Becoming a Professional Animator: A Beginner’s Guide

Becoming a Professional Animator: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you looking to pursue a career in animation and become a professional animator? This comprehensive guide is designed for beginners who are eager to dive into the exciting world of animation. Whether you’re interested in 2D or 3D animation, this article will provide you with essential tips, resources, and industry insights to help you kickstart your journey towards becoming a successful animator. Read on to learn the key steps and skills required to turn your passion for animation into a rewarding profession.

Understanding the Basics of Animation

Animation is the process of creating moving images through a series of still frames. It involves bringing characters and objects to life by giving them motion and expression. Understanding the basics of animation is crucial for anyone looking to become a professional animator.

Different Types of Animation

There are several types of animation techniques used in the industry, each with its own unique style and method. Some of the most common types of animation include:

  • Traditional Animation: This is the classic hand-drawn animation method where each frame is drawn by hand.
  • 2D Animation: Similar to traditional animation, but created digitally using software.
  • 3D Animation: Involves creating three-dimensional models and animating them in a digital environment.
  • Stop Motion Animation: Involves manipulating real-life objects and taking photographs to create the illusion of movement.

Each type of animation has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to explore different techniques to find the one that works best for you.

Key Principles of Animation

There are 12 key principles of animation that every animator should be familiar with. These principles were developed by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas and are used as a guide for creating believable and engaging animations. Some of the key principles include:

  • Squash and Stretch
  • Anticipation
  • Timing
  • Follow Through and Overlapping Action

By mastering these principles, animators can create animations that are more realistic and dynamic.

Software and Tools for Animation

In order to create animations, animators need to use specialized software and tools. Some popular animation software programs include:

  • Adobe Animate
  • Toon Boom Harmony
  • Autodesk Maya
  • Blender

These software programs offer a wide range of features and tools for creating animations, from simple 2D cartoons to complex 3D animations. It’s important for aspiring animators to familiarize themselves with these programs to enhance their skills and stay competitive in the industry.

Learning the Essential Skills

As a beginner in the field of animation, it is crucial to develop a strong foundation of essential skills that will set you up for success in your career. Here are some key skills that every professional animator should master:

Drawing and Sketching

One of the most fundamental skills for an animator is the ability to draw and sketch. This skill is essential for creating the initial concept art and character designs that will form the basis of your animation. Practice drawing regularly to improve your skills and develop your own unique style.


Storyboarding is a crucial part of the animation process as it helps to plan out the sequence of events in a story before it is brought to life through animation. Learning how to create effective storyboards will help you to visualize your ideas and communicate them clearly to others.

Character Design

Creating memorable and engaging characters is an important skill for any animator. Developing a strong understanding of anatomy, proportions, and facial expressions will help you to bring your characters to life and make them relatable to your audience. Experiment with different styles and techniques to find what works best for you.

By mastering these essential skills, you will be well on your way to becoming a professional animator. Remember to practice regularly, seek feedback from others, and never stop learning and improving your craft.

Building a Strong Portfolio

As a beginner in the field of animation, one of the most important steps you can take towards becoming a professional animator is to build a strong portfolio. Your portfolio is a showcase of your best work and acts as a visual resume for potential employers or clients.

Creating Original Work

When building your portfolio, it’s essential to focus on creating original work that showcases your unique style and creativity. Avoid copying other artists or using templates, as this can limit your ability to stand out in a competitive industry. Instead, focus on developing your own ideas and bringing them to life through your animations.

Showcasing Your Range

Another important aspect of building a strong portfolio is showcasing your range as an animator. This means including a variety of styles, techniques, and subjects in your work to demonstrate your versatility and skill. By showing that you can work in different styles and formats, you’ll be more attractive to potential clients or employers who are looking for animators with a diverse skill set.

Seeking Feedback and Improvement

Finally, don’t forget to seek feedback on your portfolio from other professionals in the industry. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your work to make it more appealing to potential clients or employers. By continuously seeking feedback and striving for improvement, you’ll be on the right track towards becoming a professional animator.

Networking and Finding Opportunities

Networking is crucial for aspiring animators to find opportunities and advance in their careers. Here are some effective ways to network and find opportunities in the animation industry:

Attending Industry Events

Attending industry events such as animation conferences, film festivals, and workshops can provide valuable networking opportunities. These events allow aspiring animators to connect with industry professionals, learn about the latest trends in animation, and showcase their work. Networking at industry events can lead to collaborations, job offers, and mentorship opportunities.

Joining Online Communities

Joining online communities dedicated to animation can also help aspiring animators expand their network and find opportunities. Platforms like LinkedIn, Behance, and animation forums allow animators to connect with like-minded individuals, share their work, and stay updated on industry news. Engaging with online communities can lead to valuable connections, feedback on your work, and potential job leads.

Seeking Internships and Job Opportunities

Seeking internships and job opportunities at animation studios, production companies, and creative agencies is another effective way to network and kickstart your career as a professional animator. Internships provide hands-on experience, mentorship from industry professionals, and the opportunity to build your portfolio. Job opportunities, on the other hand, allow animators to showcase their skills, gain exposure, and establish themselves in the industry.

By actively networking and seeking opportunities through industry events, online communities, internships, and job opportunities, aspiring animators can take significant steps towards becoming professional animators.

In conclusion, becoming a professional animator is an exciting journey that requires dedication, passion, and creativity. By following the steps outlined in this beginner’s guide, aspiring animators can start honing their skills, building their portfolio, and networking within the industry. With the right mindset and perseverance, anyone can achieve their dream of working as a professional animator. So, embrace the challenges, never stop learning, and always stay inspired to create captivating animations that leave a lasting impact. Good luck on your animation career!