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Best Animation Courses: Ultimate List in 2024

by | Last updated Jan 10, 2024

What are the best animation courses?

Animation courses can help you learn how to animate – fast. And today, we’ll look at the best animation courses for beginners, 3D animation, and more.

Want to learn more? Read on!

We’ll look at the following courses:

How to Animate

The Animation Course

Learn to Storyboard for Film or Animation

2D Animation for Beginners

Mastering Motion

3D Animation Program

Intro to Maya Workshop

Learn 3D Animation – The Ultimate Blender Guide

Lighting for Animation Course Bundle

Rigging and Animation in Maya

Introduction to Animation Fundamentals

Basic 3D Animation Using Blender

Rhode Island School of Design

The School of Visual Arts

California Institute of the Arts

As you consider which one you’d like to take, remember that no two courses are the same. Be sure to find one that fits your specific needs and interests.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

 

What is animation?

Put simply, animation is the creation of movement in inanimate objects using a sequence of drawings, models, pictures, or even puppets. That movement is used to tell a story.

It works because eyes can retain an image for one-tenth of a second. If a collection of images is displayed quickly enough, one after the other, the eyes and brain believe they’re seeing one moving image.

Animation started as hand-drawn or painted images on transparent sheets photographed and shown quickly on a screen, as you’ve seen in old Disney cartoons. As technology has evolved, computers and software have changed animation. Today, most animated movies and shows are made using CGI.

To learn more about animation, check out this article on animation for beginners.

So, what are the benefits of animation courses? Not only are they more cost-effective than getting a degree, but they’re also more flexible, take less time, and offer great ways to connect with industry experts.

Ready to learn about the best animation courses for beginners? Keep reading!

The best animation courses for beginners

We all have to start somewhere. If you’re ready to sign up for a beginner’s animation course, here are some of the best to check out.

How to Animate

TipTut

This free animation course will cover everything you need to know about the basics of animation. But it’s not about how to animate – it’s about the animation process itself, from start to finish.

This six-part on-demand video course will teach you about Script & Storyboard, Character Design & Turnarounds, Animatics, Backgrounds, Title Cards, and Exhibition. Each video can be found on TipTut’s YouTube channel or Class Central.

Even though the course is six parts, there’s less than an hour of material total, so why not start today?

Who is it for? 

This course works for any beginner who wants to learn the basics of animation and dig a bit more deeply into the process of creating it.

Price: Free

The Animation Course

The Anim Course

The Animation Course was created specifically for children and teens interested in animation.

Each level equips students with the tools they need to create and animate their original stories. Students will learn the 12 principles of animation, how to apply physics to their animation, storytelling, and more.

The course is taught by Chad Stewart, a famous animator who has animated for Disney and Pixar.

The course is available in three formats:

  • Live: 12-week session with weekly online classes
  • Recordings with Grading: 12-week session in which students watch a pre-recorded class
  • Recordings Only: Students watch the course at their own pace throughout the year

Who is it for? 

This course is available for children and teens between the ages of 11 and 18. For older students, transcripts are available for high school credit.

Price: $150 for recordings only; $400-$500 for recordings with grading; $400-$500 for live classes.

Learn to Storyboard for Film or Animation

Udemy

In this course, you’ll learn the exact steps it takes to become a storyboard artist for film, animation, or gaming.

A storyboard artist is responsible for creating the visual representation of the story and drawing panels to ensure continuity between each shot.

This course will cover every aspect of storyboarding, including how to draw characters, add perspective, and what kind of shots to use for scripts.

When you sign up for this course, you’ll have lifetime access to its two hours of on-demand video and eight downloadable resources. After you finish, you’ll receive a certificate of completion.

Who is it for? 

If you’re interested in becoming a Storyboard Artist, learning to present your script or idea visually, or want to develop your skills, this is the course for you.

Price: $10.99 (usually $64.99)

The best 2D animation courses

If you’re looking for a course that will teach you 2D animation, these are for you.

2D Animation for Beginners

Animation Mentor

This six-week workshop will cover the fundamentals of traditional 2D animation using digital tools found in studios today.

Modules include Fundamentals of 2D Animation, Mechanics of Weight, Fundamental Concepts of Animation, Drawing with Emotion, and Pose to Pose Animation. Students will get one-on-one feedback and reviews, complete homework assignments, and work directly with animation mentors throughout the course.

Each teacher has an impressive background, having worked on 2D classics like The Little Mermaid, Hercules, The Lion King, and Aladdin.

Who is it for? 

Anyone who wants to learn to create a living, breathing character. Students should be over 18, have basic drawing skills, and meet the minimum hardware requirements.

Price: $899

Mastering Motion

Animator Guild

Taught by an award-winning London animator, this course will help take you from beginner to pro animator.

Students will be trained using the methods found in Anime and Western studios to create believable animation, build dynamic choreography, and even simulate 3D-esque camera movement in a 2D environment.

This course is comprised of several modules, including Mastering Drawing, Mastering Animation, Hand-Drawn Camera Movement, Combat Choreography, and Character Animation.

You can also expect portfolio-building assignments and will have access to a private Discord server to connect with other students. The course is self-paced, but most full-time students finish in 6 months, while part-time students will finish in a year.

Who is it for? 

Anyone ready to learn the basics of 2D animation can take this course. You need a graphics tablet, animation software, an understanding of animation fundamentals, and drawing skills.

Price: $497 for all modules; $647 for all modules plus the Getting Started in 2D Animation online course

The best 3D animation courses

3D animation is a wide-ranging industry, so you’ll need the right skills to get started. Here are some great courses that will equip you with them.

3D Animation Program

AnimSchool

AnimSchool is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), making it a top choice.

This program is divided into two parts: the Animation Track, which teaches students animation basics, and the Animation Program, which prepares them for a career.

In each, students will spend 11 weeks learning about animation from professionals working at Disney, Pixar, and more.

It’s important to note that you can’t attend the Animation Program without completing the Animation Track or providing the Review Board with an animation reel that demonstrates your skills.

Who is it for? 

Anyone looking for a more immersive experience and who already has a basic background in animation.

Price: $1,620 per 11-week term, or $540 per month. Financial aid is available.

Intro to Maya Workshop

Academy of Animated Art

Maya is the leading 3D computer graphics application in the industry. It can be used for video games, animation, architectural rendering, and more to create stylized imagery like what you’d see in Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. 

So learning 3D animation on Maya just makes sense if you want to jumpstart your career.

Our Intro to Maya Workshop is self-paced and consists of modules including Maya basics, lighting, polygonal modeling, layering, and more. It’s also taught by Academy of Animated Art Co-Founder Mike Tanzillo, whose credits include the Rio franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and Spies in Disguise.

Who is it for? 

This is the perfect course for anyone who needs affordability and accessibility in their journey to becoming an animator.

Price: $399 or 3 payments of $149

Learn 3D Animation – The Ultimate Blender Guide

Udemy

With more than 100 modules, this is the ultimate A to Z course for anyone looking to get into 3D animation using the Blender program.

If you don’t know what Blender is, let me explain: It’s a free 3D modeling software that’s powerful enough for small-scale studio use but also beginner-friendly.

You’ll learn everything from the fundamentals of 3D animation to the physics and sculpting necessary to bring a story to life using Blender. You’ll even work on assignments that allow you to create and build your own 3D animation portfolio.

Who is it for? 

If you want to learn the ins and outs of 3D animation, this is for you. If you’ve already used Blender, skip this one.

Price: $13.99 (usually $69.99)

Lighting for Animation Course Bundle

Academy of Animated Art

Mike and I created this 18+-course bundle specifically to help those just starting in the animation industry get the skills they need to succeed as 3D lighting artists.

In this bundle, we talk about the power of light, how to composite the light, and more. We also include a ready-to-light asset library and resources for landing a job.

The course is self-paced and includes over 15 hours of video lessons, all software, and one-on-one support.

It’s also worth checking out AAA’s Character Lighting For Animated Films course, which will walk you through mood lighting, hero color, and more.

Who is it for? 

Anyone with an interest in animation and 3D lighting! Eduardo and Elena took the course with no animation background and landed jobs at Giant Animation Studios when they completed it.

Price: $1,999, or $199 per month for 12 months

Rigging and Animation in Maya

Animation Design Course

As we mentioned earlier, Maya has become the standard for 3D animators. In this course, you’ll get first-hand experience using the program and learn how to create a rig that can be animated quickly and easily.

Throughout the course, which was based on an actual video created for motion design school, you’ll work your way through practical tasks and the entire production pipeline.

The curriculum spans more than four hours and includes nine lessons like Introduction to MGear, Parent Geometry to the Rig, Refining Animation, Animation Sculpt, and more.

Who is it for? 

This course was created for those who have recently started to use Autodesk Maya but already have experience in 3D animation.

Price: $149 (usually $299)

Free animation courses

If you want to find a more affordable course or get a taste of animation without spending a lot of money, try these free animation courses.

Introduction to Animation Fundamentals

SkillUp

In this free introduction to animation, you’ll learn the basics of drawing, Flipaclip animation, creating motion graphics from the ground up, and even mistakes to avoid.

This one-hour course consists of 10 video modules focused on subjects like animating for mobile, drawing every frame, animating smooth motion, and animating a fight scene.

You’ll get a certificate to share with employers and your professional network after completing the course.

Who is it for? 

There are no prerequisites to attend this course, though you will need basic drawing skills.

Price: Free

Basic 3D Animation Using Blender

EdX

This is one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with Blender basics, such as key-framing, timing, and animation principles, for free.

Over four weeks, you’ll follow tutorials and use Blender to create simple animated motions. However, remember that it doesn’t cover character animation and focuses solely on the animation of non-organic objects.

The course is made up of video tutorials, quizzes, activities, and hands-on assignments, and you can expect to spend 4-6 hours per week on it.

Who is it for? 

This course suits anyone looking to develop their 3D animation skills or become more familiar with Blender.

It is part of the Fundamentals of 3D Visualization Professional Certificate Program.

Price: Free

Animation courses near you

Often, universities like Rochester Institute of Technology, Brigham Young University, and Carnegie Mellon University offer classes for local students!

For a complete list, check out this article on the best animation schools.

Rhode Island School of Design

As the country’s top art school, RISD’s BFA program in film, animation, and video is one of the most sought-after by students.

The campus offers several digital editing and sound mixing facilities, and the faculty trains students in critical thinking and content development.

Tuition costs $58,690 for undergraduate and graduate studies before fees and housing charges. For a complete list of tuition and other fees, click here.

Here’s a look at course offerings: 

  • Animation Practices – You’ll learn the basics of animation while working with several animation techniques, including drawing, pixilation, and cut-out animation. By the end of the course, you’ll have studied several animated films and created six short animations. $40 for materials.
  • Intermediate Studio: Animation – This course is broken into four elements: animation basics, 2D animation production, animation through history, and independent projects. $300 for materials, $150 deposit.

The School of Visual Arts

Accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, SVA has become known as one of the top animation schools in the country.

Full-time tuition at the SVA is $24,570 per semester. Check out VSA’s complete list of tuition and additional fees here.

Here’s a look at course offerings: 

  • Animation – $1,200 for the first year
  • 3D Animation and Visual Effects – $1,460 for the first year
  • Film – $1,350 for the first year
  • Illustration – $810 for the first year

California Institute of the Arts

Founded by Walt Disney, CalArts is one of the best animation schools in the country. With more than 70 degree programs in visual arts, performance arts, media, and more, it is transforming the world of 3D animation.

Acceptance is primarily decided on an applicant’s artistic merits and creative potential. In terms of tuition, Full-Time Undergraduate (BFA & Certificate), Graduate (MFA & Advanced Certificate), and Doctoral (DMA) programs cost $56,074 per year. See the full costs here.

Here’s a look at course offerings: 

  • Character Animation
  • Experimental Animation

What types of animation careers can you pursue?

Animators work at various stages of production, including pre-production, production, development, and post-production.

Here are a few examples of animation jobs.

3D animator

A 3D animator is responsible for adding movement to the storyboard or concept that was established in pre-production. They work at various stages of production, including pre- and post-production.

3D lighting artist

Lighting artists are an integral part of the animation process. They add depth to sets, use illumination to bring out emotion, add surface quality, and create shadows.

3D modeler

A modeler is responsible for creating the 3D models used in the animation based on the art direction and character design already established. There are three main types of modeling: solid, wireframe, and surface.

FX artist

These artists add visual effects to the animation, including fluids, particles, and other dynamics. They then composite them to make sure they’re high-quality.

Rigging artist

In animation, riggers help create 3D models and movement to animate the scene. Their role is essential to the production process.

Character animator

These animators use software like Maya to manipulate animated characters to interact within a scene.

Animation salaries depend on a few different factors: Experience, background, location, and type of animation. But, as a jumping-off point, the median salary is $78,790 per year.

Next steps

There you have it! A complete guide to the best animation courses on the market.

If you’re interested in learning more about animation, get our free tips on how to create a demo reel that will help you stand out in the field.

Read more: 

The Best CGI Animation Courses

Top Online Animation Degrees 

The Best 3D Animation Courses

 

 

Jasmine Katatikarn Headshot

About Jasmine Katatikarn

Jasmine Katatikarn is the founder of Academy of Animated Art. She has 20+ years of experience in Feature Animation and VFX. Jasmine’s lighting credits include movies like Ice Age, Ferdinand, Peanuts, and Rio. Read more here.

Jasmine Katatikarn Headshot

About Jasmine Katatikarn

Jasmine Katatikarn is the founder of Academy of Animated Art. She has 20+ years of experience in Feature Animation and VFX. Jasmine’s lighting credits include movies like Ice Age, Ferdinand, Peanuts, and Rio. Read more here.

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