Learn Animation

a Comprehensive Guide to Start Learning Animation

Animation is the technical art of creating the illusion of motion in a still image. Most modern animation is computer-animated, and these skills are used in hundreds of industries across the globe. If you’ve always wanted to learn animation but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn animation, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that commonly use animation.

Get started on your journey as an animator with this comprehensive guide. Learn about different learning resources, career options, and the variety of industries that use animation skills.

Key Insights

  • Animation skills are used in many different fields including filmmaking, web design, video game creation, education, advertising, and marketing.
  • There are a variety of careers that use animation such as Multimedia Artists, Game Developers, 3D Designers, and Motion Graphics Designers.
  • Learning animation can lead to strong career prospects, not just in the entertainment industry but also in other fields that require creative visual representation.
  • There are different software applications used in animation including After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and Cinema 4D.
  • Noble Desktop provides both in-person and online classes for those interested in learning animation. They also provide resources for self-study and on-demand courses for those who prefer a more flexible schedule.
  • Salaries for animation related careers vary widely, but with the right skills and experience, animators can expect to earn competitive wages in the industry.

Animation is the technical art of creating the illusion of motion in a still image. Most modern animation is computer-animated, and these skills are used in hundreds of industries across the globe. If you’ve always wanted to learn animation but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn animation, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that commonly use animation.

What is Animation?

Most people have seen animated movies or shows, but what is animation? Animation is the process of photographing a still image—typically a drawing—then making slight modifications to the image while taking successive pictures. An animator will rapidly show these pictures to make it appear as if the image is moving. An animator would create a series of pictures to show, for example, a flower on a windy day, each with the flower in a slightly different position. When viewed quickly, one after another, the flower will appear to move back and forth even though it’s not actually moving. 

Animation skills are great to have in many different jobs; they’re just fun! Animators don’t just create movies or television shows. They also create moving graphics for websites, video games, or visual effects. Most animators now use software to create the graphics, though some still use drawings and sketches to bring their imagination to life.

Read more about what animation is and why you should learn it. 

What Can You Do with Animation?

Learning animation opens doors to different fields. The most obvious field is filmmaking: producing visual effects, developing computer-generated special effects, or creating images for any media type. Movies, television, the internet, and (video) games all rely on Animators for their products. Yet, Animators can also work as Medical or Mathematical Animators, Illustrators, Games Developers, and VFX Artists. Illustrators focus on still images, both hand-drawn and computer-generated, while Medical or Mathematical Animators, Games Developers and VFX Artists develop 3D moving images. 

The software that Animators use day in and day out is just plain fun! After Effects and Premiere Pro are the go-to animation software for professionals. After Effects allows users to complete video compositing, motion graphics design, and animation projects. Animators also learn software like Photoshop and Cinema 4D. Each type of software performs a specific function, such as image generating or developing special effects; Animators using multiple types of software can layer them to create stunning work.

Careers that Use Animation

Once you gain Animation expertise, the next step is to find a job. But you may be unsure which careers are open to Animators. The careers open to Animators require more than– for example– skills with After Effects. However, gaining the necessary animation skills is the first step toward landing a role in an entry-level creative job.

  • Multimedia Artists and Animators: In this field, Artists and Animators utilize different software like After Effects and Photoshop to design images and animate them. An artist considers how an object should move and how the environment around them should look or change. By using different types of software, they bring those visions to life. They also must bend their ideas to meet their client’s needs. Further along in the process, they may work closely with voice actors or sound specialists, coordinating movements with voices or noise.
  • Game Developers: Game Developers often work together to create games for computers, consoles, or mobile sdevices like iPhones. From concept to finished product, Game Developers are involved with every step of the process. Often Developers are gamers themselves, applying their firsthand knowledge to create new electronic games. Along the way, Developers generate characters and situations using software like Photoshop and Sketchup 3D. Then they program the game itself using Adobe Animate, Godot Engine, Gamemaker Studio 2, or similar software. Possibly, they may require coding skills. 
  • 3D Designers: 3D Designers typically start with a basic image and add color, depth, and lifelike characteristics to make the model detailed and 3D. Scientists, engineers, and architects, to name a few, work with designers to create visual models of concepts. For example, a Chemist may work with a designer to animate a chemical reaction for an instructional video. Designers may wish to build expertise with the topic they’re creating models for.
  • Motion Graphics Designers: Motion Graphics Designers blend graphic design with animation. They may flexibly employ various skills, from 2D computer animations to hand-drawn sketches and 3D animations. Their tasks likely require Adobe After Effects; Cinema 4D, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop may also be necessary to get the task done. Working for big production companies to digitize film action sequences or creating animated commercials for companies are strong possible jobs for designers. Not only do Motion Graphics Designers animate, but they also must know and use design principles.

Why Learn Animation?

Career prospects for Animators are strong. Most Animators find themselves working in the entertainment industry, making graphics for movies or films. Yet, Animators are in high demand across multiple industries, not just the entertainment industry. Outside the entertainment industry, Animators may find themselves working in creative jobs in education, advertising, marketing, or the arts. Animators may find themselves creating short clips to summarize science concepts. Or perhaps they may create sales videos for publishing companies. The opportunities are numerous.

Learning animation builds an eye for detail. Depending on your interests and career goals, knowing art and design concepts and possessing strong English skills is a bonus. As an Animator, you might use software such as Autodesk Maya, Houdini, or software developed by the company. Animators who develop motion graphics and visual effects may primarily use Cinema 4D or After Effects. 2D animators use Adobe Animate or Toon Boom Harmony. Of course, knowing more than one or two types of software can only make you more marketable. 

Read more about why you should learn animation

How to Learn Animation

Ready to gain animation skills? Noble Desktop has found several courses that teach you animation skills, allowing you to move into or move up along this career path. Their class locator tool can assist you with finding an in-person animation class. For those with a busy schedule and who would prefer a virtual class, they also have created a resource outlining details about top live online animation classes. Virtual classes are taught live by instructors experienced with online engagement and delivery. These classes can be just as effective as in-person courses. 

 However, life may be overwhelming and busy– too busy to enroll in a class that meets on a specific day and time. It’s possible to still learn animation by signing up for an on-demand animation course. There is a wide variety when it comes to on-demand courses. Some are free, while others require a subscription or an upfront payment for the course. Courses may be tailored for specific levels, so check the course descriptions carefully. Many job assistance sites such as LinkedIn offer these types of classes. 

If you have some background in animation or learn new software quickly, try learning the new software using a video demo. Noble Desktop produced several animation YouTube tutorials that you can access easily. You can learn topics like how to get started editing videos with Premiere Pro or tackle important tasks in After Effects. Accessing a quick answer to a question is easy with their animation learning hub: a place where articles, tutorials, and resources co-exist. It’s also possible to find an animation seminar covering After Effects or one teaching Premiere Pro to attend. These seminars are quick– including plenty of useful tips in a short time.

Read the full guide on how to learn animation.

Free Introductory Animation Course Online 

Attending an entire course takes a commitment. If you’re not ready yet to attend a course but want to start learning animation, enroll in a free online animation seminar. In this free introductory animation course from Noble, you’ll learn how to create motion graphics animation from a photo. By the end of the two hours, you will be adding easing and animating with keyframes like a pro. The class allows participants to test out animation. Love it? Then you’re ready to sign up for a full-length course.

Other online providers offer After Effects and Premiere Pro classes. Udemy’s Adobe After Effects: Complete Course from Novice to Expert teaches students how to create motion graphics and visual effects through several projects. They also have courses that move more slowly, covering just beginner skills. Coursera has some free courses and many paid courses that cover animation. Most are specialized, so it helps to know what area of animation you’re interested in. You can find anything from VR to biomedical animations. As always, sites like LinkedIn offer animation courses.

Read about more free animation videos and online tutorials.

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost 

Animation is an attainable skill that can launch a new career. There are many different kinds of animation skills that a student can learn, and some of these will be harder to learn than others. For example, students wanting to learn how to animate complex 3D objects in a program like Adobe After Effects will need more training than someone looking to learn how to build animated gifs using Adobe Photoshop.

Likewise, the prerequisites to learning animation will vary depending on the kind of training that you want to receive. Some training courses may require users to have background knowledge in programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. Other courses will not have any required training. Students may wish to consider studying design and composition theories. Hence, they understand the various animation techniques they will use, assuming they enter a creative field.

The cost of producing animation work will depend on the kinds of work and the applications utilized. Aspiring Motion Graphics Designers will need to license design programs such as After Effects or Premiere Pro, and most technical animators may need to acquire other CAD tools. The cost of each of these applications will vary from user to user, but the cost of software should be a consideration for new animation students.

Read about how difficult it is to learn animation.

How Does Learning Animation Compare to Other Fields?

The field of animation is a specialized area of art. It blends artistic expression with practical applications. Similar fields that allow a blend of art into everyday uses include graphic design, user experience (UX) design, and user interface (UI) design. Graphic designers create images for company logos, websites, and more. UX and UI designers focus on a product’s design, ensuring it’s user-friendly and meets the target audience’s needs.

To enter one of these other fields, you’ll need creativity and training. Graphic Designers must have strong foundations in color theory, typography, layouts, and graphic design software knowledge. UX/UI Designers use software to create wireframes, prototypes, mockups, or user flows. Since most UX/UI Designers work in teams, they need strong collaboration and communication skills. Creative software– like Sketch, Photoshop and Illustrator, among others– allows UX/UI Designers or Graphic Designers to work their magic and are included with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

Graphic design, most experts agree, is not as hard to learn as UX or UI design. However, graphic design requires more creativity. UX design calls for data management and research skills, plus creativity. Becoming a UI Designer occasionally requires coding knowledge, which can be incredibly challenging.

How to Decide the Best Way to Learn Animation

Although there are multiple ways to learn animation, each pathway fits a different type of student. It’s essential first to identify who you are as a learner. That way, you will be more likely to find the route best suited to you.

Mini classes may be the answer for curious beginners who need a high-level overview or for people interested in picking up animation as a hobby. These classes are free or cost very little. Consider checking out Noble’s Intro to Premiere Pro seminar. It will get you editing videos in no time. Another good choice is their Intro to After Effects, where you can get a sense of the program's animation features and start creating motion graphics or animations. Since both seminars are free and short, deciding that animation is not for you has no consequence. 

Beginners who want to develop a strong working knowledge of Animation or intermediate learners who wish to plug a skill gap or grow within a current role may wish to check out Noble’s bootcamps. In their Premiere Pro Bootcamp course, learners leverage the software to create polished and eye-catching professional videos in their Premiere Pro Bootcamp course. Adobe After Effects blends usually blends well with Premiere Pro to create animations in videos. In just three days, you can learn how to animate titles, create special effects, and animate 2D and 3D figures in Noble’s Adobe After Effects Bootcamp

Want to master Animation for a new career or pivot to a new industry? A certificate program will provide the in-depth knowledge you’ll need to acquire an entry-level job, plus time and support to develop a portfolio that showcases your skills. Some certificate classes also provide help with finding a job. Noble offer a Motion Graphics Certificate class that teaches industry-standard concepts and software. This certificate stresses animations, motion graphics, and special effects. If you want to add video editing on top of that, you could enroll in a Video Editing & Motion Graphics Certificate class instead. This class also teaches how to use Premiere Pro to edit dialogue, background noise, and add music. You could be ready to apply for animation jobs in as little as two months.

Considering your reason for taking classes before signing up will ensure that your time and money are not wasted. It may be worth speaking with an enrollment counselor, sharing your goals, and defining your current level of expertise to decide what course or program is right for you. 

Learn Animation with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Many experts agree that animation is much easier to learn when taken either in a live online class or in person. Noble Desktop provides animation classes, from their live online training taken anywhere in the world to their in-person courses in Manhattan, so students can easily find a class that enables them to gain animation skills. Class sizes are small; students are not nameless faces on a computer screen. Instructors can provide plenty of attention and feedback to students. The school is committed to student learning, allowing students to retake the course free up to a year later if they want to brush up on skills. 

In just a few days, students can learn how to use Adobe After Effects in Noble Desktop's bootcamp. This class is ideal for people new to the field of animation and motion design who want to start creating moving graphics with industry-leading software. 

If you have more time, you can learn what it takes to become an Animator in Noble’s comprehensive Motion Graphics Certificate course. This class teaches animation with Adobe After Effects, video editing with Adobe Premiere Pro, and audio editing with Adobe Audition. These three pieces of software blend perfectly to create a polished final product. Participants will leave the course with a solid portfolio demonstrating their skills to future employers.

Video Editing & Motion Graphics Certificate: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, 0% Financing, 1-on-1 Mentoring, Free Retake, Job Prep. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.

More Animation Resources

  • Sequential Animation in After Effects

    In this tutorial, we're going to show you how to create Sequential Animation in Adobe After Effects.

  • After Effects: Free and Name Your Own Price Add-ons

    These add-ons can make the workflow easier and faster because someone else did the work in After Effects and put it together for others to use.

  • Working with Adobe Illustrator Files in After Effects: Video Tutorial

    In this tutorial, you'll learn how to work with Adobe Illustrator files in Adobe After Effects.

  • Custom Particle Emitter Tutorial

    Find out how to create particle effects such as smoke and sparks using After Effects's Particle Emitter tool.

  • Video Tutorial: The Audio Spectrum Effect

    In this tutorial, we're going to show you how to create the Audio Spectrum Effect in Adobe After Effects.

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