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How Can I Learn Digital Media Design?

Digital media designers and multimedia artists use drawing, photography and videography coupled with software tools to create computer graphics for a variety of industries. To learn more about how to become a digital media designer, keep reading.

Digital Media Design Overview

Digital media design is an interdisciplinary field that combines graphic arts and computer technology. Artists in this field create animated images and computer graphics that are used in films, video games, interactive websites or advertising campaigns. Digital media design is often referred to as visual communications.

Important Facts About Digital Media Design Programs

Online Availability Offered at the bachelor's and associate's levels
Prerequisites Coursework in art history, digital video fundamentals and interactive design may be required for graduates of associate's programs transferring to bachelor's programs
Continuing Education Certification exams are offered by companies like Adobe
Possible Careers Interface Graphic Designer, Motion Graphics Animator, User Experience Tester
Median Salary (2018) $50,370 (for all graphic designers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 4% growth (for all graphic designers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Artistic Skills

Digital media designers may be able to sketch, illustrate, trace and paint characters as well as settings. Some designers are skilled in letterpress or typography, both of which involve the creation of fonts or typefaces. Visual artists may use elements of photography or videography in their work as well.

Computer Skills

To become a digital media designer, you'll need to be comfortable with computers. You'll also need to know how to use industry-specific software, like Adobe Flash, Photoshop or Final Cut. Digital media designers commonly use computer-aided design (CAD) tools to create 2-D and 3-D animation or special effects for movies, video games or television.

Degree Programs

The most commonly offered programs in this field lead to a bachelor's or master's degree in visual communications. Some colleges and universities offer digital media design or digital arts programs that cover many of the same topics as a visual communications program.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

A bachelor's program in visual communications or digital media design may provide you with both artistic and computer skills training. Depending on the program, you can expect to take courses in drawing, web graphics, electronic media, art technologies, video editing and computer animation. Many programs require completion of an internship.

You'll also be expected to put together a portfolio of your best work; a portfolio is often required by potential employers. If you're interested in pursuing a master's degree in visual communications, digital media design or a related field, most schools will ask you to submit a portfolio as part of the application process.

Master's Degree Programs

Visual communications master's programs are often more self-directed than bachelor's programs; you'll choose coursework related to a specialization of your choice, like publication design or interactive media. A teaching assistantship under the guidance of a college professor might be required. You may need to complete a final thesis project that is representative of your master's-level work; some schools expect you to present this project as an art exhibition.