Any Scientific/Medical Animators???

Hello! I know this is a forum for scientific illustrators, but I was wondering if anyone here does scientific/medical (what's the difference?) animation, or knows anyone who does. I am considering transferring out of my animation-specific college after one year of classes because I miss learning about biology, my second passion. This is a big decision for me, though, since I love 2d and character animation, and I know that scientific animation would be far less creative, though -- I hope -- still rewarding, and seemingly very interesting and fulfilling. I was wondering, though, what exactly scientific animation entails? How much creative freedom do you generally have? Do you work largely in 2d or 3d, or is there a mix of the two? What kinds of clients do you work for, and are people typically freelance or bound to one specific company? How did you get to this point - a major in biology? minors in art or animation? graduate programs that are more specific?? Any details you can think of about your day to day workflow and path to this career would be greatly appreciated in helping me make my decision. 


Here are some suggestions from People who saw your message on the GNSI Sciart Listserve, something you might want to join (free):


Suggest you contact:

Sam Bond, former classmate, scientific Illustration, UGA; now an instructor at University of Illinois, Chicago, Masters in medical illustration.

OC Carlisle


Wow, this is a great question. This person sounds like they are seriously interested in applying various skills to a career. Not a casual inquiry.  I cannot answer the questions regarding 3-D, but I know we have members who have incredible skills. I hope you can take the time to offer what advice you can.

Many of us might address the difference in scientific and medical illustration, and the crossovers. Especially the passion for biology that many of you have degrees in, as well as various applications within the field of scientific illustration.

For me, and my career in 2-D, I find the melding of art and science provides the strongest base. My expertise is in the field of Interpretation, creating educational materials and signage for parks, murals for visitor centers, field guide publications. My subject matter can be quite broad, from biology, archeology, astronomy, volcanology, river morphology, and worldwide ecosystem relationships. I have worked with 3-D designers to provide animated educational materials in visitor centers. We work directly with scientists to provide accurate information in a manner appropriate to the public audience.  There are so many types of scientific illustration and the same goes for their application. It's a growing field, too, with new technology that especially includes animation. We have members who are 3-D animators with awesome skills, and although their applications/publications may be different than 2-D, there are opportunities where the two overlap.

So, please give a few minutes to this response, if you can.
Very best,
Linda Feltner

My career has been pretty much all 2D, I don’t really do animation, but people in my family do… so I will answer part of the question from the seat of my pants. I don’t think that working in medicine and science is any less creative than working in other fields. What is for sure different is that you are bound by the fact that it is fundamentally illustration. That means that your creativity is in the service of communicating about science; projects always have goals and you are bound by the goals and what is real or at least known. Science is broad. Where is the money in science that allows people to use animation? I expect in medicine and smaller-than-cell studies more than whole animal/plant biology. I would think that perusing the AMI source directory on line would be useful in answering some of the questions about how much 2D vs 3D work there is and who the clients are. -Clara Richardson


There are 4 main programs still available in North America that offer graduate level Medical Illustration/Animation. 

There are also a few undergraduate opportunities.

UGA: Scientific Illustration (
Iowa State Univ: Biological and Premedical Illustration (
UW: Certificate in Natural Science Illustration (

Graduate Level-

Johns Hopkins: Art as applied to Medicine (
Augusta University: Medical Illustration/Animation (
University of Illinois at Chicago: Biomedical Visualization (
University of Toronto: Biomedical Communication (

Each graduate program has intensive training in both 2D illustration and animation as well as increasingly in-depth instruction in 3D modeling and animation as the industry is quickly moving in this direction. Each also involve in-depth courses in the medical sciences usually in concert with actual first and second year medical students. 

The associated organization's annual convention is actually going on right now in Austin, TX. The Association of Medical Illustrators.( …lots of cools stuff to see…

Hope this helps,

Russell Weekes, MSMI


These are great questions. I had a very strong background in science (bfa and bs) before grad school and truthfully didn't get that much out grad school aside from dissection and surgical observation opportunities. My 3-D modeling and animation was all self taught and on the job. My subject matter is quite specific, but within that I have had a fair amount of freedom for exploring emerging software and technology to find best method of accurate representation. 

-Liz lockett