Visual Effects Art and Design


Visual Effects Art and Design
72 weeks
mississauga Campus
Apply Now
72 weeks
mississauga Campus

This program focuses on providing graduates with a solid foundation in the technical and artistic skills needed to be successful in the visual effects, animation, and CGI industries. Key to this is a genuine understanding of storytelling, animation, modeling, compositing, and a solid foundation in artistic techniques.


Students will learn colour theory, design fundamentals, life drawing, and industry standard software, and will apply this knowledge to the production and animation of 3D characters with appropriate lighting and texturing and visual effects. Graduates will be able to apply industry standard software tools and techniques to visual effects production processes.


This program prepares graduates for careers in a variety of CGI-based industries. Graduates will find employment in computer animation studios, game development companies, and post-production and special effects studios. Graduates may also work for industrial design firms and software producers, or for companies that require the production of 3D graphics and animation.

Job Opportunities

  • Computer Animation Studios
  • Game Development Companies
  • Post-Production Studios
  • Special Effects Studios
  • Industrial Design Firms
  • Software Producers

Upon successful completion of this program, you will be able to:

  • Work with major trends in visual, digital, and special effects arts
  • Apply critical thinking and creative expression techniques
  • Analyze and critique a production
  • Produce a concept sketch
  • Shape a model
  • Stage a scene
  • Develop a storyboard
  • Produce computer-generated images
  • Produce highly realistic 3D models of props
  • Prepare highly realistic 3D models of characters
  • Represent movements in three dimensions
  • Animate characters
  • Create highly realistic digital visual special effects
  • Apply digital visual special effects in a variety of character and environmental contexts
  • Present a professional portfolio

Admissions Requirements

  • Grade 12 or mature student status (19 years or older).
  • Pass the college's admission test where an applicant's first language is other than English, and has not completed secondary (or higher) education in English


Learn from VCAD graduates what it's like to study fashion.

Get Started Now

Colour & Design

Understanding colour and design principles through exploration and application across media, visual, and applied design genres. This course will introduce students to the fundamental principles of colour theory through design, such as layout, composition, balance, colour science as well as a diverse range of colour theories, and how to employ them creatively. These concepts will be reinforced through specific practical exercises, and activities that will serve to demonstrate how each of the concepts is integrated into functional, purposeful design.

Life Drawing I

This course will lay the foundation for a robust understanding of anatomy for applied illustration purposes. Topics emphasize a variety of figure drawing techniques applicable to both human, and animal morphology, helping to tie the subject matter into later 3D, and illustration expectations. The focuses on process, and development over final outcomes, and narrative constructs over mere representations, in order to connect the study of human anatomy via drawing to a range of applied design applications.

Photoshop I

Understanding the application and importance of image editing and construction as a universal skill in all design genres. This course introduces the students to raster image-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. Through this 'hands-on' course, the student will learn the fundamentals of design, as well as advanced features, and tips, to prepare images for digital output as well as for print. Emphasis will be placed on technical skills, however conceptual development, and creative thinking and approaches will also be considered in all work. By the end of this course, the student will be able to create, modify, and enhance sophisticated images using raster editing tools, and features; craft special effects; work in 3D space; and prepare files for export to various applications in web, mobile, print, and manufacturing.

2D Animation Foundations

In this course, students will be learning the basic principles of animation. Students will participate in several practical projects designed to illustrate the fundamental processes of animation. The course will explore the traditional techniques of animation and how they apply in the modern world of computer generated animations. The course will explore the different types of animation including stop-motion, visual effects, traditional animation and CG.

History of Visual Effects

This course introduces students to the history of film, with an emphasis on the role of visual effects, its impact on the image and the story, and the impact of digital technologies on film production and VFX production. Production workflows and pipelines will be introduced along with production roles and responsibilities.

Maya I

This is an intensive introduction to the complexities of working in a 3D application. The first portion of the class will focus primarily on the tools in Maya with navigation and the interface as a key element. Students will learn through simple and intermediate projects how to work in 3D. Time will then be spent introducing modeling in both nurbs and polygons. Students will then cover simple unwrapping procedures while learning about the complexities of UVs. Basic lighting tools will be covered to ensure that the projects developed in this term can be presented in a professional manner.


This course introduces students to digital photography and video practices, emphasizing the important relationship between video and CG cameras. Technical aspects of content and process will be explored from ‘behind the camera’ with the goal of producing ‘usable footage’. Green screening will be introduced in the latter portion of the course. Time will also be spent in the video-editing suite to ensure that footage is managed and catalogued.

Compositing I

This course explores the fundamental theory and practice of compositing for film, television and animation. Students will learn digital imaging theory, and vocabulary, so that they can effectively identify, and communicate how compositing is used in production. Using a node-based, non-destructive workflow, students will learn to layer imagery, create masks, manipulate AOVs, and create mattes using various keying techniques.

Storyboarding & Project Planning

This course introduces students to the concept of storyboarding for modellers, animators and filmmakers. Students will learn how to plan for and create clear, concise industry standard storyboards. Students will explore the elements that contribute to the final production of a storyboard, including a 30 second commercial, a television show, a cinematic for computer games, and a feature film. Topics will include conceptual development, pitches, concept and production boards, thumbnail sketches, design, character staging, model sheets, art direction, background (layout) design, and camera positioning.

Digital Sculpting

In this advanced course students will develop detailed designs working between both Maya and ZBrush. Digital sculpting, texturing and painting will be the fundamental focus of this class. Students will learn the interface and tools in ZBrush while designing and modeling their own complex characters. By the end of this course students will have an understanding of the industry approach to creating models through advanced techniques. Students will assess their goals in this class and consider various options for portfolios.

Pre Production

This conceptualizing and planning course is for the development of the final student demo reel and portfolio. Students will discuss, create a plan and consider their options while developing designs and storyboards. Various preproduction elements will be developed with design, colour and composition. Time will be spent considering the timing of the final video presentation and the overall aesthetic of the final reel.


In this course, students will develop tracking and matchmoving skills with the industry standard software. Students will learn basic theories of cinematography and photography to deeply understand how and why tracking/matchmoving works with VFX. By the end of the course, students will gain solid understanding and performance of tracking/matchmoving for their future demo reels, and film/VFX careers.

Animation II

Building on skills and techniques learned in Maya I this course will introduce students to intermediate 3D animation techniques. Students will create movement in a 3D character they will have previously developed. Topical coverage will include key framing, modifiers, basic morphing techniques and linear and non-linear animation.

Technical Artistry

This course explores the process of preparing the setup of a character models for future animation of characters. The course will take the students through the initial steps of character modeling and animation with a focus on the rigging of the characters. Students will learn how to prepare and set up character rigs, bind structures to geometry and work with meshes and armature. Students will learn to rig facial expressions and lip movement as well as rigging and animating armature.


This course explores the advanced process of preparing the setup of a character model for advanced animation of characters. The course will take the students through the steps of character modeling and animation with a focus on the rigging of the characters. Students will learn how to prepare and setup character rigs, bind structures to geometry and work with meshes and armature. Students will learn to rig facial expressions and lip movement as well as rigging and animating armature Topical coverage includes joint orientation and preparing skeletons, rigs, inverse kinematics, facial rigging, armature, binding structures to geometry and meshes.

Compositing II

In this intermediate to advanced level compositing course, students will build from their previous knowledge of compositing, and apply it in more elaborate compositing scenarios. Students will explore the 3D aspects of compositing, such as: camera projection, 3D set extension, 3D camera tracking, and CG integration.

Matte Painting

This course continues the development of artistic digital skills, with an emphasis on the application of advanced techniques in masking, maps, channels, and compositing. Both organic and hard surface elements will be examined along with tools to add depth to matte paintings. Composition and colour will also be explored to ensure that images will meet technical requirements in compositing and video projects.

Dynamic Effects I

In this course, students will explore basic to intermediate digital effects animation. They will learn particles, fluids, rigid body dynamics and shatter effects tools using Houdini. Students will work with the digital tools to develop dynamic animations while considering effects elements to add to their reels. Timing, physics and design will be a key component to ensure that the effects developed in this class will have a natural look and are believable

Lighting & Texture

This course addresses the creation of multilayer textures for environments and high-resolution textures for character and environmental models. It also seeks to provide students with the various production contexts in which the techniques are applicable, from texturing characters faces for film and games, to developing environment textures for next-gen game environments. In addition, the course seeks to provide students with an in-depth look at various direct lighting tools and controls available when lighting 3D assets.

Motion Capture

This course provides a general understanding of motion capture processes and applications. Students will learn to process and manipulate motion capture data within various production pipelines, giving them the skills needed for an entry level position in this field.

Advanced Compositing

In this advanced compositing course students will explore advanced image manipulation techniques, whilst producing a high quality VFX shot for inclusion in their portfolio demo-reels. This course also explores advanced 3D rendered AOV outputs, such as deep data and positional information, and how to utilize this data in a node-based compositing environment.

Production & Rendering

This course explores production and rendering techniques for the purpose of showcasing models, textures, and scenes in a professional manner. This course will examine challenges and practical solutions to nighttime lighting, indoor lighting, outdoor lighting, and advanced rendering features available in Mental Ray. Students will make informed choices about which light rigs and rendering features make the most sense for their scenes.

Dynamic Effects II

In this course, students will explore intermediate to advance digital effects animation. They will learn and apply HDAs to their work flow, enrich their knowledge of fluids, study grains, cloth, hair, and crowd workflows and tools using Houdini. Students will work with the digital tools to develop dynamic animations while considering effects elements to add to their reels. Timing, physics and design will be a key component to ensure that the effects developed in this class will have a natural look and are believable.

Portfolio I

This course is aimed at preparing the students’ transition to the professional world. The focus of this course is to prepare students for job interviews by helping them compile and defend a first draft of their portfolio. The portfolio will contain pieces produced by the students that demonstrate their skills in conceptualization, design, modeling and animation. This will be the first step in assisting students to identify a preferred skill set and to select distinguishing portfolio pieces that showcase this skill. This will then provide them with a focus for polishing their technique and developing a unique style. Feedback will come in the form of industry, instructor and peer critique.


This course explores the technical, conceptual and aesthetic principles associated with film editing. Drawing from the analysis of example animation, film and short-form media; we will discuss techniques and approaches used to shape sequences into compelling, and communicative narratives. Students will be tasked with applying both theory and technique into practice, through a series of scenes designed to progressively expand the types of editing experiences. The accumulation of this editing experience will provide a complete overview of the process and help develop the skills required for students to produce their own edited productions.

Advanced Lighting & Texture

This course builds upon the previously covered topics of lighting and textures. It takes the students beyond the basic light sources and shadows and explores lighting and texturing as an art. Students will learn advanced lighting and texturing skills and techniques and how to apply them to their final modeling and animation projects. Students will learn to select the appropriate light type for a particular situation as well as the correct material 2D and 3D textures. Topical coverage includes lighting colour and composition, Maya light types, High quality shadows and effects, Raytracing, 3D textures and projections.

Industry Mentorship

Industry Mentorship consists of a series of classes and workshops. It is designed to help students develop career related awareness and accelerate their professional development skills by understanding key job search strategies, tools, and skills that are required in today’s marketplace. Students will begin preparation for the transition towards the professional world. They will utilize their design work portfolio in preparation for job interviews. Emphasis is placed on identifying short- and long-term professional employment goals, as well as related strategies and resources.

Portfolio II

This course will prepare students for graduation and final portfolio presentation. A final demo reel will be developed to showcase the strengths and talents of each student in a branded visually appealing presentation. Time will be spent focusing on content that showcases each student’s selected primary skills. There will also be an opportunity to plan and showcase secondary abilities to increase the potential opportunity of employment. Planning and production pipelines will be followed to meet deadlines.



Kate E.

Visual Effects Art and Design

Claire A.

Visual Effects Art and Design