Classical animation is the process of artistically creating movement through multiple drawings using timing and spacing. Undergraduate and graduate students of programs in this field learn the art of bringing characters to life through single images.
An associate's degree program in animation and design teaches the fundamentals of drawing and multimedia work. Students become computer-proficient as they learn various animation techniques. Applicants to an associate's program must possess a high school diploma. Although SAT or ACT scores are not always required at the associate's level, some programs have mandatory placement exams for beginning students.
Students of art at the bachelor's degree level study line and color techniques, graphic novels, animation and other topics. Art history and human anatomy are other areas of emphasis. Applicants must have completed high school and submit ACT or SAT scores. Some programs require an applicant to send in a portfolio of work, which is helpful in obtaining a scholarship.
Master's degree programs in studio art allow students to tailor their curriculum to their particular interests. They must fulfill thesis requirements. Programs allow participants to instruct other art students, and to create their own special art projects. Admission to a Master of Fine Arts degree program requires completion of the B.F.A. degree and submission of a portfolio. Programs are highly competitive and may require professional experience.
Associate of Art in Animation and Design
Students develop a fundamental understanding of animation techniques through multimedia lessons and assignments. Programs teach students to use computers and work with other creative professionals to plan and execute quality animation projects.
Most animation associate's degree programs cover topics in basic drawing, modeling and composition. Programs build on basic foundations in creative development by adding advanced computer and multimedia animation courses using design and animation computer applications. Most courses are computer-based and teach students about:
- Multimedia composition
- Modeling and design
- Advanced animation techniques
- Graphic drawing concepts
- Video animation
Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Degree in Art
A bachelor's degree in art with a concentration in drawing provides students with the necessary tools and training to pursue careers in cartooning, animation and illustration. Students learn animation techniques along with theoretical instruction in art history and design.
Bachelor's degree programs focus on training students in color and line techniques as well as providing instruction in human anatomy, perspective and various media. Courses include:
- Introduction to the graphic novel
- Digital animation
- Writing for the graphic novel
- History of comic books
- Drawing for animation
- Flash animation
Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Studio Art
Graduate studio art degrees emphasize a thesis project, and studio seminars provide graduate students with the opportunity to exhibit their art projects and participate in group critiques discussing scriptwriting, cartooning techniques and cartoon art trends. Graduates become art instructors and work on their own projects while exhibiting their work in galleries.
A master's degree program focuses on the development of a final project students are expected to present at the end of their studies. Programs are individualized based upon specific interests. Course topics include:
- Contemporary art
- Digital design
- Art criticism
- Writing for sequential art
Popular Career Options
With an associate's degree in animation and design, students can seek entry-level animation positions with creative art agencies, design firms, advertising companies and related animation businesses. Many animators also act as freelance multimedia artists, accepting work on a case-by-case basis. Career options include:
- Digital animator
- Graphic illustrator
- Multimedia artist
- Animation specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many artists are self-employed (www.bls.gov). Some work as illustrators, animators, multimedia artists and graphic designers. For those who work in animation and multimedia, the BLS projected average employment growth of 6% during 2014-2024, as companies need people to work in computer graphics, special effects and Web illustration. Opportunities for employment were projected to be best for those who specialize in a certain area, such as computer programming or drawing. As of May 2015, multimedia artists and animators earned a median annual wage of $63,970.
It can be difficult for artists and cartoonists to make a living from their art alone. Many work in academia, while others obtain positions in advertising or administrative support in a related field.
For networking and career opportunities, degree-holders can join animation and design organizations such as the Animation Guild or the International Animated Film Association.
Gaining an education in classical animation can be done through many channels, whether by studying animation and design or art at the undergraduate level, or completing a master's degree in a field such as studio art.