BFA Art: Concentration in Sequential Art

Examining visual culture through interdisciplinary study

Through a broad and diverse range of course offerings, Sequential Art majors engage in a largely self-directed exploration of media as they gain a solid understanding of contemporary themes and concepts. Faculty insist upon keen observation and strong conceptual thinking combined with the mastery of manual skills and techniques needed to convey ideas in a compelling manner.

Graduates are prepared to:

  • Display in their work the maturation of both artistic voice and original thought as evidenced in the confluence of formal, conceptual and technical concerns.
  • Articulate knowledge of historical art precedents and their significance to creating contemporary images.
  • Demonstrate an ability to strengthen meaning by connecting with broader subjective concerns in the viewer’s imagination through metaphor, pointed ambiguity and cultural references.
  • Develop insight and criticality in the interpretation and evaluation of visual communication of a broad range of works, with an eye toward civic responsibility and an investment in the important cultural dialogue that is unique to illustration.
  • Demonstrate this artistic consciousness through their own intelligent and sensitive use of symbolism, representations and vernacular in crafting images.

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  • We are constantly improving our computer classrooms to offer our students the most comprehensive experience possible in Illustration.

    Computer Classrooms & Lab Workspace

    • Two computer classrooms, each containing the following equipment:
        • Twenty-two student workstations, each incorporating a 21.5 inch iMac and 22HD Creative Pen & Touch Cintiq Display
        • Teacher workstation with a 21.5 inch iMac and 22HD Creative Pen & Touch CintiqDisplay
        • One lectern projection screen capable of demonstrating use of software
        • Ricoh Color Laser printer capable of printing on paper media up to 12 x 18 inches (see for more information about printing capabilities and costs)
    • One open Mac computer lab (VA224) with 20 iMac workstations
        • 21.5-in. iMacs (i7 processors with 16 GB RAM)
        • Three workstations include 22HD Creative Pen & Touch Cintiq DisplaysOne workroom with a photography studio and a mat-cutting and project assembly workspace
    • Adobe Creative Cloud including all of the most recent versions of software (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Animate, After Effects, Dreamweaver, Bridge, Lightroom) is installed on all student workstations. Maya and other software sometimes used for animation and illustration are also installed.

    Printers and Peripherals

    • Epson Stylus Pro 9900 Ultrachrome 44-in. wide format inkjet printer in VA224
    • Two Epson Stylus Pro 4880s and one Epson Stylus Pro 4800 inkjet printer
    • Several Epson V500 scanners (8.5 x 11 in.)
    • Three Epson V700 scanners with transparency adapters (8.5 x 11 in.)
    • Three Epson Expression XL12,000 scanners (12.2x17.2 in.)

Key Courses

  • > Download Curriculum Checksheet BFA Applied Arts


    ART 3015: Electronic Illustration
    The focus of this course is the execution of quality illustrations. The blending of traditional and electronic images will be influenced and strengthened by the history of illustration. The illustrations will be adapted for print and web using advanced conceptual skills and digital techniques. The strong development of form and color and the elements and principles of design will be stressed.

    ART 3150: Figure Drawing
    Intensive study of the human figure; action, structure, volume, design and expressive
    potentialities from a variety of models, using a variety of media. Some portraiture.

    ANIM 3620: Storyboarding & Composition
    This course is an introduction to the use and creation of storyboards for animation.
    Students will interpret narratives including their own material into functional sequential
    art. Students will explore both traditional and digital media in the course.

    ART 3600: Illustration I
    This course will focus on sketches, revisions, research and final image development. Subjects covered will be methods and sources for research and the sketch as a research and presentation tool.

    ART 3705: Sequential Art I
    An introduction to the art of comics. The art of making effective, strong and original layouts is emphasized in this course. Students acquire a basic understanding of the history of the medium current trends, orthodox and experimental narrative techniques that are possible. Concentrating on the visual narrative structure, students learn how to created clear panel-to-panel transitions and dynamic layouts. Students will investigate the mechanics of comics storytelling through a series of exercises designed to deconstruct the comics language. Clarity is key to engaging the reader, and this course emphasizes communication regardless of style. Discussion will include a concise history of the medium and the rise of manga and the graphic novel. This course is structured around a series of cumulative exercises introducing a new element of the comics language each week, designed to equip the student for further work in this important art form.

    ART 3715: Sequential Art II
    A continuation of Sequential Art, this class explores the formal underpinnings of comics and provides an overview of tools and techniques. Weekly assignments challenge students to create clear and compelling visual narratives with an emphasis on dialogue and scriptwriting.

    ART 4255: Advanced Study of the Figure
    Detailed study of the human figure as a subject in art, including drawing and painting from the live model. Portraiture will be considered in addition to the structure and design potential of the figure.

    ART 4700: Advanced Sequential Art
    (Sequential Art) in advance is required. Students are expected to demonstrate knowledge of all the basic facets of visual storytelling. This class explores advanced aspects of drawing one’s own narratives in long-form sequential art. The focus is on perfecting individual approaches to media, color, lettering and formats. The students will explore current trends in the publishing marketplace relative to comics and graphic novels, develop and present professional portfolios and/or book proposals geared to the format, and synthesize various exercises and assignments into a final long-form project.

    ART 4710: Narrative Arts
    This course explores the form of visual literature known as “comics” or “comic art”. Beginning with the introduction of comics to American audiences in the early 20th century and its maturation to serialized entertainment, we will shift our focus to the genres of the “9th Art”, the graphic novel in Europe. Studying comics and their relationship to popular culture is a relatively new field of artistic and literary criticism. Yet, comics have been found on the walls of caves. The oldest are thought to be over 15000 years old and were found in France. Egyptian hieroglyphs used sequential pictures, while the Greeks painted their “comics” on vases. The church used illuminated manuscripts and stained glass windows to tell stories.

    The graphic novel is venerated as an art form in Europe. Referred to as “Bandes Dessinées, or “drawn strips”, the art form makes no designation as to its content. We will analyze the art and the stories that have made graphic fiction the most popular form of literature in the world. In France alone, the publication of graphic fiction generates annual sales of over 350,000,000 euros. Particularly since the late 1980’s, comic books and graphic novels have been earning critical attention as a dynamic and complex form of literature.

    By studying comics, you will develop skills for analyzing this fascinating hybrid art form, which joins images, words and abstract symbols into elaborate compositions. Looking at and reading comics can help us heighten our visual and narrative sensibilities so that we can more productively approach a myriad of hybrid texts, from hypertext to billboards to experimental literature and theater. Studying comics brings us face to face with some of the most thought – provoking work contemporary literature has to offer.

    ART 4720: Comic Storytelling
    This class focuses on helping students develop their comic storytelling techniques by illuminating the relationship between text and image on the comic page, ideas of plot versus theme, the use of composition and symbolism in the comic panel, and how all of these correlations work together to serve the goal of the artist in communicating their personal narrative vision in the comic form. With a strong focus on issues in contemporary comic storytelling methods, plot structure and motif in popular fiction and literature, and the symbolic and aesthetic powers of fine art and design, Comic Storytelling allows students to shape their own scripts and stories into comics that demonstrate their skill and acumen in the comics language.

    The work in this course is heavily self-directed and students should be prepared to judiciously utilize their studio processes as they craft in-depth, multi-page comic projects to present for in-class and individual critiques.

    ART 4735: Experimental Comics
    Experimental Comics trains students to expand their storytelling ranges. Students learn to utilize restriction and experimentation as ways to help tell a story. Discussions are held surrounding important contemporary comic professionals and groups who are pushing the boundaries of comic narrative. As the semester progresses, students work from their own story ideas and develop them further through individual and group critiques. Lectures and presentations on experimental comics, short exercises, individual and group critiques, readings, and discussions are used to help students work toward selfdirection and a strong use of process.

Admission to Concentration

  • It is important that students interested in applying to the Illustration Concentration talk to the faculty advisors of the area. The office hours are posted on the faculty web page.

    Geo Sipp
    Director of the School of Art and Design
    Office: VA202

    Craig Brasco
    Assistant Professor of Art
    Office: VA101D

    Once a BFA, “art-interest” student has completed the Lower-Division Major Requirements and while enrolled in the second course in illustration, he or she will submit a portfolio of work in that area for review by the supervising faculty. Admission into any concentration area is dependent upon the strength of the student’s portfolio, their performance in visual arts courses, and their overall academic performance in all classes taken. Each application to the Concentration in Illustration must include the following:

    1. Images MUST be saved at a resolution of 72 dpi, in one PDF file no larger than 15MB (see Description of Images below)

    • Include a title page with your name, year and semester, and the portfolio title
    • Image dimensions must be no larger than 1024 x 768 ppi and no smaller than 800 x 600 ppi
    • Description of images in your portfolio PDF (letter size page)

    2. Artistic Statement in a letter-sized PDF or in MS Word format. Include an explanation of why you are applying for the BFA in the graphic communications concentration.


    • Transfered students should meet with their adviser to determine readiness for portfolio submission.

    Description of Images

    • Three of your best figure drawings or paintings
    • Five of your best digital projects as follows:
    • 2 raster graphics
    • 2 vector graphics
    • 1 combination of raster and vector graphics
    • One piece demonstrating your use of linear perspective
    • One piece demonstrating your use of evocative color
    • One piece demonstrating your illustration in storytelling


    • All work must have been completed within the last 4 semesters
    • Passing Illustration I does not guarantee acceptance into the concentration

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