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Undergraduate study
Concept Art

IW29 BA/CA (IW24 BA/CAFY for Year 0 entry)


Course overview

This course is one of the largest running digital art courses in the UK.You are introduced to concept art and digital painting workflows commonly used within games, film, TV and animation industries. Focusing mainly on the pre-production process, you design from a wide spectrum of topics including character design, creature design, environment design, key art illustrations, splash art, and weapons and props. You explore these creative briefs through traditional art methods, as well as learning how to utilise a range of digital art tools including software such as Photoshop, Clip Studio, Maya, ZBrush an Keyshot. This course includes an optional work placement year, at no extra cost.

The course is fully supported by a range of industry staff who, using their array of contacts, regularly invite current artists within the industry to meet students. Previous speakers include Ian McQue, Sandra Duchiewicz, Ubisoft and Atomhawk.

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.

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


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

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.

Final Project

This module aims to guide you through the production of a small-scale individual project defined in part by you, with guidance from the tutor. The final project aims to develop an individual working approach and good project management. You will develop original ideas and concepts for an appropriate project in your chosen field of study. These may take the form of a short story, artefact, report, campaign, comic, concept art or other appropriate form related to the arts and media industries.

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.

Study Skills

You explore learning skills for undergraduate study at University, providing you with a range of learning material and practical sessions. You develop your professional skills including teamwork, researching a topic, report writing and delivering presentations, as well as time management and learning practice.
You learn by a combination of lectures, e-learning material and support.

You are introduced to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) at Teesside University, exploring e-learning material and reading lists, and student support and learning resources.

Your assessment is a portfolio based on set tasks, including research into set problems.

Visual Narratives

You gain confidence in comic and narrative creation through short, well-defined creation briefs to encourage experimentation and an openness to new techniques, tools and methods.

Through practice-based briefs and seminars you are introduced to the key tools and techniques of both comic and artistic media.

You experiment with different styles of drawing for pre-defined narrative purposes; to different ways of generating or structuring a story. You also produce images that communicate a narrative, short comics and other visual narratives.

You work with the tutor and other students to discuss work in response to the briefs You explore the fundamental formal elements of narrative creation, such as the use of the panel, the cover, page design, speech bubbles, thought bubbles and captions, through workshops, briefs and challenges.

Your assessment is 100% ICA, a visual portfolio that covers a range of narrative based or comic-specific storytelling techniques.


Year 1 core modules

Asset Design and Modelling

You develop your abilities to design and create 3D Models, focusing on hard-surface modelling. You consider creative design and development processes for complex objects before evaluating the practicality and deployability of your designs within appropriate 3D scenarios.

You develop the skills to create your designs effectively and efficiently, considering their fitness for purpose as props, animated objects, or supports for other activities such as matte painting. This consideration includes topology, polygon resolution and the object’s general aesthetic.

Concept Art Pre-Production

This module develops your understanding of the role of the concept artist. You are guided though a wide range of concept art tasks and encouraged to develop an effective working practice. The unique challenges faced by a concept artist are identified and explored.

The module focuses on the generation of original ideas and develops skills in thumbnailing, iteration and presentation.

Drawing for Games and Animation 1

This module develops your visual perception and drawing skills – these are essential for a productive artist to communicate ideas effectively, swiftly and efficiently.

You are guided through a range of drawing exercises including figure drawing, environment drawing, and still life, enabling you to work through a variety of approaches to drawing. These exercises develop your observational and imaginative drawing abilities, and build on your artistic skills and range of techniques, using traditional tools.

History of Illustration

You research the industry of visual arts. You learn through a series of lectures and seminars. You explore examples of case studies that reflect your research expectations.

You focus on history elements and in-depth research of artists and art styles. You select from these artists and art styles that have been covered in lectures to conduct closer research that supports your assessment submission.

Introduction to Digital Image Techniques

You are introduced to relevant digital software packages, such as Adobe Photoshop, enabling you to investigate the creative potential of digital painting. You look at initial approaches and techniques used to create concept art especially in the context of digital image making.

Narrative Art

This module focuses on the production aspect of concept art, looking at effective drawing techniques and visual storytelling skills.

You develop your existing pre-production work, or use existing examples of pre-production work from elsewhere, to produce polished final images which fall into the following areas: key moments, character and environment concept art and other marketing artwork such as poster art.

This is artwork suitable to be presented to a client as a pitch presentation.


Year 2 core modules

Digital Image Techniques

You will develop technical abilities in creating pre and post-production concept art, further building the skills you developed in the first year module Introduction to Digital Image Techniques.

Throughout a series of lectures and seminars, you will be given a variety of tasks designed to enhance your skills in digital software. A strong focus of this module will be to work with more advanced techniques using both 2D and 3D software as well as rendering video files with visual effects

Digital Sculpting

This module extends your sculpting experience developed at Level four to include significant consideration of organic modelling. You explore the creation of anatomically aware characters and creatures. Consideration is made of the different scenarios, including the creation and sculpting of clothing and props, for which models are created from high end VFX through to matte painting visual aids. You also focus on techniques only deployable in non real-time development such as dynamic subdivision for displacement.

Drawing for Games and Animation 2

The module is designed to develop further skills in drawing and to develop methods of applying drawing in more specific situations. The main focus is communicating emotional responses through the artwork. It will encourage you to start developing your own style, and to progress your narrative storytelling in an image.

Life drawing will form a key part of the module, encouraging you to think about showing personality through posing and developing an understanding of characterisation, exaggeration and the use of shape language in developing characters and environments.


You will work in teams to produce concept art material, which would combine to create a pitch for a game, film or television project. This module is designed to give you the option to specialise in a particular area of concept art and gain the experience of working as part of a team.

You will be assigned specific roles and be expected to work in a professional manner similar to that in an industry setting. You will also be expected to present your work effectively in a pitch environment.

Practice-based Research

An opportunity to develop skills in practice based research, through experimentation and research into the creative process, culminating in more original idea generation.
You will be encouraged to analyse and evaluate elements of practice-based research, and synthesise your findings into your own practice.

To enrich visual inspiration you will consider broad, deep and varied historical and cultural research. You will also gain valuable insight into the creative process through regular written reflection.


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 Digital Image Techniques

You extend your abilities in creating digital art work and expand your image creation skills using advanced methods such as digital painting in line with professional standards. You are expected to respond to a creative brief as an accomplished digital artist, ready for industry. You explore a variety of integrated techniques including the combination of 2D and 3D methodology.

Concept Art Project

This module follows on from Concept Art Pre-Production and expands upon the work created in that module.

You will develop your work to produce polished final images which fall into the following areas:

• Poster art
• Key moments
• Character & environment concept art
• Storyboards
• Other marketing artwork

This will be developed and polished artwork suitable to be presented to a client as a ‘pitch presentation’.

The module focuses on effective drawing techniques and storytelling skills. At the end of the module you will exhibit your work.

A single submission of work will be used to assess the module.

Drawing for Games and Animation 3

You create visual artwork and produce a sophisticated drawing portfolio in response to a challenging brief with a focus on personal artistic expression. Tasks emphasise the expression of a personal style and you are encouraged to approach your work in a creative and experimental fashion.

Professional Practice

You develop professional practice skills in concept art, through appraisal and evaluation of industry standards, culminating in an online presence and professional identity. You are encouraged to analyse and evaluate elements of professional practice and synthesise your findings into your own practice, demonstrating employment potential and future professional development.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

You are taught by practising concept art professionals with experience of working for Ubisoft, Insomniac Games, Sony Pictures, the BBC, Channel 4, Sega (Sonic Comic) and Carnival Films (Downtown Abbey) bringing a wealth of experience and exciting industry connections.

Learning is through a structured series of lectures and practical sessions. Lectures provide you with specific theoretical information relating to the subject while the accompanying practical sessions focus on developing practical skills and working on creative briefs for assessment.

You are expected to manage your time effectively and continue to work on assignments outside of scheduled sessions.

Although the majority of the learning is through individual work there are opportunities for group work where you can develop important skills required to work effectively as part of a team.

Support and feedback from staff are a key element in the delivery of this course.

How you are assessed

The course is practice based, focusing on learning through the experience of doing. The majority of the assessment is in the form of practical projects.

In the first year you develop core skills in areas relevant to concept art.

In the second year you build on these skills and you are introduced to a number of specialist concept art skills.

In the final year you undertake a major in-depth final year project. With the guidance of staff you create your own brief based on your chosen area of specialisation.

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 IW24 BA/CAFY): flexible, each application is considered on a case-by-case basis
• Year 1 entry (UCAS code IW29 BA/CA): 96-112 points

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.

Essential subjects
We accept Level 3 qualifications in art and design or another creative subject.

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



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 Coatsink.

Student selection is carried out by employers through competitive interviews, often with 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

Many students have progressed into the industry with successful freelance careers, as well as working for a variety of studios including Atomhawk, Paramount Pictures, Creative Assembly, Rare Ltd., Splash Damage, Sumo Digital, Double Eleven and Games Workshop.


Information for international applicants


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



Entry to 2021/22 academic year

Fee for UK 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: IW29 BA/CA
    IW24 BA/CAFY for Year 0 entry
  • Start date: September or January (Year 1 entry only for January)
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: 96-112 points

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS



2021/22 entry

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

More details about our fees

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

Apply online (part-time)


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


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Benefit from work placements, live projects, accredited courses


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Foundation year


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