Cartoon artists can sharpen their skills by completing a bachelor's or master's degree in illustration. Bachelor's of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) students are required to build a professional portfolio prior to graduation. Some online courses and programs are available.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration Degree Program
Most formal cartoon training programs confer a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree. This bachelor's degree program trains illustrators in traditional and digital formats. Students take courses in figure, landscape, and wildlife drawing as well as comics, digital illustration, and drawing for film. Many BFA cartoon training programs require students to build a professional portfolio throughout school. Prior to graduation, this portfolio is judged on its unique content, mastery of drawing skills, use of color, and presentation.
Master of Fine Arts in Illustration Degree Program
A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program emphasizes advanced technical illustration skills, visual communication concepts, and classic art principles. Cartoon artists and illustrators in this degree program sharpen their narrative, editorial, and graphic novel illustration skills using both traditional and state-of-the-art digital applications. Many MFA degree programs include courses in children's book illustration, character drawing for books and film, and digital painting. Curriculum also covers graphic art and design, computer-aided drafting programs, and editorial and advertising illustration. Students integrate editorial and advertising illustration applications into their professional portfolio.
Graduates are qualified to find employment with publishers, graphic design firms, advertising agencies, newspapers, and greeting card companies. Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) degree holders are eligible for postsecondary teaching positions. Those interested in medical illustration may need additional courses or a related degree. Some popular job titles are cartoonist, technical illustrator, book illustrator, animator, and graphic artist.
Licenses and Certifications
Comic artists, cartoonists and illustrators are not bound by licensure or certification standards. However, many join professional associations, such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Those in specialized industries, such as medicine, may find it useful to join relevant organizations like the Association of Medical Illustrators.
Those seeking cartoon training can pursue bachelor's and master's degree programs in illustration. Graduates gain the skills and portfolio needed to find work as cartoonists, animators, and more.