Special effects artists and animators typically do the following:
Special effects artists and animators often work in a specific medium. Some focus on creating animated movies or video games. Others create visual effects for movies and television shows. Creating computer-generated images (known as CGI) may include taking images of an actor’s movements and then animating them into three-dimensional characters. Other animators design scenery or backgrounds for locations.
Artists and animators can further specialize within these fields. Within animated movies and video games, artists often specialize in characters or in scenery and background design. Video game artists may focus on level design: creating the look, feel, and layout for the levels of a video game.
Animators work in teams to develop a movie, a visual effect, or an electronic game. Each animator works on a portion of the project, and then the pieces are put together to create one cohesive animation.
Some special effects artists and animators create their work primarily by using computer software or by writing their own computer code. Many animation companies have their own computer animation software that artists must learn to use. Video game designers also work in a variety of platforms, including mobile gaming and online social networks.
Other artists and animators prefer to work by drawing and painting by hand and then translating the resulting images into computer programs. Some special effects artists use storyboards or “animatics,” which look like a comic strip, to help visualize the final product during the design process.
Many special effects artists and animators put their creative work on the Internet. If the images become popular, these artists can gain more recognition, which may lead to future employment or freelance work.
Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree, and they look for workers who have a good portfolio and strong technical skills. Special effects artists and animators typically have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, computer graphics, animation, or a related field. Programs in computer graphics often include courses in computer science in addition to art courses.
Bachelor’s degree programs in art include courses in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Degrees in animation often require classes in drawing, animation, and film. Many schools have specialized degrees in topics such as interactive media or game design.