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Special Effects Artist/Animator

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What They Do

Special Effects Artists and Animators Career Video

About This Career

Creates special effects or animations using film, video, computers, or other electronic tools and media for use in products, such as computer games, movies, music videos, and commercials.

This career is part of the Arts, Audio-Video Technology and Communications cluster Audio and Video Technology and Film pathway, Visual Arts pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Designs complex graphics and animation, using independent judgment, creativity, and computer equipment.
  • Creates basic designs, drawings, and illustrations for product labels, cartons, direct mail, or television.
  • Participates in design and production of multimedia campaigns, handling budgeting and scheduling, and assisting with such responsibilities as production coordination, background design, and progress tracking.
  • Creates two-dimensional and three-dimensional images depicting objects in motion or illustrating a process, using computer animation or modeling programs.
  • Makes objects or characters appear lifelike by manipulating light, color, texture, shadow, and transparency, or manipulating static images to give the illusion of motion.
  • Applies story development, directing, cinematography, and editing to animation to create storyboards that show the flow of the animation and map out key scenes and characters.
  • Implements and maintains configuration control systems.
  • Scripts, plans, and creates animated narrative sequences under tight deadlines, using computer software and hand drawing techniques.
  • Develops briefings, brochures, multimedia presentations, web pages, promotional products, technical illustrations, and computer artwork for use in products, technical manuals, literature, newsletters, and slide shows.
  • Creates and installs special effects as required by the script, mixing chemicals and fabricating needed parts from wood, metal, plaster, and clay.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would sit most of the time. There's some walking and standing. You may have to lift and carry things like books, papers or tools weighing 10 lbs. or less.
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Overtime work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Animator
  • Artist
  • Graphic Artist
  • Illustrator — Draws or paints illustrations for use by various media to explain or adorn printed or spoken word.
  • 3D Animator (Three-Dimensional Animator)
  • 3D Artist (Three-Dimensional Artist)
  • Digital Artist
  • Motion Graphics Artist
  • Multimedia Producer


  • Email Support
  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900
  • North Dakota Career Resource Network
    ndcrn@nd.gov | (701) 328-9733