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  • Writer's pictureLaura Hohman

Jobs in Animation - Artistic Roles

I recently talked to someone who was interested in the animation industry but was unsure what kind of jobs there are.

Well, let me clear it up for anyone who is curious.

There are SO MANY! From being an artist, to being in production, development, pipeline, recruiting, sound, post, and more.

So as to not overwhelm with options, below are some of the most popular avenues for breaking into the industry as an artist.


Writer -

Writers ... write. More than that, they work very closely with the Show Creator to pitch new episode ideas (those paragraph ideas are called Springboards), then coming together for a long series of meetings, they brainstorm and flush it out with the rest of the writing team. Once given the thumbs up, that Springboard idea turns into a single page "Premise". The idea continues to be refined, fleshed out, expanded upon, and edited with feedback, until a final script is locked. Once in hand, the script ismoved to the next two departments in the pipeline at the same time. Design and Story.

Example Script - Rick and Morty

Design -

Black and white: Characters, Props, Layout (2d Backgrounds), Set (for CG, more like building plans)

So I am clumping a bunch of different jobs into this grouping. Essentially, if you enjoy creating things from scratch, concepting ideas for characters or environments, this is for you. But this job isnt all just for fun, its important. The BW designers are the ones who create schematic type drawings so that whatever they draw can be redrawn by others and potentially animated.

Color: BG Paint (Layouts and sets, more illustrative), Color Design (Characters and props, things that will animate)

I like to think of this as the job for those who loved coloring books (or still do!). Color Designers add swatches of color for a show or movie. This includes what objects will look like in different types of lighting, and labels or logos for posters and everything else that may be needed on screen.

Here's a great video on Character Design (both BW and Color):

Story -

Storyboard Artist:

A Storyboard artist is (in my opinion) one of the most important people on a show or movie. Usually receiving a script or an outline as a base, the Storyboard artist then draws "panels" to show how the camera should be placed, rough acting and posing of characters, and adding their own ideas to the story to make it even stronger. A Storyboard artist is basically a cinematic camera person, director, and creative all in one. What they draw is fairly close to what is seen on screen, and is used as the bases for all animation that comes later. Once a Storyboard artist has all their panels for a given scene in a good place and ready to be viewed, its handed off to an animatic editor.

Animatic Editor:

The Animatic Editor takes the panels from the Storyboard artist and adds dialogue (either recorded or temporary), timing, and simple sound fx. This timed collection of panels/boards is called the "Animatic".

CG Roles-

Asset Build: Model, Rig, Texture, Groom

Using the finalized and approved designs from earlier in the pipeline, the Asset Build team will interpret those 2d designs into CG. Using specialized software, the Modeling artist will sculpt the design into form (sculpting is similar to making something with clay). Once the Modeling artist creates the design and "cleans it up" so it is efficient, it is handed to the Riggers and Texture teams. Texture artists add color and materials so the object goes from grey clay to being cracked stone or flesh with freckles. The Rigging team adds a virtual skeleton so that characters can bend at their joints and faces can emote and make expressions. Lastly, there are Groom Artists, who add hair and grass to characters and sets.

This is a portfolio piece by a good friend of mine, but you can see the greyscale model and her textures. Chameleon, by Nikie Monteleone

Here is a quick example of what rigging is.

Lighting, FX:

Similar to live action or on a theater stage, the cg environments and sets need to be lit. Lighters add virtual lights to help set mood and tone, as well as time of day. FX artists create everything from 2d stylized effects, like blade swooshes, to complex building destructions and massive marvel style magic.

Animation -

Animators are the actors in animation. Using the Animatics as a guide, the Animators utilize all the pieces earlier in the pipeline to add life and personality to the completed characters. Typically creating their own reference videos of themselves acting, the Animator then transfers those same ideas and expressions to the 2d or CG models. I'm not going into more detail on this because its usually the job most are familiar with.

Technical Director/Pipeline -

A TD is someone who works directly with the artists across the entire show, helping them by creating custom tools that speed up their workflow. Technical Directors write code and anticipate and fix pipeline issues with a focus of supporting the technology of a production.


But for now, those are all the jobs I'm going to talk about. Were there any I left off the list you think should be on it? Any other questions about these? Let me know in the comments.

Look for my next post where I talk about nonartistic roles in animation.

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