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Animator (2D computer animation)

Personality type:
2D computer animation

The lowdown

  • Animating scenes of an animated product, including plotting the camera moves, editing the soundtrack, and charting information on dope sheets 
  • Producing a composited version this work for comments from the Director or Animation Director

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have animation and acting skills, combined with a good sense of graphic design
  • have a good level of computer literacy
  • have a good working knowledge of relevant graphics, animation and compositing software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects Flash and/or Cel Action 
  • have a good understanding of the principles of animation and filmmaking
  • have knowledge of drawing and structure
  • be self-motivated
  • be able to take direction and willing to address constructive feedback
  • be able to communicate clearly with colleagues 
  • be able to manage relevant aspects of production
  • have the capacity to work both independently and as part of a team
  • have an appreciation of accuracy and pay close attention to detail
  • be able to deliver on schedule, working calmly and efficiently under pressure, if required
  • have respect for the procedures and requirements of a particular studio or production
  • have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

What does a Animator (2D computer animation) do?

Animators do everything relating to their scenes, including plotting the camera moves, editing the soundtrack (if required), charting information on dope sheets and producing a composited version of their work for comments from the Director or Animation Director.

In principle, the role of Animator is the same for all techniques of animation; the differences are in the tools used and in some of the skills required. Most professional 2D computer animation work in the UK is produced on one of two packages, either Flash or CelAction. The animation process can differ for both programmes. In addition, different studios set up production in different ways, with animators taking on various responsibilities beyond just animation.

In CelAction, good draughtsmanship is not always needed from Animators because all the elements will be provided in a comprehensive design pack which can contain not only designs, but also layouts, storyboard and soundtrack. From this material, Animators create the action, developing character and performance; a process comparable to a model animator being given a puppet or model to animate.

Flash is more of a universal tool and Animators can find themselves doing a bit of everything. Design and drawing skills are more likely to be required because, depending on the project, Animators may be working from rough storyboards or producing their own layouts, sometimes as drawn artwork to be scanned in to the computer.

In addition to creating the animated movement and performance, Animators are responsible for the consistent design and line quality of their animation. On some projects, Animators may be expected to be involved in the digital compositing and editing stages.

Animators may develop skills and preferences for different aspects of animation, such as special effects or lip sync, and consequently find they work mainly in those areas.

Will I need a qualification?

To be an Animator in 2D computer animation, it will help you to have an animation, film or illustration degree. It would also help you to have training in 2D drawn animation but, for some studios, good drawing can be a lower priority.

If you are considering taking an animation or film course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the animation and film industries and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for an animation or film career:

Animation courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

Film production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

For this role, portfolios are less important than showreels demonstrating your talent for animation, design, acting and timing.

While many Animators working in 2D computer animation are graduates, different studios have different philosophies about recruiting and you will always be hired on the strength of your work. Personal work demonstrating animation talent and an understanding of filmmaking can be a useful addition to a showreel, and could help you get an Animator job without having a degree.

What’s the best route in?

There is no typical career route to follow to become a 2D Computer Animator. One of the more likely routes you can follow is to be an animation graduate with some knowledge of 2D drawn animation.

You could also achieve this role having been a 2D animator, 2D drawn effects animator, web designer, storyboard artist or illustrator.

You could apply to be a trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

Where might the role take me?

With the right talents and strong ambition, you could progress to be Animation Director, Art Director, Designer or Director. You could also move into 3D computer animation. In computer animation, the career path is not as hierarchical as other types of animation, and if you have evident talent in a particular area you could move on quite quickly.

Interested? Find out more...


  • Animation Magazine - a US magazine about the business, technology and art of animation and VFX
  • Animation World Network - production news, interviews, jobs and a big archive 
  • Shooting People – community-driven site, founded by filmmakers, and providing opportunities, news and animation jobs 
  • Skwigly Animation Magazine - the longest running UK based animation magazine and community. Offers news, interviews, reviews, podcasts, videos and tutorials 
  • Toonhound – website about cartoons, animation, comic strips and puppets in the UK
  • Own-it - offers intellectual property (IP) advice, information and learning resources for the creative sector 
  • Animation Nation - Animation industry news and useful links


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