Freelance Animation – Types, Skills, Tips So You Can Work Remotely

  • Written By: Michael Haralson
  • Date: January 2, 2022
freelance-animation-projects-freelancingboss

You are an animator working for a company or have experienced what it is like to work on animation projects. Alternatively, you have been studying to become an animator. Now that the freelancing trend is growing, you have opportunities to find and work on your own freelance animation projects, working from home remotely. Can you imagine how fantastic that feels? It is possible, and there are some basics that you must put into place before you start. You also need to learn about freelancing. 

So what do you need to do in order to do freelance animation jobs while working remotely from home? You need to know the type of animation expertise you have, check that these types are requested by companies, get the animation skills to build your expertise, create a reliable home office and learn how to work with freelance job platforms and compete for projects.

Making a move to freelancing is not particularly difficult. Still, you need to get some vital basics in place, and you need to be able to communicate your expertise areas in animation clearly. More important than that, you need to think in terms of processes in your project work and competing for freelancing jobs. Read on for some great tips and explanations on how to do this.

How to Get Started as a Freelance Animator

To understand how to be a freelance animator, we need to back up a bit and define precisely what types of animation exists in the marketplace today. With that understanding, you can work to define your focus and expertise areas. From there, it is good to have a general idea of the types of animation projects that are being offered on freelancing platforms.

Freelance Animator Job Description

Before I jump into the details of the types of animations or a job description for animators, let’s define animation first. Wikipedia defines animation as “a method in which figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent celluloid sheets to be photographed and exhibited on film. Today, most animations are made with computer-generated imagery (CGI).”. As such, an animator is one who creates this type of animation, either working in company projects or as a freelancer. 

If you look at a typical job description taken from freelance platforms, you will find something that generally they are requesting that the animator can:

●create professional animations using tools such as computer and animation software programs
●create the desired animation motion and 3D graphics set by the project objectives or owners
●works in the project as an animation design artist or if very experienced, can consult on projects
●creates characters, background imagery or special effects in the animation which improve the experience of the person watching
●has the ability to brainstorm by drafti sketches for storyboards for implementation into projects

To match your skills and expertise areas to freelance animation jobs like this, we need to dive further into the types of animation and check the details.

YouTube Video – The Evolution of Animation 1833 – 2017 by The Solomon Society

Watch the Evolution of Animation 1833-2017 a short YouTube video by The Solomon Society which shows how animation has changed over the years. CGI has certainly impacted this industry!

Types of Freelance Animation and Animators

I’ve put together a table of the most common types of animations with a short description. I list whether there exists a possibility to freelance, whether there are schools that offer formal education degrees for this type of animation, and what level of difficulty there is to start (on a scale of 1-5). Lasty, I indicate whether it is easy to digitize the animation type. 

Table 1 - Types of Freelance Animation

Type of AnimationDescriptionFreelance PossibilitiesEducation Degrees Offered?Difficulty to Start as a Beginner (1-5)Easy to Digitize Animation (Yes/No)
2D Animation with Computer Graphics2D animaton is used in animated movies, cartoons as well as business videos. It's also used in video games. The characters in the animation are without depth and look "flat". Computer graphics enables easier motion and creation YesYes3Yes
3D Animation with Computer Graphics3D animation is also used in animated movies, cartoons, business videos, video games and multiple other use cases. It adds depth of field and can be viewed from different angles giving a more full representation of the character or scene. 3D is created with computer graphicsYesYes4Yes
Sand Animation Using Stop MotionSand animation is the forming of sand to create characters or scenes using stop motion to catch the formation. LimitedLimited to a few schools4Yes
Clay Animation or Claymation Clay Animation takes clay to create the characters and scenes and then uses stop motion LimitedLimited to a few schools4Yes
Flip-Book AnimationFlip-book animation uses a book with multiple pages with 2D sketches of a character or landscape that changes as each page is flipped. It gives the feeling of motion and animation when flipped with speedNoNo2No
Puppetry Animation Puppetry animation uses puppets and stop motion techniques to capture a series of motions which can also be digitizedNoNo4Yes
Celluloid or Cel Animation (Outdated and Replaced with Computer Graphics)Celluloid animation uses hand-drawn characters or scenes and then frame by frame is photographed to make animation. It is time consuming and with current technology like computer graphics, it is now obsoleteNoNo2No
Type of AnimationDescriptionFreelance PossibilitiesEducation Degrees Offered?Difficulty to Start as a Beginner (1-5)Easy to Digitize Animation (Yes/No)

Skills Needed for Freelance Animation

When it comes to skills, I’m a big believer in getting the fundamentals in place and making them reliable. The necessary foundational skills you will need to be a successful freelance animator are:

●Having skills at artistic illustration and design
●Basic skills on color theory and its practical usage
●Drawing skills
●Storyboarding skills
●Ability to work with creative ideas and translate them into outputs required by projects
●On the technical side, it’s the ability to use a computer and graphics software – the basics
●Working with people skills – such as communication, presenting ideas, working with a team to finish a project on time
●Freelancing skill basics – the ability to create a good profile on freelancing platforms, find projects, and then compete by making proposals
●A freelance portfolio (either a portfolio on PDF or a portfolio website)

This basic list of skills might seem to be a long one; however, these skills will be needed when working on freelance animation projects. 

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Related Freelancing Job and Work at Home Articles You Might Also Be Interested In:
How Can You Create the Perfect Freelancer Workspace at Home?
How to Create a Creative Workspace (Ideas, Design, Desk)
How to Have a Minimalist Home Office Desk Setup (Workspace, Computer, Decor)
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drawing-cartoon-characters-freelancingboss
Drawing and storyboarding skills are useful and even required in animation projects – FreelancingBoss

All animation projects have their targets, and they are set by the companies offering the projects. As a freelancer, you will be expected to, for instance, bring an animated character to life through motion together with the right colors, movements, and story. 

It will take creativity and imagination together with constant communication with other people to be sure things are progressing in the right direction.

More advanced skills depend on your own preferences and interests. Diving deeper into a specific type of animation, say, for instance, 3D animation, will open up areas of expertise that you will need to learn either through a formal education course or a project which exposes you to 3D animation. 

It might be a good idea to put together a plan of what type of animation you want to be an expert in. It’s not always a good approach to learn too many broad topics. By focusing on one specific area of animation, it can focus your efforts and build specific skills to add to your freelance description on freelance platforms. 

Building your freelance skills is also essential. Ideally, you want to work on multiple projects to earn more and not depend on only one project to bring in income. It means you need to become excellent at the process of creating proposals for projects, whether on freelance job platforms or with companies in your local city and working with customers to get new projects. 

motions-of-a-horse-running-freelancingboss
Different movements of a horse when it runs – creating motion with animation techniques – FreelancingBoss

Can Animators Work from home? What’s Needed to Make it Work

Something I’ve learned over five-plus years of working at home is that you need the proper setup for the work you are doing, and it takes some discipline to stay productive. 

Can animators work from home on freelancing projects? Absolutely. Not only is working from home liberating and energizing, if you have the right setup, but it can also enable you to be more creative. 

Having your own animation studio and workspace to work from can be a dream, and together with the freedom that is having your own business and freelancing, it can be fulfilling. Let’s take a look at what you need to set it up.

Your Home Office

You might wonder why I always emphasize the home office in freelancing articles on this website. The reason is that often the environment you do remote work, or freelance work greatly enhances the success you will have on the work project. 

For animators and animation projects, your home office environment, furniture, and equipment can help your creativity and productivity. 

The critical elements of setting up an animation home office include:

●A separate workspace or even workroom to build your home office

●The right furniture to keep your animation equipment and to foster a creative atmosphere

●The right desk for doing your animation work – whether it’s a drafting or art table or a computer desk large enough to keep multiple monitors

●The right equipment for creating your animation projects – you may need large whiteboards for brainstorming stories or colored pens, pencils or paints or alternatively you may need a computer with graphics cards and animation software

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Having the right equipment to process your animation projects is essential – FreelancingBoss

The critical point here is that you need one space to organize and keep all things related to your freelance projects in your home office.

Workstation setup and Equipment

Once you have settled on a specific place in your home for your home office and created the environment that you want where you will do your animation projects, it’s time to focus on one of the most functional items in your home office. It’s your desk or workstation setup and animation equipment.

Depending on the type of animation projects you will be working on, your workstation set up, and equipment will vary. Still, aside from that, the choice of your workstation and desk is critical to your productivity and progressing your freelance project.

There are multiple choices of workstations and desks to choose from. Here are a few that are commonly used:

●Big tables where you can sketch or draw or paint
●Angled desks which can be adjusted from flat to a 30° angle
●Drafting tables and desks, with drawers or cabinets
●U-shaped desks
●L-shaped desks
●Basic desk

If the type of animation projects you are working on requires a computer and graphics or animation software, then the choice of your desk will need to allow sufficient space to place a computer, keyboard, mouse, and possibly a printer. The U-shaped and L-shaped desks offer an excellent solution for this. You also have the option of having a monitor or multiple monitors if your work requires it.

Accessories for your desk and workstation are essential to consider because they are the tools that help you progress your project. Holders for your pens and pencils, as well as the paper, can be useful. Additionally, a standing whiteboard or a whiteboard mounted on the wall can help with brainstorming and storyboarding.

home-office-desk-for-graphics-animation-freelancingboss
Depending on your animation projects, your home office desk may need a computer and multiple monitors accessories – FreelancingBoss

If you want to read more about creating a creative workspace, check out my article here How to Create a Creative Workspace (Ideas, Design, Desk) which goes into detail of how to make your workspace as creative as possible.

Avoid the Common Problems of Working From Home

When you’re working from home as a freelancer, it’s vital to keep your productivity high. There’s a lot to say about productivity and working from home, but what I’ve found is that productivity is typically increased just by avoiding some of the common problems of working from home or by adjusting how you work. So that’s the approach I’m going to take here.

Some typical problems you may experience working from home as a freelancing animator are:

●Interruptions
●Spending more than the needed time to fix a tiny detail
●Overworking
●Work time spills over into personal time
●Lack of interacting with people
●Communication
●Bad health habits

Avoiding interruptions – it’s a good idea to keep interruptions and distractions to a minimum. Make your phone calls at a particular time and keep it in silent mode when I focus on your work. Tell people the hours when you would prefer not to be contacted and bothered.

Avoid being overly detailed on small items – it’s not to say don’t pay attention to the details; in animation, a detail can make or break a successful sketch or scene. However, decide to spend a certain amount of time on the detail.

Avoiding overwork – a fundamental way to avoid overloading is to create a routine and set specific times when you will be working on your freelance projects. Mix some other activities during the day. Naturally, there will be days when it’s crunch time, and you need to finish this particular amount of work to meet a deadline. That’s okay, but it’s not good to do this every day.

Avoid working during your personal time – this one is closely related to overwork, and as mentioned, you should create a routine and set specific times of when you’re working and when you have personal time. It also means that during your personal time, you are focusing on your hobby or your partner and not answering emails.

Avoid isolating yourself – when you work from home as compared to working at the office, there aren’t many people around you. Being social is a great way to bounce ideas off people and to avoid loneliness. Remember to reach out to people, both business and personal relations.

Avoiding a lack of communication – a freelancer needs to build trust with the people they are doing the project for. Many projects have problems because of a lack of communication and neglecting the building of trust with the project owner. Be sure to create a routine for communication.

Avoid bad health habits – make proper eating, sufficient sleep, and adequate exercise part of your daily routine. Just making these three habits correctly can improve your overall freelancing work-at-home experience.

Freelance Animation – Skills for Finding Freelance Jobs

Here’s some good news for you – multiple freelance platforms daily offer new animation projects which you can make proposals for and compete to get the job. 

That being said, if you decide to specialize in freelance animation and build a business and reputation, you will need some freelancing skills and knowledge to get started and win the projects you want. 

Although freelancing skills are not difficult to learn, some basic approaches will help you find success faster. That’s the focus of the next section.

Freelance Platforms for Animation Projects and Companies in your City

In the table below, I have listed some of the main freelance platforms that offer new animation projects. I indicate the platform, provide a short description, state whether signup with the platform is easy or requires many details, and what is the general size of the platform. After that I indicate whether the job platform is specialized for animation / animators and in the last column I provide the website link.

Table 2- Freelance Job Platforms for Animation and Animators

Freelance Job
Platform
Description of PlatformDifficulty to Get Started - Easy sign-up /Detailed sign-upSize of Platform (Small-Med-Large)Specialized for Animators and Designers Yes / NoJob Platform Link
Behance JobsBehance is a platform owned by Adobe in which you can showcase your talent and find projects to work onEasy sign-upLargeNohttps://www.behance.net/
DribbbleDribbble (with 3 b's) is a platform that helps connect you with companies and brands. You can showcase your talent and connect with companiesEasy sign-upSmallNohttps://dribbble.com/jobs
AIGAAIGA largest professional association of designers in the world and has some jobs offered through their platformEasy sign-upSmallYeshttps://designjobs.aiga.org/
FreelancerFreelancer is a large and well-known freelance platform. As it is a large platform, many jobs are available for animatorsEasy sign-upLargeNohttps://freelancer.com
Working Not WorkingWorking Not Working can showcase their animation talent and also indicate through a calendar if they are working on that particular dayDetailed sign-upMediumYeshttps://workingnotworking.com/
Simply HiredSimply Hired is a freelance platform where you can find project and job announcements and apply for themEasy sign-upLargeNohttps://www.simplyhired.com
ToptalToptal connects designers and animators directly with companies looking for talentDetailed sign-upLargeYeshttps://www.toptal.com
UpworkUpwork is a large and well-known freelance platform. As it is a large platform, many jobs are available for animatorsDetailed sign-upLargeNohttps://upwork.com
TwineTwine is a community and freelance marketplace for all creative and digital freelancers including animatorsEasy sign-upMediumNohttps://www.twine.fm/jobs
Freelance Job
Platform
Description of PlatformDifficulty to Get Started - Easy sign-up /Detailed sign-upSize of Platform (Small-Med-Large)Specialized for Animators and Designers Yes / NoJob Platform Link

Once you have found a relevant animation project or projects you are interested in, to get started you need to register and then provide details about yourself and your experience to compete for that project.

Another way to find freelance projects is to connect with companies in the city you are living in. There are pros and cons to doing this, the most significant advantage being that you do not need to rely on a freelance platform to get your projects, and connecting with the company personally is up to you. However, the most significant disadvantage is that you need to have the courage and determination to reach out and cold call.

Freelance Animation Portfolio

One of the essential tips that I can give to the beginning and even experienced animation freelancers is to create or improve your animation portfolio.

stop-motion-cork-animation-freelancingboss
Cork wire and wine bottle animation – FreelancingBoss

A portfolio of your previous animation projects can be assembled and presented in PDF form or preferably in a separate portfolio website. The idea behind creating a portfolio is to showcase your best work, show by example the types of animation work you can do, and to showcase the creativity of your ideas.

Another vital aspect of having an animation portfolio is that you can use it with all communications with companies and customers. It will be essential for you to link this portfolio as a reference in your freelance animation projects, with pursuing them on freelance platforms or at companies in the city or living in.

Get a jumpstart on the competition and create a portfolio that you can be proud of and use as a tool to help you get freelance jobs.

Competing for Freelance Animation Projects

When competing for freelance animation projects, I recommend a mix of projects that can be found on freelance platforms and projects that are offered by companies in the city you live in. Additionally, I suggest that you try a few different freelance platforms and not rely on only one.

The purpose of this approach is to try to get projects in different places and reduce the risk of only trying one platform or one city area.

Once you have registered on a freelance platform and provided the necessary profile and experience information, check to see the types of projects offered and select 3 to 5 jobs to make proposals for. Be sure to include your portfolio in communications with potential customers and the proposals.

stop-motion-lego-animation-freelancingboss
LEGO stop motion animation with the use of a camera – FreelancingBoss

You need to create a process out of scouting for projects and making proposals for those projects.

Do the same for cold calling companies in your city area for potential freelance projects. Make a process where you find potential companies and then call. Once you find someone interested to know more about your experiences and projects, make a proposal.

Competing for freelance projects is a part of the work you need to do to be successful.

Conclusion

Working remotely and being a successful freelancer is possible these days, and for animators wanting to start this lifestyle, there has never been a better time. 

Remember to get the animation skills you need to stay competitive on freelance job platforms and set up a proper animation home office that you can rely on to progress your projects. Finally, learn all you can about freelancing and making processes to compete for projects. It is all within reach. Good luck!

sketch-artist-workspace-freelancingboss

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it is possible to have your home office in your bedroom - FreelancingBoss