Create Announcement

This feature requires that you be logged in as a Google Classroom teacher and that you have an active class in Google Classroom.

If you are a Google Classroom teacher, please log in now.

For additional information about using Science Buddies with Google Classroom, see our FAQ.

An artist creates a snowy landscape on a computer

A multimedia artist or animator could...

Help develop a full-length 3D, animated motion picture, like UP from Pixar®. Screenshot of two characters attached to a floating house from the Pixar movie UP Create the characters for a new Saturday morning cartoon. Photo from behind of a boy watching cartoons
Animate avatars, like those on the Mii Channel of the Nintendo® WiiTM. Screenshot of Mii's gathered in a plaza on the Nintendo Wii videogame console Design an animated Super Bowl commercial, like this one from Coca-Cola®. Video thumbnail of two inflatable characters fighting over a bottle of Coca-Cola
Find out more...

Key Facts & Information

Overview If you've ever watched a cartoon, played a video game, or seen an animated movie, you've seen the work of multimedia artists and animators. People in these careers use computers to create the series of pictures that form the animated images or special effects seen in movies, television programs, and computer games.
Key Requirements Good observation skills, attention to detail, and the ability to take direction
Minimum Degree Bachelor's degree
Subjects to Study in High School Physics, algebra, geometry, drawing; if available, computer graphics, computer animation, computer science
Median Salary
Multimedia Artist or Animator
U.S. Mean Annual Wage
Min Wage
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) More Slowly than Average (3% to 6%)
Related Occupations
Source: O*Net

Training, Other Qualifications

A few entry-level multimedia and animator positions are accessible with an associate's degree, but a bachelor's degree from an art school, college, or university is usually needed. Before searching for work, multimedia artists will need to put together a portfolio of their work to show to prospective employers. In addition, animators will need to create demo reels with footage of characters and objects they have animated.

Education and Training

At minimum, an associate's degree is necessary, but most positions require a bachelor's degree. Classwork will focus on basic art concepts, technology, and computer graphics. Internships will help build an artist's portfolio and give him or her a competitive edge when seeking employment. Degrees can come from either a traditional college or a university, or a specialized art and design school.

Other Qualifications

Evidence of appropriate talent and skill, displayed in a multimedia artist's portfolio, is an important factor used by art directors, clients, and others in deciding whether to hire an individual or contract for his or her work. A portfolio is a collection of handmade, computer-generated, photographic, or printed samples of the artist's best work. Assembling a successful portfolio requires skills usually developed through postsecondary training in art or visual communications. Internships also provide excellent opportunities for artists to develop and enhance their portfolios.

In addition to a portfolio of still work, animators will also need to provide potential employers with demo reels containing clips of animations they have made.

Nature of the Work

Multimedia artists and animators work primarily in the movie industry, computer and video games, advertising, and computer systems design services. They both draw by hand and use computers to create the series of pictures that form the animated images or special effects seen in movies, television programs, and computer games. Some artists draw storyboards for television commercials, movies, and animated features. Storyboards present television commercials in a series of scenes similar to a comic strip and allow an advertising agency to evaluate commercials proposed by advertising companies. Storyboards also serve as guides to placing actors and cameras on the television or motion picture set and to other production details. Many multimedia artists model objects in three dimensions by computer. Some artists, usually animators, work with programmers to make their three-dimensional models move.

Work Environment

Many multimedia artists and animators work in studios that are located in office buildings, at desks with computers. Others, usually those who do contract work, operate out of private studios in their homes. Most artists employed in the movie, television, video game and advertising industries generally work a standard work week. However, during busy periods or close to the end of a long project, they may work overtime to meet deadlines. Self-employed artists can set their own hours. They may spend much time and effort selling their artwork to potential customers or clients and building a reputation.

On the Job

  • Design complex graphics and animation, using independent judgment, creativity, and computer equipment.
  • Create two-dimensional and three-dimensional images depicting objects in motion or illustrating a process, using computer animation or modeling programs.
  • Make objects or characters appear lifelike by manipulating light, color, texture, shadow, and transparency, or manipulating static images to give the illusion of motion.
  • Assemble, typeset, scan and produce digital camera-ready art or film negatives and printer's proofs.
  • Apply story development, directing, cinematography, and editing to animation to create storyboards that show the flow of the animation and map out key scenes and characters.
  • Script, plan, and create animated narrative sequences under tight deadlines, using computer software and hand drawing techniques.
  • Create basic designs, drawings, and illustrations for product labels, cartons, direct mail, or television.
  • Create pen-and-paper images to be scanned, edited, colored, textured, or animated by computer.
  • Develop briefings, brochures, multimedia presentations, web pages, promotional products, technical illustrations, and computer artwork for use in products, technical manuals, literature, newsletters and slide shows.
  • Use models to simulate the behavior of animated objects in the finished sequence.
  • Create and install special effects as required by the script, mixing chemicals and fabricating needed parts from wood, metal, plaster, and clay.
  • Participate in design and production of multimedia campaigns, handling budgeting and scheduling, and assisting with such responsibilities as production coordination, background design and progress tracking.
  • Convert real objects to animated objects through modeling, using techniques such as optical scanning.
  • Implement and maintain configuration control systems.

Source: BLS

Companies That Hire Multimedia Artist or Animators

Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...

Science Fair Project Idea
Do you like playing with play dough; or modeling clay? Wouldn't it be cool if you could add lights, sound, or even motion to your play dough creations? In this project, you will use play dough that conducts electricity, which will allow you to connect lights to your sculptures! This project is the first in a three-part series on play dough circuits, which can all be done with the same materials. We recommend doing the projects in order. Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Virtual reality (VR) headsets are becoming increasingly popular. Video game designers use a variety of programs to create the amazing 3D worlds that you see when you turn on your favorite video game, and many of those worlds are now also designed to be compatible with VR headsets. Can you use a computer-aided design (CAD) program or video game engine to design your own virtual world that can be viewed using a VR headset? Did you know you do not have to be a programming expert to create… Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever wondered how virtual reality works? With virtual reality, people feel like they are in one place while knowing they are somewhere else. In this project, you will show the same phenomenon on a smaller scale. You will use the McGurk effect to show how you can hear one sound, while knowing a different sound is physically there. First, you will produce such an experience using audio and video, and then measure the strength of the phenomenon. Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Virtual reality (VR) headsets are becoming increasingly popular with consumers for things like viewing 3D pictures and videos, or for playing video games. However, dedicated gaming headsets like the Oculus Rift® and PlayStation® VR can cost hundreds of dollars. Some headsets, like Google Cardboard™, which is literally made out of folded corrugated cardboard (Figure 1), are much cheaper because they can use any smartphone as the screen. Figure 1. A… Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Electric paint is a fun way to include a circuit with lights in an art project, but it presents a challenge not found in traditional electronic circuits. What happens if you change the length or width of your strokes of paint, such as by painting longer, curvier lines or using a thicker brush? Could this affect the electrical properties of your circuit? Try this project to find out! Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Do you play video games on a console or smartphone? Have you ever wished you had the power to change how a game worked, or even to create your very own game? This project will show you how to make your very own video game and controller using the Raspberry Pi Projects Kit. Check out the video to see what this simple, but fun, project looks like. Of course, you can design the looks and gameplay of your game any way you like! … Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
When you picture video games, you probably picture realistic figures, a lot of color, and a lot of detail, right? Those descriptions do not really describe video games from the early 1980's. So why do video games today look better than video games from the 80's? One major change between then and now is the number of pixels, or dots on the screen, used to represent video game objects. When Nintendo® first introduced the Super Mario Bros game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in… Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you tried our first and second play dough circuits projects? Are you a master circuit artist, ready to try something even bigger and better? Try this project to see if you can build a three-dimensional light-up sculpture. Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
"Paper circuits" are a fun way to mix electronics and art by adding lights directly to a painting or drawing. These lights need a battery to power them, and typically you would use wires to connect them. In paper circuits, though, many materials can be substituted as "wire," including special types of paint, ink, and even aluminum foil. There are also different options for what type of battery you can use. Which materials do you think will work best? Try this project to find out! Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
A simple circuit and a servo motor are all you need to turn any work of art into an interactive moving creation that is happy to see you. Light sensors see your shadow as you walk past your artwork and make a servo motor move back and forth. Waving arms? Turning heads? It is all up to you! Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever heard the phrase, "Seeing is believing"? Well, it is more accurate than you might think! In this science project, you can investigate the phenomenon of apparent motion by making your own flip-book animations Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Do you enjoy playing video games? Do you like the challenge of reaching a difficult game level and scoring lots of points? Video games include many graphic elements that are great to watch, but did you know that not only sighted people enjoy video games? Blind and visually impaired players can also play video games by relying on sound cues — the pings, pops, bangs, and bursts of music that make a game fun or exciting. When building a game that will be accessible to differently abled… Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Are you convinced that virtual reality (VR) will soon become mainstream and improve our lives in unpredicted ways? Or maybe you believe it is a big hype doomed to fade and disappear. In this science project, you will use one aspect of VR—the headset—and investigate if it could convey reality better than traditional pictures or 360° images. You will go out and measure how people perceive pictures and images you took. Will people embrace the VR headset and what it can do or prefer… Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever played a video game and gotten so involved that you felt as if you were living inside the game? What were the characteristics of the game that made you feel part of the action? One component of an absorbing video game is an onscreen world that makes sense—a world that takes physics into account. A game in which the player feels the effect of trudging through mud, slipping on ice, or catapulting a bird is more fun than one with no environmental interaction. In this… Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever used a toy like a Spirograph® to draw precise, repeatable patterns on a piece of paper? What if you could use a computer to automatically draw the patterns for you? This project will show you how to do just that using the Raspberry Pi Projects Kit. Check out the video to see what this simple, but fun, project looks like: … Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you tried our first electric play dough project, and now you are looking for more to do? Do you want to learn more about circuits and add even more lights? Check out this project for part 2 of our play dough circuits series! Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
What do you consider creepy? Clowns? Zombies? Video game characters with jerky movement? In 1970, a roboticist by the name of Masahiro Mori suggested that people are "creeped out" by robots that are almost, but not exactly, humanlike. He called this phenomena the uncanny valley. But researchers are still exploring and defining the uncanny valley. In this science project, you can do your own exploration—just try not to creep your friends out too badly! Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Did you know that sunlight can actually be separated into the colors of the rainbow? And the light of different colors can be added together to make white light or new colors. This is an area of study where art and science overlap. In this science fair project, you will explore this area by drawing or painting "pie slices" onto a white circle and then combining them to make a new color by spinning the wheel using an electric drill. Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
This project is a fun way to try your hand at programming. You'll learn how to create some simple animations, and you'll perform tests and make measurements to help you create more realistic-looking animations. All you need to get started is a Web browser and a text editor (like Notepad). Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
"Pow!" Wow, what an awesome punch that character has! Ever wondered what goes into making a punch look good in a video game? Or any other character motion sequence, for that matter? Try this science fair project for a firsthand look at how art and timing can create memorable game action. Read more

Ask Questions

Do you have a specific question about a career as a Multimedia Artist or Animator that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.


Additional Support

We'd like to acknowledge the additional support of:

  • AMD
  • Intel
Free science fair projects.