Mastering 3D Animation: Tips for Beginners

Do you like to draw and want to see your creations come to life? A career in animation may be right for you. Whether you’re at the start of your path toward a career in animation or already have a few skills, here’s what you know to master 3D animation and build a fulfilling career.

2D vs. 3D Animation

Also known as traditional animation, 2D animation is flat. When you create a 2D animation, you draw the characters, background, and props on a flat surface. If you want to show a character or object from a different angle, you need to re-draw it. 

To create 3D animation, you work with specialized software, which allows you to build three dimensional models of your characters and objects. Your 3D models have height, depth, and width and can be viewed from multiple angles without the need to re-draw.

Since it involves the use of software, 3D animation is generally more technical than 2D. You need both creativity and computer skills to succeed at a 3D animation studio.

Tips for 3D Animation

If you’re interested in learning more about 3D animation, here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Understand the 12 animation principles: Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, two animators with Disney, developed the 12 animation principles in what’s come to be known as the Bible of Animation. Become familiar with the principles before you start your career.
  • Learn the terms: If you’re interested in 3D animation, you’ll need to become familiar with the terms commonly used. Learn the basic terminology first and you’ll be well on your way to mastering the artform.
  • Decide whether to specialize: As an animator, you can be a generalist, who does a little of everything, or a specialist, who’s mastered one particular style of animation. 
  • Play around with software: You need to use software as a 3D animator. Several programs are available, and some offer free demos. Try out a few different types of software to see what works for you.
  • Start small: Don’t expect to create the next Toy Story on your first try. Most animators start small, learning how to create a bouncing ball or move text. From there, you’ll grow your skills and will be ready to take on larger and more challenging projects.

How to Become a 3D Animator

If you’re interested in a career as a 3D animator, the first place to start is by earning a career certificate. Orange Technical College offers a 3D animation technology career certificate that prepares you for an entry-level role in digital media.

In the certificate program, you’ll learn the skills you need to get started with 3D animation design and production, including project management, character and environment modeling, story development, textures, motion capture, and the use of software to create a realistic animation.

After earning a certificate in 3D animation, you can continue your studies by pursuing an associates degree in Digital Media. 

Life as a 3D Animator

Wondering what a day in the life of a 3D animator is like? Depending on the job you get, you may work in an animation studio with other animators or from home. The majority of 3D animators are self-employed, so if you’re good at time management and prefer a flexible career, this may be the right path for you. 

The type of projects you’ll work on depend on the industry you end up in. If you’re in the motion picture industry, you can expect to work on plenty of films and animated shows. In advertising, you may develop animations for commercials.

Pay for animators varies based on the industry, but the median annual salary for the career as a whole was $98,950 in May 2022.

Start Your Career in Animation at Orange Technical College

Ready to jump in and give 3D animation a try? You can earn your career certificate from Orange Technical College in less than one year. Contact us today to request more information and start the enrollment process.