Multimedia artists and animators create two- and three-dimensional models, images that appear to move, and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.
Multimedia artists and animators typically do the following:
- Use computer programs and illustrations to create graphics and animation (images that appear to move)
- Work with a team of animators and artists to create a movie, game, or visual effect
- Research upcoming projects to help create realistic designs or animation
- Edit animation and effects on the basis of feedback from directors, other animators, game designers, or clients
- Meet with clients, other animators, games designers, directors, and other staff (which may include actors) to review deadlines and development timelines
Multimedia artists and animators often work in a specific medium. Some focus on creating animated movies or video games. Others create visual effects for movies and television shows. Creating computer-generated images (known as CGI) may include taking images of an actor’s movements and then animating them into three-dimensional characters. Other animators design scenery or backgrounds for locations.
Artists and animators can further specialize within these fields. Within animated movies and video games, artists often specialize in characters or in scenery and background design. Video game artists may focus on level design: creating the look, feel, and layout for the levels of a video game.
Animators work in teams to develop a movie, a visual effect, or an electronic game. Each animator works on a portion of the project, and then the pieces are put together to create one cohesive animation.
Some multimedia artists and animators create their work primarily by using computer software or by writing their own computer code. Many animation companies have their own computer animation software that artists must learn to use. Video game designers also work in a variety of platforms, including mobile gaming and online social networks.
Other artists and animators prefer to work by drawing and painting by hand and then translating the resulting images into computer programs. Some multimedia artists use storyboards or “animatics,” which look like a comic strip, to help visualize the final product during the design process.
Many multimedia artists and animators put their creative work on the Internet. If the images become popular, these artists can gain more recognition, which may lead to future employment or freelance work.
Multimedia artists and animators held about 71,600 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of multimedia artists and animators were as follows:
|Motion picture and video industries||12|
|Computer systems design and related services||6|
|Advertising, public relations, and related services||3|
Many artists and animators work in offices; others work from home.
Most multimedia artists and animators work a regular schedule; however, when deadlines are approaching, they may need to work nights and weekends.
Most multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or a related field to develop both an impressive portfolio of work and the strong technical skills that many employers prefer.
Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree, and they look for workers who have a good portfolio and strong technical skills. Multimedia artists and animators typically have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, computer graphics, animation, or a related field. Programs in computer graphics often include courses in computer science in addition to art courses.
Bachelor’s degree programs in art include courses in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Degrees in animation often require classes in drawing, animation, and film. Many schools have specialized degrees in topics such as interactive media or game design.
Multimedia artists and animators who show strong teamwork and time-management skills can advance to supervisory positions, where they are responsible for one aspect of a visual effects team. Some artists might advance to leadership or directorial positions, such as an art director or producer or director.
Skills in graphics and animation can be honed through self-study. Multimedia artists and animators can develop these skills to enhance their portfolios, which may make it easier to find job opportunities.
Artistic talent. Animators and artists should have artistic ability and a good understanding of color, texture, and light. However, they may be able to compensate for artistic shortcomings with better technical skills.
Communication skills. Multimedia artists and animators need to work as part of a team and respond well to criticism and feedback.
Computer skills. Many multimedia artists and animators use computer programs or write programming code to do most of their work.
Creativity. Artists and animators must be able to think creatively to develop original ideas and make them come to life.
Time-management skills. The workdays required by most studio and game design companies can be long, particularly when there are tight deadlines. Artists and animators need to be able to manage their time effectively when a deadline approaches.
The median annual wage for multimedia artists and animators was $72,520 in May 2018.
The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $40,870, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $124,310.
In May 2018, the median annual wages for multimedia artists and animators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Motion picture and video industries||77,860|
|Computer systems design and related services||76,920|
|Advertising, public relations, and related services||67,330|
Most multimedia artists and animators work a regular full-time schedule; however, when deadlines are approaching, they may need to work nights and weekends.
Multimedia Artists and Animators
Median annual wages, May 2018
- Multimedia artists and animators
- Art and design workers
- Total, all occupations
Employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Projected growth will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television. Job growth may be slowed, however, by companies hiring animators and artists who work overseas. Studios may save money on animation by using lower paid workers outside of the United States.
Consumers will continue to demand more realistic video games, movie and television special effects, and three-dimensional movies. This will create demand for newer computer hardware, which will enhance the complexity of animation and visual effects. Additional multimedia artists and animators will be required to meet this increased demand.
Further, an increased demand for computer graphics for mobile devices, such as smart phones, will lead to more job opportunities. Multimedia artists will be needed to create animation for games and applications for mobile devices.
Despite positive job growth, there will be competition for job openings because many recent graduates will be interested in entering the occupation. In addition to having a robust portfolio, those who specialize in a specific type of animation or in a specific skill, such as drawing or computer programming, should have the best opportunities.
|Occupational Title||SOC Code||Employment, 2018||Projected Employment, 2028||Change, 2018-28||Employment by Industry|
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program
|Multimedia artists and animators||27-1014||71,600||74,700||4||3,000||Get data|
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of multimedia artists and animators.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2018|
|Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions.||Bachelor’s degree||$92,780|
|Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly.||Bachelor’s degree||$84,280|
Craft and Fine Artists
|Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition.||See How to Become One||$48,960|
Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
|Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.||Bachelor’s degree||$58,990|
|Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers.||Bachelor’s degree||$50,370|
Producers and Directors
|Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions.||Bachelor’s degree||$71,680|
|Web developers design and create websites.||Associate’s degree||$69,430|
For information about accredited schools of art and design, visit
For more information about careers in video game design, visit
Related BLS articles
Career Outlook: “Small-business options: Occupational outlook for self-employed workers”
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Multimedia Artists and Animators,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm (visited ).