How To Become An Animator: Full Detailed Guide Over A Rewarding Career In Animation

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How To Become An Animator

How To Become An Animator
Image Source – Flickr

In one of the most lucrative career options, having a respectable job of an animator is something which can be a dream for many hundreds of aspiring animators. Becoming an animator involves going through a lot of processes, completing them step by step is a ladder to reaching to the success. With so many Animation schools offering animation education, learning animation is one of most exciting career options for young people. With help of Internet, hundreds of people also learn animation online and try to work hard to get a good job in their animation career.

Following Expert Interviews are always helpful, especially if you are new to the industry. This not ony gives motivation but also helps in overcoming tough situations.

How many years does it take to become an Animator

Steps to become an animator
Image Source – Flickr

Life of an animator involves years of struggle and hard work. There are animators of many levels. Entry level animators, these are animators who are just starting out and do not have much experience of work. Then, junior animators, they have around 2-3 years of experience. Senior Animators are those who have 5-8 years of experience and are often given roles of team leaders and after that, they are eligible for applying for the position of Animation Directors which have experience of around 10-12 years.

Entering into Animation industry is very hard. Since it is an industry which requires mastery in any particular one or more than skill. Learning Animation and mastering it is an uphill battle.  A newbie goes through various stages from choosing Animation school, learning basics, understanding Animation fundamentals, getting to know different aspects of art, animation and choosing one from it and mastering it. Then, creating a portfolio around it and working hard for refining it till getting approval by mentor and then going out for job hunting.

Essential roadmap for becoming Animator

Roadmap for becoming Animator
Image Source – Flickr
  • Animation education: Getting an education in Animation is the first and most important step in this industry. So creating a mindset in which any person who wants to be animator should be able and willing to learn and grab information required to become an animator. Education in animation can help in strong basics, developing habits of animators do, what hey do, how they do. How they are able to create masterpieces. Getting a degree of diploma in the animation industry is sometimes is preferred in 3d Studios.
  • List of animation schools: Choosing an Animation school is the most important chapter in the life of an Animator. Depending on the country and his/her financial condition, he or she may choose an animation or art school which will train them in all aspects of filmmaking, art and visual graphics and special effects. there are numerous top notch schools in the United States and Canada. Some of them are producing students who get internship or job in topmost studios of the world. Top schools like Ringling, Van Arts, VfS have a very strong curriculum which helps students create a strong base and good understanding of filmmaking and special effects.
  • Career options: Anyone looking forward to becoming a successful person in Animation industry can choose any specialization depending on his skills and expertise. Artists whose work is very good can be hired by Animation Studios, Production Houses, Media Agencies, Post Production houses, Gaming Studios and Mobile App Companies. Some of the artists which are required by many companies can apply for work as:
  1. Layout Artist: These are responsible for creating the layout which is required during a production work. The layout can be of any type, including buildings, mountains or any background according to the requirement of the shot.
  2. Character Designer: Designing of Characters which have appeal and attracts an audience is a must for any production work. Thus, a good character designer is a must in the studio or any other production house.
  3. Digital Painter: Providing right balance of different colors and shades of tons of colors gives more depth, clarity and provides value to the assigned task to the digital painter.
  4. Animator: Most toughest job and most challenging job, Animators are often the backbone of any production pipeline. Their job is to bridge the gap between imagination and the real world. They provide life to the characters and are often provided most challenging tasks under a tight deadline.
  5. Modeler: Characters are one of the most important parts of a production. Many movies are famous because of their characters like Finding Nemo, Shrek, Ice Age series. A good modeler can turn character blueprints into appealing characters which are further sent to texturing and rigging departments respectively.
  6. Compositor: Famous shots as seen as movies which are called as special effects, they are actually part of compositing which is responsible for breathtaking effects of smoke, fire, etc.
  7. Rigger: Providing bone structure to the character provided by modeler is called rigging. Rigging is a very technical job and requires rigger to know bone structure of human and animals and their movement which is helpful in creating different types of controls for controlling the character.
  8. Lighting and Shading Artist: To provide realistic touch and feel to the environment and characters. Texturing is a technical job and requires anyone to have in-depth knowledge or color sense and its variations.
  9. Rendering Artist: Creating high quality renders for a production shot something which requires the good knowledge of all rendering tools inside 3d softwares. Famous movies like Avatar’s renders were produced by workstations which were taking hours to complete rendering process.
  10. Illustrator: Illustrator is a job which is done by people who are good in visualization and having good command in creating, drawing and painting. Illustrations are often seen in kids movies, backgrounds, and famous art websites much more.
  11. Visual Effects Artist: Producing visual effects adds more realism and excitement in a production shot. Visual effects artist often produces special effects which are always appreciated by people even if the movie failed to become a hit.
  12. Script Writer: Writing for movies, games and animation industry is an always a challenge, but the pay is equally good as well. Writers often work hard on story development. Institutes like Vancouver film school provides one-year diploma in writing for film and games.
  13. Editor: Every production project when is coming to final stages, is edited by editing artists. Editing is an important part of post-production as it includes, removing unnecessary scenes, adding sound effects and arranging clips into a continuous series.
  • Skills and Qualities to become an animator: There are skills which helped animators to grow more in their careers and make their work top notch. Some of these are:
  1. Understanding human body structure and skeletal system.
  2. Good observational skills.
  3. Drawing and sketching skills.
  4. Lots and lots of Patience.
  5. Acting skills.
  6. Ability to add detailing.
  7. Excellent Teamwork and communication skills.
  8. Concentration and ability to work for long hours for the same task.
  9. Ability to work in stress.

A day in the life of an Animator is full of doing sketching, producing thumbnails for his shot, the understanding need for the scene and working nonstop for hours under the tight deadline. A video from Day in the Life youtube channel explaining, What exactly is the daily life of on animator?

  • Guidance and finding a mentor to become Animator: Finding a good mentor is a huge challenge, often people struggle many years to learn animation, but that duration can be reduced if you find a right mentor. Right mentor teaches you right things, covers your basics and gives you direction. Choosing a specialisation and working hard towards it until producing a strong demo reel showcasing your skills. Right mentor guides you in right direction and encourages you to bring out the best in you.
  • Learning the art of Graphics, Animation and Efficiency: Mastering skills of visual effects and animation and moving in right direction makes learning animation easy. It takes hours of hard work for months which tells how to produce more work with less hardwork with doing things smart way and becoming a smart animator.
  • Portfolio: The graphics and animation masters bridges the gap between imagination and the real world. Something like this should be observed in their portfolios.
  1. A demoreel 1-1.5 minutes or 30-40 seconds in some cases, showcasing hs talent in his or her specialised industry.
  2. A cover letter.
  3. Reference from his mentor or any reputable person from industry.
  4. Art works samples from his sketching book.
  • Job Opportunities: With 3d and graphics industry to grow more in coming years. Job oportunities are expected to rise, as many productions houses, media houses, websites, andrid applications are expected to rise and with the rise in jobs, artists will be able to showcase their talent to more audience among all over the world.

How to become an Animator without going to school

How to become an Animator without going to school
Image Source – Flickr

There are man self taught animators. There are many people who wnat to learn animation but problem with them is , they donot have enough money to join expensive Animation universites and colleges. These peopel can still learn animation andjoin any animation studio and grow from there. Learning animation by self can be done as well but it will takes years to understand and master the techniques used to do the animation. Following advices from Animation books like Animator survior kit and The illusion of life. Anyone can start practising basic examples of animations like bouncing ball and pendulum exercises. Later on body mechanics can be learn as well by following and remaining active at some popular websites like 1secondclub.com, cgtalk.com etc. Animation can also be self learned as online learning of animation and with most of the stuff in the time of internet can be available for free.

To do’s and not to do’s for becoming Animator:

To do’s:

  • Keep practising life drawing. Keep a sketchbook and try to study real life.
  • Study motion and movements in human and animals,  and birds.
  • Join 11secondclub.com. (A free website and forum with tons of animators sharing their work and getting feedback from professional animators).
  • Watching lots of animation movies and tv serials.

Not to do’s:

  • Learning Animation is an uphill battle, not focussing on goals for preparation of shot for animation.
  • Taking feedback for non qualified people.
  • Keep working on shots untill they are not perfect.

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