An animator is an artist. They use artisitic techniques and technology to give life and movement to inanimate or created characters. They also create the backgrounds and environments in which these 'characters' live and interact and work closely with voice artists and musicians. Animators create 3D motion graphics and visual effects for a range of mediums, including film, television, video games, mobile apps and websites. Most animators today use computer software and hardware (as opposed to the hand-drawn designs of traditional animation). 

Animators create films for production companies, major animation studios and computer games companies. Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • working creatively to produce original and aesthetically pleasing designs/solutions
  • using specialist computer generation software such as Maya, Flash and After Effects
  • presenting designs to customers for evaluation
  • promoting and running the business
  • negotiating contracts
  • liaising and working effectively with other design and production staff

Animators only make the key drawings referred to as 'extremes'. These drawings on the animator's drawing board are necessary for showing the action-spacing instructions that guide the animator's assistant in doing the intermediate drawings needed to complete the depiction of the action.

When all the drawings have been completed and assembled, the action is checked. Flipping through the pages will reveal any error in the action sequence, and the relevant drawing can then be corrected. The drawings are then photographed in sequence. Sound effects are mixed with speech on the dialogue track and combined with the optical negative for the final composite print.

When making job applications, you will need a ‘showreel' of animated work that demonstrates your abilities to potential employers. It is vital to be proactive when seeking opportunities as vacancies are rarely advertised, so speculative applications, including direct approaches to companies by telephone, are essential.

Key skills are creativity, artistic talent, a knack for story telling, attention to detail, ability to work under pressure and the abiility to meet tight deadlines.

Personal Requirements

  • artistically inclined
  • imaginative, creative and original
  • industrious
  • strong sense of humour, of the quizzical and comical
  • high degree of attention to fine detail
  • comprehensive knowledge and understanding of figure and cartoon drawing and landscape painting

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Art or a related subjects is highly recommended
Recommended subjects: Art, Design Studies, Engineering and Graphic Design


  • An art portfolio is required to demonstrate your creativity, abilities and commitment.
  • If you intend studying towards a degree in Fine Art at university, you will need to a Bachelor's pass in matric. If you intend studying a diploma in an art-related field, then you will need a Diploma pass in matric.
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university or requirements set by the college.

What to Study

There is no recognised academic training course specifically for an animator. Most of the actual training is gained in-service with a practising animator. This may take up to three years depending on the individual’s interest in his work, his diligence and talent.

Degree: BA (Fine Art) - RU, UJ, US, UFS

Diploma: N.Dip. (Fine Art) - DUT, TUT, VUT


  • film production companies
  • animation studios
  • television companies
  • advertising agencies
  • self-employed, as freelance animator

Further Information

Any of the above potential employers, for example:

The Animation School
42 Searle Street, Woodstock
Cape Town, South Africa, 7925
Tel: 086 182 2233


Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in an art or film company or an advertising agency
  • make an appointment to speak to an animator about this type of career.

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

Cinema 4D by MAXON - Get a Skill

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