Digital illustration certificate and associate degree programs are entry-level programs that include coursework in computer-aided design, digital photography, and drawing. These programs teach students how to use computer programs to design, create images, and complete multimedia projects. Bachelor's degree programs related to digital illustration may also include courses in topics like the business of design, typography, advertising or art history. A high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED, is typically required for admission. Some programs may also require students to complete an internship or portfolio or to participate in an exhibition.
Digital Illustration Certificate
Students who want to learn digital illustration techniques as well as how to create computer graphics or digital designs can earn a digital illustration certificate. They can be pursued by recent high school graduates, but they can also be part of continuing education programs designed for students who've already earned an undergraduate or graduate degree in another field. Students in digital illustration certificate programs can take courses that focus on the creation of multimedia projects for businesses or media outlets. Typical courses in a digital illustration certificate program could include:
- Computer illustration
- Design imaging
- Digital design
- Art history
- Color theory
Associate's Degree in Digital Illustration
Students who earn associate's degrees in digital illustration can learn to operate computer programs that allow them to create and manipulate images. While students in a digital illustration program learn how to use computer design programs, they must also acquire and perfect traditional design skills, such as drawing. Students who earn an associate's degree in digital illustration can often transfer credits to related 4-year programs.
Students must take general education courses, such as composition and math. They may be required to take introduction design classes before taking advanced design courses. Coursework may include:
- Multimedia design
- Computer illustration
- 3-D design
- Digital photography
Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design
Students wanting to learn digital illustration can complete applicable coursework through a bachelor's degree program in graphic design. Students may find other degrees with different titles but similar classes and program objectives. These include bachelor's degree programs in art and design, digital media, or multimedia art. A student's first year of study in a graphic design program includes introductory design and art history classes, while later coursework narrows a student's focus to digital design. Students may take the following classes while working toward a bachelor's degree in graphic design:
- Contemporary art
- 2-D design
- Graphic design
- Visual communications design
Popular Career Options
Students who earn an associate's degree in digital illustration often become freelance designers or in-house designers at advertising agencies, businesses, studios, or website companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), students earning digital illustration degrees can be qualified to become graphic designers, artists, or art directors (www.bls.gov). Digital illustration graduates may obtain jobs as:
- Digital artist
- Graphic designer
- Digital illustrator
- Graphic design assistant
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
For May 2015, the BLS reported that the average annual salary for graphic designers was $51,640. Multimedia artists and animators made a higher average annual salary, $63,970, and related artist positions earned a slightly lower annual salary of $58,470.
Students who've earned an undergraduate degree in digital illustration or a related degree, such as digital imaging, graphic design, or visual illustration, may choose to earn a master's degree in graphic design or art. Students in a graphic design master's program can learn about design history, conduct personal research, and use critical thinking skills to execute professional design work.
Overall, undergraduate certificate and degree programs in digital illustration provide critical design training for students who want to pursue careers or advanced education in multimedia.