Entertainment Design vs Graphic Design

Are you interested in entertainment design? If the answer is yes, the good news is that the modern world of media is filled with interesting spectacles and wonders. The only thing more fun than watching it all unfold is getting to create it yourself. If you have a creative spirit and wish to leave you mark on the world of design, then a career in entertainment design could be perfect for you. Of course, there are several paths you can take to start bringing your passions to life.

You can work with entertainment through a specific discipline such as graphic design. Alternatively, you can go for a general entertainment design focus. Keep in mind that you are never locked into any one decision as a creative. Graphic designers can choose to make movies or video games. There is always time to make the move.

What is Entertainment Design?

Entertainment design is both the science and art of what makes something appealing to an audience. Many artistic principles and methods combine to form this broad field of study. Entertainment design goes well beyond simply coming up with promising ideas. It is about compiling, organizing, altering, managing, and executing those ideas in a cohesive manner. Some thought must be placed into every aspect of a production.

Entertainment designers are trained to observe, acknowledge, and maintain each of these aspects during a production cycle. This allows the individual artists, animators, and programmers to focus on what they do best. In this regard, you can think of entertainment design as a general term for this collection of talents.

What Does an Entertainment Designer Do?

Entertainment designers perform many duties and much like a manager who steps in when an expert is needed, an entertainment designer helps solve the many problems that arise during creative projects. These can be technical issues, such as trouble with camera placement or it can also be an artistic issue such as a disconnect in the tone of the story.

People who become entertainment designers explore the arts to understand what works in storytelling. This makes consuming entertainment a large part of the job. However, entertainment designers also observe art with a critical eye. It becomes second nature as your mind starts calculating how a production is put together.

This knowledge of art can be applied to specific roles such as animator or level designer. In most cases, entertainment designers rise through the ranks to become senior members of the team. An example of this would be a narrative lead for a major video game project. Leads oversee many aspects of design and mentor junior members of the staff.

In order to mentor other artists and become a lead, entertainment designers must be exceptionally talented in a variety of art forms. Practice and education are key to any entertainment designer’s skillset. You will always have a lot more to learn, even when you reach the top of your preferred industry. In this way, entertainment designers are akin to scholars of the arts.

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is an ability to make visual images appealing to an audience. This includes knowledge such as color theory, lighting, and perspective. Many of the principles overlap with traditional drawing techniques. This involves bringing images to life, even when they are 2D.

The secret to graphic design is mathematical precision. The subconscious mind gravitates to sacred geometric patterns such as the golden ratio. Graphic designers apply these patterns to their work to help them stand out. To illustrate what a graphic designer does, simply make some doodle haphazardly on a page. Without any rhyme or reason to your marks, there is not much to look at. However, had you taken the time to carefully measure and consider each mark you made, you could have crafted a beautiful image. Graphic designers put thought into each visual until it is satisfying to look at.

What is the Difference Between Entertainment Design and Graphic Design?

Although each style of design has its similarities, there is a distinct difference in each role. Graphic designers focus on the piece at hand. They create one visual at a time and ensure that it is just right. That visual is then turned into a single asset and placed on a wall, in a video game, or on a TV show. On the other hand, entertainment designers focus on making sure that the visual fits in with the rest of the digital world it accompanies.

This is why entertainment designers often take senior roles at game studios. Individual graphic designers make and arrange the assets while the entertainment designer ensures the quality of the visual. As an entertainment designer, you must place yourself into the shoes of the audience and ask, “is this enjoyable?” If not, an entertainment designer will find the solution to make it enjoyable. As for the graphic designer, they continue to pour their efforts into specific details or assets.

How Do You Become an Entertainment Designer?

While experiencing a lot of entertainment is certainly part of the training required to become a professional, you will still need to obtain some credentials before you start job hunting. A great  way to obtain the skills and credentials you need to become an entertainment designer is by enrolling in a creative arts college. A formal degree program in entertainment design is the ticket to the knowledge and skills you need to get started in the role.

Self-Study vs a Formal Education

For those of you wondering if online tutorials will suffice, you may find them inconsistent in nature. Instead of a curated and organized curriculum, with self-study you must manually sort through a list of scattered resources. When it comes to something as important as your dream career, you would be wise to give yourself the best chance of success. That chance lies in a formal degree from a creative arts college.

Industry Standard Hardware and Software

Digital art is created with advanced software, robust hardware, and a lot of people. You will find all three at a creative arts college conveniently packaged together. You will meet fellow artists and gain access to the same tools used by professionals to make some of your favorite entertainment properties.

Portfolio and Networks

As you progress through each class, you will build a portfolio of projects that prove your merit. You will also develop a network of friendly artists who may work with you in the future. Both portfolio pieces and network contacts are crucial to landing professional contracts. Your portfolio impresses studio heads and investors. Your network will give them the confidence to give you the green light.

Career Services

Upon graduation, you even have access to a career services staff that will help you find a job you are passionate about. By giving them your skills and interests allows you to be paired up with relevant jobs for your experience level. Utilizing a reputable school’s network is the ultimate opportunity for aspiring entertainment designers.

What Do You Learn During an Entertainment Design Program?

The curriculum teaches you how to create a successful project that will resonate with audiences. This includes the many aspects of digital art production and what makes visual spectacles alluring. You start by studying traditional art philosophies that explain how the classic were constructed. Many analog principles still apply to the digital realm.


Classes will teach you about perspective in drawing with the use of light and shadow mapping. Creating depth for 2D images is important for any project. The goal is to create believable visuals that are grounded in what the human mind can comprehend. This includes adding details such as materials and textures to create the illusion of what is on screen.


In fact, texturing is a major component of the curriculum as modern audiences continue to demand exponentially more detail from big-budget releases. You will keep pushing the envelope using the latest technology available. Considering how difficult it is to acquire this cutting-edge technology, the experience with industry standard tools cannot be understated. Exploring the frontiers of new mediums such as VR and AR will surely delight gadget lovers.

Portfolio Creation

Each project you complete for classes can be used to compile a professional portfolio. You will learn how to create an appealing portfolio and present it in a way that will get you noticed. Your instructors know what recruiters are looking for and will help guide you in the right direction. Since your instructors are industry veterans, they know how to prepare you for the industry.

The Importance of Communication

Since digital entertainment projects routinely staff hundreds of people, entertainment designers must quickly master the art of communication. Keeping hundreds of people on the same page is not always easy, though your curriculum will outline how to mediate the inevitable conflicts that arise. In addition to conflict management, entertainment designers must also convey their ideas in a way that makes sense to the team. Clear communication through words, pictures, and body language is the key to getting your point across.

This is especially true when pitching ideas to investors. If you are hoping to get funding for your projects, then you need to be convincing. Applying yourself during your degree program will give you the guts to confidently express your passions to investors.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to become a graphic designer, entertainment designer, or any other type of digital creative, you have many opportunities to succeed. The entertainment industry continues to break revenue records each year. There are many investors willing to fund your eccentric ideas and the entertainment industry does not appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Want to Learn More?

Ready to get a degree and take the entertainment industry by storm? You can guide an entertainment design project from the page to the screen as you conquer every step to make a winning product. Layering color maps and shading will form the foundation of your entertainment and graphic design skills as you work toward texturing and digital painting. You’ll apply 3D techniques to drawings and renderings as you develop your own personal style in entertainment design projects. You’ll also combine traditional and digital media in elements for design and marketing, video games or animations.

Entertainment Design  students have access to uniquely modern facilities hard to find at other digital art and animation schools, including access to virtual reality and augmented reality equipment and a rendering manager built just for University of Silicon Valley.

University of Silicon Valley is uniquely poised to offer a meaningful and valuable education for 21st century students. We believe in an education that directly correlates with the work you’ll be doing after you graduate. Interested in learning more? Contact Us today.

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