A college degree is not always necessary to become an animator. However, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed some type of formal education in animation, graphic design, or a related field.
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The Different Types of Animation
2D animation is the “traditional” form of animation, and is still in use today. It is drawn or painted by hand on thin sheets of plastic called cels, which are then photographed frame-by-frame. 2D animation can be further divided into vector and bitmap graphics.
3D computer graphics are now the standard in feature film and broadcast animation. Objects and characters are modeled in a 3D software environment and then “rigged” with digital bones so they can move. These digital models are then brought to life by “animators” who manipulate the rigs to make the models move.
Stop-motion animation is a type of 2D animation that doesn’t use cels. Instead, objects are moved by hand frame-by-frame, with each frame photographed. This includes claymation (objects made of clay), Lego animation (Lego bricks), and object animator (various everyday objects).
The History of Animation
Most people think of animation as a relatively recent art form, but it actually has a long and rich history. Early examples of animation can be found in cave paintings, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Greek mythology. In the early days of film, animators experimented with different ways to create the illusion of movement on screen. One of the earliest and most famous examples is Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (1902), which used a combination of live action and animation.
During the 1920s, Walt Disney established his studio as a leader in the field of animation with classics like Steamboat Willie (1928) and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Over the next few decades, other studios emerged as major players in the world of animation, including Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera. In the 1980s and 1990s, new technologies like computer-generated imagery (CGI) began to change the landscape of animation. Today, there are endless possibilities for animators, with CGI, stop-motion, hand-drawn, and 2D/3D techniques all being used to create captivating animated films and TV shows.
If you’re interested in becoming an animator, you’ll need to have a strong foundation in art and design. A bachelor’s degree in animation or a related field is often required, although many animators get their start with an associate degree or certificate program. It’s also important to have strong computer skills and be proficient in industry-standard software such as Adobe After Effects or Autodesk Maya. Most importantly, you need to be creative, imaginative, and able to tell stories through your artwork. If you have these qualities, then a career in animation could be right for you!
The Principles of Animation
The basic principles of animation were first devised by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their 1981 book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. The book was based on the twelve principles of animation they had developed while working at the studio.
The principles are:
1. Squash and stretch: This is used to give a sense of weight and volume to characters and objects. It involves stretching or squashing an object along one axis while keeping the other axis unchanged.
2. Anticipation: This is used to prepare the audience for an action that is about to take place. It is often used in conjunction with other principles such as staging and slow in/slow out.
3. Staging: This is used to draw attention to the most important part of the scene or action. It involves elements such as lighting, framing, and camera angles.
4. Straight ahead action and pose to pose: Straight ahead action is when an animator starts from the beginning of a scene and works their way through to the end, drawing each frame as they go. Pose to pose is when an animator creates key poses at first, which act as a guide for the rest of the animation. They will then fill in the frames between those poses later on.
5. Follow through and overlapping action: Follow through is when an object continues moving after it has stopped moving its main body part (e.g., an arm swinging after a character has stopped running). Overlapping action is when one body part starts moving before another has finished moving (e.g., a character’s head starting to turn before their body has stopped moving forward). Both of these principles are used to add realistic motion to characters and objects and make them seem more lifelike.
6. Slow in/slow out: This is used to make sure that objects accelerate and decelerate at a realistic rate instead of starting and stopping abruptly. It gives animations a natural fluidity and makes them more believable.
7 . ARC: ARC stands for “arc de cercle” which means “circle arc” in French. It’s used when drawing curved motions such as a character throwing a ball or swinging a bat—making sure that the arcs are consistent adds realism to the movement . 8 . Secondary action: A secondary action is any action that happens simultaneously with the main action but isn’t directly related to it (e . g . , a character winking while they talk). Adding secondary actions can help bring life and personality to animated characters . 9 . Timing : The timing principle refers to how long each frame should be held for before moving on to the next one . This includes both how fast or slow an animation should appear overall, as well as smaller details such as blinking or breathing . 10 . Exaggeration : This principle is all about adding extra detail or emphasizing certain motions in order to make them more noticeable or interesting . In some cases, this might mean making an Action bigger than it would be in real life , while in others it might mean drawing out a Pose so that it lasts longer than normal . 11 . Solid drawing : Solid drawing refers to creating drawings that look three-dimensional by considering things like weight , balance , texture , perspective , etc . An animation will look more realistic if its drawings appear solid and well-defined , rather than flat or sketchy . 12 . Appeal : Last but not least, appeal represents anything that makes your animation visually pleasing or attractive
The Tools of the Animator
An animator is someone who creates the illusion of movement in a sequence of static images. This is typically done by creating individual “frames” or “cells” that are slightly different from each other and then stringing them together to create the appearance of fluid motion.
Animators can use a variety of techniques to create their frames, but most modern animators rely heavily on computer animation software. This software allows them to create digital “paintings” or “clay sculpture” that can be manipulated onscreen and then exported as a traditional film or video file.
In order to become an animator, you will need to develop strong skills in both art and computer animation. You should also be comfortable with storyboarding and other forms of pre-production planning. Most animators have at least a bachelor’s degree in fine art, computer science, or a related field.
The Animation Process
Education requirements for animators vary depending on the position they want and the company they want to work for. There are many types of animators, from those who design and draw characters for 2D animation to those who create the detailed 3D worlds found in movies and video games. Some animators may specialize in a particular software program, while others may be skilled in a number of different programs.
Most entry-level animator positions require at least a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design, fine arts, computer science, or a related field. Many animators also have Master’s degrees or other advanced degrees in animation or fine arts. In addition to formal education, many animators also receive on-the-job training or internships with animation studios.
The animation process usually begins with a storyboard, which is a series of drawings that visualize the action in a scene. Once the storyboard is approved by the client or studio, the animators can begin creating the individual frames that will make up the final animation. In 2D animation, these frames are drawn by hand, while in 3D animation they are created using computer modeling and rendering software. The frames are then assembled into a sequence and played back at a certain frame rate to create the illusion of movement.
The Business of Animation
animation.Animators may work in a variety of fields including advertising, film, television, and video games. The majority of animators are employed in the Motion Picture and Video industry, where they create visual effects for movies and television shows. Other animators work in the Video Game industry, where they develop characters and environments for video games.
In order to become an animator, you will need to complete a postsecondary education program in graphic design, computer graphics, or animation. Many animators also have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. After completing an educational program, you will need to build a portfolio of your work to show potential employers.