How to Become an Animator
If you are an artistic person who would love to make your creations come to life on screen, then a career in animation could be for you! Animators use their creative and digital skills to make computer-generated animations.
This can be in the form of a film, advert, tv show, video game, or any other type of media. Are you keen to find out more about this exciting career and how you can be a part of it? Then read on to discover how to become an animator.
What Does an Animator Do?
Animators bring images to life using computer software to create digital moving images. There are several different types of animation that use different methods of creation to bring animated characters to life, including 2D, 3D, stop motion, claymation, hand-drawn, motion graphics, and vector. This diverse career has opportunities for every type of artist, whether you are a digital artist, sculptor, or love creating hand-drawn art.
Animators work from the creation of the image (drawing characters on a storyboard or creating clay figures) to using cameras and software to make these characters move and interact in a story. Day to day tasks of an animator vary depending on the animation’s type and uses. However, some of the common duties include:
How Much Does an Animator Earn?
According to the National Careers Service, animators in the UK earn between £14,000 and £36,000 a year, depending on experience. Entry-level positions may pay less, and this can depend on the type of animation. Those working as 2D animators may earn more or less than those who work in 3D animation, graphic design, or visual effects, for example.
What Qualifications are Needed to Become an Animator?
Most animation jobs require candidates to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Relevant degrees include animation, fine art, or graphic art, and having good IT skills or camera skills is also essential depending on the type of animation you want to do. Online digital skills courses are a great way to learn essential IT skills you need as an animator, and if you have yet to study your animation degree, then studying an online course can help you in your application. This can boost your technical skills and give you the know-how on how you can break into the animation industry.
If you do not have a degree or not one relevant to animation, then increasing your skills through online courses can be a great way to begin your career in animation. There are online diplomas in useful computer software to teach you the basics of digital art. For example you can browse Adobe courses that teach you the artistic and IT skills you need to succeed in this career. Many employers value diplomas and practical experience as much as an undergraduate degree, especially for junior animator apprenticeships.
Another important aspect that you need when applying for animation jobs is an artistic portfolio that demonstrates your creative abilities. This can be a portfolio of drawn animated characters, photographs of sculptures, a showreel of animation projects or a digital portfolio of your work, or a combination. Just make sure that it showcases your artistic ability. Suppose you have the knowledge of animation software to put together your own showreel already. In that case, these can be put out to employers for specific projects or to apply for a residency program.
What Skills Are Needed to Become an Animator?
In an animator’s role, what skills are needed to turn a passion into a full-time profession? The specific skills will depend on the type of animation you want to get into. However, some of these skills are essential to becoming a successful animator. You might be working with a variety of different computer programs, have to learn new animation skills, or maybe even try your hand at some special effects. However, some core skills will be useful throughout your career path. Some of these main skills that an animator needs include:
Creativity and artistic ability
Knowledge and skill in using animation software
Ability to work to deadlines
Patience and stamina
Ability to work as part of a team
Ability to work to a brief
An eye for detail
Do You Need Work Experience to Become an Animator
Work experience is a great way to ensure that you have the practical skills to become an animator and also helps you to understand what the daily life of an animator is like and whether it is right for you. Practical experience can be gained during a degree or diploma course, and especially during an apprenticeship.
There are also opportunities to apply for entry-level roles or junior roles, which can really help your career as you will have knowledge of the industry (this is also a great way of networking!). Keep an eye out for voluntary roles also, as these can help to get your foot in the door for an animation career. Charities often require animation assistants for promotional videos, and animation studios will often offer work placements for those looking to get into the industry.
Another great way to get practical experience is during a residency. These allow you to work as an artist-in-residence for anything from two weeks to several months, during which time you will also have access to all of the facilities they have and build up your online portfolio.
You can either work on professional projects with companies or pursue your own projects, depending on your residency. If you are having a hard time finding work experience or residency opportunities, then ensure that you practice as much as possible from your own home.
Refine your art skills, practice using animation software if you can, and try to find work or volunteer in an art-related area so that you are headed in the right direction.
What Are the Career Prospects for an Animator?
Often animators will begin as studio runners or junior animators before becoming an animator. Once you have gained a good few years as an animator, there is usually the potential to progress to more senior roles, such as a design manager or art director.
You can also specialise in one area, such as games design, web design, or illustration, which will utilise your skills in different ways. Many animators are freelance and work on individual projects with different companies. You could also choose to be an animator for a specific studio.
Are you keen to kickstart your career as an animator today? Want to work for computer animation giants like Pixar and Dreamworks? Explore our courses and find out how you can get started.
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