How to Find and Hire a Freelance Animator

To find and hire a freelance animator or animation studio can be a difficult task. We demystify the terminology and art styles to ensure you find the right team.

Speaking to our clients we came to an understanding of the difficulties they came across while searching to find an animator or animation studio with the right skills and the right pricing. At Get Wright On It, our artists have worked across feature film, television, commercials and we have delivered projects from across all types of animation styles, be it 2D, 3D, motion graphics or visual effects. So using this experience, we have put together this guide to answer your questions on animation production, but if you don’t find the answer you are looking for, drop us a comment below, email or quote request and we will get right back to you.

Use the quick links below if you wish to skip the page that interests you most.

1. Where do I find animators and animation studios?

2. What animation method is best for my project?

3. How can I get a quick and accurate animation quote?

How to find and hire a freelance animator

There are so many types of animation, finding the right team is not an easy task.

Animation Terminology Cheat Sheet

First up, when hiring an animator or assessing animation studios, having a knowledge of the animation specific language will help get your point across and prevent potentially costly miscommunication. So we have put together this cheat sheet of some of the lesser known terms you will likely come across during an animation production.

Pre-production. Script writing, story boarding, animatics, previs project scheduling and hiring.
Production. In film: Capturing footage. In animation: Shot creation and voice acting.
Post-production. Editing, VFX, sound design and colour grading.
Pipeline. The workflow/ sequence of steps of an animation production.
3D Layout. Very rough animation pass to lock down general camera and character movement.
Animatic. Very rough animation of storyboards to get an sense of shot timing.
Previs. Previsualisation, low quality 3D animation done before shooting to test shot ideas.
Postvis. Postvisualisation, medium quality 3D animation composited onto shot footage to test VFX ideas.
FPS. Frames per second. The number of individual images that make up a every second of video.
Vectors. Mathematically accurate method to store 2D image data.
Rigging. Internal hidden joints built below the surface of an object or character to enable animation.
Rendering. The stage of an animation production that outputs a final quality image or video.
Compositing. Overlaying (combining) multiple 2D video and image elements.
Grading. Colour grading or colour correction to adjust the overal look and feel of the image.

Popular 3D software.
– Maya
– 3DS Max
– Softimage XSI
– Blender
– Houdini
– Mudbox
– Zbrush
– AutoCAD
Popular 2D software.
– Cel Action
– Toon Boom
– Open Toonz
– Nuke
– After Effects
– Photoshop
'Rigging' is an essential step in the animation production 'pipeline'.

‘Rigging’ is an essential step in the animation production ‘pipeline’.

Where do I find animators and animation studios?

Where you search for your animation team will depend on the size of your project. The largest commercial enterprises will usually go via a creative agency to manage a large promotional campaign involving potentially hundreds of staff and millions of dollars. The agency would then search for an animation studio or work with a partner of theirs to deliver that portion of the job.

The best deal for small and medium enterprises is to skip the agency step and approach animation studios directly for their services. When searching, you will get the best results if you can be specific with your search terms. The better your understanding of the animation medium and style you want, the better chance of finding the right artists with the exact skills you are looking for. So make sure you read on below to learn more about different animation methods and styles so you can make more accurate searches. However if you are looking for inspiration, there are a huge range of creative portfolio websites you can browse work and artists to get in touch directly. We would recommend:

Behance – A portfolio site managed by Adobe. You can browse artwork by category and post jobs to find artists.

Hiive – Creative networking site backed by Creative Skillset. You can search for artists and post vacancies.

Visually – You can request quotes and their team will match you to the right artists.

Behance is a great portfolio site to browse artists work.

Behance is a great portfolio site to browse artists work.

One of the most common answers to the question of finding an animator would be to use a service such as upwork.com or freelancer.com however I would not recommend this route. There are numerous amounts of service fees involved including a 3% fee to the client and 10% fee to the freelancer (this can be as high as 20% fee on upwork!), which means ultimately all parties lose out. But don’t just take my word for it, read this widely circulated article from an Upwork user who was stung by their system.

Overall, we would recommend dealing directly with studios and artists to get the best price and clearest channel of communication. 

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Posted on December 12, 2016 in blogPosts

About the Author

Dean Wright is a 3D artist and film maker. He writes about the VFX industry, Motorsport and working life in Japan following his time there in 2013-2014. Having worked internationally at major studios, he now lives in London freelancing for a wide range of clients.

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