After high school Tice wanted to become a veterinarian, but finding money for college was difficult. Tice attended the Denver Academy of Applied Arts and the Denver Art Institute for two years each. He studied under two professional artists, Robert Graham and Waldo Love who painted dioramas for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
His first career ambition was to become a cartoonist, so he studied under Jimmy Steele of the Denver Post. Teachers warned Tice that making a living as a cartoonist was difficult and encouraged him to learn graphic art. Tice took their advice. In his free time, he studied veterinarian textbooks and drew detailed sketches of animal anatomies.