Animators are artists who create 2D and 3D moving images for film and television, and they are often skilled in drawing, painting and computer science. Before attending an art school to work on an animation degree, you can take a series of high school courses that will prepare you for both a higher-level education in animation and a career. Focus specifically on the art and technology classes your high school offers. In addition, seek out school clubs and periodicals that will allow you to develop your skills as an animator.
Drawing, Painting and Art Courses
Although much of animation involves graphic design, colleges and art schools still want their animators to be trained artists. Specifically, students will need to be highly skilled drawers, capable of rendering a variety of different bodies, figures and facial expressions. Take studio art courses that focus on drawing so you can master life drawing. In addition, painting courses will allow budding artists to experiment with color and the fluidity of paint on canvas, all important skills for animation. Larger high schools may also have elective introductory animation and film courses for students.
Computer and Technology Courses
Whereas in the past animators relied solely on drawings, much of animation today is computer generated. Animators use technology such as CGI, or computer generated imagery, to create 2D and 3D animation. Furthermore, animators may have the opportunity to direct and edit animation television shows and movies, so they need to be skilled in the use of filming software. Aspiring animators should take high school courses in computer science to develop strong computer skills for college-level computer animation courses. High school film courses may also provide exposure to film and animation software.
Humanities, Math and Science
A strong foundation in science, specifically biology and physics, will allow animators to master their ability to render the body due to their knowledge of movement and anatomy. In addition, math classes will aid in an animator’s ability to be successful in the computer science end of animation. Finally, animation requires that artists be creative and expressive. Humanities classes like social studies, literature and creative writing focus on stories and writing, areas which will help animators become strong storytellers.
Clubs and Periodicals and Internships
In addition to high school classes, aspiring animators should aim to get involved with school extracurricular activities. Volunteer to create weekly comic strips for the school newspaper or join after-school art and film clubs to develop your skills along with other student artists devoted to the craft. Finally, speak to your high school art teacher about animation and art-related internships. Local museums, graphic design companies and small production companies may be willing to hire a student artist as an intern.
Kelly Chester is an educator and writer who has worked in both public and private schools for almost a decade. Her areas of expertise include literature, writing, history and art for adolescents. In addition to writing reports for NYSAIS, she has also written a biography on artist Frank Covino, which was published in the anthology “Teaching Lives.”