Several colleges offer computer animation programs in both fully online and hybrid formats, which combine online and on-campus courses. Within the program, students explore concepts in digital design, 2D animation, character modeling and digital effects, and they will be required to complete a final project or portfolio and online course materials prior to graduation.
Entrance into the program will require a high school diploma or associate's degree with coursework in mathematics, English and art. Due to the technical nature of the field, students need access to a USB drive and computer that can support software such as Adobe Creative Suite and Autodesk Maya, or other course specific software. This software will generally need to be purchased by the student; however, it may be available at a discounted rate.
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Animation
Online computer animation programs at the bachelor's degree level award degrees such as the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Computer Animation, Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with a computer animation concentration or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Computer Animation. Students can develop or enhance their skills in a variety of traditional art areas, including sculpting, life drawing, media production and illustration. Prior to enrolling in an online bachelor's degree program in computer animation, students will need to complete high school or associate's degree level coursework in relevant areas, including mathematics, English or art. Students may also consider online bachelor's degree programs in digital design and animation, media arts and animation, graphic design or visual arts.
Program Information and Requirements
Students can typically complete computer animation training through an online bachelor's degree program in less than four years. Most programs are offered through full online degrees, with few schools offering a hybrid format. In addition to general education courses, students will complete the required computer animation courses in video and audio technology areas. A high school diploma or GED equivalent are common educational prerequisites, as well as courses in math and computer technology.
Most computer animation programs require the use of industry software, such as Adobe Photoshop. Students typically develop a portfolio, which can be done online or by using Autodesk Maya or similar computer animation software. Due to the online and computer based format of most programs, students should have access to a personal computer and USB drive to save class projects, portfolio content, online course materials or other related coursework.
Online computer animation courses cover topics such as digital design, scriptwriting, digital characters and color theory. Many online computer animation degree programs offer a final application course where students have the opportunity to present their portfolio or individual computer animation project. Bachelor's-level training in these programs includes courses that build on the technical skills acquired through certificate or associate's degree computer animation programs.
2D Animation Basics
Students develop the basic techniques for making digital images, which is used in computer animation. Topics covered in two-dimensional animation courses include layering effects, motion and drawing.
Image Editing Techniques
Online students in this course will use editing software, such as Photoshop. They will learn the techniques necessary to edit digital images through video tutorials or reading in areas such as color adjustment, tonality, resizing and image cropping.
Digital Effects and Animation
This online course provides an overview of animation technology and digital effects. Topics covered include stop motion animation, digital image creation, scripting and programming, 3D modeling and image digitizing. Courses in this area also include a capstone animation project.
Flash animation course offered through online computer animation degree programs primarily covers the basics of interactive animation commonly found on the Internet. Students cover a variety of topics, including Macromedia Flash or Adobe Flash instruction, traditional animation, motion graphics and special effects.
Upon successful completion of an online bachelor's degree program in computer animation, graduates can find careers as multimedia animators, production artists, digital illustrators or in a variety of animation or digital design careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were over 30,000 multimedia artists and animators employed in the U.S. in 2015. The BLS forecasts that multimedia careers in this field will be competitive and grow 6% (which is average) between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also notes that the average annual salary for multimedia artists and animators was $70,300 in 2015; however, this average varies widely for self-employed animators.
Continuing Education Information
Students interested in pursuing advanced education in computer animation may consider a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Computer Animation. These MFA degree programs are available online, as well as on campus and through hybrid degree programs. Students who continue their education in an online master's degree computer animation program can develop techniques necessary for advanced careers in the field and gain training with current computer animation software.
Students can earn a bachelor's degree in computer animation completely online to be qualified to work as a multimedia artist and animator. These programs cover concepts like image editing, digital effects and flash animation, and graduates may consider enrolling in master's programs.