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Top 5 Best Animation Courses to Upskill While You Work

Adding to your animation skills while you work can be tough. But there are some awesome 

options that can fit your time schedule, budget, and professional goals

For freelance animators of every skill level, there are countless 2D animation courses, 3D animation courses, and courses for everything in between to take advantage of.

In this blog post, we share with you five of the best animation courses to do while working as an animator, and why they beat all the rest. 

Why Animators Should Consider Online Animation Courses

As a freelance animator, time isn’t always on your side and money can sometimes be tight. So how could you even consider taking on an animation certificate course while you work?

a clock to show time is valuable for animators

Image by Monstera via Pexels

Well, freelance animation is a booming industry, and animators of all kinds are in demand. Because of this, there are tons of courses that now cater to the needs of the busy freelancer who may also be wary of overspending. 

But not every animation course offers the same standard of training or opportunities for growth.

So how do you pick out the best animation courses from a sea of so-so or substandard courses for animators? Here are five points to consider that’ll help you swim to success instead of sink:

Expert-led

Animation courses developed and or delivered by field experts offer valuable and relevant training.

Reviews

Courses with high ratings and tons of happy students can usually be considered good quality. 

Practical Experience

Animation courses that include hands-on projects allow you to put new-found skills into action and receive feedback that’ll help you improve.

Time & Budget

Picking a course that fits your time schedule and budget will make it easier for you to stay committed and see the program through to the end.

Flexibility

Online animation courses offer more flexibility because you can learn from anywhere and plan your own work-and-study schedule. 

Animation courses can take anywhere from a few minutes to several weeks to complete, and prices range from one or two dollars to thousands of dollars.

Remember that the cost and time it takes to complete an animation course isn’t necessarily indicative of its quality—what matters more is whether or not you gain the skills and support you were expecting to. 

an animator taking an online course to upskill

Image by Monstera via Pexels

Here are our top five picks of online animation courses with certificates (with some reputable unpaid alternatives thrown in for good measure).

The Top Five Online Animation Courses With Certificates

You may still be trying to find your animation niche, or have your fingertips firmly planted in one type of animation and animation program.

But, diversifying your skill-set and getting to know more about a different type of animation can boost your potential in the industry in meaningful ways. 

Here are some animation courses that can push you outside of your comfort zone, add to your confidence and flexibility as a professional animator, and even build on your résumé

animator enjoying online course for upskilling as he can animate and work at the same time

Image by Antoni Shkraba via Pexels

3D Animation 

Developed by Video School, and taught by Hollywood-renowned 3D animator Lucas Ridley, Maya For Beginners: Complete Guide To 3D Animation In Maya is a springboard of a 3D animation course. 

Not only does this online animation course set you up with a solid foundation in 3D animation theory, but it also allows you to tackle the Autodesk Maya interface—an animation program that can be intimidating to use—under the guidance of an animation expert. 

3d animated rubberduck made in maya from an online animation course

Image by Disney Pixar via Giphy

This course is for complete beginners, and its 26.5 hours of video lectures can be done at your own pace. 

Another option is Animation Mentor’s YouTube channel. This valuable unpaid alternative includes tutorials on everything from 3D creature animation to 3D animation workflow tips. 

Stop Motion Animation

You may be looking to step out of your everyday type of animation to spark your professional inspiration and passion for your work. A stop motion animation course is one type of learning opportunity that can help you do just that. 

Although it’s not the most popular type of animation, stop motion productions have come a long way. 

Award-winning productions like Isle of Dogs, Kubo and the Two Strings, Coraline, and Fantastic Mr. Fox show the mastery that’s being injected into this area of animation. 

And, you can prepare for success as a stop motion animator too when you study animation with Dina Amin.

stop motion claymation done by animator who learned from online courses

GIF by Charles Pieper via GIPHY

Dina is an accidental stop motion animator who’s nevertheless taken on the industry with her own flair. 

She started creating stop motion videos in 2016 and has made a name for herself as an accomplished teacher and producer—with one of her animations landing her the title of Vimeo Best of the Year in 2020.

Stop Motion For Beginners: Create Expert Animations in Dragonframe is Dina’s online animation course. It’s aimed at beginners looking to gain the types of skills that will allow them to provide stop motion animation services with confidence. 

Some of the highlights of this highly rated two-hour course are the easy-to-follow instructions on how to use the animation program Dragonframe and the practical stop motion project. 

For those looking for an unpaid alternative, YouTube channels like Nation of Bricks and Michael Parks offer tutorial videos on stop motion production. 

Mixed Media Animation

If you have mixed feelings about learning mixed media animation, Caroline Kjellberg’s animation course will chase away your hesitation. 

Titled Mixed Media Animation in Procreate, this animation course will teach you how to develop a video from start to finish on an iPad Pro. 

Caroline’s expertise and teaching ability are what make this course top quality. 

And, by delving into her own journey as an animator and providing tips on how to develop your own animation style, Caroline also leaves students with some valuable real-world context.

mixed media animation from an animator who upskilled

GIF by Percolate Galactic via GIPHY

This course can be completed in just over eight hours at your own pace. 

Resources like freelance animator Howard Wimshurst's YouTube channel provide an unpaid alternative that you can browse through for tips and tricks on mixed media animation. 

Motion Graphics Animation

Motion graphics animation may sometimes feel like an afterthought for those in character animation. But regular 2D animation courses and 3D animation courses won’t get you up to speed on what it takes to be great at this type of animation. 

This is where Borja Holke and his online animation course, titled Animation for Typographic Compositions, come in.

Borja is a freelance motion designer who’s contributed to award-winning movies. 

His is one of the best online animation courses for motion graphics because it includes:

  • all the basics on motion graphics design 
  • industry insights
  • a course project to consolidate your learning experience.

Oh, and did we mention that you can complete this course in just over three hours at your own pace? Need we say more? 

typographic animation perfect for animators who want to learn motion design

GIF by Fede Cook via GIPHY

An alternative to this paid course is TipTut, a creative-design YouTube channel that includes tutorials on motion graphics animation. 

Advanced CGI Animation

Even experienced professional animators can benefit from the courses we’ve mentioned above by taking them as refresher courses.

But what if you’re looking to forge ahead instead of just refresh, and a beginner's course just won’t cut it for you? 

Well, you can sift through a world’s worth of advanced online animation courses and use our guidelines to pick the best animation course for you.

A great course to start with is Digital Learning Solutions’ Advanced CGI/VFX Compositing online animation course

a movie showcasing advanced CGI animation that you can learn from online

GIF by vikingsssss via Tenor

This course brings together the organization's expertise in filmmaking, visual effects production, broadcast television, and motion graphics to create a top-rated advanced CGI mini master class.

The course’s two-hours worth of video lectures and comprehensive instructions make it easy to fit studying animation at a higher level into a busy schedule. 

What’s the unpaid alternative? Rebelway is a YouTube channel packed with CGI how-to videos and 3D animation courses for advanced animators who prefer not to pay. 

Start One Of The Best Animation Courses Today 

Now that you know that studying animation while working is possible, what are you waiting for?!

Let the best animation courses with certificates (and those without) work for you, and keep growing as a professional animator while you earn an income.

Start studying animation while you work with our Animation Accelerator course. You can also check out our free masterclass and free marketing handbook for the best advice on how to grow the success of your freelance business even more.

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