Digital Animation: How To Get Started?

We all have unlimited access to create art whenever and however we want to with technology.  

Due to this reason, digital animation has become one of the most popular choices for students who are planning to continue their tertiary education. 

However, not many have the information on starting their journey as animators. 

So, in this article, let’s look at digital animation and how you can begin your pathway in this creative field.

What is digital animation?

Digital animation employs computer programmes to create moving, animated pictures. It’s all about introducing motion, emotion, and personality to static images.

It encompasses both 2D and 3D animation, allowing for the dazzling imagery and special effects seen in blockbusters like Transformers, Lord of the Rings, and Avatar.

Types of animation

There are several varieties of animation, but the majority of them fit into one of five categories, which are:

Traditional animation

Traditional animation style necessitates the animator hand-drawing each frame to create an animated scene on a light table. 

This tool allows the painters to see through the top layer of paper to the preceding sketch.

2D animation

Vector-based animations, such as those used in Flash, are called 2D animation. Because the technology is so accessible, this type of animation is gaining popularity.

3D animation

3D animation is more related to puppetry. You’ll need to learn to digitally model a character, sculpt it to perfection, and give it a skeleton that you can move and modify to accomplish this.

3d animation
Photo by Justin Lim on Unsplash

Stop motion animation

Stop motion animation is similar to traditional animation, except that you use clay models and a set to create animation instead of drawing each scene. 

Puppets, cut-outs, silhouettes, and even action figures can be used in stop motion animation.

Motion graphics 

Motion graphics, unlike the other animation styles, are not driven by characters or storylines. Instead, the capacity to move visual elements, shapes, and text is the focus of this art form.

How do you use digital animation?

An optical illusion is used in animation. The viewer understands a sequence of static images presented quickly as a continuous moving image. This is the same idea that makes live-action movies and projection possible. 

With the emergence of advanced computer technology and software, animators now can use them to bring their art or ideas to life. 

This can be evidently seen through the entertainment industry. In recent decades, CGI, or computer-generated imagery, has dominated numerous films, from dramas to blockbusters. 

This technology allowed for the creation of three-dimensional worlds that were not bound by the limitations of traditional filmmaking. 

Furthermore, computer animation enabled filmmakers to be as realistic or imaginative as they desired. As seen in early Pixar short films, they were among the first to experiment with full digital animation. 

As a result, Toy Story became renowned as the first computer-animated film, which is noteworthy in and of itself.

toy story
Photo by Stone Hood on Unsplash

Digital animation examples

Here are some examples of digital animation:

  • Traditional animation: Mickey Mouse (Original)
  • 2D animation: The Lion King, Aladdin 
  • 3D animation: Coco, Encanto 
  • Stop motion animation: The Nightmare Before Christmas 
  • Motion graphics: Stranger Things

Traditional animation vs digital animation

It’s simple to distinguish between traditional and digital animation. Traditional animation employs techniques that do not require digital instruments, whereas digital animation employs computers. 

Another distinction is traditional animation uses authentic materials and activities, whereas digital animation employs virtual materials online.

Besides that, digital animation is much cheaper and faster than traditional animation. Digital animation simplifies the animation toolset.

So, all you need is a computer with sufficient system requirements to run your preferred 2D or 3D software package, as well as knowledge of how to use it.

Computer animation is substantially less time-consuming and less expensive. Because you can undo any mistakes on digital files up to a specific number of steps, it has a higher margin of error.

Moreover, digital animation is not more accessible but gives artist the freedom to try out different methods or to work in a way that suits their individual preferences.

What do traditional and digital animation have in common?

While they do not have something in common, traditional animation does have a history that should and will always be recognised, appreciated, and the cinder brick foundation for all styles of animation. 

Digital animation should not be considered as a replacement for traditional hand-drawn characters, but rather as an additional tool in an animator’s toolbox. 

Each has a critical function to play, as well as distinct advantages and disadvantages. After all, a tool is only as good as the person who knows how to use it, and digital animation is no exception. 

At the end of the day, the two go hand in hand and will not be where it is today without the advancements made in both types of animation.

Digital animation software

Your thoughts can come to life on the screen with the help of animation software. In addition, animation software can help you achieve your goals, whether you’re animating for a big film, video game, or personal project. 

Here are a few examples of digital software you can use:

  • 3ds max
  • After Effects
  • Animate 
  • Dragonframe 
  • Flipbook 
  • Maya 
  • OpenToonz 
  • Pencil2D
  • Piskel
  • Stop Motion Studio 
  • Blender 

What will you study in a digital animation course?

A Digital Animation course will help you learn to design, animation, and storytelling techniques. 

You’ll also learn how to utilise multiple tools and software, such as Adobe Illustrator, Maya, and After Effects, to create animations.

The following are some of the topics you might study:

  • Media Psychology
  • Narrative Studies
  • Graphic Design for Digital Media
  • Digital Imaging 1
  • Digital Imaging 2
  • Digital Illustration
  • Principles of Animation
  • Cinematography
  • 3D Visualisation
  • 3D Animation
  • Motion Graphic Design
  • Animation and VFX
  • Creative computing 

Final year animation students are often assigned a significant project, such as the making of a film, to demonstrate all of the abilities they’ve learned throughout the programme. 

Why you should study digital animation?

Here are a few reasons why you should consider studying digital animation:

Great job opportunities

Animators have a lot of career opportunities because of how lucrative this industry is. The surge has been fuelled by digitisation, rising demands for high-quality entertainment, and improved games. 

Visual design enterprises such as website and graphics design organisations, production houses, advertising firms, e-learning firms, and similar benefit from comprehensive knowledge and an educational background in animation.

High demand

The rise has been fueled by digitisation and the growing popularity of entertainment and gaming. In addition, because of the rising use of animation on social media, animators are needed in practically every industry.

Gain transferable skills

An education in animation will provide you with a variety of subject-specific talents such as model-making and drawing, as well as a variety of transferable skills that apply to a variety of various vocations and sectors.

For example, creativity is a skill an animator possess and this attribute will come handy if you were to become a content creator. You can use these skills to come up with ideas for ads or social media posts.

Continuous development of technology

In this field, you will always be exposed to new tech that will be a game changer in the art scene in a few years. 

Here, you can gain these precious knowledge and know-hows that will help you in your future career prospects. 

Who should study digital animation?

You should think about continuing your education in the field of digital animation if you have the following attributes:

  • You are a creative person: Students that study digital animation is frequently innovative and highly creative in their approach to bringing ideas to life. As an animator, you must think creatively and, at times, in outlandish ways.
  • You are a hands-on individual: A course in digital animation usually involves completing many projects, from 3D animation to creating stop motion videos from scratch. So, you must be willing to spend many hours of your day on this practical work. 
  • You are detailed: You’ll need a good eye for detail if you’re animating emotions and movements. Because you’ll have to analyse and focus on the tiniest of details, animating can be tiresome. Still, it can also be gratifying and exciting to see the results of your labour. 

Is digital animation a good career?

Yes, it is. These days, a career in digital animation is one of the most profitable and sought-after professions. 

Therefore, a job in this field could be the appropriate decision for you to earn good money and still have a lot of personal freedom. 

Additionally, the convergence of art and technology in digital animation adds another depth to the degree. 

You can use software to express thoughts and information and create it. 

Digital animation jobs

Animation is used in everything from films and special effects to 3D mapping and advertising by professionals. 

So, what can you do with an animation degree or diploma? The options are unlimited, but here are a few suggestions examples:

  • Animator
  • Concept artist
  • Games developer
  • Graphic designer
  • Exhibition designer
  • Film director
  • Film/video editor
  • Game artist
  • Multimedia specialist
  • Music producer
  • Production designer
  • Sound engineer
  • Illustrator
  • VFX artist
  • Web designer
games developer
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Digital animation salary

While the pay differs according to your level and the company you work at, the average salary of a digital animator in Malaysia is about RM 33,500 yearly

Digital animation course in Malaysia

The majority of animation courses will be offered at the undergraduate level. A bachelor’s degree in animation takes three to four years to complete, whereas a master’s degree takes one year to complete full-time.

You can consider enrolling yourself into the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Digital Media Production at UOW Malaysia KDU. We have taken the lead in focusing on individual creative output that the nation may be proud of.

As a result, the programme focuses primarily on digital production, with three distinct areas of focus: animation, visual effects, and digital video production. 

These priority areas will set our students apart as we encourage our young people to take the lead in the digital content revolution, first on a national level and then on a worldwide level.

Concluding remarks

If you have always loved making animated cartoons, visually spectacular movies, or even video games, continuing your studies in the field of digital animation will be the right decision for you. Nevertheless, if you still require any guidance or info on this sector, feel free to drop your enquiries here!


02 March 2022


Education and Career