Applying to IGAD: intake assignments

By Tiia van Lokven|July 28, 2014IGAD|25 comments

IGAD intake assignments

Applying to IGAD: Intake assignments

The part that initially I worried about the least in this whole applying process was making the intake assignments. I was quite confident in my drawing skills in general as I had seen some of my competition from previous, and even current, year of applying and in some cases I went “wow!”  and in some cases “…huh.”.

In the end being accepted at IGAD is a sum of multiple factors, of which the intake assignments only play a medium-to-large-sized part. It’s not the whole selection criteria as far as I know, and similar care should be taken when crafting your motivation letter, CV and really making it clear what are the school’s benefits in taking you on board as a student. As an older student-to-be I could play this factor in my favor and display strong work ethics from the jobs I’ve had. It figures, that a person who actually gets to do what they always wanted to do but couldn’t, would probably work their backside off to get this programme done successfully. 😉

Anyway! Enough of my ramblings, and more hints, tips and tricks.

I will go ahead and list the intake assignments, show my final pieces, critique them with what I think their weak points are, and link to resources that helped grow from “I’ll never get this right”  to “Hey, this is pretty decent!”  in a few weeks.

IGAD intake assignments for Visual Artists

I’ll start off with a disclaimer: these were the intake assignments in 2014. They might change them, and you should always follow whatever documentation you get from NHTV regarding these assignments. However, it’s a great artistic exercise, so doing these on your own will allow you to try new things! Just be sure to read through the assignments PDF you get, and make sure to return the files exactly as requested (size, compression, file name).

Drawing a self-portrait

This, right here, was the bane of my existence.

To draw an accurate self-portrait with even an inch of resemblance to yourself, you need to look at yourself in the mirror for long periods of time and note the relationships of different elements of your face. You need to have the observational skills of an owl.. at night…. on steroids. For this one I could not find any articles online that helped me, so that would probably explain why it was one of the harder assignments for me.

Secret shame story time: I re-drew this portrait about 10 times before it actually looked like me. I wish I were kidding, but I’m not. I learned a big lesson about observation.

Self portrait

You probably notice that the placement of eyes is off-center vertically.  I could have probably also spent some time adding some shading to my hoodie. Nonetheless, I’m fairly pleased with the end result.

Drawing a landscape with building(s)

To draw an accurate environment, you have to consider the perspective in all things. I found an article on geometric perspective from For Dummies which helped me to realize that in order to start off well, I needed to define a horizon and the vanishing point(s) before putting in any detail.

If I were to choose my favorite assignment, this one would be it. Since I rarely ever drew environments before, my brain didn’t assume it knew what these buildings looked like, ultimately allowing me to observe the scenery better and ending up with a way more correct drawing than I would have even dared to hope for.


To give myself a bit of critique: Some irrelevant lines are much bolder than need be, and for example the bush at the front wasn’t that well-observed as it looks more like a pile of leaves rather than anything else. I could have also drawn the bricks better by leaving space between them, instead of signifying the space with a line, because I made it look like the bricks were much closer to each other than they actually are! The perspective should be quite accurate however, as I was busy making sure all relevant things were pointing to the vanishing point. Also, a major minus point for myself would be drawing this landscape from a picture (that I took an hour before drawing, but still) instead of following instructions and drawing at the location. I wonder if it shows?

Drawing a clean line art of a vehicle

The most foreign of all subjects for me, this assignment took me plenty of practice to get right. I spent a bunch of lunch breaks sitting at our company’s parking lot just drawing away all the cars that I liked. I also found a great YouTube video for drawing cars in perspective and another one about drawing wheels in perspective which allowed me to get a glimpse of the technique that car fanatics use while drawing, so I used that to my advantage, creating sweeping curves and then blocking in the details.

Car sketches

Car sketches

I found that it was easier to draw from life than it was to draw from a picture, funnily enough! The result was still not 100% what I wanted to be, but I ran out of time (bad excuse, I know). My final assignment file looked like the following:


As critique: This is probably the weakest of all the assignments. The perspective is off and it could be more detailed. There aren’t many redeeming qualities in this one, except that it does resemble a car, and fairly closely. Maybe a few more revisions would have helped. Better next time.

Building a 3D model of a bicycle

This assignment is where I started off as a total newbie to Maya (but not to 3D modeling in general, so I had that going for me, which is… nice.). I re-built my model once, mostly due to my dissatisfaction in my own work quality in the initial model. I went as far as to adding some textures as well, which made me feel like I spent a bit of extra effort on this one!

Resources that I would recommend for this assignment are:

  • YouTube video series on modeling a bicycle in Maya (without sound or instruction, but he goes through the process of figuring out creating the spokes, ie. the math involved, which you can use as a model to create yours!).
  • Maya Getting Started guide from AutoDesk. I used this to figure out how to set up a picture plane to use as a reference for my bicycle, and figured out extruding along curves (used this for creating curved bar parts of the bicycle)
  • Last but not least: creating a free demo account at DigitalTutors, and following their Beginner’s Guide to Maya series (make sure to select 3D and Maya as your interests when creating your demo account to have access to this series) is by FAR the best resource to learn Maya from scratch. You can follow this with any of their multiple, effective but a bit slow, series to learn modeling or animation in Maya. It’s amazing. Do it! I am planning on getting my hands on a subscription as soon as our money situation allows.






Knowing what I know now, I can say that I could have built this model a lot more effectively. I just spent a lot of time making curves and extruding, tweaking, turning and cursing. But it was all a learning experience, and a very valuable one at that!

IGAD intake assignments are meant to test your artistic skills, and it’s a challenge that one should feel comfortable facing. I know I spent a  lot of time researching, practicing and ultimately, putting these things together. However, I could FEEL myself getting better after every attempt, and I think I have what it takes to survive this program. 🙂

If you’re planning on applying or have already applied, how did your IGAD intake assignments turn out?

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  1. I’d love to see you revisit the landscape someday, with colour. It’s still my favourite thing you’ve done for your portfolio. That, and the first attempts at the bicycle!

    1. I’m kind of ashamed of the torture device beginnings of my first bicycle. But yes, I think I should show it, just to show that I started with… well, just that. 😀

  2. Pingback: Applying to IGAD: introduction | Tiny Creative

  3. Hi Tiia

    I`ve uploaded my assignments,(my 60 pages 3D modeling document, and the bike model, Not the drawings yet). It says: ”Processed” and at the bottom of that page: Info: 1.00/100.
    On the study skill test I have 62.5/100.
    Does this 1.00/100 mean I have not finished everything yet (because I haven’t uploaded the drawings yet). Or is this some kind of marking for you acceptance chanse?
    Or don`t you have any idea what it means :)?

    Kind regards
    Daniel van den broek

    1. I figured it out, I’m trying to remove my last comment. Gonna try again tomorrow :$.

      1. As someone who has gone through the same exact thing: try to keep yourself occupied for a few weeks. I heard on the 12th of June that I had been selected, so it will take a while, and freaking out for several weeks straight is not good for your heart! 😀 So breathe, relax and wait until you get an email. There’s nothing you can do until you hear from them, and the first thing you will see is an email from NHTV whether you’re selected or not.

        Best of luck! I’m nervous for you – but I believe in you! Haha! 😀

        1. Thank you for answering!
          I thought everyone who uploads assessments gets invited for the interview day thing, or do you mean selected as accepted?

          1. I meant “selected” as accepted indeed. 🙂 I totally forgot there is still a round of interviews to do, hehe.

  4. Hello Tiia!

    I’d like to ask you a few more questions about the admission process for NHTV:

    1. How much time it was given for you to deliver all the three drawings and the 3D model?
    2. The admission process also mentions a “basic math test”. Have you done it? if yes, could you please give me some idea of what they consider “basic math”?

    Thank you in advance
    Christian A. L.

    1. Hi Christian!

      I received my intake assignment list somewhere in February, I believe, and I submitted my complete assignments towards the end of May (I think 1 June was the deadline, but I’m having a hard time finding my documentation from back then for some reason). So there is certainly plenty of time to do your assignments and to learn all the necessary stuff if you’ve never modeled before like me. 🙂

      I never did the basic math test as it became mandatory the year after I was accepted, but I’ve been told you can expect basic algebra that you’ve learned at school. It might be a good idea to do some exercises online to brush up if you feel like you’ve forgotten how it all works.

      I hope this helped you! 🙂

      1. Thank you so much! It is comforting to find a beacon of hope in this sea of uncertainty that is the internet 🙂

        However, only part of my concerns are gone. I don’t really have the habit of drawing a lot in my free time (but I can draw well enough to deal with the assignments with no problems), which leads me to not having extra artwork to show if requested. I wonder how much weight would this have in the decision towards accepting me or not.

        Fun fact: in portuguese, “tia” means “aunt”. So your name almost means “aunt” in portuguese :p

        Thanks again
        Christian A. L.

        1. You needn’t worry – if you’re not into drawing, you can also show your 3D modeling/texturing work (bonus points if it’s game development related, ie. you show the wireframe, mention polycount and such fanciness). In fact most of my classmates are much less into drawing and more into 3D sculpting or animation and I’m the rare exception when it comes to drawing with pens or digitally. 🙂

          I think IGAD lecturers appreciate proactive attitude in their students. If you’re showing skills you’ve been rapidly improving just to get accepted, you will no doubt impress the people at your intake. Show your enthusiasm and your hard work and you’ll have an edge over the students doing the bare minimum to apply. 🙂

          Aww, that is kind of cute. I certainly feel like an IGAD aunt, dispensing my intake advice left and right. 😀 Feel free to hit me up if you’re going to be working on 3D or such, I’m curious as to what you’d be making!

          1. That’s great news! I’ll remember to contact you as soon as I have something interesting to show 😀

            You’ve already helped me so much I almost feel bad to ask one more thing (last one, I swear!).

            I really don’t know how the college admission system works in its whole (beyond the intake assignments, etc.), so I wanted to know this: if I apply to IGAD and fail, do I have the oportunity to try again in another year or I’m kinda “rejected” for life? I realise this is a silly question, but again, I REALLY don’t know how anything works there, so I need all the help I can get.

            It has been a long journey of questions but I’m sure many more people will benefit from all of this 🙂

            Much obliged
            Christian A. L.

            1. I went to our intake coordinators and the reply I received was the following;

              “Technically you’re allowed to apply 3 times, but this number is subject to change”.

              I understand this reply to mean that if someone has no chance whatsoever to be admitted because of reasons (not being suited because clearly not interested in making games, etc), the intake committee could theoretically block their following attempts. But hearing you be so excited about applying I highly doubt this would be valid in your case. 🙂

              1. Thank you SO MUCH, Tiia!

                You’ve been so friendly and helpful I can’t help but wish you all the best in the world! I have no doubt you will succeed greatly in life and in your career. The world could use more people like you 🙂 Maybe one day we’ll get to work together in an awesome game, huh? Who knows! 😀

                Best regards
                Christian A. L.

                1. *turns into a blush-powered lighthouse*

                  I am so humbled and happy! Thank you! Your comment has made my month.

                  Looking forward to meeting you at IGAD! 🙂

  5. Hey, did you also have to do 3 sketchbooks last year?
    I’m not that good at drawing even tho’ I think I might have a chance to do 3 sketchbooks in 2 months, and I’ll try. Do you have any advice?

    1. Nope! In 2014 these were the only things we had to do, and in the interview you could bring in more work for the teachers to look at – but I skipped the interview step.

      Get a small sketchbook and carry it wherever you go. If you’re in the train on the way to school, draw people. If you’re having a lunch break by yourself, draw people (or things like tables, chairs etc). Observe stuff around you and have fun! I know it’s really intimidating to draw in public, but it’s one of the best ways to get better faster 🙂

  6. Hey Tiia!

    I have been following your blog since 2015 but what intrigues me the most is what should be the polycount of the bike we have to create and do we have to smooth it?

    Looking forward to your answer :),

    1. Hey Joan!

      The assignment document does not specify a polycount. but it’s more of a test of your basic 3D capabilities (I knew nothing of Maya when I started. Looking at this model now makes me want to cringe). If you’re more familiar with 3D and know your way around Maya, what you could do to further impress the intake committee would be to optimize the model the way you would for game production and show a wireframe, and texturing and/or lighting the bike, and making a turntable video (you could upload the turntable to Artstation for example and add a link to it in your assignment hand-in-documents).

      If you wanted to, you could also go high poly and make it the most realistic, coolest bike ever. Your call, really! Looking back at this assignment, I would personally go for the optimized poly route – this is a games programme, after all, and the models we make need to fit that. Not low poly, mind you, it still needs to be very recognizable as a type of a bicycle.. but optimized enough. 😉

      Good luck with your 3D assignment! 🙂

      1. Hey,

        Thank you very much for the thorough answer! I’ll probably stick with the realistic/highpoly one since I have already started it 😀 .
        Wish you all the best in the upcoming 2017!


  7. Heya!

    I want to go to the NHTV in a year or so. I received an old version of the intake assignment from the NHTV and saw it states:

    ‘Please do not bring fan art or fantasy subjects”
    In the portfolio section.

    I am currently already following a program for game artist so I have alot of fantasy in my portfolio as I am required to come up with new original ideas for the projects we’re doing atm.
    Do you think I should leave all that stuff at home and bring ”from life” only or should I bring both?

    On the orientation day the teacher said that they want to see everything what could help you get accepted.

    Really confused with this as I really want to be accepted and I know my fantasy subject art is alot better then my realistic but I am afraid they might not like it if I bring my other stuff aswell because the document tells people to not bring it.



    1. Hi Nathalie!

      How unfortunate that you’re getting mixed signals. Communication has always been a bit of an issue within NHTV, and this intake document, sadly enough, reflects it perfectly.

      Back when I applied, the interviews weren’t mandatory so I do not have personal experience from the interview itself. What I have heard from teachers and students in years after me is that the main bulk of your portfolio should definitely contain a lot of life drawings and other “more technical” drawings that demonstrate your understanding of shape, form and perspective. So you should definitely just go ahead and practice life drawing regardless (I know, it is VERY intimidating if you haven’t done it before) and just do your best with it. I hadn’t done it before, but after reading about it and practicing really hard, I could see myself getting better with every attempt!

      What you could do is bring two separate portfolio folders, one with the realistic work and another one with your fantasy work. During the interview, after showing your realistic work, you could ask the teachers “would you like to see my fantasy work as well?” and show it if they seem interested. If you’re running out of time or if they seem happy with your realistic drawings, I would leave the fantasy ones in your bag – but it’s good you brought it along just in case.

      Different teachers have vastly different preferences when it comes to this. I know a teacher that couldn’t be less interested in anything but realistic stuff, and a bunch of others that are interested in seeing that “less official” side of you and your artistic abilities.

      If you need feedback or tips for observational drawing, feel free to drop me an email at tiiavanlokven (at) gmail (dot) com.

      Good luck with your intake assignments and your interview. I’m crossing my fingers for you! 🙂

      1. Hi!

        Thank you for your response, I kind off lost this blog and wasn’t able to find it back. Luckily I did manage to find it back!.

        I will definitly bring both, I am currently drawing in a sketchbook alot so its a mix of things really. Asfar as I heard I will be required to bring 3 sketchbooks and the regular intake assignments aswell a portfolio if I want/have one. My portfolio currently contains mainly realistic 3D art of characters, props, buildings. I am not that much of a stylized modeller.

        Im just practicing realistic drawing from life now, also designing my own stuff to model in 3D later. (Taking alot of references and molding it into my own my sketching)

        I hope this is what they seek in a way, can’t wait to be finally able to apply end this year. You will probably see an email from me some time if you don’t mind. I have been wanting to enroll in IGAD ever since I found out about it so I want to do anything in my power to get there!

        1. Sounds like you have your portfolio coming along nicely. Good job! 😀

          Is your portfolio online somewhere? The best way to get feedback and get better fast is to get involved with an online art community or FB group.

          And, of course, feel free to drop me an email whenever! 🙂

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