The-lion-tamer-gcadt_bannerThe Lion Tamer © Image thanks to Glamorgan Centre for Art & Design Technology

Animator (2D drawn animation)

Personality type:
2D drawn animation

The lowdown

  • Producing series of static drawings which, when recorded in sequence and projected, create the illusion of movement

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have good drawing and animation experience
  • have a feel for movement and timing in order to produce convincing animation 
  • have creative and artistic qualities, along with plenty of patience 
  • have strong observational skills and acting talent, for character animation
  • have good communication skills
  • have good team-working skills
  • pay close attention to detail
  • be highly organised
  • be able to take direction

What does an Animator (2D drawn animation) do?

Animators follow a brief from a Director, Animation Director or Key Animator, and refer to established designs, models and layouts when creating the movement which will appear on screen.

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.

Animators produce series of static drawings which, when recorded in sequence and projected, create the illusion of movement.

In character animation, Animators may be cast, like actors, for their special talents - comedy, dialogue, song and dance, action, men, women, children, animals, simplicity, etc. On other projects, they may be selected for their talent to draw in a particular style, such as cartoon or realistic, complicated or simple.

They may work alone or they may supervise the work of Animation Assistants and Inbetweeners. They are sometimes responsible for the standard of their team's work and for ensuring that the animation is drawn on model (in style) throughout the process.

On other productions, including some feature animation, Animators may work only in rough, leaving the clean-up department to redraw and put the animation on model.

Will I need a qualification?

It will help you to have an animation or art-related degree if you want to become an Animator.

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

Animation courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

Art and design/CGI/graphics courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

What’s the best route in?

To get a job as an Animator, you will usually have worked previously as an Inbetweener and/or an Animation Assistant and/or a Junior Animator.

You could become an Animator without formal art training or qualifications, but with the right talent, having been promoted from Runner or Inbetweener.

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

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


  • The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams (pub. Faber & Faber)
  • Timing for Animation by Harold Whittaker and John Halas (pub. Focal Press)
  • The Complete Animation Course: The Principles, Practice, and Techniques of Successful Animation by Chris Patmore (pub. Barron's Educational Series)
  • Acting for Animators: A complete guide to Performance Animation by Ed Hooks (pub. Greenwood Press)


Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates from across the screen-based creative industries to help your career, project or company.

Sign up