Animation designers have a lot of different responsibilities which require various skill sets. While they are a significant part of the job, drawing and animating are not the only tasks an animation designer is responsible for. Here’s a brief introduction to their primary duties:
Whether the drawings start on paper and are later scanned into a computer for animating or created digitally from the start, they form the foundations of the actual animations used in multimedia. Animation designers often specialize in either 2D (flat) animations or 3D (CGI) visual imagery, as the animation techniques used for each are quite different.
Once the initial drawing (or model, for 3D animation) is complete, animation designers set about animating it. For 2D projects, this requires drawing each animation frame and mapping it to an individual keyframe in the animation software. The trick is to first divide the animation into key poses (like taking a step) and drawing them first, then filling in the interim frames so the animation runs smoothly and fluidly.
3D animation, on the other hand, requires manipulating an entire “rigged” model on a computer. If you’re creating a 3D animation or visual effect, you adjust different parts of the model to create the illusion of movement.
Animation designers are frequently tasked with storyboarding: the process of visually mapping out an animation sequence in a series of sketches. They often receive scripts or even just vague concepts from directors or clients and need to use their creativity to transform these concepts into concrete ideas for animations.
As an animation designer, you may be part of a large team consisting of other animators, writers, editors, UX designers, and a director—or you could end up wearing several hats yourself. It’s not uncommon for animation designers to help with editing the final animations based on client and director feedback.
You’ll need to hone your creative chops as an animation designer because you’ll be expected to take part in brainstorming sessions to conceptualize ideas. This is often one of the most enjoyable parts of the job for many people, but could hamper your growth and job satisfaction if you feel you lack creative skills.
Along with contributing ideas, animation designers also create quick sketches and mockups based on concepts developed during the sessions. These are pitched to clients or stakeholders and often require a short turnaround time. If you are a perfectionist, you may need to manage your expectations for how long you’ll be able to spend on them.
Because animation designers are often on tight deadlines, they need to learn how to prioritize and juggle multiple projects at once. As such, their days are generally quite busy! So what does an average day for an animation designer look like?