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3D animator

A 3D animator is the one who will create the synthetic images of a video game. More precisely, it is up to them to give life to the characters or objects, create the animation, and put them in motion (gesture, pace, etc.). And they need to do it as realistically as possible.

3D Animator Job Description
Last update
Study level: bachelor’s degree
Recommended high school specialisation: Artistic
Employability: Fair
Starting salary: € 2,083
Salary after experience: € 4,166
Mobility: Correct
ROME code: E1104
FAP code: U1Z82
"It's hard to define this job in a few sentences. 3D animation is a multifaceted profession. In the end, it is a category of careers, I would even say, because depending on the field (cinema, TV series, video games, advertising, etc.), a 3D animator may find themselves having very different animation tasks. A 3D animator, depending on the company they are in, can be more or less of an artist, a technician, can solve problems, etc."
Ubisoft Annecy Logo Photo of Aude Glondu, 3D animator
Aude Glondu
Senior 3D animator at Ubisoft Annecy

What are the responsibilities of a 3D animator?

A 3D animator gives a face its expressions, an animal its movements. They can create laughter and tears, but also behaviours. Alongside a team of creative people, they intervene at several levels, often after the modeller. They:

  • Analyse visual concepts
  • Create the concept in three dimensions to make it come alive
  • Strive to do it as realistic as possible
  • Ensures consistency
  • Adjust achievements based on feedback and testing

What are their skills?

They rely on technical, computer and artistic knowledge. A 3D animator has several skills, namely:

  • 2D / 3D software (3ds Max, Maya, etc.)
  • Animation software (Character Studio for example)
  • Traditional drawing
  • Integration tools, level tools
  • Scripting
  • Anatomy, architecture
  • Film culture, animation, video games, art
screenshot Character studio
A 3D animator should be familiar with Character Studio software
screenshot Maya
An example of the software the 3D animator should know how to use: Maya
"A 3D animator must take into account four factors in their responsibilities:
  • They must master the basics of animation and adapt to the artistic direction,
  • They must have a great sense of observation to be able to draw inspiration correctly from references such as films, or themselves while filming, and transcribe all this in their animations,
  • They must be autonomous and a force of initiative to continue learning again and again after their training, or to be able to solve problems on their own,
  • They must be very flexible in the way they work. Having changed studios several times in my career, I had to relearn certain facets of my job, the ways of working, and the tools that differ each time. Studios often have so-called "home" tools that you can't learn to use anywhere else, either at school, or online alone with tutorials. You have to train on the job, fairly quickly. And this can even happen within the same studio, just by changing the project! "
Ubisoft Annecy Logo Photo of Aude Glondu, 3D animator
Aude Glondu
Senior 3D animator at Ubisoft Annecy

Qualities to be a 3D animator

Doing this job requires you to have certain essential qualities that allow you to work in a team. A3D animator has:

  • A sense of observation
  • Great work ethic
  • An artistic sensibility
  • A lively and responsive mind

Advantages and disadvantages of the profession

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a 3D animator?

Advantages :

  • Freelance work possible with a bachelor’s degree
  • Versatile: technician, graphic designer, artist, computer scientist
  • Possibility of working in various fields (animation, television, cinema, etc.)

The disadvantages :

  • Sometimes difficult to find work
  • Average salary at the start of a career
  • Requires concentration and is demanding

Working at Ubisoft Annecy, Aude Glondu explains the advantages and disadvantages of her profession. For the pros: « As you have to constantly be inspired to innovate in the movements that you bring to your animations, you develop a great open-mindedness. We learn about many different subjects depending on our projects, which we would not have looked at at all without them. It also allows you to travel! And even with Covid, the studios are still open if the governments do not block them from welcoming talents from all walks of life. It’s a real chance to be able to move abroad easily thanks to your profession! Finally, it allows you to work in companies and on extraordinary projects. Video game studios, or VFX artists, are for the most part very good-natured, with internal events that one would not have in other more « serious » careers. « 

And as for the drawbacks, Aude Glondu adds: « Like any passionate profession, you can spend your life there. Managing your work-life balance when you start to have a family can become a challenge. We must then learn to set limits. « 

Which high school diploma should I have?

To become a 3D animator, a minimum level of study is often required. The reason? Working for a studio means having to meet certain requirements and, above all, being operational very quickly. Therefore, obtaining qualifications will be necessary.

From then on, a technical or general high school diploma (with an arts speciality, for example) is the first step, then going to a school specialising in video game careers to do a bachelor’s degree, for example, is the second step. A bachelor’s degree is recommended to do this job, as well as an MBA.


Which course should we choose?

Among all the possible training courses in France, choosing a quality school is important. At G. Art, we offer you education in the creative careers of video games with qualifying diplomas, high-level education, recognised contributors and a pedagogy focused on concrete achievements.

Our 2D – 3D Computer Graphics bachelor’s degree will allow you to obtain all the knowledge in graphics software, in drawing, lighting, anatomy, etc in three years, while providing you with the basics of a culture of video games, cinema, sound design and many others, without forgetting, teaching in management, communication, English, etc.

It is a comprehensive and rich course, supplemented by internships in a company lasting 2 to 3 months.

Then G. Art offers you the chance to improve with two MBAs of your choice and which can lead to 3D animation:

The MBA in technical artistry diploma< trains students in video game development (computer skills) and game art. The MBA in game artistry allows you to see concept art, game art and game engines, etc. more deeply. These two courses offer management modules that can give you the basics to take on responsibilities later.

Company internships

In addition to training to become a 3D animator, doing internships in a company is important. Periods of immersion are times to put into practice what has been learned and times to observe, meet professionals, and become aware of your future environment. This is why the school allows you to carry out two two-month internships in the 1st year of the bachelor’s degree as well as in the 2nd, then three months in the last year. If continuing in an MBA, you will do six months in the first year and have a second year punctuated by internships and fixed-term contracts.

How much does a 3D animator earn?

A 3D animator can earn an average of 38,000 euros. As a junior, their salary can start at 25,000 euros and with experience and depending on their employer, reach nearly 50,000 euros.

A 3D animator based in Montreal will earn an average of $ 55,000 per year. The highest salaries reach $ 80,000. A little further away, in San Francisco, it will be more: 75,000 on average and up to 100,000 dollars annually.

Where can you work?

A 3D animator will work with video game studios such as Piece of Cake studio, Pinpin Team, Arutua Studio or even Voxler.

In addition, a 3D animator can work in other universes: content for the web with Studio 100 Animation, cinema with Tat Studio or even SNCF, Winamax and many others that are looking for qualified professionals.

Arutua Studio game
Most video game studios employ 3D animators, such as Arutua Studio in Paris
"Initially, I chose the entertainment industry, rather than this particular profession. We are still big children, and projects are always making us dream. But taking a step back, any other job than 3D animator would not have interested me more. I find the science of movement fascinating, whether for objects, animals / creatures or humans. As a facilitator, you literally bring something to life. Without us, it's just an image. With us, this image finds emotions, and can make people laugh or cry. We can make people dream, like when I was a kid and dreamed in front of my favorite movies. This is because these worlds had life, they weren't just still images. "
Ubisoft Annecy Logo Photo of Aude Glondu, 3D animator
Aude Glondu
Senior 3D animator at Ubisoft Annecy

The outlets and possible developments?

A 3D animator can progress throughout their career in the world of video games and gradually take on responsibilities. Or they can even move towards other responsibilities such as game design, for example.

How can you become a freelance 3D animator?

Parmi les métiers du jeu vidéo, l’animateur 3D peut travailler de chez lui, en freelance. Après ses études, et une ou plusieurs expériences en entreprises sur des projets de jeux vidéo ou d’animation, l’animateur 3D freelance va pouvoir évoluer en indépendant. Liberté assurée, cela demande néanmoins d’être disponible, expert, attentif, créatif, organisé.

A 3D animator can work from home, as a freelancer. After their studies and one or more experiences in a company in video game or animation projects, a 3D animator will be able to work as a freelancer. Freedom assured, it nevertheless requires them to be available, expert, attentive, creative and organised.

In summary

How can you become a 3D animator?

Choosing to work as a 3D animator means performing movements in synthetic images of characters, animals, objects. So you’ll need to master a certain number of software, techniques, and all aspects of anatomy or architecture. For this, the G. Art school with its 2D – 3D Computer Graphics bachelor’s degree and its Technical Artist and Game Artist MBA allows you to learn the fundamentals to become a 3D animator with high-level education.


3D animator in video

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