Professionals in the field of animation can find work in a variety of industries ranging from entertainment to advertising. A career in animation can be especially rewarding if you have artistic talent and some proficiency in using animation tools and software. If you are interested in this career field, you may benefit from knowing more about popular animation careers that are worth pursuing. In this article, Pritish Kumar Halder examines the different types of animation and list 12 popular animation careers.

12 popular animation careers

These are some popular animation careers:

1. Lighting technician

Primary duties: A lighting technician is a design professional who manages lighting equipment and software to satisfy the specific aesthetic requirements for films, videos and advertisements. They create colour keys for green screens and help develop simulations that add shadow and lighting to animated environments. With an associate’s degree in lighting technology or design, you can work as a lighting technician in the animation industry.

2. 3D modeller

Primary duties: 3D modellers are specialists who create 3D characters and environments for a variety of purposes. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in design, animation, computer science or game design can pursue this career in their respective fields. 3D modelers can find work in a variety of industries ranging from film and advertising, to automobile and aerospace industry. They also work in the field of medicine to help with research and development of products.

3. 3D creative designer

Primary duties: 3D creative designers are specialists in art design and may work for multimedia companies and advertising firms. They develop design concepts, storyboards, mood boards and character sketches that artists and animators use to create animations. For 3D and stop motion animation, a creative designer may use computer software or physical materials to create prototype models of their designs.

4. 3D artist

Primary duties: A 3D artist is a design professional who develops 3D models of objects, characters and environments. They create three-dimensional graphic components and effects using animation or modelling software. They also perform research to create accurate representations of characters, objects and environments in films, video games and advertisements. 3D artists collaborate with creative designers and animators to develop concept art and storyboards to guide animation workflows.

5. Graphic artist

Primary duties: A graphic artist is a professional who draws and designs visual material for print or digital media. They create concept designs using computer software and image processing applications. Using visual elements, graphic artists create illustrations and designs for physical and digital platforms. They usually work following client instructions or a design brief.

6. Animator

Primary duties: Animators are professional artists who draw and design animated components in the entertainment industry. They use computer software to create animations for characters and backdrops of scenes. Animators may work closely with directors, artists and writers to help with the development of story and character plots.

7. Artist

Primary duties: An artist in the field of animation illustrates and designs concepts and components for films, web pages, video games, advertisements and print media. They draw characters, settings and objects that animators use to create motion sequences. They may also sculpt characters for use in stop motion animation projects. Artists who work in animation studios or for advertising firms typically possess a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, graphic design or visual arts.

8. 3D animator

Primary duties: A 3D animator is a professional in computer graphics who creates three-dimensional animations for films, video games, websites, television and other media platforms. They create characters, backgrounds and objects from concept art and use computer software to transform the concept into a motion graphic. To work as a 3D animator in reputed animation companies, you may require a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, fine arts, computer science engineering or animation.

9. Video game designer

Primary duties: A video game designer is a graphic design and computer programming specialist who helps develop video games. They create concept art for characters, build game environments and help write storylines for games. Video game designers typically possess a bachelor’s degree in computer science engineering or game design.

10. Compositing supervisor

Primary duties: A compositing supervisor is a visual effects expert who manages the visual effects department in an animation studio. They assist compositors in combining animation components like live action footage, visual effects and Computer-Generated Images (CGI) to create a cohesive moving image. Compositing supervisors create schedules and workflows and ensure that the visual effects department meets their work deadlines.

11. Art director

Primary duties: An art director is a design professional who manages the sourcing and production of visual elements for entertainment and advertising companies. They develop style guides to assist artists and animators in designing characters, stories and other visual elements. They also conduct reviews and approve final drafts after ensuring that the deliverables meet requirements. They act as a channel of communication between producers and artists to create a cohesive artistic vision.

12. Technical director

Primary duties: A technical director is a technology expert who assists departments by developing software tools and processes to facilitate animation. They develop operational procedures for modelling, animation, special effects, lighting and research and development departments in an animation or film studio. You may require advanced academic credentials and industry experience to apply for directorial positions.

What are the different types of animation?

There are four main types of animation:

1. Traditional animation

Traditional animation is another term for cell animation. This method of animation requires an artist to hand-draw every frame of every scene in a motion picture, to create an animated segment. Traditional animation artists use a clear paper called an acetate sheet on which they draw movements to create a progression from one frame to another. Traditional animation artists usually work on a lit-up table that lets them see the previous drawings through the acetate sheets. The traditional type of animation was very popular before the advent of computer-generated imagery.

2. 2D animation

2D animation artists use vector images to create motion graphics. Similar to traditional animation, artists can illustrate frame by frame but can also create character rigs using computer software. This allows them to move and pose the characters without having to draw them manually. 2D animation is flexible in comparison to traditional animation. It is also the preferred mode of animation for beginners as it does not require them to rely entirely on hand-drawing. This style of animation grew in popularity as the technology became more accessible over time.

3. 3D animation

Computer-generated imagery facilitates 3D animation. 3D artists create characters, objects and scenery with rigs so that they can animate illustrations with a computer program without having to draw each frame. Though 3D artists and animators can rely on computer software to create motion graphics, they may hand-draw illustrations and components for animation. They manipulate 3D components, design interactions and set frames to create animated segments. Professionals use 3D animation techniques to make hyper-realistic renders and animations.

4. Stop motion

Stop motion is an animation filmmaking method which involves capturing or creating still images and manipulating them to create a motion picture. In the stop motion method of animation, artists use scaled models or figurines of characters and environments. They make minor adjustments within the model and capture photographic images in succession to create animated segments.

Artists create moving images in stop motion animation between 24 frames per second and 30 frames per second. For stylistic reasons, some artists may choose to render video at 12 frames per second or even between seven and 10 frames per second. This gives stop motion animation its signature choppy video aesthetic. Video editors put the images in a sequence using video editing software, and overlay an audio track to create a stop motion picture.