'Cartoon art' includes digital cartoon animation and cartoon drawings for comic strips and graphic novels. The most applicable graduate degree programs lead to Master of Fine Arts degrees in either animation and visual effects or comic art, all of which require a bachelor's degree for enrollment. These degree programs incorporate cartoon animation and comic illustration with digital techniques used in today's industries. Students will often have the opportunity to participate in internship programs in the animation field and will need to complete a thesis. Prior to applying to a master's program, students should create a portfolio of their work in animation.
Master of Fine Arts in Animation and Visual Effects
This degree program gives students the knowledge and skills needed to create an animated story. In addition to technical expertise in cartoon animation, students will graduate with professional skills in time management, understanding trends, workplace etiquette, and communication within the industry. While earning a degree in animation, the student will gain proficiency in drawing cartoons and sketches, designing characters, creating storyboards, and working with technology to convert their drawings into digital media. Courses may include:
- Animation history
- Animation perspective and motion drawing
- 3-D and experimental animation
- Computer-generated modeling
- Contemporary art
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Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Comic Art
The comic art curriculum emphasizes plot and character development, and students learn to write stories in addition to drawing cartoons and storyboards. A full-length comic work is often required as a thesis, and students may undergo a critique by professional comic artists and critics. This degree program focuses heavily on drawing techniques like composition and color in the context of drawing characters and backgrounds for comics and graphic novels. The mediums used are painting, drawing, and computers. Graduate students may take courses such as:
- Art critique
- Narrative exploration
- Cartooning and sequential art
- Art and design theories
- Digital design
- Contemporary art
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), in 2014 there were 64,400 animators and multimedia artists in the country. In 2015, the median wage in this field was $63,970, and the highest-paid animators made more than $113,600 annually. The same source indicates that the demand for animators will increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024 due to the popularity of realistic cartoons, animated films. and video games.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes cartoon and comics artists under the designation of 'fine artists'; there were about 26,300 workers across all fine arts professions in 2014, and the number of jobs will potentially grow by 3% by 2024. The BLS reports a median salary for an artist in this general field of $46,460 in 2015.
Continuing Education Information
As animators progress in their profession, there are opportunities to advance to art director positions. Animators may also branch out to other related fields, including illustration, cartooning and comic art.
Similar to artists in the field of animation and visual effects, cartoonists and comic artists can gain a promotion to an art directorship. With further education and practice, comic art workers may also gain skills in a related field, such as illustration or digital and cartoon animation.
Cartoon art and animation education can be found in MFA programs, giving students the opportunity to perfect their artistic abilities and gain work experience in the industry through internships. Several steadily growing careers are open to graduates, with experience being the main factor in career advancement.