2D animators utilize a blend of personal creativity and task-specific computer programs to produce visual images which convey the appearance of moving; this differs from 3D animation, which adds depth to the mix. Simply put, 2D animators produce cartoons and similar animations which have a “flat” look to them, such as TV shows and movies like The Simpsons, The Flintstones, anime, and others.
To create two-dimensional images, a series of detailed but similar images must be produced, which when assembled flow smoothly as a cartoon or similar visual image with fluid movement. While it is a detailed and time-consuming process, the end result is a video that can thrill, entertain, educate, and affect audiences in many other ways. This involves four key elements: development, pre-production, production, and post-production. In the first two, the focus is on developing and improving the storyline and concept. The images themselves are created during the production stage, and the fine-tuning and special effects are added in the post-production stage.
Creating the images themselves requires creativity and skill. Some 2D animators work by painstakingly drawing and painting each individual image, which was the norm before the days when computers could be used. While some are still hand-drawn, most 2D animators work with specialized computer programs, changing and fine-tuning each image as needed along the way. As such, strong computer skills and a mastery of the programs used are necessary for this position, and 2D animators must stay up-to-date with all changes and updates in computer programs and other relevant technology.
Working hours for 2D animators can vary, ranging from a part-time position in front of a computer to many long hours of overtime, especially as deadlines approach. This is also determined by whether the animator works for a large production company or on contracts within specific time-frames.
Generally speaking, those in this position have at least a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, animation, film production, or a related field, and must have strong creative skills, well-developed computer skills, and stay up-to-date with all changes in software and other areas impacting their positions.