Career in VFX and animation: the best guide for beginners

vfx and animation

Table of Contents

Wondering about VFX or Animation? Want to start your career in VFX and Animation? Presenting you the beginner’s guide to starting your career in VFX and Animation.

Remember Tony Stark’s nanotechnology iron suit in Avengers: Infinity War? The enormous waterfalls in the Baahubali or the Lion King? Or any scene in a movie, web series, or television commercial that enthralls you and makes you question how was it created?

Visual effects (VFX) and Animation are the technology behind all these scenes or any movie you watch.

career in vfx and animation - this picture shows the before and after picture of vfx
Source: The Rookies

In recent years, animation and visual effects have taken a significant leap with the development of new technology. Now people are demanding more creativity. Today there is nothing that cannot be created on-screen. These artists’ needs have risen continuously in the last few years and are only expected to grow further in future.

Key Takeaways

  • VFX is a process of creation or manipulation of any on-screen imagery that does not physically exist in real life.
  • CGI, Composting, and Motion Capture are the three main types of VFX.
  • Previs Artist, Match-Moving Artist, Compositor, and Roto Artist are some of the best career options to pursue under VFX.
  • Animation is a process of manipulating still figures to appear as moving images.
  • 3D, 2D, Stop Motion, and Motion Graphics are the different types of animation.
  • Storyboarding Artist, Rigging Artist, Character Animators, and 3D Modellers are the best career options you can pursue in the field of Animation.

VFX and Animation: An Overview

Visual Effects is the process of manipulating or enhancing real-world footage filmed with a video camera that does not physically exist in real life. It empowers filmmakers to create environments, objects, creatures, and even people that would be impossible to film in the context of a live-action shot.

Animation is the process of designing, drawing, making layouts, and preparing photographic sequences combined into multimedia and gaming products. It is a visual effect where the animator creates movements for objects and characters in either 2D or 3D. It involves the manipulation and management of still images to generate the illusion of action. 

It is the art of bringing life to stationary objects or drawn / 3D-generated characters and is created by combining sequenced images one after another to create the illusion of life. 

A career in VFX and Animation is not just in the movie industry; but is commonly seen in tv commercials, broadcast series, architecture, advertising, etc.

Types of VFX and Animation

Top visual effects studios have VFX supervisors and teams of artists who all have their specialties. There are three types of VFX :

Computer-Generated Imagery

Digitally-created VFX in film and television are computer-generated imagery or CGI. There are different computer graphics, 2D or 3D; however, CGI generally refers to 3D VFX


When VFX artists combine visual elements from separate origins to appear as they are in the same place is compositing or chroma-keying. This technique requires filming with a green screen or blue screen, later replaced with the main element using compositing software in post-production.

Motion capture

The process of digitally recording an actor’s movements, then transferring those movements to a computer-generated 3D model is mocap or motion capture. While recording an actor’s facial expressions, it’s referred to as performance capture

There are different types of animation, which fall under five major categories. Knowing the various kinds helps artists to choose their careers in animation:


Currently, 3D or CGI is the most popular type of animation for feature film. It is used to create digital characters for live-action films and animation for video games.

It is a complex process to animate in 3D. It involves many specialists to model the character, rig it with bones and controls, animate it, and then texture and light for the final output.

2D (Hand Drawn)

2D hand-drawn animation draws characters frame by frame on paper or using cels and then scans the drawings into the computer for digital colouring. 

However, many hand-drawn animators, nowadays, skip the paper method altogether and draw directly onto the computer using a tablet or Wacom Cintiq monitors.

2D (Vector)

Now you can create 2D animation with the help of a 2D digital puppet. These are 2D characters built with a system of bones and controls that can be shaped like a 3D character rig.

A character could have bones to let the animator pose it, but also have other parts which are animated by hands. 

Stop Motion

Stop motion is an animation technique in which objects are moved slightly and photographed one frame at a time and shown in sequence to create the illusion of movement.

Stop motion itself has many different types and they all involve handling real-world objects. 

It is similar to the flipbook, the only difference is stop motion uses objects instead of drawings. It is the easiest form of animation but takes a lot of time, as it takes an estimated 12 frames to make one second of the video.

Motion Graphics

Motion graphics involves making dynamic and exciting presentations of moving text logos and fundamental illustrations. It can be both 2D and 3D. 

It can be seen everywhere in commercials, sporting events, the news, and other TV productions. 

It usually involves animating images, texts, or video clips using keyframing that are tweened to make a smooth motion between frames.

Pre-requisite for VFX and Animation

First of all, you don’t need a degree to start a career in VFX or Animation. But to be a VFX or animation artist, you must have technical skills and certain personality traits that will help you outshine this field.

Technical Skills:

  • Javascript
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • UI design
  • Linux/Unix
  • Houdini
  • MAYA
  • 3D modelling
  • Prototyping
  • Photoshop
  • Microsoft Office packages

Personality Traits:

While technical skills can be quickly learned, certain personality traits need to be absorbed to excel at this art.

  • Creativity
  • Attention to detail
  • Good visual awareness 
  • Passion
  • A strong spirit of collaboration 
  • Organisation skills

The most significant learning experience in this field would be developing a sharp eye for detail. The artist must be aware of the most minor details – whether we’re talking about light and shadows or freckles on a cheek.

Job Roles under VFX and Animation

career in vfx and animation - This is how a Production Control Room looks like.
Source- The Rookies

VFX and animation go hand-in-hand. 

In India, the scope of VFX grows with animation. There are many career choices in VFX. They include–

  • Previs Artist 

A pre-vis artist visualizes complex scenes before the actual shoot using hand-drawn images or computer software, which give the director a clear view of the sequence before the production starts.

  • Match-Moving Artist

A match-moving artist inserts computer-generated graphics in live-action footage and matches the movements in 3D to make them look seamless.

  • Compositor 

A compositor combines related material layers, including rendered computer animation, special effects, graphics, 2D animation, and live-action.

  • Roto Artist 

A roto artist finds live-action frames where computer graphics overlap with live images and then manually correct video or film one frame at a time.

An animated film involves many stages as a supply chain, each of which has its importance. Various roles under animation are:

  • Storyboarding Artist 

A storyboard artist creates a visual representation of the sequence/ film by drawing sketches frame-by-frame by hand or on a computer. 

  • Rigging Artist

A rigging artist adds the bones and skin to the animated character. Their job is more towards adding details and precision to the graphics.

  • 3D Modelers

Modelers create computer models of a particular object that is understandable, relatable, and viewable from all angles. 

  • Character Animators 

A character animator gives the character movements, facial expressions, and dialogues to tell a story. Their job includes adding life into the characters through softwares like Lightwave, Maya, Flash, and more.

  • Motion Graphics Artist 

Motion graphics artists create 2D and 3D animated images. They use video and animation to give the impression of action through changing images.

  • Lighting Artist 

Lighting artists create the lights and shadows that make the scene look realistic and flawless.

  • Texture Artist 

The texture artists apply texture, colour, environment and props, and three-dimensional effects to animated characters. 

  • Compositing Artist

The compositing artist brings together all the elements from various teams and combines them for the final output.

Future of VFX and Animation

Source: YouTube

VFX and animation are slowly but gradually growing in India and around the world. Whether we talk about Netflix shows, blockbuster movies, or even television commercials, the demand is rising.

According to Statista, India’s VFX and post-production industry have almost doubled – from ₹39bn to ₹68bn between 2016 and 2019. It also predicts that the industry will be worth nearly ₹147 bn by 2024.

Considering the vast volume of cartoons, animations, games, and others that Japan both produces and consumes, Tokyo has some of the best opportunities for animation and VFX. Other cities include Madrid, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai, and Hamburg

In India, Chennai, Coimbatore, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Mumbai are top animation destinations.

Careers in VFX and Animation 

There are so many factors that will help you decide on the right degree and specialisation for yourself. The easiest way to start your career in VFX and Animation is by enrolling in an appropriate course at a reputable institute. This will shape your future and significantly impact the way you pursue jobs in the industry.

According to Glassdoor’s report updated in April 2020, an animator’s average salary is INR 37.5k per month. Once you become Assistant Animator/Creative Director or Assistant Technical Director, you can expect to earn more. Currently, the average salary of a VFX Artist in India stands at INR 25k per month.

After 4-5 years of industry experience, you can also take freelance projects in addition to the full-time job. You can earn between INR 45000 and 60000 per month with a freelance project based on your experience, quality of work, and reputation. Highly skilled animators and VFX artists also charge an hourly rate.

Concluding: best ways to start your career in VFX and Animation

Conclusively, if you are want to start your career in VFX and Animation, 2021 is the best time to acquire the skills. Also, these can help you find opportunities in diverse industries, including video games, television, movies (Bollywood and beyond), advertising and commercials, the corporate world, real estate, and more. 

The animation and VFX market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 9% during the forecast period 2021 to 2026. So, the demand for animation and VFX will increase in the media sector’s emergence, gearing up significantly in the multimedia ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are VFX and animation different?

Yes, VFX and animation are different. VFX involves enhancing real-world footage which doesn’t physically exist in real life. And animation involves creating a meaning video footage using photographic sequences.

Are SFX and VFX the same?

No, VFX stands for Visual Effects and is used to enhance videos. While SFX stands for Sound Effects and deals in creating or enhancing sounds.

Does the VFX and Animation Industry have a great scope in the future?

Yes, the VFX and Animation Industry is on the rise and has a great scope in the future. And it also predicts that the industry will be worth nearly ₹147 billion by 2024.

What are some of the career options under VFX and Animation?

In VFX, Previs Artist, Match-Moving Artist, Compositor, and Roto Artist are some of the best career options.
And in Animation, Storyboarding Artist, Rigging Artist, Character Animators, and 3D Modellers are the best career options you can pursue.

Where I can pursue the VFX and Animation course in India?

Arena Animation, MAAC, Zee Institute of Creative Arts, and Times and Trends Academy are some of the top animation colleges in India.

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