Character animators work in 2D or 3D or in dimensions yet to be discovered, bringing life to talking rabbits, dancing hippos, anthropomorphic cars, near-sighted fish, and more dysfunctional families than you can shake a stick at. The principles of animation, including stretch and squash, weight, anticipation and overlapping action, were fully developed (largely at the Walt Disney studio) by 1942.
Since then, character animators have applied these principles to projects with an infinite amount of stylistic variation, from full animation to low budget for the Web or TV. The character animator is a journeyman, accumulating experience and expertise over the courses of a career and a lifetime.
What kind of training and skills does a character animator need to start out and alos to keep advancing in their career? Feature animator Travis Blaise (Brother Bear), advises starting with the grass roots. "Try to attend a school that teaches the fundamentals (figure drawing, painting, sculpting, art history) along with traditional animation." TV animator and director Jim Petropolis adds, "If you learn nothing else, learn how to draw a proper human figure".
It is also important to understand storytelling, continuity, and acting. It's less important to research technical "how-to-animate" books and more beneficial to find books on your favorite artists or illustrators. It is better to develop your own voice and its easy to get stuck animating the way everyone else does.
What Are The Daily Duties Of A Character Animator?
TV animator Justin Simonich answers: " As an animator you're responsible for any scene given to you by the director, animating any characters assigned to you, and handing it by the deadline. The deadline is paramount; you have to work in a quick, yet deliberate manner.
The daily duties of a character animator often go beyond their job descriptions. Jim Petropolis feels that once you're in a loop, expect to wear many hats simultaneously. "Over time you'll probably be asked to do something different than what you might have hitherto been accustomed to.
Character animators, whether they work in 2D or 3D, need to keep up with technology to stay employable. To stay current with technology, read articles about new software and try them out. If you see a cool look or effect on TV, try to imitate it with Flash and After Effects. It helps you build an arsenal of styles and looks.