Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Lakewood, Colorado, has about 600 enrolled students. Illustration is the biggest department with about 120 students, but it also offers majors in game art, graphic design and digital media, animation, interior design, art education, and fine arts.
The 23-acre campus once served as a care center for tuberculosis patients. The historic buildings face now onto flower-bedecked lawns where students occasionally paint outdoors en plein air.
In the sculpture and fine art building, student Will Fortenberry was in the midst of taking apart an old projector as part of a “Deconstruction/Reconstruction” assignment. The machine’s light and fan were still wired up. He had sketches of how he planned to rebuild it as a robot.
The animation building had a variety of workstations for experimental animation, ranging from traditional cel animation and stop motion to the latest 3D software. Instructor Jeff Jurich showed me some of the stop motion puppets built from Sculpey, soft foam, and armature wire.
Illustration and animation students benefit from videoconferenced critiques with industry professionals like Michael Knapp of Blue Sky Studios.
After my presentation, I had the opportunity to visit Cherish Flieder’s computer illustration class. Each student described how he or she was approaching their conceptual assignment, which was to show how the human body is composed of not just of its own cells, but a host of foreign parasites and beneficial microbes.
Before he came to RMCAD, illustration department chairman Larry Kresek was instrumental in establishing the program at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida. “We put together a program there that was mainly editorial,” he said. But when he came to RMCAD, he and his colleagues took a fresh look at the curriculum in the light of changes in the market.
“It occurred to me the industry was looking for a lot of new skills, not just in print illustration, but in production design and animation, so we set up a course of study that is heavy on traditional drawing and storytelling.”
Wikipedia on RMCAD
RMCAD website, link.