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The 20 Best Online Animation Programs in 2024

by | Last updated Jan 22, 2024

Searching for the best online animation programs?

Our guide includes the top online animation programs to jumpstart your career in animation with the training and guidance needed.

Read on to learn more!

 

Can you learn animation online? 

Animation is a growing field that offers great career prospects within entertainment and outside of it. 

For example, the global animation market has increased by 5% in the last year and is forecasted to grow by almost 60% in the next decade. The national average for animation artist salaries is $80,929, and with demand growing for talented animators, salary prospects are also rising. Gaming and movies have always needed animation artists, but they’re also becoming increasingly common in advertising and other industries. 

The best part is that these days, you can learn animation online. A degree isn’t necessary to break into the field, especially since dedicated animation schools tend to offer far more industry experience and expertise. In addition, courses from animation schools enable you to get started as an animator faster and are more cost-effective than going through a pricey degree program. 

What is the best degree for animation?

Animation career paths don’t necessarily require a degree, and a lot of commitment may not pay off ultimately. Degrees such as an animation associate’s degree online can take many years and cost a lot, and you may not have as much exposure to professional opportunities to develop your portfolio. Online animation schools offer a balance between learning and career growth that can be more beneficial. 

If you’re considering pursuing a bachelor’s degree in animation, take time to research programs before deciding on one. 

Some of the top-rated degree programs include:

  • Wilmington University
  • National University
  • Full Sail University
  • Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
  • University of Advancing Technology
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Academy of Art University
  • BYU Animation Program

(We’ll talk more about them here below.) 

Which is the best animation course online?

Picking the right animation course will depend on what animation area you’re most interested in and what skills you want to learn.  

What do you want to walk away with knowing? For example, our Academy of Animated Art programs are specially designed to help you become a 3D lighting artist and gain the skills necessary for the role. That’s why it’s the leading program for lighting artists. But if you’re looking for something like a rigging course, there are other options.

So now that you’re thinking about online animation courses, how do you actually select one? Here you go. 

Best online animation programs 

Here below, we’ve listed the top 20 online animation courses available online. 

Let’s look at the best programs and what kind of skills you can expect to learn.

(Note! We haven’t personally tried every course on this list. We’ve selected them based on their rankings and reviews online.) 

1. Lighting for Animation Course Bundle

The Lighting for Animation course bundle is a program that focuses on learning the skills needed for a successful animation career as a 3D lighting artist and is one of the few online animation programs enabling students to start their careers right away. 

Pros:

  • Taught by industry professionals
  • Includes networking and mentoring
  • Teaches job skills and helps you get a job

Cons:

  • Only for 3D lighting artists, which might not be suitable if you want to explore other areas of the animation industry

Price: $2,378.81

Learn more here.

2. Intro to Maya

Maya is one of the leading 3D software packages in the animation and visual effects industries. Mastering it gives you a straight path into an animation career and diving in without worrying about getting up to speed with the software used.

Pros:

  • Taught by industry experts with years of experience 
  • Created to improve your skills, whether you’re a newbie or more experienced 

Cons: 

  • Not an end-to-end course. If you’re looking for something comprehensive, go for the Lighting Bundle or a different course in the animation industry for an in-depth course to learn how to get a job in the industry. 

Price: $474.81

Learn more here.

3. Character Lighting For Animated Films

Character Lighting for Animated Films is specifically for lighting artists looking to learn advanced concepts to up their animation skills. The Character Lighting courses focus on key skills, including Rembrandt Lighting, mood lighting, hero colors, and eye lighting, to create unforgettable animations. 

Pros:

  • Light a character effectively
  • Demonstrate advanced animation skills in your demo reel
  • Improve the quality of your animation with more depth and vividness 

Cons: 

  • Focuses on a specific part of animation so it might not be suitable for beginners 

Price: $838.30

Learn more here.

4. Arnold For Maya Workshop

Maya is one of the top animation programs used, and with the addition of a standalone renderer such as Arnold, Maya has even more to offer as a software package. It’s used by top animation studios worldwide, and this workshop will equip you with all the knowledge needed to use Arnold for Maya successfully. 

Pros:

  • Learn every aspect of Arnold for masterful rendering
  • Upskill and increase your technical knowledge in animation

Cons: 

  • Suitable for animators looking to upskill as it isn’t a standalone course 

Price: $238.80

Learn more here.

5. Redshift Workshop

Redshift is a groundbreaking new GPU Renderer with immensely powerful features for high-end rendering. The Redshift workshop is designed to go through the full suite of features and integrations available, enabling you to learn everything you need to feel confident using Redshift.

Pros:

  • Master advanced rendering technology
  • Learn powerful tools used by leading animation studios
  • Taught by industry experts

Cons: 

  • Not a standalone course, should be combined with other animation courses

Price: $238.80

Learn more here.

6. Unreal Engine Workshop

As a real-time render engine, Unreal gives you immediate results, which is a serious advantage in the animation industry. Unreal Engine has been a staple software in gaming for many years, but that’s not its only application. Unreal has steadily gained popularity across industries like animation, giving you an edge above the rest in the space with this online animation program.

Pros:

  • Add a highly-sought-after skill to your resume
  • Learn how to experiment and produce results faster
  • Taught by industry experts

Cons: 

  • Not for beginners, suitable if you’ve already taken other animation courses

Price: $238.80

Learn more here.

7. Katana Workshop

If you’re looking to create better animations without having to wrangle tons of different software, the Katana workshop will help you work faster and better. Katana is specifically designed for lighting artists to streamline complex files and simplify lighting. Consider it an enhancement to the skills you’ve mastered in online animation programs. 

Pros:

  • Makes complex lighting simple and streamlined
  • Master a popular industry tool 
  • Taught by pioneers behind the software

Cons: 

  • More suitable for learning improvements rather than basic animation
  • May not be suitable for beginners

Price: $718.80

Learn more here.

8. Octane Workshop

Octane Render is currently the world’s fastest GPU render, making it a leading tool in the industry. However, the quality and speed that comes with Octane are hard to match with other production renderers out there, which is why it’s so important to master the tool with an online animation program. The Octane Workshop is crafted to balance technical knowledge with artistry to ensure you get the best results with this powerful tool. 

Pros:

  • Taught by industry experts
  • Learn how the industry uses the tool
  • Master cutting-edge technology to add to your demo reel

Cons: 

  • A workshop as opposed to a fully online animation program
  • Complex tool, so the course may not be suitable for beginners

Price: $238.80

Learn more here.

9. 2D Animation for Beginners

We’ve all seen the old-school Disney movies with traditional animation…but have you ever wondered how 2D animation really comes together? Modern tools have upgraded traditional animation, bringing rough drawings to life seamlessly. This course walks you through the roots of traditional animation and how to bring these visions to life in a studio environment today. 

Pros:

  • Master 2D animation
  • Taught by industry experts 
  • Insider tips on what studios are looking for in animators
  • Mentorship available and 1:1 feedback

Cons: 

  • Classic methods rather than a deep dive into digital tools 
  • Basic level of drawing ability needed

Price: $899

Learn more here.

10. Fast animation and rigging techniques using Maya 2017 

If you’re ready to take your animation skills to the next level, courses like this can help you bring your characters to life faster than ever. Maya is a leading industry tool, and this course focuses on teaching you how to get your 3D models prepped for animation using techniques such as rigging. Advanced topics are also covered, including applying and editing motion capture to add more life to your animations.

Pros:

  • Improve your animation and learn in demand skills
  • Learn how to use leading animation software
  • Suitable for beginners

Cons: 

  • Not as in-depth as other Maya courses – more like a crash course
  • No mentorship available

Price: $60

Learn more here.

11. Advanced Storyboarding for Film & Animation

Animation is just one part of the process; that’s where storyboarding comes in. What kind of story does your animation tell, and how do you organize it into a cohesive narrative? Storyboarding is an incredibly useful tool in the entertainment industry that lets you put together your animations in a compelling visual story. This online animation program walks you through storyboarding for animation.

Pros:

  • Take your animation to the next level 
  • Learn how to create a compelling visual story

Cons: 

  • Not very advanced, only basic storyboarding
  • Very short course, not a lot of detail 
  • Not suitable for beginners, more of an add-on to existing animation skills 

Price: $80

Learn more here.

12. #1 Rated | Complete Animation Course – Fundamentals & Beyond

Learn the fundamentals of animation with master animators from Disney, including the original pioneering approach in 2D animation. The course walks through a process for animating a scene from start to finish, as well as additional videos and resources to practice your skills on. Watch as new original animation is created, and learn more about how to approach animating a scene for great results. 

Pros:

  • Learn traditional animation techniques 
  • Course is led by animation pioneers from Disney

Cons: 

  • Does not teach digital tools
  • No mentorship available
  • Short course, not very in-depth

Price: $19-35 depending on the course taken

Learn more here.

13. Wilmington University, B.S., Animation, and 3D

If you’re seeking a Bachelor’s degree in animation and 3D artistry, Wilmington University is designed to give you the tools and skills needed to build your career. The degree is 100% online animation but will take considerably longer than a certification course.

Pros:

  • 100% remote degree
  • Led by faculty with industry experience

Cons: 

  • Takes a longer time to complete
  • Expensive

Price: $1,197 per course

Learn more here.

14. National University, Video Game Animation course

Animation programs can be based on general 3D artistry. However, courses such as those offered by National University are geared towards helping students build their 3D skills within the gaming niche.

Pros:

  • Learn the basics of game development
  • Learn tools like 3D Max

Cons: 

  • Only for gaming (although there is a bit of overlap with the animation industry)

Price: Upon request

Learn more here.

15. Full Sail University, B.S., Computer Animation

Full Sail University’s Bachelor’s degree in animation teaches skills necessary for careers in industries such as entertainment and gaming. With this degree, you’ll learn the production pipeline used by professional studios, including storyboarding, modeling, character animation, and final compositing. 

Pros:

  • Includes storyboarding, compositing and animation
  • Shorter course lengths to complete degree faster

Cons: 

  • Does not cover 2D animation

Price: Upon request

Learn more here.

16. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, B.F.A., 2D Animation, B.F.A., 3D Animation

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design has two types of bachelor’s programs for animation, 2D and 3D. The program includes courses on 2D and 3D animation drawing, modeling, character design, storyboarding, line of action, and stop motion for a full breadth of experience. 

Pros:

  • Offers both 2D and 3D animation degrees
  • Year-round, online classes available

Cons: 

  • Not much information about faculty experience

Price: Upon request

Learn more here.

17. University of Advancing Technology, 2D And 3D Art For Video Game Platforms

The Game Art and Animation degree offered by University of Advancing Technology (UAT) takes on each aspect of game creation. With this degree, students learn how to create games from scratch, including the look, movement, and feeling as it comes to life with leading technology. Courses in the degree program include color theory and lighting alongside high-polygon modeling, texturing, rigging, framing, and motion capture animations.

Pros:

  • Incorporates 2D and 3D techniques for gaming
  • Mentorship and networking available

Cons: 

  • Only relevant for gaming (although there is a bit of overlap with the animation industry)

Price: Upon request

Learn more here.

18. Southern New Hampshire University, B.A., Game Art and Development

The online game design degree by Southern New Hampshire University includes all the fundamentals needed to bring your game to life. Techniques taught in this Bachelor’s degree in animation include 3D modeling and sculpting, lighting, shading and texturing, illustration and digital painting, as well as rigging and character animation.

Pros:

  • Teaches 2D and 3D techniques
  • Develop a niche in game art

Cons: 

  • Focuses solely on gaming (although there is a bit of overlap with the animation industry)

Price: $320/credit (120 total credits) – estimated cost is $38,400

Learn more here.

19. Academy of Art University, Online Animation & Visual Effects Degree

Academy of Art University’s online animation school includes an animation associate’s degree online. The degree program walks you through the skills needed to land a job in the industry. The course is taught by experts from the field and includes a balance of techniques and tools used in the industry at large. 

Pros:

  • Blend of animation and visual effects
  • Virtual tools for hybrid learning

Cons: 

  • Not much interaction with students or faculty

Price: Upon request

Learn more here.

20. How to Get A Job Intensive

Although not technically an animation course, the How to Get a Job Intensive does exactly as it says – it’s designed to help you land a job through intensive coursework to prepare you for the industry. It’s designed specifically for lighting artists and includes professional resume copywriting, reel editing, LinkedIn optimization, and a customized portfolio page.

Pros:

  • Gets you career-ready including resume and LinkedIn
  • Work with professionals to optimize your demo reel 

Cons: 

  • Not a traditional animation course

Price: $1,198.80

Learn more here.

Over to you!

There you have it! We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to online animation programs, ranging from short ones to more intensive ones, that enable you to get started on your career path. 

Each of the animation courses on the list will teach you the techniques and tools to help you stand out against the rest and give you a competitive edge. 

So if you’re ready for a career with immense potential, prestige, and excitement, choose the course best for you and forge ahead!

 

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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