Where to start? Questions about education, hardware, and software...

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  05 May 2013
Where to start? Questions about education, hardware, and software...

Hi everyone,

This is my first post to any CG forum and I just created an account last week, so I am really new around here. I have already seen some really great posts about where to find free software and tutorials online.

Here is a little about myself and my general goals. I am interested in getting started in 2D/3D illustration/animation for biological sciences. I have an advanced degree in cancer biology and have worked in research lab for years. I am interested in making a huge career change from lab research to illustration and animation.

I have tons of questions, but here are a few that currently seem more pressing than others.

I need to buy a computer and tablet capable of handling the software required for this field. Could anyone provide general suggestions on the minimum requirements for a computer? - it can be Mac or PC-based. Also, suggestions for a tablet? I have heard lots of recommendations for Wacom Intuos tablets. I would really appreciate any ideas.

Perhaps one of the most overwhelming parts of this field are all the software options. I would like to start out with free software if possible, but would really appreciate some suggestions on what to start with.

And finally, the subject of formal education. Many medical illustrators/animators that I have met really feel that formal education - as in one of the four masters programs for medical illustration/animation - is essential to success in this field. Could you please comment on if you feel that a degree is necessary to make a living in this field?

Thank you for reading my post. I look forward to reading your comments and suggestions.

Thanks again,

  05 May 2013
Hey man,

I worked at a large medical device manufacture as a contractor for about a year doing product rendering, and I will say that your education in Biology will be really important. You really need to have an advanced education for this stuff, and a masters in medical illustration will help you land a gig. You'll be working with doctors and biomedical engineers to make the art, and you really need to be on top of your stuff. Being a member of AMI will also help.

The software is pretty inconsequential. As long as the anatomy, the disease, and the device is right, no one cares about how you made it. There are lots of people who know how to use the software, but very few who understand anatomy. Cinema4D is popular, and lots of people use Photoshop for painting.

  05 May 2013
Thanks for the info

Hi AJ,
I appreciate your insights. I do feel fortunate to have an advanced degree in biomedical science and I am seriously considering one of the four Masters programs. Your advice on software makes sense, I was asking because the choices are so overwhelming.

I do plan to join the AMI. Have you been an AMI member before? Have you ever gone to one of the AMI meetings? Just curious as to how people find the annual meetings to be.

Might I ask if you are still doing illustration/animation work since you are no longer at the that manufacturing company?
Thanks again,
  05 May 2013

I was just making 3D renders of little plastic things when I was there, but I worked with several illustrators. I do recall that the company paid for the illustrators to fly out and addend the AMI meetings. I'm not a member of AMI, nor do I have a degree or any formal training in any art or anatomy things.

I was just a one off job for me, and I was pretty lucky to get the gig without a degree. I'm currently working on a degree in Computer Science, and hope to get into web programming.

I think one of the key things about the masters in medical illustration program is the mix of anatomy and fine arts training that you get. I've heard you also get to witness live autotpsys.


(sorry I called you a man in my earlier post .)
  05 May 2013
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