How to Become an Animator?
Are you passionate about animation and want to make it your career? Then this blog post is for you. An animator is a person who creates animated films, television programs, and video games. Animators are responsible for the movement of characters and objects in the piece of art they create. It can include anything from the locomotion of a character’s body to the motion of a sword through the air.
However, becoming an animator is more challenging than you might think. It is a high-end art form. While no college degree is required to show your talent, it is necessary to get employment. You will also need to have a lot of experience under your belt. But if you want to learn animation and have a flourishing career, here are some tips on becoming a professional animator.
What Does an Animator Do?
An animator is a visual development artist who creates characters, settings, and stories for animated films and television programs. Animators create keyframes that move from one image to another using software such as Adobe Photoshop and Maya.
They also work with the director to ensure their work fits into the overall vision for the project. Animators may also be responsible for designing characters and backgrounds and creating storyboards to help visualize the movement of each scene. Animation is creating moving images with a series of drawings or photographs.
Animators have several responsibilities that they must complete while working on projects. An animator should have an in-depth understanding of the mechanics of animation, including how to create keyframes, in-between frames, and final images. An animator must also have a good sense of timing and motion and understand how to use these elements effectively.
The job responsibilities of an animator include the following:
- Providing consultation on the design, development, and creation of animation.
- Developing characters, scenes, and concepts for animated films, television programs, or video games.
- Drawing preliminary sketches of characters to be used in animated films, television programs, or video games.
- Researching animation history and techniques.
Step-by-Step Process of Becoming an Animator
Are you interested in becoming an animator? Do you have a creative eye, an aptitude for digital technology, and an innate understanding of story structure? Well, you need a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed in the animation industry.
However, the step-by-step process to becoming an animator is as follows.
Step 1: Choose an Animation Specialty
The first step to becoming an animator is to choose a specialty within the field of animation. The following are some popular specialties aspirants pursue.
- 2D Animation – It involves creating animated scenes and characters using illustrations and software such as Adobe Animate or Toon Boom Harmony. This type of animation is used for traditional cartoons and animated shorts.
- 3D Animation – It involves creating animated scenes and characters using computer graphics and specialized software such as Autodesk Maya or Blender. This type of animation is often used for video games, movies, and television shows.
- Stop-Motion Animation – It involves creating animated scenes by physically manipulating objects and capturing them frame by frame. This animation gets utilized for claymation or puppet animation.
- Character Animation – It focuses on creating realistic or stylized movements and expressions for animated characters. Now, this often gets used in combination with other animation techniques. Once you’ve chosen a specialty, it’s time to learn the necessary skills and techniques.
However, combining technical education with hands-on experience in each specialty is one of the most effective ways to become a professional animator.
Thus, knowing what kind of work you want is essential before deciding if it’s right for you. For example, some animators only work on commercials, while others are only involved in television or film projects. Some animators create video games, while others create animated films and TV shows.
If you need help determining which specialty best suits your interests, talk it over with friends or family members who have experience working in the field.
Step 2: Take Animation Courses or a Degree Program
Animation is a growing field and is one of the best ways to make your mark in the entertainment industry. If you’re interested in becoming an animator, here are some tips for getting started. Pursuing a degree in animation or a field related to animation is the most effective way to learn these skills and techniques. Many colleges and universities offer programs in animation, and some even have specialized tracks for different animation specialties.
The University of California Los Angeles, Ohio State University, and Purdue University are three renowned colleges for getting a Bachelor’s degree in animation or any of its related fields like fine arts and computer graphics.
In a typical animation program, you’ll learn the basics of animation, such as character design, storyboarding, and movement principles. You’ll also learn about the latest software and technologies used in the animation industry. By becoming as knowledgeable as you can about the sector and choosing courses highlighting your strengths, you can enhance your education and create a more robust portfolio.
Step 3: Dedicate Yourself to Developing Animation Skills
Developing your skills is necessary for becoming an animator. Thus, you should learn about animation and the different tools available for creating it. You can also take classes in these areas. It is a great way to learn new skills or brush up on your existing ones.
Besides, there are various animation types that you can learn.
For example, stop-motion involves filming objects one frame at a time and creating movement through editing software. On the other hand, Computer-generated animation uses 3D modeling software to create characters from scratch.
Traditional hand-drawn animation gets done on paper (or cells) with pencils and paints, and stop-frame is where entire scenes are filmed first and then replayed frame by frame for the character(s) to move (think Monty Python).
Step 4: Create a Stellar Portfolio and Demo Reel
As an aspiring animator, your portfolio and demo reel are your most important assets. A portfolio is a collection of your best work that you can show potential employers. The key to a successful career in animation is to start by creating a portfolio that showcases your skills and style.
Your portfolio should include various animation types, including motion graphics, stop motion, and traditional 2D or 3D animation. So, include your drawings or screenshots of animation films you have worked on.
Once you’ve created your portfolio, it’s time to make a demo reel showing your best work. A good demo reel should include different types of animations: one that showcases your ability to create storyboards and layouts (which will get used in animation production), one with plenty of movement (this could be CGI or stop-motion), and one that highlights your other strengths (for example, if you’re skilled at writing dialogue).
Step 5: Get a Diverse Work Experience
It’s necessary to get a variety of work experience to become an animator. Note that this will help you develop the skills needed to succeed and discover the areas you enjoy and excel at the most. Now, this can include working as an animator at different companies or in different positions. Additionally, it could involve volunteer work and internships, which can help you meet people with similar interests and gain insider knowledge of the sector.
Networking is a vital part of any career, and animation is no exception. By building connections with other animators, you can learn about job opportunities, share tips and advice, and gain valuable insights into the industry. You can network with other animators by joining professional organizations, attending industry events, and participating in online communities like Reddit.
The key to networking is being smart. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and talk with the person sitting next to you in animation class. Also, don’t hesitate while you approach the conference speaker of an animation conference. Remember that confidence will make you come across as experienced and skilled.
Besides, as animation is quite a niche industry, it’s necessary to be part of groups to get steady work. By making connections and building relationships, you can increase your chances of finding job opportunities and advancing your career.
Salary and Career Growth as an Animator
The animation industry is booming, and it’s not just for kids. There is a demand for animators who can create exciting and engaging animations that are also technically sound. Animated films and shows have been around since the first animation was created in 1894 by Émile Cohl. Since then, they’ve grown in popularity globally and continue to be a driving force in entertainment today.
As such, there’s never been more demand for skilled animators than there is now. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 16% employment growth for animators and special effects artists from 2020 to 2030, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations in the United States. The median annual salary for an animator or special effects artist was $63,870 in 2016, according to the BLS. The highest-paid 10% earned more than $109,510 annually, and the lowest-paid 10% earned less than $39,910 annually.
The animation field is steadily growing as more and more people enjoy the benefits of well-crafted animations. As long as you go after your goal with diligence, patience, and a passion for the medium, you can get a great career being an animator.