What does an animator do?

The daily duties of an animator will vary considerably based on their chosen field of specialisation, however the elements of their work are fairly consistent across media. Work on a project begins with initials plans and sketches based on research or an idea, the plot of the animation is storyboarded, characters and background elements are confirmed, design work is undertaken (often with other members of production or art departments in large-scale projects, and the final animated piece is synched to sound and voiceover tracks. The same basic elements are used across video games, cartoons and feature films, though the end product and user experience varies greatly. 

Tasks:

  • Design concept models of characters
  • Synchronise audio with images
  • Create background detail for scenes
  • Liaise with art department and production crew

What skills do I need to be an animator?

Animators are highly creative people who also possess the technical skills and prowess necessary to use complicated computer programs to complete their work. They are able to devise and create highly imaginative worlds and characters, either as a commissioned artist or  for a personal project. Working as an animator requires excellent attention to detail, ensuring work is consistent and seamless, as well as creative flair to add interest to the work. Due to the scope of work needed to complete an animated project, animators seldom work alone and need to be able to communicate well and operate as part of a creative team.

Skills/attributes
  • Highly creative
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Skilled with computers

Specialisations

Animators can choose from a wide range of career options in many varied fields when developing their professional skill set. A personal interest in the medium you'll be working in will naturally be an advantage in understanding the form and enjoying your work.

Video game artists

Video game artists specialise in creating characters and 3D environments for use in video games and other user interactive media. They are engaged with both the technical and creative processes of creating video games, seeing a project from its initial plan and design phase all the way through to completion.

Special effects animator

A special effects animator specialises in the non-character elements of a work, using their skills to design and animate vehicles, machines, rain, snow, fire and other parts of a scene. They are familiar with the movement patterns of objects caused by natural phenomena, mechanical processes and gravity.

Cartoonist

Cartoonists create, plan and conceive ideas for cartoons. Working primarily in print; cartoonists use illustrative and written techniques to create cartoons that are funny, informative or even satirical. As simple animation becomes more accessible, many traditional cartoonists are branching out into animated shorts for the Internet.

Study pathways for animators

There are a number of study options that aim to help you achieve your career goals. Choose a course that is specific to your specialisation and get a head start on your career. 

Getting Started

Find a course that will help you develop your creative skills

Skill Building

Work towards your career goals with targeted outcome-based courses

Professional Development

Learn the ins-and-outs of working in the film and gaming industries

Industry Recognition

There are professional associations for the different industries animators work in. Applying for membership of a peak body may help you increase your professional standing.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your digital media career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.

Job Prospects and Salaries

Employment prospects and salaries for an animator are highly dependent on your specialisation and the particular industry you work in.