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Norman McLaren drawing on film - 1944.jpg
Experimental animator Norman McLaren drawing directly on film in 1944
Occupation type
Activity sectors
cinema, television, internet, media, gaming
Competencies Drawing, Fine Arts, Acting, Knowledge of relevant computer software

An animator is an artist who creates multiple images that give an illusion of movement called animation when displayed in rapid sequence; the images are called frames and key frames. Animators can work in a variety of fields including film, television, and video games. Usually, an animation piece requires the collaboration of several animators. The methods of creating the images or frames for an animation piece depends on the animators' artistic styles and their field.

Other artists who contribute to animated cartoons, but who are not animators, include layout artists (who design the backgrounds, lighting, and camera angles), storyboard artists (who draw panels of the action from the script), and background artists (who paint the "scenery"). Moreover, voice actors and musicians, among other talent, may be added as necessary to give the animation additional depth. Although, in hand-drawn japanese animation productions, such as in Hayao Miyazaki films, the key-animator handles both layout and key-animation. Some animators in Japan such as Mitsuo Iso take full responsibility over their scenes, making them become more than just the key-animator.

Specialized fields[edit]

Among the specialized of animators are character animators (artists who specialize in character movement, dialogue, acting, etc.) and special effects animators (who animate anything that is not a character; most commonly vehicles, machinery, and natural phenomena such as rain, snow, and water).

Inbetweeners and cleanup artists[edit]

In large-scale productions by major studios, each animator usually has one or more assistants, "inbetweeners" and "clean-up artists", who make drawings between the "key poses" drawn by the animator, and also re-draw any sketches that are too roughly made to be used as such. Usually, an artist is hired for the first time in one of these categories, and can later advance to full animator status.


In the past, animating was a long and arduous process; each frame of a given scene was hand-drawn, then transposed onto celluloid, where they would be traced and painted. These finished "cels" were then placed together and filmed, one frame at a time.[1]

Animation methods have become far more varied in recent years - today's cartoons could be created using any number of interesting methods, mostly using computers to make the animation process cheaper and faster. These more efficient animation procedures have made the animator's job less tedious and more creative.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How A Cartoon is Made"

External links[edit]