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Do You Need to Hire an Animation Layout Artist?

ben marvazi 2020

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Have you been pondering the question of whether or not you should get an animation layout artist for your animation business? Well, all we would say for now is this - it is very advisable to employ the services of an animation layout artist for your animations! Don't worry, the picture gets even clearer as you read on! 

Animation layout artists begin their work at the start of the animation production pipeline, especially after the storyboard and the look of the project have been agreed upon.

They also determine the depth and perspective of what is displayed on the screen. The way that this is achieved varies depending on the type of animation being produced.

Even more, an animation layout artist designs the shot frame, camera paths and angles, depth, perspective, scale, and lighting for an animated sequence. These layout artists act as the eye of the cinematographer and gaffer in animation, working with directors to translate storyboards into sequences of action. 

Still, wondering why there's so much eulogy concerning animation layout artists? Well, they imagine a virtual camera to visualize and replicate the point of view of the client and audience.

Added to all said above, they create backgrounds that support the narrative of the story while providing various rough versions of scenes which is akin to live-action takes. Not leaving out the fact that they also experiment with camera angles to arrive at the best shots or angles to animate.

In this blog post, we will talk about animation layout, the roles of an animation layout artist, the knowledge and skills the job comes with, and also help you see why you would need an animation layout artist for your animations.

Take a deep breath, hang on a minute, as we take you through the inside out of animation layout and animation layout artists!

What is an Animation Layout?

an animator layout artist

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Animation layout is a central component of the animation storytelling process. Several different elements are contained in the graphic design of animation layouts. The most common design elements that contribute to animation layout include:


Text elements of an animation layout can include titles, headings, and paragraphs. For animations that require more text, these elements should be laid out in a way that is easy to read.


Photographs and other visuals, such as illustrations, help to assist the text elements in an animation layout for the communication of certain messages. They are particularly effective at engaging the audience through emotion.


Lines can be attractive when used appropriately in animation layouts. They are used to divide sections and can also add emphasis to text.


Shapes add a touch of flair and personality to an animation layout. Rectangles and circles are the most common, but there are many ways to get creative with shapes.

White space

Adding spaces between sections of an animation layout prevents the audience from getting overwhelmed or fatigued when viewing a busy or overcrowded animation video.

The format and context of a layout design determine how these elements are implemented in an animation layout. Take, for instance, websites that can be typically text and image-heavy. In contrast, advertisements are primarily image-focused with a minimal amount of text. 

Therefore, when deciding how to balance the different elements of a design, it is essential to always consider the context and the purpose of the animation. But most importantly, the client's specifications come first.

Why You Need an Animation Layout Artist

an animation layout artist can be highly beneficial for you

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Surely we all are familiar with the term "Division of Labor", right? Nevertheless, there are times we think we can do it all alone, forgetting we can never know it all. This is why, even in the animation business, some things are better left to the professionals. One of such things is an animation layout! 

To get your layout correctly, an animation layout artist is required. If you want your production to be appealing and top-notch, then you have to up your game regarding your animation layout.

Let's have a look at the roles, skills, and knowledge an animation layout artist brings to the table.

The Roles of an Animation Layout Artist

an animation layout artist wears many hats with different roles

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First and foremost, animation layout artists work with the animation director to coordinate and create optimal 3D animation shots. They translate 2D storyboards into 3D animated shots and are responsible for camera angles, frames, and lighting of animation scenes.

In traditional 2D hand-drawn animation, animation layout artists define the perspective of the animation frames by drawing the backgrounds. 2D animation layout artists base what will appear in the image on the storyboard, but they more clearly decide what appears in an animation frame.

When talking about 3D animation, layout artists are like the directors of photography (DoPs) in a virtual space. Then they work from storyboards and tidy up the rough versions of the animation which is known as animatics.

Animation layout artists are left to decide which action takes place in which animation scene as they collect and assemble typestyles and images, such as illustrations, photographs, and drawings, to create a visual design on a computer or paper.

Don't forget, the animation layout artist is one of several types of commercial artists known as graphic designers who deliver ideas and information through visual communications. 

The Expertise of an Animation Layout Artist

an animation layout artist can bring a lot to the table

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An animation layout artist comes equipped with how to create graphic designs and techniques to achieve an appealing visual representation of ideas and messages. Animation layout artists make use of graphical ICT tools and software, such as Autodesk Maya, and Blender which enable digital editing, modeling, rendering, and composition of graphics.

Additionally, they know their way around multimedia systems, their methods, and procedures. This describes the techniques for the operation of multimedia systems and types of media such as video and audio.

Last but not the least, animation layout artists come with knowledge of the art of motion graphics. Not forgetting the technique of arranging digital effects which simulates lighting in 3D animations.

Skills of an Animation Layout Artist

the skills and various expertise of an animation layout artist

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Setup of the Elements and Principles of Animation: Animation layout artists take it upon themselves to test and set up characters, props, or environments to ensure they appear correctly from all required camera positions and angles.

They also visualize what an audience or client would love to see, and then bring that imagination to life. Imagine as a client a scenario where you have a picture of the exact things you want to see at specific points, and then boom! You see that same image before your very eyes! That's the purpose of an animation layout artist!

Following Briefings: Animation layout artists interpret and meet requirements and expectations, as discussed and agreed upon with the clients. This goes without saying that they are with you during meetings with your clients, using their technical inner eye to draw and construct on given specifications.

Script Analysis: Animation layout artists are meant to break down a script by analyzing the dramaturgy, form, themes, and structure. They then move on to conduct relevant research if necessary to make the script come to life.

Adaptation to Requested Type of Media: We would quite agree that animated videos are used for various purposes and therefore they have several means by which they are showcased. An animation layout artist adapts to different types of media such as television, movies, commercials, and others.

Regardless of the type of screen the animation video would be played on, an animation artist works with that in mind. They design and structure every frame of the animation to fit the required media. 

Animation layout artists adapt animation projects to the type of media, scale of production, budget, genres within the type of media, etc.

Time Management to Meet Deadlines: Animation layout artists manage the sequence of activities in the production pipeline to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule. This is where time management skills come into play.

Editing of Animated Moving Images: Animation layout artists use specialized software to edit video animated images for use in animation production whether for 2D or 3D animation videos.

Regulation of the Visual Quality of the Animation Layout: An animation layout artist inspects and amends the scenery and set-dressing to make sure the visual quality of animations is optimal within constraints of time, budget, and manpower. They ensure the best animation results are reached using available resources.

Consultation with the Animation Production Director: The animation layout artist consults with the director, producer, and clients throughout the production and post-production process. He checks in with each of them to know the current standing of the animation production process to know if changes are to be made to achieve desired results.

How an Animation Layout Artist Works in the Animation Production Pipeline

the role of an animation layout artist in an animation studio

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Are you still making light of the excellent touch an animation layout artist can bring to your animations? Well, let's walk you through the process of how an animation layout artist works.

Animation layout artists first receive storyboards. They can follow what is indicated in the storyboards, or they can break away from it entirely and come up with their ideas, making it a very creative endeavor. All that is important is for the idea to still be in accordance with what the client wants.

Next, animation layout artists roughly come up with animated characters from the storyboard at this stage of production. They work efficiently through numerous iterations to get the best possible results.

When still in the early stages of a 3D animation layout production, the animation layout artist can create a 3D model of their own sets and props, (that's if they don’t already exist), and also place temporary effects and lights, in the effort of making the important choices of camera and composition.

For eye-catching results, animation layout artists also employ many cinematic tricks to achieve clear actions, specific emotions, well-crafted framing and composition, and accurate timing.

Why You Need a "Perfect" Animation Layout in Your Animations

the only way to get a perfect animation layout is by hiring a professional

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With all that has been said previously in our own words, a clear picture of what an animation layout is and what an animation layout artist represents should already be deduced.

A good animation layout designed by an animation layout artist is a fundamental branch of animation that concerns the arrangement of text and visuals.

It is also not an over-emphasis to say that an effective layout not only looks attractive but also helps the client and audience understand the message the animation design is conveying.

Likewise, the animation layout artist works with the arrangement of visual elements within a grid. This is useful in animation layout design because they help structure and organize the animation content.

It is important to bear in mind that if an animation layout doesn't read well to the client's specifications, the design is ineffective, no matter how trendy it looks.

Although grids are invisible in the front-end design, it is still quite easy to tell at a glance whether a layout follows a grid system. This is why employing an animation layout artist for your animation videos is essential in the animation production pipeline.

Finally, a "perfect" animation layout designed by seasoned animation layout artists leaves the clients happy with the best animation services they could ever bargain for!

As you decide on the subject matter of hiring the services of an animation layout artist for your animation videos (which we are sure would be positive!), check out our free masterclass videos, download a copy of our free marketing handbook to help grow your animation business and career, and have a look at our blog on "How to Start an Animation Studio"!

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