Whether you are in the freelance animation industry or working under a studio, it is important to know that your task as an animator is very important to the success of a creative project. You are an artist, and you use special effects and animations to bring life to characters.
In order for you to be a good animator, it is important to have both talent and skill, and it is even more important to push yourself to be the best at what you do when you work on a freelance basis. After all, animation is among the most competitive fields, and many animators like you are also looking for similar work; so here are some skills that will help you to stand out.
Regardless of the project you are working on, you will always need to form a plan and storyline for your characters. The usual way of doing this is by drawing sketches of a storyboard on a piece of paper or book.
That brings us to a major skill you need to have – drawing skills. This will allow you to explain better to a client the animation concept, or even showcase it to a design or customer team. In some instances, you will need to create a storyline as well, or help your clients create and develop a story.
Skills in graphic design
You are not using only one character to create an animated sequence – you will need additional elements such as the movement of the character, details in the background like the environment, and some additional characters. Therefore, you need to have the skill of designing subtle backgrounds that help your characters to stand out, and making it easier to create clips or films.
Additionally, you also need to learn realistic proportions, since some clients will want the results to be realistic rather than cartoon-like or exaggerated. As this depends on the specific job in your hands, you will need to learn how to differentiate 3D and 2D animation, as well as knowing the software for each.
Even though this may seem like an afterthought, it is important to have communication skills – they will make you an easier person to work with, as well as clients enjoying enlisting your services. Animation is a very team-heavy job, because you are working under the client and possibly a director as well.
Therefore, it is important for you to know what your client wants, and then explain what you can do – keeping in mind the restrictions you may have due to your software and budget. You need to also tell your clients the progress of the job, especially if this will affect the timelines or deadlines.
Individuality vs. teamwork
During the animation and design phase, it is common for an animator to work alone. However, the editing and production phases will need the animator to work with others – and this is even more evident if the project is very intense, like working on an animated film or series.
Knowledge of physics, math, and computer software
You might not think about it, but it is important to have a good understanding of physics and math as an animator. You need to calculate the shadow lines and angles, as well as using the laws of gravity to design animations when objects are falling, and using angles to project lighting appropriately. These things may be taken at liberty when you are working on a very cartoon-like project, but some of them must still apply when you are working on certain scenes.
Other than that, you will need to know the best operating systems and computer programs that help you work on specific actions, so it is good to know computers – even if it is on a general level. These examples of editing software will include 3D Modeling software, Flash, illustration software, and desktop publishing.
Even if you work as a freelance animator, you will still need the same skills that an animator working under a studio needs. Ensure that you work hard, respect the schedules of your clients, and increase your overall credibility to ensure they can entrust you with more projects in the future.