3D animation bridges technology and creativity, requiring animators to master applications like Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D and also develop their own artistic style. Training in this field can lead to careers in various industries, including film, television, and video games, with increasing demand for these skills.

Key Insights

  • 3D animators blend technical skills with creative techniques, using software such as Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D to create digital assets.
  • Specific media optimization skills are crucial for 3D animators, as different fields like video games and visual effects require different approaches.
  • 3D animation plays a significant role in multiple industries, including film and television, video games, and consumer software, creating opportunities for diverse careers.
  • Soft skills, including understanding composition theories, collaborative abilities, and response to feedback, are as important as technical skills in 3D animation.
  • Fields closely related to 3D animation include 2D animation, web design, and user interface design, increasing the scope of career opportunities for those with these skill sets.
  • Noble Desktop provides comprehensive training programs in 3D animation that focus on both technical and soft skills, fostering career growth for aspiring 3D animators.

3D animation is a creative skill set that requires animators to blend technical knowledge of complicated digital animation software with creative techniques. It is a field that blends hard and soft skills and requires students to be trained in a wide range of different applications and schools of thought. As such, becoming a 3D Animator isn’t just about receiving training, but it is also about understanding how to put that training into practice in order to produce high quality, professional animated assets. 

Aspiring 3D Animators will need to learn how to use a number of different digital design applications, including Adobe After Effects, Cinema 4D and Premiere Pro. Students will also need to learn how to optimize their animations for particular media (for example, a video game animator will need different skills than a visual effect artist for film and television). Beyond the technical skills required to work with design software, students will also need training in creative animation techniques so that they can develop their own style and animation sensibilities. On top of all of this, students will need training in the soft skills required to work in a collaborative artistic environment.

What is a 3D Animator?

3D Animators are creative professionals responsible for designing and building 3D animated models for a wide range of different entertainment and consumer products. They are tasked with taking static images and using computer technology to give those assets the illusion of depth, weight, and motion. 3D Animators build everything from animated logos for webpages to elaborate 3D-rendered models for major Hollywood films. They also work in the consumer software industry, the video game industry, and even aspects of the entertainment industry you might not expect, like theme parks.

3D Animators are also often the professionals responsible for the thousands of minor digital alterations that go into modern film and television. Physical props and practical effects are less common, and it increasingly falls on 3D Animators to create the environments and assets that actors interact with on a film set. This means that 3D Animators are likely to find work in the film and television industry as their services are increasingly in high demand. This isn’t the only industry in which they can find work, but it is the one that is most commonly associated with 3D animation skills.

Read more about what a 3D Animator does.

Hard Skills

Adobe After Effects

The most significant tool for 3D Animators is a digital animation application like Adobe After Effects. Adobe After Effects is a post-production motion graphics tool that is designed to facilitate the creation and integration of 3D animated models into film, television, video games, and online content. The program is designed to make keying, compositing, and animating as seamless as possible in a video project and learning how to use this tool is essential for anyone hoping to work on 3D modeling or digital special effects projects.

You can learn more about this program on the Learn After Effects page on Noble Desktop’s Learn Hub.

Cinema 4D

Adobe Cinema 4D is a 3D model rendering and animation tool that is included as a part of Adobe After Effects. It is used to take 2D designs and transform them into animated 3D assets that have the illusion of weight and depth. Cinema 4D is most commonly used to create animated digital special effects that are later edited into a video project in post-production. If you have ever seen a life-like special effect in a film that makes you forget it is a digital animation layered onto the film, it was likely made using Cinema 4D. The application is also used in video game design and VR technology.

To learn more about how Cinema 4D can be used in complex animation projects, consider visiting Noble’s Learn Cinema 4D page.

Premiere Pro

In order for any post-production animated asset to be included in a film, it needs to be edited in, and one of the most common tools for editors to use is Adobe Premiere Pro. This application is used to complete video projects and prepare them for final distribution, including the process of editing all of the digital effects created by 3D Animators and Special Effects Artists. On smaller projects, 3D Animators may be tasked with the editing process on their own, though many large projects will have editing specialists to handle the process. Still, learning how to complete an editing project is vital for anyone looking to work in a film, television or other video field.

Students interested in finding out more about this application and film editing, in general, should visit Noble Desktop’s Learn Premiere Pro page.

Adobe Animate

Formally known as Flash, Adobe Animate is a tool used for creating animated and interactive vector graphics images, mostly for internet content, but still showing up in mobile applications, video games and television occasionally. Animate is built to create simple 2D animated assets that can be expanded out into 3D space or used to complement online video content. While it is a much simpler program, this is often to its advantage, as it lets smaller content creators build their own animated assets without needing a huge amount of raw video footage and content. Learning Animate won’t be a necessity for 3D Animators, but it can be a useful complementary skill, particularly if you are working in the fields where its use is common.

Students wanting to Learn Animate should consider visiting the hub of articles available on Noble Desktops learn pages.

Soft Skills

Not only is it important that 3D Animators understand how to use the common computer design applications within the industry, but they also need a number of important soft skills in order to succeed in a studio animation setting.

Creative Techniques

Animation is an art form that has been around for hundreds of years, with modern animation having been developed over a century ago. As such, there are a lot of different styles, movements, theories, and histories of animation that shape the field as we know it today. While 3D Animators won’t need to be experts in the whole of this history, they should have an understanding of things like theories of design and composition and major artistic movements, if only to position themselves as part of a specific style. This can help them find jobs more easily, and it can help studios know what kinds of work they are best suited for when the time comes for a hiring decision.

Responding to Feedback

Animation is an iterative process, and professionals will need to be able to respond to consistent feedback on their work. Many different artists need to collaborate on a single aspect of a larger animation project in pursuit of a single artistic vision, and this means that entry-level animators will need to be able to alter their designs and assets to better fit the desires of higher-level creatives and stakeholders. The ability to respond to feedback effectively and without difficulty is a vital part of being a successful 3D Animator, and it is why live training with an instructor who can provide this kind of feedback is so vital to a student’s long-term success.

Collaborative Work

In almost all cases, a 3D Animator will be working as part of a team that is attempting to complete a large-scale project, be it a film, video game, or consumer software product. This means that they will need to know how to work alongside others on time-sensitive projects, and they will need to understand how to work with multiple other teams in different creative departments. Entry-level animators will have to learn how to work with Senior Animators and team leaders, and more experienced animators will have to learn how to work alongside storyboard artists, editors, directors, and other important creatives.

What Other Jobs Require These Skills?

The career path most closely related to 3D animation is, naturally, 2D animation. Since both kinds of animators use the same design applications, the primary difference between the two fields is the kind of projects that are most likely to be working on. Since 3D animation technology has become more powerful and cheaper, 3D animation has begun to overtake 2D animation in most professional settings. However, there is still demand for 2D animation specialists, particularly in the advertising industry and television and film industries. Most training programs that teach 3D animation also teach 2D animation as a scaffolding skill. This means that the difference between the two career paths is more about the creative process and techniques than it is about the technical skills you will need to master.

3D Animation is also connected to other digital creative fields, such as web design and user interface design. 3D animated assets are often utilized in interface design and other digital applications such as mobile games and webpages. These digital artists tend to utilize tools like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, alongside user interface design applications like Figma, to outline and prototype UIs for a wide variety of different projects. The 3D animated assets that are utilized in these designs tend to be more basic designs, and professionals are unlikely to need to master tools like Cinema 4D or After Effects in order to succeed in these positions. However, these jobs also require a different creative skill, since you are going to be building web applications that users directly interact with in a way that is distinct even from 3D Animators working on video games or other interactive media.

Learn the Skills to Become a 3D Animator at Noble Desktop

Anyone looking to become a professional 3D Animator will need to learn how to use the tools of the trade. Applications like Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D can be difficult for new animators to learn, which is one of the reasons that guided, live instruction is so profitable for aspiring creatives. Noble Desktop offers a wide range of motion graphics design classes and these courses are available either in-person or online. These classes provide students with hands-on instruction guided by industry experts who can help students learn the ins and outs of 3D animation programs. Class sizes are limited, so even online classes are kept small, meaning students won’t have to compete for their instructor’s attention. As a bonus, every student who enrolls in a Noble Desktop training program can retake that course within a calendar year, giving them more time to develop their skills and build their demo reel.

Students looking to start a new career as a professional 3D Animator should consider enrolling in Noble’s Motion Graphics Certificate Program. This career-focused course will teach students how to animate complex 3D assets and objects using Adobe After Effects. Students will learn how Cinema 4D can be used to create and render 3D models, and students will get hands-on experience working with animated text, graphics, and both Photoshop and Illustrator files. Since this is a career-focused program, students will benefit from resources aimed to help them succeed on the job market, including one-on-one career mentorship sessions and a capstone project in which students construct their own sample demo reel to take with them onto the job market. 

Students who want to learn 3D animation skills but aren’t preparing for a shift in their career may want to enroll in a class like Noble’s Adobe After Effects Bootcamp. This course aims to provide students with hands-on training in the 2D and 3D animation tools offered through Adobe After Effects. Students will not only learn how to build 2D and 3D assets, but they will also learn how to integrate text and audio into those designs, how to transition between animation cycles, and how to work with layers to add complex lighting and the illusion of depth to a 3D asset. This course is an ideal fit for students looking to learn how to use this dynamic animation tool.

If you would like to learn more about animation as a professional and technical field, please visit the Learn Animation page on Noble’s Learn Hub.

Key Takeaways