If you love animation, you probably know some of the most influential animation makers, such as Walt Disney and Hayao Miyazaki. If you want to be a part of this industry, you need to develop important skills if you hope to realize your dream of becoming an animation maker.

Being an animation maker is one of the most fulfilling jobs there is. Not only can you get paid over $123,000 annually, but you are also able to tell a story in an intimate way. You may not think about it much, but animation is magic made real by technology. Through movement and color, you can create your masterpiece that will make a mark on people.

If you want to try your luck as an animation maker, it’ll delight you to know that how you position yourself in the industry is just as interesting as the work itself.

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What Is an Animation Maker?

Before you try your luck as an animation maker, you first have to know what the job entails, along with its wide array of specialties. This way, you can match your skill to your passion.

Every animator is responsible for bringing images and characters to life on screen. Animation makers work in various fields. Some are responsible for creating motion pictures, others specialize in advertising video services, and there are those who create storyboards that serve as a guide for filming.

Being able to animate opens up a lot of doors. If you want to broaden your career potential, you may also work as a painter, technical director, poster designer, or game consultant.

So Why Should You Become an Animation Maker?

While it may seem like an unreachable career aspiration, becoming an animation maker is a rewarding career path for kids and adults alike. This industry comes with a wealth of options and great job opportunities that are above an average person’s earning potential.

As the demand for movies, television effects, commercials, and video games increases, the opportunities for animation makers also multiply. Now more than ever, animation has become in demand. Every major studio has opened up an animation department, and there are also thousands of animation maker online freelancers devoted to the craft. As one of the most successful forms of entertainment, it’s going to thrive with no end in sight.

Animation maker for freelancers

What Does It Take to Become an Animation Maker?

So you’ve decided to try your luck in this exciting career. Here are some of the steps you need to take to make the most out of your skills.

Familiarize yourself with the basics

Every animation maker starts as a beginner. If you are interested in the field, chances are, you also love drawing as a hobby. But it is important to practice animation fundamentals, which include composition and perspective. Also, dabble in character design. It will take a while to get the hang of it, but the more you practice, the better your drawings will be. When your understanding of the basics becomes solid, you can easily transfer your skills to animation.

Assess your skill

Not everyone will be a successful animation maker. You need to have specific traits and skills to excel in the field. While you can learn anything with practice and proper instructions, you still have to be honest with your aptitude as you do a self-inventory.

Just like other professionals, animators need to have a good mix of technical skills and soft qualities to do well. For example, they need to work well with a team. After all, nobody likes to work with an animator who cannot take direction and work well with other professionals.

Complete education requirements

Once you have a basic understanding of what is expected of you, you have to sharpen your abilities through education. Employers usually require professionals to have a Bachelor’s degree that lines up with their skills. Your degree or certificate will verify to your future boss or clients that you’ve obtained a well-rounded education and ensure that you’ve already exposed yourself to the different kinds of animation.

There are many specialties in the animation field, and the foundation courses touch on the basic requirements you need to master. These courses include drawing, multimedia, art, graphics, and 2D and 3D animation. Take time to choose the right program for you to ensure that its features match up with your chosen specialty. For instance, interactive courses on game animation may not be the best choice for someone who wants to do movie animation.

Having a degree or attending courses will also take care of what you’ll need to begin working in the field, such as the knowledge of graphic design theories.

Look for work experience

Work experience plays a major role in every animator’s career. Think about it- nobody starts being in charge of a multi-million-dollar project as their first job. Most clients choose artists who already have rich experience in the field. As you are studying, try to look for internships. Animators who have not obtained education or those who recently graduated typically start out working for an assistant position before they can advance.

You may also volunteer your skills for others. Budding animators have a lot of local opportunities to provide work for small businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, and community clubs, such as contributing an animated informational video. Professional work done as a volunteer job is valuable in your demo reel.

Create a portfolio

It’s a common practice for employers to want to see the work of applicants before they make a hiring decision. A demo reel is a video that includes examples of your work in different animation scenes. Many companies prefer to see a reel that highlights short segments of your best works instead of a compilation of all your work experiences. And don’t forget to include a title card for each frame.

You may want to change up your reel for different positions. This is the best way to highlight your style for a specific job. Demo reels should be around two to four minutes long, and make sure to stand and end with your best examples. For convenience purposes, employers will accept a website, Vimeo, and YouTube link when you apply. It is recommended to use sounds on your reel, but be careful not to include anything distracting.

Improve your skill proactively

If you want to remain competitive, you can attend classes for advanced skills and software features so you can stay in line with whatever the industry currently needs. You also want to subscribe to online or in-print publications that center on the graphics and animation industry to educate yourself on trends and new technology releases.

If you want to go the extra mile, consider developing your technical and creative skills through a master’s program. This is essential if you want to advance to senior-level positions and take on bigger projects. Further education will also do wonders in allowing you to gain fresh ideas through workshops, lectures, and online courses.

Types of Animation You Should Know

Here’s a rundown of the animation types you should get familiar with.

3D animation

Also called Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), 3D animation is the most popular animation type for movies, and it has also become common in short films and television. This is the same animation type used to create characters for live-action films such as Frozen.

For this type, a 3D animation maker uses a character rig, which is a digital puppet, to build and position the character. Then, they use a system of motion paths to create movement between poses. The computer is responsible for interpolating the animation frames in between the keyframes, and animators refine these movements until it is smooth and seamless.

This type of animation is very intensive, and it usually requires specialists to model characters, rig it, animate it, and then fill in texture and light to make the final output realistic.

2D animation (hand-drawn)

The first 2D animation types were called traditional, cel, or hand-drawn animation. In a way, this name defines its most important trait – it’s drawn by hand. This classic animation type may be something you grew up watching since it is featured in films such as Snow White. Before, a 2D animation maker would draw characters by frame. These drawings were transferred in a clear acetate sheet called cels.

Through the 1990s, most major studios stopped using cels in favor or scanning drawings in computers for digital coloring. Now, many professionals who specialize in hand-drawn animation skip paper and draw directly through a tablet or computer through specialized monitors. Hand-drawn animation can be done digitally, analog, or a mixture of both. However, all types feature frame by frame drawings using old paper and cel techniques and principles.

2D vector animation

Technology has enabled animators to use digital puppets to create 2D animation similar to what the makers of Rick and Morty did. These 2D characters are built with bones and controls that can be manipulated similarly to 3D rigs.

The difference between 2D hand-drawn and rigged characters is not very much. There is even a wide array of programs that can mix and match the two animations within the same character. For this type of animation, the character could have bones that professionals pose, but they may also have parts that were animated by hand.

Animation maker for content creators

Stop motion

If you’ve watched Coraline or Kubo and the Two Strings, you’re already familiar with this type of animation. Stop motion has many types, but all involve manipulating real-world objects. Each small movement is photographed, and all frames put together to show a sequence with an illusion of movement.

Claymation also has a similar technique using a malleable character made of plasticine. Stop motion can also use regular dolls and figurines. There’s even a wide array of lego animation you can find today.

Another type of stop motion is cut out animation. Characters are built using paper are pinned together at the joints. Similar to other stop motion types, the paper parts are moved and photographed. This was the style South Park initially used.

The last type of stop motion is pixilation. Here, real people take the place of puppets. All the stop motions share the same frame by frame shooting style. If there’s a mistake, it can be very hard to fix without retouching the scene. It is impossible to re-draw similar to 2D animation.

Motion graphics animation

The last major category of animation is motion graphics animation. This centers on making dynamic presentations of moving logos, texts, and illustrations. Considering this, it can be both 3D and 2D and used in explainer videos, TV productions, commercials, events, and news.

Ready to Be an Animation Maker?

Maybe your ambition to be an animation maker started when you first watched your Disney movie. Whatever inspired you to follow this dream, you can finally make it come true. Now you know the steps on how to be an animation maker. So you can start your journey in this prolific industry. If you want to get on-board great projects and become an animation maker online, join the talented pool of artists at Bunny Studios.