How to Become a 2D Animator

2D Animation appears everywhere in our daily life, which means the demand for skilled 2D animators to create engaging content is also rising.

This occupation seems promising and may offer you a good income, but it takes time and effort. As long as you are passionate about motion graphics, you will be able to create unique and compelling content.

So, how to become a great 2D animator? What are the needed skills you should have? Which software should you learn?

Let’s dig into this article to discover more!

What Is 2D Animation?

2D Animation means two-dimensional Animation. In these projects, characters, creatures, FX, or backgrounds are created in a two-dimensional, flat space.

A 2D animator is in charge of creating stories or messages by making the characters and backgrounds move in this 2D environment.

2D characters
You must have found many 2D characters before.

In addition to drawing, they must be good storytellers. They must be able to express a message or story clearly to viewers by engagingly moving characters.

Overall, their tasks and duties include:

  • Contact clients to determine the scope and specifics of the design brief
  • Prepare the sketches, illustrations, diagrams, and layouts to convey the design concepts
  • Design the storyboards to show off the intended narrative
  • Design 2D frames and animated content (use computer software)
  • Negotiate solutions with clients (if any)

Is 2D Animation Easy?

Like other creative art forms, 2D Animation can be as simple or as complex. All you need to prepare is a pencil and some basic computer software.

Working on your static sketching skills is the ideal first step toward creating attractive animated cartoons.

The ability to sketch swiftly and precisely is a skill that you should not disregard if you’re considering a career in 2D Animation.

If the creative direction changes, it’s expensive for a studio to rework 2D drawings. So being able to draw and redraw the same character in multiple ways is essential if you want to succeed.

Drawing is one of the most crucial skills of 2D animation.

Fortunately, the boom of technology has made the process of making 2D Animation much easier and more accessible to amateur artists.

With the development of free 2D animation software, you can learn and practice them to create your first characters with ease!

How to Become a 2D Animator

This section will provide a well-rounded guideline to becoming a 2D animator in three steps. Let’s see!

1. Complete A Qualification In Design

This occupation requires a bachelor’s degree in computer animation, graphic arts, or fine arts. So it’s best if you graduate from university with one of those degrees.

Otherwise, you can consider some online courses or even learn through online videos to gain the essential knowledge and skills.

To have success in this field, you must be creative and artistic, with good time management and communication skills. You must also gain specialized computer knowledge and learn how to use animation and editing software.

The learning process is important to any beginner, regardless of how much they study. If you are not self-disciplined and attentive in your study, everything may be useless.

Online courses are a good alternative to orient their career goals and knowledge for those who don’t have time to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Simultaneously, they also bring a good foundation and essential knowledge to go deeper into the specialty.

Whatever you go for, keep in mind that the learning to produce 2D Animation may not be a simple task. It requires your time and effort, but after all, it’s worth a try!

2. Develop A Portfolio Of Work

Once completing the learning process, you must guarantee you get to know the knowledge as well as job title handling skills. It’s the most crucial skill to edit videos, build sound systems, and tackle some situations.

With such preparation, you will have a chance to find freelance jobs with a stable income. Furthermore, you can gain advanced expertise to guide yourself to highly specialized employment with opportunities for personal development.

You can make a portfolio of your work to show to potential employers at this stage. A good animation portfolio should include any animation projects you’ve worked on.

2D images
Show your best work in your portfolio.

It’s best to have a showreel, which is a three-minute video of your best work.

Below are some tips for a 2D animator portfolio showreel:

  • Include only your best work and prioritize the very best. All employers and admissions tutors are familiar with portfolios and reviewing work, so you must pique their interest within the first seconds of the showreel. Don’t save the best for last because the employer might move on before finishing.
  • Make sure your portfolio is compatible with various devices, screen sizes, and browsers. If you created it on a PC, make sure it works on other devices and operating systems.
  • Make sure it’s up to date. You should refresh it with new work and customize it for each job.
  • Besides showreels, you may choose to modify your portfolio with additional artwork.

3. Create A Website Or A Blog To Showcase Your Portfolio

Having a portfolio website is no longer a luxury but rather a must for artists and filmmakers. You should be able to control what comes up when others search for you online, and the easiest way to do so is to create a personal portfolio website.

A successful portfolio website should have an eye-catching design, easy navigation, good user experience, and fast load time. Your web portfolio should appear to be the work of someone with artistic and creative abilities.

What Skills Should 2D Animators Have?

The world of 2D Animation is constantly evolving, which means you must have the capability to adapt and be flexible. Below are some needed skills of a good 2D animator.

a 2D Animator
A good animator must be creative.


The more creative the content, the more viewers will be drawn in. You can apply your creativity to draw characters, resulting in surfaces with various shapes and meanings.

You can also boost your creativity with ready-made animated videos, which will aid in the stimulation of your imagination and thinking for your videos.

Good Drawing Skills

Drawing is a necessary skill for those interested in studying animation production. It serves as a platform to develop your creative concepts.

You don’t have to be an artist, but you need to know the fundamentals. You can use rough sketches on the computer to perfect your drawings if you have the right skills.

Master Computer Software

This occupation requires you to master as much computer software as possible. The art director will save your time and work using this software. It also supports the creation and completion of animated videos.

Good Communication Skills

Good communication helps you approach and adapt to work more quickly, resulting in increased efficiency in your work.

Communication is also the key to success, enabling you to give attractive and convincing presentations. Hence, it’s best to focus on improving your communication skills to expand your career path.

Continuously Expand Professional Capacity

Increasing your professional knowledge is a must if you want to be more successful in the future. Rather than looking at the big picture, you should focus on a specific category and investigate it.

It means you need to specialize in a specific aspect of 2D Animation and become an expert in that field. For example, if you’re a competent video editor with a lot of experience, you’ll have a lot of job chances.

What Are The Essential Software & Tools For 2D Animators?

As mentioned above, becoming a 2D Animator means that you have to learn to use and master many computer software. In this section, we will summarize five essential software and tools that you should get the most of!

using computer software for work
You must learn and master many computer software.

Toon Boom Harmony

Toon Boom Harmony may be the most professional software for producing high-quality 2D animated videos. It allows you to change the visual effects, making your movie more realistic.

The tool has a simple user interface and intuitive navigation buttons that even first-time users can recognize and edit.

Adobe After Effects

Developed by Adobe Systems, Adobe After is a digital visual effect and motion graphics app. People often use this tool in post-production in film, video games, TV production, and 2D animation production.

Specifically, the software comes with a scientific and straightforward interface to help users operate smoothly and accurately.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro can handle all video editing tasks to create high-definition, broadcast-quality video.

You can use this software to import video, audio, or motion graphics. It also allows you to create new, edited versions of videos and export them to media and formats for dissemination.

Furthermore, Adobe Premiere Pro assists in improving the image and sound quality of animated videos, allowing viewers to better understand the message of the media product you want to portray with basic sketches.

Like other editing tools, Adobe Premiere operates by importing video from a source such as a videotape onto the hard drive; then, you can edit and export it back to the disc, tape, or other media.


You may have found any photographer, graphic designer, video game artist, advertising, or self-employed meme designer using this app before.

Photoshop can assist you in creating new photographs from photo backdrops, so it’s also ideal for working on 2D animated video productions.


Synfig is a must-have tool for quickly adjusting animated films. You can watch a preview of your video and carefully monitor and evaluate its quality.

What Are The Useful Tips For 2D Animators?

The best approach to kick-start your career is using the network. Networking is essential in this work field, whether through actual interactions on LinkedIn or any social media platforms, informational interviews, or visiting industry events.

Different studios have different job boards. Some colleges and boot camps offer job boards. Make a list of studios you wish to work at and revisit it frequently.

You can try to connect with those who work at that studio via LinkedIn or other channels.

Many organizations prefer candidates with at least two years of experience in this field. If you have no experience, you should create your project and look for freelance opportunities.

You can consider some freelance animation jobs while looking for your first full-time job.

Freelance platforms are a good place to start, and don’t forget LinkedIn and network, which will help you gain more momentum in your job search.

How Long Does It Take To Learn 2D Animation?

Good animators never stop learning. Most of the time, beginner-level Animation takes only a few days, but if you want to be a professional, it’s important to note that constantly honing your craft takes time and effort.

You must devote much more than a few days to it. Specifically, it may take you a few years to learn and master the craft and expand your skillset.

How Much Can A 2D Animator Earn?

The estimated total income in the US for a 2D Animator is $80,743 per year, with an average salary of $64,270 per year.

The extra pay is estimated to be $19,980 per year. It may include a cash bonus, tips, commission, or profit-sharing.


This article has just provided you with a full-detailed guide to becoming a 2D animator and other relevant facts. Despite the fact that the demand for this working field is on the rise, it’s best to research the job potential and take the necessary steps to accelerate your progress later on.

Hopefully, you can now have a better understanding of this job field and get everything to pursue it! Good luck!