Will-alexander--ba-computer-visualisation-and-animation-graduate-uni-of-bourn_banner© Will Alexander, University of Bournemouth graduate

Animator (3D computer animation)

Personality type:
3D computer animation

The lowdown

  • Using specialist software to produce three-dimensional images which, in sequence, create the illusion of movement

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have a feel for movement and timing
  • possess creative and artistic qualities, along with the appropriate technical skills
  • have observational skills and acting talent, for character work
  • have good communication skills
  • have good team-working skills
  • have good organisational skills
  • pay close attention to detail
  • be able to take direction

What does an Animator (3D computer animation) do?

Computer Animators produce images which, when recorded in sequence and projected, create the illusion of movement.

In character animation, they 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 particular technical skills and ability.

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.

Depending on the project, Computer Animators follow a brief from a Director, Animation Director or Lead Animator. They refer to established designs, layouts, models and existing characteristics when creating the movement which will appear on screen.

Will I need a qualification?

To become a Computer Animator, it will help you to gain a degree in computer animation, computer science or similar, or in an art-related subject.

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?

You will be unlikely to enter the industry in this role. Instead, you are more likely to work in another department, such as modelling, and then work your way up to this role. Depending on your talent and drive, you may progress very quickly to the role of Animator, while others can take much longer to reach that position.

You might also cross over from 2D and retrain to acquire the necessary computer skills.

Having a background, or training in, drawn animation is regarded as a strong asset for Computer Animators, many of whom continue to take life drawing and/or acting classes throughout their careers.

With the right passion and talent, you could take a different route, being promoted from Runner to a junior technical role, which may then lead to an animation role.

You could also 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
  • 3D World Magazine - international magazine for CG artists, covering the fields of animation, VFX, games, illustration and architecture
  • Computer Graphics World - magazine covering innovation in computer graphics technology across various industries
  • Cinefex - quarterly magazine devoted to motion picture visual effects


  • The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams (pub. Faber & Faber)
  • The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston (pub. Hyperion)
  • Acting for Animators: A complete guide to Performance Animation by Ed Hooks (pub. Greenwood Press)
  • The Art of Maya by Alias Wavefront (pub. Sybex)
  • Maya Character Animation by Jaejin Choi (pub. Sybex)
  • How to Get a Job in Computer Animation by Ed Harriss