games engine.

You are introduced to technical art solutions, developing skills to create dynamic and engaging immersive environments. This covers importing assets and scene creation while developing deeper understanding of more advanced engine editor tools.

Knowledge is developed to consider performance while developing skills in lighting, particle effects, post-processing, advanced node based material shaders and integration of dynamic effects and events using visual scripting, resulting in a well-rounded knowledge base.

Hard Surface Modelling

You examine the authoring of hard-faced objects including character armour, vehicles, weapons, and architecture – assets with a regular predictable rigid topology. You develop an understanding of how various hard-surface objects are designed and developed within a game production pipeline. All produced assets are exported into a game engine.
You are expected to produce efficient professional models with sound topology. Therefore you must have a thorough understanding of the best practices for hard-surface modelling.

In this module a hard-surface object is defined as the creation of non-organic asset such as architecture, vehicles, consumer products, hard surface clothing, and environments. This encompasses all rigid character and architecture models. Additionally a hard-surface model is a ‘non-flexible model’ – an object, that if animated would not deform, but rather move in a mechanical fashion – such as a car, mech, airplane or helmet.

Industry Portfolio Development

You are provided with the opportunity to work from a games industry provided brief to create a body of work to a professional standard in your chosen field of study.

You produce a body of work reflecting your own specialisation, demonstrating your understanding of core industry requirements, practices and pipelines with a view to showcasing your creative and technical ability through an online portfolio.

This portfolio is intended to demonstrate your understanding of the quality of work expected at a professional level. You are expected to present your work in an appropriate online format – this may be embedded video, blogs or a specific portfolio website.

Journeyman

You work in a team to produce a game experience within a current game engine. This provides you with experience of working within a production environment, and also with an opportunity to target specific production skills within your chosen field of study.

Organic Forms

Organic modelling is used to create real-time 3D assets in the context of character and environment prop production. You utilise relevant modelling and sculpting techniques to create a real-time 3D object with organic characteristics.

In this module, Organic Forms are defined as the creation of natural assets (such as non-mechanical characters, creatures, or plants) and deformable materials such as clothing or rope.

 

Optional work placement year

Work placement

You have the option to spend one year in industry learning and developing your skills. We encourage and support you with applying for a placement, job hunting and networking.

You gain experience favoured by graduate recruiters and develop your technical skillset. You also obtain the transferable skills required in any professional environment, including communication, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, organisation, confidence, self-reliance, problem-solving, being able to work under pressure, and commercial awareness.

Many employers view a placement as a year-long interview, therefore placements are increasingly becoming an essential part of an organisation's pre-selection strategy in their graduate recruitment process. Benefits include:

· improved job prospects
· enhanced employment skills and improved career progression opportunities
· a higher starting salary than your full-time counterparts
· a better degree classification
· a richer CV
· a year's salary before completing your degree
· experience of workplace culture
· the opportunity to design and base your final-year project within a working environment.

If you are unable to secure a work placement with an employer, then you simply continue on a course without the work placement.

 

Final-year core modules

Advanced Lighting and Shaders

You focus on creating high-quality cost effective game assets by developing new skills and building advanced knowledge in procedural material generation for complex shader workflows and 3D capture assets using scan data. Along with node-based materials, you develop photogrammetry skills for the production of high quality 3D Assets. You cover topics including material creation and clean-up/repairing of scan data, as well as digital restoration. These assets are then optimised for in-engine usage, through re-topology and texture conversion for advanced physical shaders.

Beta Arcade

You gain experience of working as a member of a games development team that is as close to industrial practice as possible. Beta Arcade simulates the working criteria and mix of development skills that are required to produce a polished prototype of a computer game concept which would be suitable for publication.

Final Year Project

The Final Year Project is a large-scale piece of work, undertaken under the supervision of a member of academic staff. The project involves the production of a substantial artefact related to your subject area.

You develop an appropriate sense of work-discipline coupled with a professional outlook and are expected to take responsibility for the planning and execution of an extended piece of work including the consideration of associated legal, social, ethical and professional issues. You explore a chosen subject area in depth and are required to demonstrate the ability to analyse, synthesise, and creatively apply what has already been studied on the programme whilst demonstrating critical and evaluative skills and professional awareness.

Upskill

You evaluate and identify an area of your personal skillset that is underdeveloped and take steps to develop it before undertaking your major project.

You negotiate a brief with your tutor to enhance your skills in a relevant area of current or emergent practice in games development. You research and identify appropriate academic or industry resources that are relevant to your work on practical modules, as well as the computer games industry, and use them to develop a personalised development project that can be practical or academic.

 

Modules offered may vary.

 

How you learn

You learn in lectures and tutorials. The lecturers provide you with specific theoretical information related to the subject while the tutorials focus on developing your practical skills. In the later tutorials you work on assessments and use this time to get feedback and advice from tutors. Further support is offered online in the form of extra learning material. You are expected to manage your time to complete work outside the tutorial sessions.

In your second year you take part in our unique Journeyman module, highly praised by industry, in which all games art students work with games designers in a simulated game studio experience, outsourcing various essentials such as assets and animation to specialist teams. You work on games in Unreal 4 and Unity to strict milestones in a scenario that is as close to industry practice as possible within an academic environment.

Learn using our industry-standard facilities including multiple games development labs, virtual reality lab, and state-of-art Vicon motion capture facilities.

How you are assessed

We believe that is essential for you to learn through the experience of doing. Assessment for all modules is in the form of practical projects, which you work on throughout the year. You develop a portfolio of games art throughout the course. In Year 2, the Journeyman module provides you with essential teamwork skills ready for industry. The Project in the final year allows you the freedom to set your own project based on your skills, interests and career aspirations.


Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs

 
 

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Typical offer
• Year 0 entry (UCAS code W283 BA/CGAFY): flexible, each application is considered on a case-by-case basis
• Year 1 entry (UCAS code W212 BA/CGA): 96-112 points and portfolio

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS tariff calculator. If your qualifications are not listed, contact our admissions team as we may accept alternatives.

We may also be able to help you meet the entry requirements through our Summer University modules.

Portfolio
Your portfolio should demonstrate basic skills in drawing and visual invention. Get some advice on how to develop a portfolio

Maths and English
Acceptable qualifications in maths and English include:
• GCSE grade 4 (or higher)
• Level 2 Key Skills (Communication and Application of Number)
• Level 2 Functional Skills.

We also accept alternative equivalent or higher level qualifications.


For additional information please see our entry requirements

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country


You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

 

Employability

Work placement

Being able to include work experience on your CV makes you a much more attractive applicant. You have a much higher chance of improving your degree classification and the boost in confidence will give you the edge in job interviews.

98% of our students who complete a work placement achieve a high level degree classification and are offered a graduate job within six months of graduating.

We have established excellent long-term relationships with businesses giving you the opportunity to apply for summer, year-long and graduate placements with key organisations such as: Microsoft, Rare, Team 17, ZeroLight, R8 Games, Hammerhead VR, Dojo Arcade, Schlumberger, Sumo Digital and Coastsink.

Student selection is carried out by employers through competitive interviews and often skills tests. Placements are not compulsory but are assessed and contribute to your final degree award.

Our placements team gives you help and support throughout the placement process, including guidance on applications and interviews, to help you get a placement that suits you.

Career opportunities

This highly specialist degree offers the skills you need for a career in the games industry and also provides generic skills which open up numerous career paths in digital media – typically areas of film, TV, advertising and multimedia – through to architectural and product visualisation.

Graduates from our games degrees have gone on to work as artists, level designers, 3D modellers and texture artists at a wide range of games companies including 3rd Dimensions, Atomic Planet, Bizarre Creations, Creative Assembly, Electronic Arts, Eutechnyx, Halch, Media Molecule, Microsoft Rare, Naughty Dog, Ninja Theory,Rebellion, Rockstar North and Rockstar San Diego, Sega, Sony, Streamline, Supermassive Games, Traveller's Tales, Ubisoft, Venom, Weta Digital and many more.

 

Information for international applicants

Qualifications

International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

Select your country:

  
 

Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

Talk to us

Talk to an international student enrolment adviser

 
 

Full-time

Entry to 2020/21 academic year

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£13,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants


What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 with a work placement) or 4 years including foundation year (or 5 with a work placement)
  • UCAS code: W212 BA/CGA
    W283 BA/CGAFY for Year 0 entry
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: 96-112 points and portfolio

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS

 

Part-time

2020/21 entry

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£4,500 (120 credits)

More details about our fees

  • Length: Up to 6 years
  • Attendance: Daytime
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Semester dates

Apply online (part-time)

 
 
 
 

Facilities

ExpoTalent is a unique opportunity to meet businesses to secure placements, internships and future employment opportunities.

 

Choose Teesside

iPad

Are you eligible for an iPad, keyboard and up to £300 credit for learning resources?

 

Accommodation

Live in affordable accommodation right on-campus

 

Campus

Study in our town-centre campus with over £270m of recent investment

 

Industry ready

Benefit from work placements, live projects, accredited courses

 

Get in touch

 
 

Foundation year

Part-time

Part-time DiscoverUni data