How do I Become an Animator?

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  • Written By: Margo Upson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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Animators are responsible for making artwork move. Their work can be seen in video games, commercials, television programs, movies, and on websites. Most of the work that an animator does is performed on a computer, using complicated and technical computer programs. There are a lot of steps to follow if you want to become an animator, but with the right artistic skills and determination, it is possible to get into the animation industry.

Anyone who wants to become an animator will need to be a decent artist, and be very good with computers. Animators must work well in a team, communicate effectively, and be able to lead others. They need to be able to work long, stressful hours in a very demanding work environment. It takes more than just being a good artist; anyone interested in animation must be committed and willing to put in the extra effort to become successful in their field.

To become an animator, you should first attend a degree or certificate program in design and animation. These programs are offered through both technical and traditional colleges. While attending the program, students will improve their artistic techniques, learn how to turn two-dimensional (2-D) drawings on paper into three-dimensional (3-D) characters and objects in a computer program, and learn how to make those 3-D renditions move and interact with each other and the computer user. By the time the student graduates, he or she will be able to plot out and design complicated animation sequences.


During their time in college, students will begin putting together a portfolio to showcase their best work. Having a great portfolio is essential if you want to become an animator. A portfolio will have artwork, storyboards, and animated pieces that the student has created. It is important that students work hard during their time in college, so that they have the best work possible to put into their portfolios. Students can also create portfolio work outside of college.

Many colleges have an internship program that can help students get into the animation field. During this internship, students get a chance to work in the animation industry, gaining invaluable real-world experience. Some of these internships may eventually turn into job offers. Colleges may also have a job placement program to help students get started in the animation field after graduation.

There are dozens of fields that hire animators. Students usually start off in an entry-level position, and then are able to work their way up from there. Some animators work for a company, and others work as freelancers, working for whatever company has hired their services. There are a lot of people who want to become an animator, so it can be a very competitive field. Working hard, continuously developing your skills, and keeping up to date on software and industry developments can help a new animator break into the animation field.


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Post 3

While I really enjoy animated movies, I do miss the days of hand drawn animation. The other day, I was watching Winnie the Pooh (2011), and I really enjoyed it. You could tell the animators spent a lot of time on the hand drawn backgrounds. It had a lot of charm you don't see in most movies nowadays.

Post 2

@Chmander - I wouldn't say that the standards have changed. Sure, hand drawn animation is much less popular than it was years ago, but I'd say the same amount of work is required of you, if not even more so. I think what most people forget is that even though the images are computer generated, they still have to be drawn first. Add on the hair and rendering processes, and it's anything but an easy task.

Post 1

Just wondering, but are the standards for becoming an animator different in this day and age than they were many years ago, and is much less expected of you? The reason why I ask is because many years ago, everything had to hand drawn, meaning everything took much longer to animate. For example, look at Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

However, in this day and age of technology, computer animation runs rampant, and most hand drawn animation has become obsolete.

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