Last Updated on August 28, 2023
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Top 10 Canadian Animation, Gaming and Art and Design Schools
10. Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts) – Vancouver, BC
Aspiring animators will become super engaged with every single program offered by the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts). In no particular order they include: 2D Character Animation, 3D Character Animation, Game Art and Design, Visual Effects for Film and Television. Students attending VanArts will focus on the skills they need to break into the animation section. Their faculty have worked with top studios like Industrial Light and Magic, DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios. Students learn concepts like animated character performance, story and visual language and also learn Maya and 3D stream. One of the features of the school is students develop a professional demo reel and portfolio for the job market. We find VanArts to provide good value for student’s tuition investment.
9. Emily Carr University of Art and Design – Vancouver, BC
You will notice a great number of Vancouver animation schools making the list, but this should come as no surprise given Vancouver’s incredibly successful animation scene and ability to hire a large amount of those animation graduates. The Emily Carr University of Art and Design is a Vancouver-based art and design school to make our top 10 list. Emily Carr provides a very exciting learning environment in visual arts, design and media arts. The Bachelor of Media Arts degree in Animation is structured to provide students with the option to explore a broad range of choices, or to focus on specific production skills. In the spring semester of 3rd year, students begin development on their senior animation projects, choosing to create their own individual work, or to work collaboratively on a team project. Students gain a truly unique university experience at Emily Carr caused in some part to the very passionate and talented student body.
8. The Art Institute of Vancouver – Vancouver, BC
The Art Institute of Vancouver is a solid choice for anyone looking to get into the animation, video game design and visual effects industry as Vancouver is leading North America in available animation industry jobs. The faculty at The Art Institute of Vancouver, have deep ties to the Vancouver film and animation industry, which has given the program’s job placement rate a boost. The school’s Media Arts department offers a 3D Modeling for Animation and Games diploma program designed to provide graduates with the relevant skills necessary to enter into and maintain a career in the game, animation and visual effects entertainment industries. Students will develop the technical and creative aptitude necessary to demonstrate and present their skills to industry. Their goal is achieved by building a foundation of traditional artistic skill, and then providing students with hands on training in its modern application. Graduates will find employment opportunities in 3D Modeler, Character Modeler, Environment Modeler, Texture Artist, Lighting Artist, Technical Artist, Junior Production Designer, Render Wrangler, and many other related entry-level production positions. The Art Institute of Vancouver campus was ranked #6 in the Princeton Review.
7. Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) – Toronto, Ontario
In Toronto’s creative core, Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) is considered by many to be one of Canada’s top art schools and as such has arguably the top teaching talent in the country. The school’s artistic pedigree in combination with its creative course options, won them a place on this list despite not focusing on traditional animation or gaming. Their courses include: Guerrilla Entrepreneurism, Exploration, Insight and Foresight in Design, Illustrative Activism, Motion Graphics, Sequential Narrative, Virtual Communities, Play Behaviour and Game Design, Interactive Communication, Clever Devices, Media, Messages and the Cultural Landscape and Illustration and the Rise of Popular Culture. Be warned though, that admission to OCAD is highly selective so you better know how to draw and have an over the top portfolio before applying.
6. Vancouver Film School (VFS) – Vancouver, BC
The Vancouver Film School (VFS) claims that they can cram the knowledge of a 3-4 year Animation program into just one year. Whether they can or not is really up to the student’s abilities and their students do graduate with strong portfolios and jobs at companies like ILM, Pixar, Paramount, EMI, DreamWorks and EA. Their training includes courses in filmmaking, character animation and video game design. Despite being located in Canada, the LA Times ranked VFS one of the Top 10 schools favored by video game industry recruiters.
5. Capilano University – Vancouver, BC
Capilano University’s 3D animation program has earned it honors in its field, as have its students. Former Capilano alumni are now working at 20th Century Fox, Aardman Animation (UK), Core Digital Pictures (Toronto) Big Sandwich Games, Mainframe Entertainment, Nerd Corps, Radical Entertainment, Rockstar, Relic Entertainment and Electronic Arts (Vancouver). Capilano’s ability to offer niche training to its students helps their employability in fields like character animation, character and environment modeling, texturing and lighting, character rigging and technical direction, and concept art. To get their graduates ready for the industry, the school hosts online portfolios for its students in addition to open houses and portfolio reviews. The school offers a fantastic curriculum for those who can get in. Capilano however believes that “computer animation training is a waste of your money if you are coming into this field “cold””, so a portfolio, computer skills and an understanding of traditional animation and principles along with a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and what you want to do with the knowledge and experience you will acquire, is required for entry.
4. Seneca College – Toronto, Ontario
Seneca College’s Animation Arts Centre offers a wide-range of courses for any aspiring animator or video game designer; including Animation Arts, Digital Animation, Gaming and Visual Effects for Film and TV. The students that come out of Seneca are well trained in the artistic application of the theories of motion, timing and storytelling. They are industry-ready graduates. In its 6 semester Animation program, graduates will be equipped in the use of traditional animation theories, equipment and facilities, and will understand the many technical requirements of producing animation using the latest computer software. Graduates also be able to draw storyboards, design characters and sets, lay out scenes, light the environment and characters, and animate the character in a convincing and believable way. They’ll be able to produce believable characters in entertaining situations for broadcast on the web, television, film, or theatre. The school also offers a 2 semester (8 months) 3D Computer Based Modeling and Animation program which specializes in 3D computer based modeling and animation. As a student in this program, you’ll use the latest in high-end computer workstations and learn the tools to problem solve, and to create finished portfolio projects using Maya animation software. This program allows students to focus careers in 3D animation. Additionally, Seneca College offers post-diploma programs in 3D Animation and Visual Effects for Film and Television where students will be introduced to the various techniques used to create visual effects for film and television. Studies focus on the software tools used to create visual effects and issues involved in combining these effects with live action footage. The result of student’s final project will be a professional portfolio which would be used to apply for employment. Software taught in this course includes The Foundry’s Nuke compositing program and Autodesk’s Maya 3D package.
3. Max the Mutt College of Animation, Art & Design – Toronto, Ontario
Max the Mutt is a very unique school that offers diplomas in Classical & Computer Animation & Production Diploma, Illustration for Sequential Arts: Comic Books & Graphic Novels Diploma, and Concept Art for Animation & Video Games Diploma. These are in depth courses of study designed and taught by working professionals. This unique school features an emphasis on community and professionalism and participation by instructors in curriculum changes and development.
Max the Mutt College of Animatio, Art & Design and Daemen College located in Amherst, New York have signed an articulation agreement that provides academically qualified graduates the opportunity to obtain advanced standing in Daemen College’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program giving them the opportunity to earn a BFA degree in one additional academic year which affords the student a tremendous opportunity that many other schools don’t offer.
In addition to an emphasis on traditional fine art skills including life drawing, animal drawing, anatomy, perspective and structural drawing, and respect and attention to developing the traditional classical animation skill set, Max the Mutt’s four year Classical & Computer Animation & Production Diploma Program with curriculum based on Warner Bros. and Disney guidelines, it includes a complement of computer tools and programs such as Flash, Toon Boom and Maya. This in-depth program includes a course in Animating for Video Games, but the main focus is on actual production experience with students acting as animators on a professionally directed short film.
Illustration for Sequential Arts is a unique 3-year program in Canada. It was designed by top Canadian comic book and graphic novel artists. Students have a strong first year program that centers on developing high level traditional fine art skills including perspective and structural drawing and life drawing, anatomy, animal drawing, are part of the year 2 and year 3 curriculum. In addition to layout, penciling, inking, cinematic storytelling, scripting for comics, and writing and illustrating graphic novels, this program includes a full year of illustration for children’s books, cover illustration, and training in all relevant computer programs.
Concept Art for Animation & Video Games offers beginning to advanced fine art courses in painting and figure drawing, illustration courses, basic to advanced design courses including the use of computer programs for props, vehicles, environments, characters and creatures. After a year of cartooning, character design includes both realistic and cartoon characters. Animation subjects include cartooning, story boarding including the use of Toon Boom Storyboard Pro, background painting, digital background painting, and layout for animation.
Software used includes Autodesk’s Maya, 3-D Coat, ZBrush and the Adobe suite of software including Photoshop and Illustrator to produce work. In year four students spend their last semester primarily on a course called “Designing in Real Time,” where student receive real life experience and act as the concept artists for a specific project. Eventually, some of them will be the concept designers for the animation film production the 4th year animation students work on. That is, they will be doing the pre-production work for the film to be produced the following year.
Classes are small, which the college says allows students to receive more attention and assistance from the instructors. Max the Mutt offers great tuition value for the student who wants to capitalize on practical skills but also keep their options open for a degree.
2. Visual College of Art and Design of Vancouver (VCAD) – Vancouver, BC
VCAD which began as a branch of the Victoria College of Art and Design, taught artists and creative people to follow their passions for more than 35 years. Building on those creative roots, VCAD has significantly grown into its own dynamic Vancouver-based college of creative applied arts, and is now independent of its progenitor. VCAD’s programs have grown dramatically to cover the full spectrum of fashion, graphic, interior design, and animation disciplines.
The constant evolution of digital design leads employers within the industry to continually seek out the best-trained candidates for the job. VCAD’s Applied Arts curriculum has been developed to ensure that it’s graduates are successful in meeting the employment requirements of the art and design industries. VCAD maintains close ties with the fashion, graphic design and video gaming industries to continually assess its curriculum to ensure that it meets industry needs of the most up-to-date technical skills. VCAD students receive focused and specialized training on the tools, techniques and technology used in their chosen career field. They work on uuber intense deadline-driven projects that will prepare them for the challenges they’ll face on the job. By the end of their studies, graduates will have developed the expertise needed to create a professional portfolio that showcases their creativity and talent while displaying the skill set that employers look for. VCAD provides great value for both the time spent at school and tuition spent and for that earns the coveted second spot.
1. Sheridan College – Oakville, Ontario
In talking with top animation employers to see what the most-sought after graduates are, ALL of them said they would love to get their hands on a Sheridan College animation graduate. No surprise there though; at one point in the mid-90s Sheridan was called the Harvard of animation schools and is world renowned. Students considering attending Sheridan College better be very committed and passionate individuals because it is an extremely intensive 4-year program. However all that hard work does pay off; the school’s award-winning graduates have gone on to many industry leaders like Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Lucasfilms, Electronic Arts, Cookie Jar, Studio B, Don Bluth Productions and most other prominent studios. In fact many grads have their choice of studios.
Sheridan offers a 4-year Bachelor of Applied Arts in Animation degree, a 1-year certificate program in Computer Animation, and two one-year post grad degrees in Game Level Design, and Game Development – Advanced Programming. If you are hoping to earn the opportunity to endure the torturous workload at Sheridan, first you better prepare a winning portfolio because their portfolio requirements for entrance are unreal. For this Sheridan earns our number one spot.