MCAD emphasizes a collaborative process and working with students from all majors. For this Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, you will take courses in several different areas, including a core focus, adding up to 120 total credits required for graduation.
Required Courses - These are the core courses that every comic art student takes.
Foundation Studies - These classes help you become a well-rounded student; they build a solid art background.
Studio Electives - Throughout your studies you can choose from several studio electives that give you hands-on creative time.
Humanities and Sciences - These are the classes you can take to round out your experience at MCAD; deepen your creative practice and fulfill non-studio requirements for a minor.
Introduction to Comics is a balanced exploration of simple character development and sequential storytelling. Technical demonstrations and weekly assignments cover penciling, various inking techniques, coloring, and lettering and are focused on composition, style, space, storytelling, perspective, gesture, and mood. Lectures and presentations on various comic genres and artists, readings, and discussions of the creative process complement technical instruction.
This course is an exploration of comics as a storytelling art form. Emphasis is placed on storytelling concepts and advanced technical and media skills. Projects include story and fable adaptation for use in mainstream and art comics as well as educational and documentary formats. To accomplish this goal, students use research, storyboarding, writing, critique, and revision to foster good practice and the foundation for a personal voice.
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 self-direction and a strong use of process.
This course prepares students for the expectations and rigors of the production and promotion of a comic book in print or in digital publishing. Working on self-directed projects, each student becomes their own publisher. The course is divided into three sections mirroring the production process: design and preparation, production, and launch. Technical and process demonstrations cover scanning, prepress procedures, printing, and marketing collateral. The intent of this course is to provide each student with the skills necessary to give a project the greatest impact once completed and published. Lectures and demonstrations, studio visits, field trips, readings, and research are used to direct students through this process.
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 critique.
This class combines life drawing with an in-depth study of figurative structure, including skeletal and muscular anatomy. Students develop figure drawing skills and an understanding of the movement of the figure in space. The class also explores drawing from imagination, narrative, and sequencing images. Students draw from nude and clothed models. Slide lectures, technical demonstrations, and anatomical lectures and texts support course material.
The primary focus of this class is to provide advertising students with the tools that will enable to enter professional practice immediately following graduation. Each student is required to produce a polished résumé, artist statement, website, professional identity system, and portfolio. Topics include long-range goal creation and planning; financial, legal, and other business considerations; grant writing; and communication and marketing skills involving verbal, written, and visual presentations. Topics are presented through lectures, critiques, and presentations by experts in the field.
Choose to pursue an internship or an additional studio elective
This course continues and concentrates on the issues and development of a unique comic voice. Students develop topics or themes into a full comic narrative working within the mainstream, art comic, educational comic, or documentary comic fields. Critical input from the faculty and fellow students helps guide the projects towards completion, allowing for a developed and mature narrative assignment. Lectures, visual presentations, readings, and in-depth study of comic professionals supplement the topics discussed within this course.
Senior Project is a semester-long project developed by an individual student in consultation with a faculty member. Starting with a research project, an in-depth comic art problem, or a concentration on the development of a particular strength, genre, or need, students create a story of approximately 14 fully realized and professionally developed pages. Students are required to develop an appropriate proposal, timeline, and goals and refine these in consultation with an outside mentor and appropriate MCAD staff. Presentations to the class and the greater MCAD community, proposal writing, research, and group discussions are important components of this course.
This course focuses on the two-dimensional depiction of an environment or landscape in comic format. Starting with the creation of a unique pictorial space, students explore the figure within these spaces to create a narrative visual flow. Landscape detailing and lighting are examined to create a sense of mood. Students explore one- to three-point perspectives, alternative perspective theories, and picture-composition relationships and their relationship to narrative drive. Research into the work of professional comics artists’ use of environmental storytelling, as well as individual and group critiques, are used as part of the learning process.
Comic Character Development students study various models of comic character creation, including realistic, heroic, exaggerated, and invented form, in addition to a variety of body expressions, facial expressions, and locomotion. Discussions and assignments in character creation for the narrative are explored. Lectures and discussions cover historical comics artists and contemporary artists. Weekly journals and comic exercises are assigned so that students may develop observational and invented figure drawing skills.
This course explores the various professional mediums used by comics artists and illustrators to create a rich textural nature in their works. Students develop basic principles of compositional decision making and strategies and the application of lighting, textures, values, and tone. Demonstrations of various tools and techniques are provided—from traditional pen and brush to Japanese tonal effects to current trends in digital finishing. Students work on professional comic pencil pages, their own penciled comic pages created specifically for this course, and on pen and ink observational drawings. Visual lectures, critiques, and research support technical work.
This course covers the entire process of coloring a comic book, from color design to print, using a computer. The goal of the course is to gain a working knowledge of a variety of techniques in order to complete a project from ideation to the final state. Topics covered include: scanning artwork, use of color as a storytelling tool, CMYK vs. RGB in the color workflow, and how to "paint" using the computer—including step-by-step instruction, a survey of computer tools, color separation and its use to make the finished product look the best possible even on poor quality paper, and more. Required hardware: Wacom tablet or flatbed scanner.
Foundation: 2D is an introduction to creative thinking that develops students’ skills in research, observation, interpretation, and self-expression. An emphasis is placed on exploring new ways to read and see the world, as well as new ways to report on it. Students learn basic two-dimensional principles through the use of various media, tools, materials, and processes. As a result, students develop a visual and verbal language for analyzing, organizing, shaping, and communicating two-dimensional form and meaning.
This course is an introduction to understanding of visual creation for the development of knowledge, imagination, and perception. Students are introduced to basic three-dimensional concepts as well as materials and technical production processes. Classroom activities include shop demonstrations of tools and techniques, information, lectures, and discussions appropriate to promote the balanced fusion of practice and theory.
Foundation: Drawing 1 is an introductory drawing course designed to prepare students for study in all majors of the college. Students develop basic drawing skills, including the ability to perceive and express visual relationships, organize a two-dimensional composition, and depict and manipulate form, space, and light. Students work from direct observation of still life, interior space, and landscape.
Foundation: Drawing 2 is an observationally based drawing course designed to reinforce and develop the basic drawing skills established in Foundation: Drawing 1. Students work with a variety of subjects, including a substantial amount of drawing from the figure. In addition to working from direct observation, students explore drawing as a tool for invention, conceptualization, and idea development. The course also affords students an opportunity to investigate drawing materials in more breadth and depth than in Foundation: Drawing 1.
Students are introduced to digital resources at MCAD while exploring digital media. Areas covered include the Service Bureau, Gray Studio, and Media Center, along with other digital resources. Students use a variety of software and hardware to learn the basics of working with recorded media, including video, sound, and photography, as well as developing critical language for discussing media and media artists.
Everything we make has its beginning as an idea, which takes form as an artist/designer makes a series of decisions to guide its creative evolution. This course is designed to help students explore the development of new ideas and their own process of making. Students also create visual tools to track their creative process from idea through construction and then to post production analysis. The course consists of discussions, critiques, exercises, and visual logs.
Practice is more than working methods: it’s the context, marketing, and creative space that maintain creative work. Contemporary Practice introduces students to the foundations, variety, and tools of a professional practice. Students upgrade websites and documentation, enter contests, and create professional presentations of their work. Classes consist of lectures, student presentations, and guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines.
Choose BFA studio courses to take as electives; amount determined by your major.
The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the major stylistic, thematic, cultural, and historical transformations in art history from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century. This course helps students develop critical tools for the interpretation and understanding of the meaning and function of art objects, architecture, and design artifacts within their original historical contexts. Class sessions consist primarily of lecture with some discussion.
This course introduces students to issues in modern art, popular culture, and contemporary art and design. Topics may include the expanding audience for art, the transformation of the art market, the impact of new technologies, the changing status of the artist, and the role of art in society. This course is taught as a seminar with some lecture.
Take 6 credits of art history courses
Key to the creative and critical growth of the engaged, successful artist is participation in a culture of writing and inquiry. Students in this course focus on the kinds of writing they will encounter and produce in their coursework at MCAD and as creative professionals. Regular writing workshops allow students to concentrate on experiential and practical approaches to writing. Students explore a variety of texts and objects through class assignments, and then develop clear compelling essays employing a variety of rhetorical and narrative strategies.
Creative or professional writing elective
Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning classes increase students’ appreciation for the power of scientific and quantitative approaches to knowing the world.
6 credits of histories, places, philosophies electives
The Liberal Arts Advanced Seminar enables students to pursue their own research and writing goals within a seminar setting. Projects are student-originated and consist of both a written piece and a public presentation. Class sessions are discussion-based and interactive. Group learning is emphasized
Using a global and historical perspective, this course examines the rise and spread of European colonialism and its impact on artistic practices in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Through a series of case studies, students will explore the ways in which European forms of image-making underwrote and facilitated the colonial project and the multiple modes through which picturing practices oﬀered a venue for both colonizer and colonized to articulate, define, and forge political and social relationships. In each case, indigenous and hybrid forms of art-making will be highlighted alongside European forms in order to understand how the visual arts served as an expression of identity, cultural belonging, and self-fashioning. Topics will be explored by urban centers: Paris, Algiers, Shanghai,
Mumbai (Bombay), Cairo, Istanbul, Port-au-Prince, New Orleans, and other sites.
Most Native American tribes do not have a word in their languages for “artist,” yet the arts are a living part of both daily life and ceremonial tradition. Focusing on the works of selected tribes, students in this course look at Native American art, architecture, and aesthetics. Emphasis is placed on the nineteenth century to the present. The impact of outside forces on continuities and changes in traditional forms is also explored. Classes are primarily lecture with some discussion.
This course examines the art of Asia from its beginnings to the present day. It involves a regional approach, focusing on representative works from India, Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. While regional characteristics are emphasized, cross-cultural influences are also studied. Through a variety of media, including sculpture, architecture, and painting, students gain an understanding of the broad themes and concepts that run throughout Asian art. Students consider the role of religion, for example, and gain a basic comprehension of Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Islam, Taoism, and Shinto. The structure of the class includes lectures, large and small group discussions, and visits to the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
This course will examine Islamic art and architecture through religious, historical, political, and cultural practices from the seventh century to the present. Combining a thematic approach (such as kingship, gift exchange, identity, etc.) with the more traditional chronological and geographical approaches, this course will trace the visual and material culture of Islam and its global influence
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the visual art of African Americans from the Colonial period to the present. The course examines a variety of visual media from painting, sculpture, and photography to popular culture objects and mass media images. In addition, students critically examine the ways in which the constructed meanings of "blackness" intersect with representational practices of gender, sexuality, and class, as well as the training and education of artists, public and private patronage, and the history of arts criticism and art history. Class sessions include both lectures and discussions.
This course examines the impact and effects of globalization on the visual culture of the Atlantic world (defined by Europe, Africa, and the Americas) from the period of the Columbian encounter to the contemporary moment. Students examine the circulation and exchange of goods, ideas, knowledge, culture, and peoples across the Atlantic world through an investigation of visual representations, performance, and collecting practices. The course narrative is guided by thematic issues of gender, race, the politics of display, and national and cultural identities, tracing the movement of visual cultures across the Atlantic through individual case studies. This course fulfills a Histories, Places and Philosophies requirement for Humanities and Sciences.
Duke Ellington once said, “the pull of jazz music in American culture is so strong that no one can resist it.” Jazz is truly an American treasure that has influenced other cultures around the globe. Yet most Americans know very little about its history. This class explores jazz from its roots to its most current forms. Hear the music, study its contributions, and explore the cultural patterns and trends that surround its development. Class sessions are a mix of lecture and discussion, with some demonstrations of performance styles.
This course uses standards for information and media literacy (from the Association of College and Research Libraries and others) to explore issues related to queer identities, representations, methodologies, theoretical applications, and interpretations. Using the framework of literacy as a benchmark, students learn how to read "for and from the queer" in a variety of media.
Race and ethnicity have played significant, complicated, and more often than not misunderstood roles in the United States’ history. This course surveys the ways race and ethnicity have been constructed and understood by Americans from the colonial era to the present, focusing on the ways that class, gender, culture, and politics, as well as biology, have defined race and the way race and ethnicity have supported ideologies that have been used to both empower and subordinate the peoples of the United States.
This course offers students a hemispheric perspective on the study of literature, focusing on a range of works from underrepresented, marginalized, and outsider authors in the Americas from the nineteenth century to the present. Students have an opportunity to challenge conventional categorizations of writers from across the Americas—not just in the United States—by fostering transnational and transhistorical perspectives while considering concepts including identity, race, citizenship, hybridity, and nationhood.
This course introduces students to global fine arts production (drawing, painting, sculpture, artists’ books, performance, public, and socially engaged) since 1945. Using a series of case studies this class examines the historical, theoretical, and aesthetic developments in and relationships between fine arts media. Students engage with a combination of primary and secondary texts, apply visual analysis skills, contextualize artworks, and investigate various political and aesthetic points of view.
This course traces the history of applied arts and designed objects through furniture, products, packaging, and multidimensional forms of graphic design. Students examine applied arts and designed objects as part of an evolving human culture of habit, convenience, and status. Various movements and styles within the histories of design genres, as well as the processes and manufacturing of consumer objects are considered.
Since the advent of print and the printing press, text, image, graphic design, comics, and advertising have played significant roles in cultural formation. This course examines the history of mass reproduction of printed matter from the advent of modernity, including books and periodical designs, to the present.
The production and reproduction of static, moving, and digital images have grown from work produced by an exotic technology used only by specialists to a socially ubiquitous representational form that generates millions of images, clips, cartoons, gifs, shorts, and films daily. This course surveys the development of (re)produced and moving images from their commercial applications, entertainments, and art to the all-pervasive media in which our popular cultures and artistic cultures exist. Individual artists and makers, as well as their works and contextualized movements within changing technological, economic, and institutional frameworks, are considered.
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