How To Become An Animator

Becoming an animator is an exciting pursuit for those fascinated by the art of bringing characters and stories to life through motion. Whether your interest lies in traditional hand-drawn animation, 3D computer-generated imagery, or stop-motion, the path to building a career in animation involves honing your skills, nurturing your creativity, and understanding the industry. This guide will provide you with step-by-step directions on how to realise your dream of becoming an animator.

Step 1: Understand the Role of an Animator

Before you set out on your animation career path, it’s essential to understand what the role involves. Animators create a sequence of images that, when played in rapid succession, give the illusion of movement. This can be applied to films, video games, television, online media, and more. Arm yourself with knowledge about the different types of animation and the various roles within an animation production.

Step 2: Develop Your Artistic Skills

Formal Education

Consider pursuing a degree or taking courses in animation, fine arts, graphic design, or a related field. Universities, art schools, and online platforms provide both foundational art knowledge and specific techniques in animation. Courses often cover:

  • Drawing and illustration
  • Storyboarding
  • Character design
  • 3D modeling
  • Animation software (such as Adobe After Effects, Maya, or Blender)


If formal education isn’t an option, there are plenty of online resources, including tutorials, e-books, webinars, and community forums. Practice is crucial, so draw regularly, learn the principles of animation, and apply what you learn by creating your own short animations.

Step 3: Specialise

Animation is a broad field, so it helps to specialise. You might focus on:

  • Storyboarding
  • Character animation
  • Background and scenery
  • Special effects
  • 3D rigging
  • Motion graphics
  • Decide what you are most passionate about and cultivate the skills you need in that area.

Step 4: Build a Portfolio

Your portfolio is your most important tool to showcase your talent to potential employers or clients. Include your best work, demonstrating a range of skills and styles. As a tip, having your own unique style can make you stand out from the crowd.

  • Create original work
  • Include projects from your studies/courses
  • Showcase diversity in techniques and storytelling
  • Ensure your portfolio is easily accessible, either through a professional website or through industry-recognised platforms such as Behance or Vimeo.

When someone is looking for professional animators to work with, they check their portfolio before hiring. As a freelance animation designer, you have a great opportunity to get hired remotely.

Step 5: Gain Experience


Many studios offer internships, which provide invaluable on-the-job experience and a chance to network with professionals.

Freelance Projects

Taking on freelance work lets you build your portfolio, develop client relationships, and understand the business side of animation.

Personal Projects

Personal animations can show off your individuality and are often noted for their creativity.

Step 6: Master Software and Tools

Animation relies heavily on software. Some of the industry standards include:

  • Adobe Creative Suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Animate (formerly Flash)
  • 3D Software: Autodesk Maya, Cinema 4D, Blender (free)
  • Stop Motion: Dragonframe
  • 2D Animation: Toon Boom Harmony, TVPaint

Step 7: Keep Learning and Stay Updated

The animation industry is constantly evolving with technological advances. Staying updated with the latest software updates, and animation trends, and attending webinars or workshops keeps your skills sharp and relevant.

Step 8: Network

Networking is essential in the animation industry. Attend industry meet-ups and expos, and join online communities such as LinkedIn groups or Reddit. Following and interacting with industry professionals, studios, and educational institutions can lead to opportunities.


Becoming an animator requires passion, dedication, and continuous learning. Start by grounding yourself in the fundamental principles of animation and art, developing your technical skills, and building a compelling portfolio. With patience and perseverance, you can turn your aspiration for animation into a thriving career.

Remember, every expert was once a beginner. Your road to becoming a skilled animator begins with that first frame.

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