A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Previs Artist for Animation

A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Previs Artist for Animation

Are you passionate about animation and interested in becoming a previs artist? This beginner’s guide will provide you with all the essential information you need to kickstart your career in this exciting field. From understanding the role of a previs artist to learning the necessary skills and tools, this guide will equip you with the knowledge to succeed in the world of animation previsualization.

What is Previs and why is it important for animation?

Definition of Previs

Previs, short for previsualization, is the process of creating a rough visual representation of a scene or sequence before it is filmed or animated. This can include rough 3D models, storyboards, and camera angles to help plan out the visual aspects of a project.

Benefits of using Previs in animation

  1. Visualize the final product: Previs allows animators to see how a scene will look before investing time and resources into animating it fully. This can help identify potential issues and make necessary changes early on in the production process.

  2. Save time and money: By planning out scenes in previs, animators can streamline the animation process and avoid unnecessary revisions. This can help save time and money by reducing the need for reshoots or rework.

  3. Collaboration and communication: Previs can help facilitate communication between different departments, such as animators, directors, and producers. It provides a visual reference for everyone involved in the project to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

  4. Experimentation and creativity: Previs allows animators to experiment with different camera angles, lighting, and compositions to find the most effective way to tell a story. This can help spark creativity and lead to more dynamic and engaging animations.

    Skills needed to become a Previs artist

Becoming a Previs artist for animation requires a specific skill set that combines both technical proficiency and artistic creativity. Here are some essential skills needed to excel in this role:

Understanding of animation principles

A strong foundation in animation principles is essential for a Previs artist. This includes knowledge of timing, spacing, and weight, as well as a good understanding of character movement and acting. Being able to bring characters to life through animation is a key skill for creating effective previsualization sequences.

Proficiency in 3D animation software

Previs artists work extensively with 3D animation software to bring their vision to life. Proficiency in software such as Maya, Blender, or Cinema 4D is crucial for creating dynamic and engaging previsualization sequences. Being able to navigate the software efficiently and produce high-quality animations is a key skill for success in this role.

Ability to work collaboratively

Previs artists often work closely with directors, animators, and other members of the production team to bring a project to life. The ability to communicate effectively, take direction, and collaborate with others is essential for creating cohesive and engaging previsualization sequences. Being able to work as part of a team and contribute to the creative process is a key skill for success as a Previs artist.

Steps to start a career as a Previs artist

Education and training

To become a successful Previs artist for animation, it is essential to have a strong foundation in relevant education and training. Consider pursuing a degree in animation, visual effects, or a related field. Look for programs that offer courses specifically in Previs techniques and software. Additionally, attending workshops and taking online courses can help you stay updated on the latest tools and techniques in the industry.

Building a strong portfolio

A well-rounded portfolio is crucial for showcasing your skills and attracting potential employers. Include a variety of Previs projects that demonstrate your ability to visualize scenes, create storyboards, and understand camera angles. Make sure to highlight your attention to detail and creativity in each piece. Consider creating personal projects or collaborating with others to diversify your portfolio.

Networking and finding opportunities

Networking is key to finding opportunities in the animation industry. Attend industry events, conferences, and workshops to connect with professionals in the field. Join online forums and social media groups to stay informed about job openings and collaborate with other artists. Consider reaching out to studios or production companies directly to inquire about Previs artist positions. Building relationships with industry professionals can lead to valuable opportunities for your career growth.

Tools and software used in Previs

Previs artists use a variety of tools and software to bring their ideas to life in the world of animation. These tools help them visualize scenes, plan camera movements, and create a rough version of the final product before the actual production begins.

Popular Previs software

  1. Autodesk Maya: One of the most popular software used in Previs, Autodesk Maya allows artists to create 3D models, animate characters, and design virtual environments with ease.

  2. Adobe After Effects: Another widely used software for Previs, Adobe After Effects is known for its powerful compositing and visual effects tools, making it a favorite among animation artists.

  3. Blender: A free and open-source software, Blender is a versatile tool that offers a wide range of features for Previs artists, including 3D modeling, sculpting, and animation capabilities.

Additional tools for efficient workflow

  1. Storyboarding software: Tools like Storyboard Pro or ShotPro help Previs artists create detailed storyboards that outline the sequence of shots and camera angles for each scene.

  2. Virtual reality headsets: Some Previs artists use virtual reality headsets to immerse themselves in the virtual world they are creating, allowing them to visualize scenes from different perspectives and make adjustments in real-time.

  3. Motion capture devices: For more realistic character animations, some Previs artists use motion capture devices like the Perception Neuron or Xsens MVN to record the movements of actors and transfer them to digital characters.

By using these tools and software, Previs artists can streamline their workflow, collaborate with other team members more effectively, and ultimately create stunning visualizations for animated projects.


In conclusion, becoming a previs artist for animation is an exciting and rewarding career path for those interested in combining creativity with technical skills. By following the steps outlined in this beginner’s guide, you can start on your journey to becoming a skilled previs artist. Remember to continue practicing, learning new techniques, and staying up-to-date with industry trends to excel in this competitive field. With dedication and hard work, you can turn your passion for animation into a successful career as a previs artist.