Can a Software Engineer do Animation?


Wait, aren’t those two different things? If you’re thinking about it too, your search ends here.

As we know software engineers develop and design software’s, analyze the systems, etc., of course the duties vary with their area of specialization. But animation? Well, the fields do have a technical aspect to them. Let’s explore the same.

Overview of animation.

“Animation offers a medium of storytelling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world.”

-Walt Disney.

We know that animation is creating an illusion by arranging successive photographs in a series. In layman language, bringing objects to life, whether that’s motion graphics or CGI or our favourite Marvel and DC VFXs, etc using the imagination, artistic abilities combined with enhanced technology.

Different types of animation include:

  • Traditional Animation
  • Rotoscoping
  • Anime
  • Cutout
  • 3D Animation
  • Stop Motion
  • Motion graphics

Of course knowing facts and the types of animation isn’t enough for one. So what else?

Skills Required for Animation

Now to surpass something, it’s necessary to know about the key skills required.

  1. To know your narrative and follow through the storytelling, having compelling characters, portraying the emotions intended and having a strong sense of flexible ideas is a crucial skill to be an animator.
  2. Spacing and Timing. If one fails to balance between timing and spacing of the content, it would take out the essence of animation, as the result would look less realistic and engaging. So it’s important that one develops a sense to space out and time the content.
  3. 2D and 3D animation. 2D animation involves creating two dimensional movements however when it comes to 3D, it deals with creating realistic images also while adding depth to the same. It’s an advantage to the animator if they’re familiar with both, 2D and 3D.
  4. Paying attention to the details. Being an animator, one has to pay attention to the details to their artwork, the way the images are arranged, squashed and stretched in a time frame. Not only that but the movements have to be precise and consistent, ensuring a smooth flow.
  5. Drawing and Illustrations. As an animator, one should be able to draw and illustrate as it’s the foundation.
  6. Time Management. To be able to be calm and composed, hand in work before it’s due, prioritizing tasks, meeting the client’s expectations, organizing their tasks, etc, are primary requirements in every field, as well as when it comes to being an animator.
  7. Communication and Learning. One should be flexible when it comes to learning new concepts or working with new people. They should be open to new experiences and adapt themselves to the latest trends, be proficient with the software’s available and have the ability to take and give constructive feedback to their colleagues.
  8. Being up to date with the software’s. One should be familiar with the industry animation and the computer software’s used to make the visual content. They should master various tools and features that come with the software’s; like Adobe Animate or Autodesk Maya, etc.
  9. Motions and physics, Color theory and Composition are other aspects that also should be paid attention to. These decide how compelling our result is. Imagine playing a game where all the characters come from the same color palette as the environment. No, right?

Overlapping Skills between Software Engineering and Animation.

These fields aren’t as distinct as they might seem. Both include having graphics and computer effects. But that’s just not it. Here’s a few skills that bind them together.

  1. Coming up with solutions: As we know that we encounter problems almost everyday. To be able to find or create loopholes, come up with effective solutions in limited time, having the ability to break down challenges and manage them effectively is valuable to both fields.
  2. Attention to detail: As we discussed what an animator must do, however, a software engineer needs to pay attention to the detail as well. Just like animators must focus on capturing subtle emotions, expressions, movements, software engineers need to meticulously write their codes and ensure accuracy to avoid bugs.
    > On August 1, 2012, Knight Capital deployed a software update to their trading system, which contained a critical bug. The bug caused this system to not only malfunction but also erroneously sent millions of unintended orders to the stock market in less than an hour. These orders disrupted the market, resulting in substantial losses for Knight Capital. Looks like missing out on small details might cost a lot more than we think.
  3. Creativity: To be original with the content one brings to the table and coming up with new ideas is always appreciated.
  4. Technical Aptitude and Adaptability: Having knowledge on the new market trends, software updates, advancements, being accustomed to changes, flexibility in adapting to new circumstances has proved to be a valuable asset in both the fields.
  5. Communication and Collaboration Skills: One must not only have proper communication with their colleagues and superiors but also be able to work with other members and carry out the tasks assigned effectively.

How Software Engineers Can Pursue Animation.

So now that we’ve mentioned the similarities and stated the facts, you might think how to pursue? Where to start?

  1. Learn Fundamentals. Well a good start to anything is to know it by the roots. Start with the basics as we move forward. This includes making yourself familiar with movements, timing, story narration as well as the types of animation.
  2. Take Courses. Now this could be enrolling yourself in a class or start taking them online but this would give you a headstart to understand the techniques better. It would help you choose the kind of animation you want to do, specializing in practices and gaining a better knowledge of the industry.
    Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, etc, offer courses taught by professionals.
  3. Join communities. It’s always good to be surrounded by people that share the same interests as you, or that inspire you in a way. This also gives you a chance to collaborate on projects with the ones that have experience or even learn a lot. Other than that, practice is always rewarded. The more we practise, the better we get at it. Engineering and animation require a lot of hard work and dedication just like any other job would; we know how much even little mistakes might cost. This is why determination is always appreciated.
  4. Take up personal projects. Now it’s not always possible that there are opportunities present out there. Sometimes we have to create them. Taking up to make a short film just to see how capable you are, as a sample for the employer to see or just to challenge oneself.

Combining interests with careers can get tedious at times, however, this bridges the gap between two fields and opens doors to new experiences.

Opportunities in Animation

This industry is constantly evolving, with a wide range of opportunities to showcase one’s talent and abilities. Here’s a list of a few:

  1. Advertising and Marketing: Animators are in demand for creating advertisements, promotional videos, and motion graphics for campaigns. Animation helps to grab attention, convey messages effectively, and engage audiences. A normal advertisement might not have your attention but a space monkey who eats cereals definitely would.
  2. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR): Animators are needed to create alluring and interactive experiences as VR and AR advance each day. They can work on creating animated content for VR/AR applications, games, simulations, and training programs.
  3.  Gaming: This industry relies heavily on animation for character design, movements and narrative. Animators work on creating game characters, environments, back stories perhaps, visual effects for its video games.
  4. Film and Television: That jungle book movie that came out a few years ago? What if I tell you it was all visual effects? And the whole movie was shot on a green screen? Crazy right? Looked so real? Yes, that’s what animators in this field expertise in. Almost everything we see, they’re adding special effects to it. Be it feature films or short films or action films or a TV show for that matter.
  5. Education and E-learning: That video of a surgeon performing a surgery that looked so gross? Yes, an animated version of that can be found on the internet now. All these are made with the help of animation. It might come as a surprise that they actually hold an individual’s attention longer than a real conversation. Animators create engaging and interactive educational content, including tutorials, simulations, and virtual environments for learning.


We saw that when combined, both the fields have immense possibilities, scope to evolve more in the future. Throughout this article, we discussed how the process, skills, techniques, of a software engineer and an animator when combined, enhance the result and give the audience a realistic and an immersive experience. Collaboration of these industries has paved the way for a new world where animation goes way beyond what one can only imagine!