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What Is an Animation Designer?

Animation design requires a balance of computer software and creativity skills to create animating graphics for an array of industries, including film, television, and marketing. Read on to discover how to get into animation, as well as job duties and salary information to determine if this career is the right fit for you.

What Is Animation?

Animation is the combined use of art and technology to create images that move on a screen. The two major types of animation are 2-D and 3-D. 2-D animation consists of flat graphics and text usually seen in cartoons or advertisements while 3-D animation uses computer-generated images (CGI) to create a more realistic look.

Animation Designer Job Description

Graphic animation exists in a variety of industries, from film and television to social media and advertisement. The job duties can differ depending on which industry an animation designer is working in and who they are working for. Generally, animation designers work with clients to create 2-D and 3-D images. These images can be texts, characters, logos, or objects. The key component is that these images move on the screen.

Animation designers work with many different types of people, including clients, graphic designers, other animators, photographers, audio and video producers, and art and creative directors. Work is often in a team environment. Even if a designer works from home, they will have to communicate and collaborate with others. Designers can freelance or work for companies in offices. Depending on the job, they may perform other duties such as creating storyboards, writing scripts, creating websites, and editing videos.

While the job is artistic, advanced computer skills are a must, even if animations are hand-drawn at first. Designers need technical skills such as:

  • Interaction design
  • Prototyping
  • UI designing
  • 3D modeling/CGI

Additionally, they must be skilled in software programs including the following:

  • Illustrator
  • Photoshop
  • Indesign
  • 3D Studio Max

How to Get Into Animation

The first step to getting into animation is to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in animation, graphic design, computer graphics, or a related field. Many of these programs foster creative growth while also teaching the technical skills needed for jobs in animation design. Students develop a portfolio of their work that shows off their creative and technical skills. Most entry-level animation jobs require a bachelor's degree, however, self-study can increase one's chances of being hired as well, as long as their portfolio demonstrates their knowledge and abilities.

For a competitive edge in the job market, a Master of Fine Arts degree specializing in a field related to animation can help one hone their craft further.

An additional way to get started in animation is by completing an internship, which can be a great way for aspiring animation professionals to learn on-the-job skills and more about the business. Like a regular position, the duties performed in animation internships depend on the industry. An internship with a television network may require assistance in creating characters while an internship with a marketing agency may require assistance with creating logos.

Lastly, one can get into animation by starting freelance work. Freelance work not only builds an individual's portfolio from a creative standpoint but from a professional standpoint as well. The more clients one can show off, and thereby the more work they have in their portfolio, the higher their chances are of getting hired.

Animation Designer Overview, Salary, and Outlook

Animation salaries vary largely by industry, state, and metropolitan area. Cities like New York City and Los Angeles have higher salaries and more work because they have more entertainment and advertising companies than in other areas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 2018 median salary of $72,520 and a job outlook of 4% from 2018-2028 for all multimedia artists and animators.

JobAnimation Designer
EducationBachelor's degree in graphic design, art, computer graphics, related field
Other requirementsStrong technical skills, portfolio
Additional InformationInternship may help break into industry
Median Salary (2018)*$72,520 (for multimedia artists and animators)
Job Outlook (2018-2028)*4% (for multimedia artists and animators)

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics