Animator/Digital Artist Kaiwhakahauora/Ringa Toi Mamati

Animators and digital artists use software, models, photography and drawings to create still and moving images for advertisements, film, print, web or television. 

Animators/digital artists may do some or all of the following:

  • meet with directors, clients or employers and agree on a brief (work plan)
  • plan animation and design work for their team
  • illustrate books and other print media
  • build models, puppets or sets, or hand-draw or paint characters, and give them skin surfaces with texture and colour
  • film models and hand-drawn animations
  • create 3D mesh wireframes to produce backdrops for 2D and 3D animation scenes
  • use computer programmes to "rig" characters, giving them skeletons that allow them to be animated
  • use computer animation programmes to animate characters and objects in 2D or 3D
  • direct the filming of motion capture (recording physical movements that are then translated into digital images)
  • be involved in hiring and managing staff.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for animators/digital artists includes:

  • drawing, life drawing, cartooning or graphic design experience
  • experience in film or photography
  • computer design and drawing experience
  • computer programming experience
  • experience in animation software.

Personal Qualities

Animators/digital artists need to be:

  • creative and imaginative
  • disciplined, motivated and good at setting goals
  • comfortable promoting themselves and their work
  • adaptable, and able to accept criticism of their work
  • able to work well under pressure and to deadlines
  • good communicators.


Depending on the media they work with, animators/digital artists need to have:

  • drawing, painting and design skills, if they are making models
  • animation skills (2D and 3D)
  • coding skills
  • knowledge of animation software
  • an understanding of how people and animals move and express their feelings
  • the ability to create different moods and feelings in characters
  • knowledge of print, film, television or video game production.


Animators/digital artists:

  • often work irregular hours and may be required to work evenings and weekends to complete projects
  • often work on contracts, which may range from two weeks to two years
  • usually work in offices or workshops, and may move frequently from location to location on different projects.


Animator/Digital Artists can earn around $55K-$100K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Animator/Digital Artist are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for animators/digital artists varies depending on skills, experience and the type of work they do.

  • Animators can earn $55,000 to $100,000.
  • Motion designers can earn $48,000 to $120,000.

Self-employed animators/digital artists may be paid by the frame/picture.

Sources; The Creative Store, 'NZ Salary Survey', 2023.

Animators/digital artists may progress to set up their own animation or digital business, or move into management roles.

Animators/digital artists may progress to become narrative designers (designing the stories of games), art directors, animation directors, producers, production managers or technical directors.

Animators/digital artists may specialise in:

  • 2D animation or 3D animation
  • concept art
  • game and app development
  • lighting
  • modelling
  • motion scheduling and stop-motion
  • previs layout (laying out scenes before they're animated)
  • rendering
  • rigging (creating a skeleton for an animation)
  • shading and texture
  • storyboarding
  • visual effects.

Years Of Training

3 years of training usually required.

To become an animator/digital artist you need to be able to show the quality of your work. You can do this either through a portfolio of work or a website, or a showreel with a shot list.

Employers usually require you to have one or all of the following:

Animator/Digital Artist