What Skills Does An Animator Need?

With animation software becoming easily accessible for nearly everyone with a computer or smartphone at hand, everyone can have a go at creating animation. Many online courses are available to get you either started in animation or equip you with the professional knowledge to truly let your talent sparkle.

With all those technical advances it has become quite easy to produce a moving image, especially as software packages come with a whole lot of animation presets that literally can produce a result with the click of a button. If you find such generic results pleasing then look no further. But if your ambition as an animator takes you beyond that, then please read on.

It’s become fairly obvious by now that being familiar with technology is very much part of being an animator. But it definitely doesn’t stop there. Technology is just the tool and simply relying on bounce effects, created by coded expressions, dropped into a keyframe, doesn’t make you a great animator. Of course you need to know your tools and the better you do, the more expansive your creative palette will become.

Sketch of a Person with an Oversized Beanie on

However, a good animator is skilled in many ways – here’s what we are looking for:

Observational skills, Feel for timing, pace and rhythm

A good understanding of how things move, how energy in your movement is created, how it flows and stops is really, really important. Well animated pieces are like music for the eyes. They have an inner rhythm and pace that is interesting to watch. 

Understanding your characters and how to pose them 

Just knowing how a character needs to be rigged technically won’t make your animation great. Knowing how the individual parts relate and influence each other, is what will give your character life. It’s what will make your animation look fluent instead of stale and stiff. E.g. When posing a standing character, what are the hips doing in relation to the shoulders? Is there a slant? Are they tilted in opposite ways so your character looks balanced and natural?

Acting skills

Characters in animation are like actors. They convey feelings and emotional states through which the story is told. You need to feel what you wish your character to express or it won’t show on screen.

Drawing skills and Imagination (or at least an eye for geometric proportions)

The screen is in fact the animator’s canvas, where the action needs to be staged. While it isn’t essential that you are an artist endowed with baroque painting abilities, you do need to have a feel for compositions within your frame, which can be to various degrees more or less beautiful. The ability to think visually is key as you are deciding how your story can be conveyed to your audience effectively.

Organisational skills

Having a structural approach to animation is really quite vital to the animation process, which can ultimately get very complicated depending on each scene requirement. And as boring as it sounds, good housekeeping will make your life a whole lot easier (and ultimately ours, should we hire you). Given that some animation projects can have a ridiculously short deadline, knowing how your files are structured with a regular clear out of unnecessary junk, to focus on essential tasks, can be seriously sexy to us.

Technical skills

As mentioned above – know your tools to ultimately get the best play out of it. Mixed with the right amount of creativity and imagination, technology is truly a blessing.

Stamina

It’s a good thing to develop the ability to persevere and not give up when you hit a problem (whether that is of a technical or creative nature). It’s perfectly normal to get stuck from time to time or even find an animating task suddenly more tedious to execute than it appeared in your imagination. As well as joy and fun you’ll encounter the occasional pain. And you know what they say: no gain without pain – so keep going!

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