Deciding what career field to pursue can be both challenging and exciting. A lot of time, effort and money go into acquiring the skills and training needed to launch a new career. Before making the commitment, it’s helpful to know you’re pursuing a profession that suits your personality and natural characteristics.
There are certain qualities that lend themselves well to working in animation. The industry is both creative and technical, so it requires a unique blend of abilities. There is no one-size-fits-all description of a perfect animator, but there are definitely some common characteristics that many share.
We enlisted a few animation pros to help us identify some inherent qualities that may suggest you’re destined to be an animator.
You should consider working in animation if…
1. You have a vivid imagination
Maybe you were the kid who doodled elaborate pictures and stories on the side of your math homework. Or perhaps you envisioned castles and fortresses when observing the fort you built out of blankets and cushions. Whatever it looked like, imagination is incredibly important when working in animation.
“[Your imagination] is your playground,” says Aelee Vang, motion designer at Collegis Education.* “It’s where your ideas come from, where stories are weaved and characters are born.” He believes this is what differentiates average animators from great ones. Your imagination helps your personality shine through in your work.
2. You’re extremely patient
Patience is an art we all strive for, but it seems to come naturally for certain people. The ability to tolerate waiting, listening and focusing for long periods of time is valuable when working in animation. The overall process of creating a series of images that moves seamlessly takes a lot longer than most could even fathom.
Vang explains that a full-feature, traditional animation running 90 minutes would equate to about 129,600 frames you would need to draw out individually! “You can imagine the time needed finish something of this scale,” he says.
While you may be intimidated by the idea of that much careful, technical work, most animators find it rewarding to see what they spent hours drawing come to life.
3. You can work both individually or in a team
Does your idea of an ideal Friday night include staying at home with a good book or going out to a crowded concert? If you enjoy a little bit of both, you’re in luck! Most animation projects will require some blend of working in a group and flying solo.
“People think of animators as these desk junkies who draw constantly and never need to come into contact with other humans,” says Alexander Ruggie, former production assistant on The Cleveland Show. He says this is a false assumption.
Ruggie explains that animators are consistently working with others – from the directors and editors to the writers and sound designers. At the same time, you’ll frequently be expected to work in isolation to execute certain tasks. So if you find yourself in the middle of the extrovert-introvert scale, this might be the career for you!
4. You enjoy learning
The world animation is constantly evolving. New techniques and software are being introduced each year, so animators must be willing and able to grow and adapt with the landscape.
“There are now applications for animation beyond standard entertainment,” says Anthony Sims, senior instructor for the Rasmussen College School of Design. “This will only continue to be the case as the future continues to bring new concepts for how we interact with media and the world around us.”
Animation is used in a variety of ways, which means animators are needed in several fields. More and more industries are discovering the power of animation and incorporating it in new, innovative ways. So if you’re always up for a challenge and eager to learn new things, the fast-paced nature of the animation industry won’t faze you one bit.
“We live in an era where even a bus stop can have an animated poster, so who knows what the future will bring,” Sims adds.
5. You have impeccable attention to detail
You’re notorious for noticing the smallest slip-ups in movie scenes and you can easily determine if a video is real or fabricated. Though it may irritate your friends and family, this quality is critical in animation.
“Animation doesn’t have to be realistic; it just has to be believable,” Vang says. The angle of an elbow or the bat of an eyelash can make all of the difference in bringing a lifeless drawing into motion. This meticulousness is monumental for anyone hoping to become an animator.
6. You have an eye for exaggeration
“Motion shouldn’t be boring,” Sims says. “An animator’s enemy is the mundane.”
If you’ve always had a knack for making things bigger and better, working in animation may bode well for you. Sims says animators must make movement interesting and impactful by exaggerating aspects of the animated movement.
“You need to know just the right movements to enhance to make something move in a way that is appealing to the eye,” Sims adds.