A scene from a popular animated film 'Zootopia'
Traditionally, animators painted or drew images or sketches by hand to be shown in cinemas. Today, a good deal of animations are solely made with CGI (computer-generated imagery) tech. So, is animation a good career to pursue? Certainly yes, as it offers diverse career opportunities. (Source: Unsplash)

Animation is a growing field.

Animators create visual effects and animation for almost everything from video games to films, TV, and other modes of media through software programs and illustrations.

In addition, they create graphics, storyboards, and drawings. Not just that, animators also plan, script, and create animated sequences and help with production coordination and background design.

In short, with an animation career, you can breathe life into characters and objects using special effects, animations, and other images.

Since the field of animation is growing exponentially, what job opportunities does it offer to students? Read on to find out!

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Is Animation A Good Career?

Many people often wonder is animation a good career to pursue or not. Yet, it is amongst the few most sought-after and lucrative degree programs these days.

With excellent salaries and creative freedom, animation might be the ideal option for you. Whether video games, movies, or other media forms, animation is widely used.

For instance, movies such as Kung Fu Panda, Ice Age, Incredibles, etc., are popular animated movies that people watch to date. This signifies animation is here to stay and isn't going anyway.

Animation Career Requirements

An animator working on a project
Animation career requirements are getting a bachelor's degree in fine arts, graphic arts, or computer animation, gaining a few years of professional experience, building a portfolio, and getting a master's degree. (Source: Pixabay)

If you want to change your major or have started college, you may ask: what sort of degree program one requires to become an animator?

Animators typically have a bachelor's in fine art, graphic art, or computer animation.

They have to be creative and should possess effective time management and communication skills. In addition to that, they should have video editing, animation, and computer skills.

Nevertheless, here's how you can become a professional animator:

  • First, finish a bachelor degree in either fine arts, computer animation, or graphic art
  • After that, gain some work experience
  • Build a strong portfolio
  • Take advanced software program features and maintain your skill
  • Consider masters' or graduate training
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Animation Career Path

Animation degree programs develop technical and creative skills that are suitable for many digital and creative careers. Here are a few animation career choices you can pursue after graduation:

Animator

Here's the thing: there are different kinds of animation from 2D to 3D hand-drawn, computer-generated to stop-motion, and others. All job roles require a high level of passion and creativity.

Animators create images known as 'frames,' which are sequenced together to make an illusionary movement known as 'animation.'

Computer-generated animations predominantly feature in cinema, television, online, and computer games.

Producing animation includes several stages such as generating concepts, building models, rigging lighting, etc.

Computer animation, on the contrary, employs software popularly called "Computer-generated Imagery (CGI)."

Nevertheless, here are some responsibilities that you'll have to perform as an animator:

  • Liaising with customers and making animations from their ideas
  • Creating storyboards that portray the narrative and script
  • 2d drawing to make artwork, illustrations, and sketches
  • Designing models, sets, objects, characters, environment, and the animation background
  • Using various materials such as plaster, modeling clay, acrylics, watercolors, and oil paints
  • Developing the pace and timing of a character/object's movements during image sequence and making sure they follow audio requirements and soundtrack
  • Using technical programs such as 3ds max, lightwave, cinema 4d, flash, Maya, and Softimage
  • Building up precise, frame-by-frame, detailed visuals
  • Working with various editors and recoding dialogue to merge different animation layers from backgrounds to characters, graphics to special effects to make the finished product
  • Working to meet deadlines and client's commercial requirements
  • Working within a larger production team that may include collaborating with printers, photographers, account executives, marketing specialists, website designers, copywriters, or designers
  • Dealing with various business cultures, finding funding, and delivering presentations

A great majority of work involves being proactive and pitching your work and ideas to potential clients and customers. This applies if you work for a company, are freelance, or even self-employed.

Concept Artist

Concept artists jump-start creative assignments by sketching and imagining worlds and characters that don't exist in cinema, VFX, advertising, video games, and animation.

Working as concept artists, you'll apply artistic and imaginative skills to make images of creatures, moods, places, and people.

In addition to that, you'll provide images and sketches of how the environment and character may look like.

All projects with a visual storyline may need concept artists. This means you can efficiently work in various visual media fields like comic books, films, and animation.

You'll have to produce your work on time to meet deadlines. Your ideas and concepts will be utilized as references throughout the project.

Concept Art Types

You can also choose to specialize in concept art. For example:

  • Creature: illustrating nonhuman characters
  • Character: specializing in making mostly human characters
  • Environmental: creating detailed worlds and scenes, including imaginary, outdoor, and indoor settings

Here are a few things you'll have to do as concept artists:

  • Create detailed and quick paintings and drawings of characters, buildings, environments, props (including the creation of wireframes and thumbnails), and vehicles
  • Use technological and conventional methods to make designs in 3d and 2d via painting and drawing
  • Effectively interpret briefs
  • Pitch and explain your concepts clearly to the design team and clients
  • Respond to customer feedback positively
  • Refine and adapt your work depending customer's response
  • Maintain effective communication with all customers
  • Be confident while using creative technologies and programs such as Maya, SketchUp, Painter, and Photoshop
  • Research information and topics for reference points and concepts to utilize in different designs
  • Develop specification sheets, precisely noting details and dimensions for other staff members to follow
  • Meet tight timelines

Game Developer

To succeed as a game developer, you'll need a fondness for technical skills, games, and the capacity to work independently or with a team.

As a games developer, you'll create games for consoles, personal computers, online/social games, mobile phones, arcade games, tablets, and other hand-held devices.

With a big games corporation, you may stick to specific programming fields like engine, artificial intelligence, toolchain, graphics, and network.

On the other hand, with smaller independent game producers, you may perform the duties of both a programmer and a designer.

From idea to end product, the game creation process can take ages and include a team of experts.

Various stages include designing the game, devising gameplay, creating audio, animating objects and characters, programming, localization, editing, testing, and producing.

Here are some responsibilities that your employer will expect from you:

  • Design, create and deliver high-quality code and systems using different programming languages like C# and C++
  • Perform code evaluations to check code quality
  • Refactor code for improving existing code's design
  • Quality code testing to seek bugs or problems and record exactly where the issue was discovered
  • Debug software and address complex technical issues that happen within the games' production
  • Liaise with other teams to meet project's needs
  • Closely cooperate with artists, designers, and other team members in the process to make a quality and credible product
  • Perform effectively in difficulties and meet time-frames to make sure the game is finished on time

Based on the position, you might also:

  • Develop a primary concept design for the game, such as gameplay
  • Generate game storyboards and scripts
  • Create game's visual aspects at the idea stage
  • Use animation software like Maya and 3D or 2D modeling
  • Produce game's audio features such as sound effects, music, and character voices

In addition to that, if you're in a senior job role, you may:

  • Have the responsibility for execution and technical strategy of projects, from ideas to market
  • Plan resources
  • Manage both process and development team

Illustrator

Illustration on iPad pro
The field of animation is expanding, which means various career opportunities await you as you graduate. Some of the jobs you can take include animators, illustrators, concept artists, game developers, etc. (Source: Unsplash)

Illustrators create still images and drawings to communicate stories, ideas, or messages used in books, packaging, magazines, newspapers, and greeting cards.

As illustrators, you'll persuade, entertain, or inform the client's targeted audience and adjust the style and mood of images.

You'll typically specialize in a specific design medium like photography, digital illustration, or drawing.

Illustrator Types

Illustrator's work is mainly freelance, and many of them are self-employed. Some work areas include:

  • Publishing: books
  • Advertising: press, storyboards, and posters
  • Editorial: newspapers, comics, and magazines
  • Fashion: forecasting
  • Corporate work: catalogs and brochures
  • Multimedia: tv computer games, apps, animation, websites, and films
  • Merchandising: calendars, ceramics, t-shirts, and greeting cards

Some specialist fields include technical, medical, and scientific illustration. Illustrations showing processes, techniques, or products are made for reference books and text within these areas.

Nevertheless, here are a few responsibilities that you'll have to perform as an illustrator:

  • Liaise with editors, customers, and authors to comprehend and interpret their company needs
  • Gain an understanding of suitable styles
  • Negotiate deadlines and pricing
  • Analyze the text and brief's specifications to be portrayed and research sources
  • Think creatively and imaginatively to create new concepts and ideas
  • Create designs and images by using conventional hand-skills of painting and drawing along with other techniques
  • Utilize computer-aided design (CAD) to scan photos and sketches and change colors, size, and other factors
  • Offer roughs
  • Re-define a brief to include fresh text and ideas as appropriate
  • Speculatively approach possible commissioners to search for new work sources
  • Work within the set timelines to meet deadlines
  • Create original bits for self-promotion
  • Research suitable galleries to seek appropriate venues to show work

Animation Career Salary

As per the 'Bureau of Labor Statistics,' the average yearly salary for animators and multimedia artists is around $77000.

In addition to that, BLS also predicted animators' and multimedia artists' average salaries will increase by four percent by 2029.

Like most other fields, the salary for animators varies based on several factors such as experience, skill, etc.; it's not unusual for art directors or senior-level animators to make six-figure salaries.

Nevertheless, it would be best if you didn't always choose a position solely on salary, though it's a crucial aspect to consider.

Compared to other fields, animation is slightly newer, and its employment is usually short-term; however, it's in high demand.

If you've got the passion and the visual, communication, and technical skills required to make quality animations, you can become a successful animator with a generous annual salary.

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