Animation has come a long way from the first animated cartoon in 1908, but thankfully as the technology of animation has moved forward, so have the opportunities that amateur animators have to not only learn their craft but to improve upon it as well. With the internet, the number of resources available is near limitless and if there is something that cannot be found, it can easily be created and shared with people all over the world.
When it comes to animation, learning new tools and ways to make things look and move the absolute best they can is important, and with that in mind, we wanted to share nine online classes with you that will help you improve your skills or might be just a refresher if you’re getting back into the game.
Before we start though, let’s do a little digging and figure out what you should look for in an online animation class.
What to look for in an online animation course
Knowing what to look for in an online class can help you decide if the class is the right choice for you and will do everything it can to help you succeed and add to your skills. Before you sign up for any class, be sure to consider the following.
As we said before, thanks to the internet, there are so many resources available for anyone who is looking to build new skills or refresh themselves on dormant ones. However, just because there are so many different classes out there, not every class may fit the skill level you’re at. For example, if you’re just looking for a refresher, taking an introductory class might be a waste of your time and money.
One area that not many people consider before taking an online class is the teaching style that is being used. Some of the more inexpensive classes may offer pre-recorded video lessons and come with no interaction with the instructor at all. Some others may offer one-on-one interaction with the instructor and even feedback tailored to the work you are doing and these types of classes generally come with a higher price.
The final area to consider is your commitment level. You need to consider how much time you can put towards the class as many classes can range from thirty minutes to 20 hours a week for several weeks. Knowing how much of a commitment and time that you can devote to an online class will help you choose the right one much easier.
Top 9 Animation, Motion Graphics & 3D Courses Online
If you go online, you will find numerous online classes for animation and some are much better than others. In our opinion, the list below contains the classes that we feel offer the most for your time and money.
- The Beginner’s Guide to After Effects (Skillshare) – 2 Months Free then $99/year
- 12 Principles of Animation with Justin Harrison (Udemy) – $19
- Learn 3D Animation – The Ultimate Blender Guide (Udemy) – $139
- Maya 2020 Essential Training (LinkedIn Learning) – $39
- 2D Animation For Beginners With Adobe Animate (Skillshare) – 2 Months Free then $99/year
- Complete Animation Course by Aaron Blaise – $50
- Character Setup and Animation (Coursera) – $79/month
- How to Create Lifelike Movement (Skillshare) – 2 Months Free then $99/year
- Blender 2.8 Essential Training (Linkedin Learning) – $44
9 classes you can take to be an incredible animator
The Beginner’s Guide to After Effects (Skillshare) – $99/year
Skill level: Beginner | Duration: 6 hours
Taught by motion designer Jake Bartlett, the Beginner’s Guide to After Effects is a great class for anyone who might have an interest in the world of motion design and is looking to learn Adobe After Effects and hit the ground running. The course covers everything you need to start creating animations of your own as well as cover topics such as Timecode, Resolution, Frame Rate, and more!
12 Principles of Animation with Justin Harrison (Udemy) – $19
Skill level: Beginner | Duration: a little over 2 hours
Offered by 3DMotive, the 12 Principle of Animation course is designed to be a short course that explains the basics of animation, particularly suited to Maya, an animation software. Taught by character and technical animator Justin Harrison, the class covers the 12 basic principles of animation, how you can use them to give life to your character animations, and how those principles apply to everyday objects and characters. A little over two hours long, the course goes over fundamentals such as timing and spacing, and slow-in and slow-out. With an affordable price, it won’t put a huge strain on your wallet either.
Learn 3D Animation – The Ultimate Blender Guide (Udemy) – $139
Skill level: Beginner | Duration: about 26 hours
Taught by 3D artist and instructor Alex Cordebard, the Ultimate Blender Guide course teaches you how to use Blender to create 3D models and animations. Perfect for beginners who are looking to learn more about 3D arts or for anyone looking to increase their skills. The course will teach you skills that include exploring Blender basics and techniques, creating 3D models, and creating a full 3D animation project at the end of the course. While the course may be a bit pricey for some, the amount of knowledge and hands-on interaction make it worth the cost.
Maya 2020 Essential Training (LinkedIn Learning) – $39
Skill level: Beginner | Duration: 8 hours
Taught by Animation Director and Producer George Maestri, the Maya 2020 Essential Training course provides you with the tools you need to create high-quality 3D models and animations. Covering the core Maya skills – modeling, texturing, rendering, and animation. The techniques that are taught through the course will translate outside the realm of animation to film, motion graphics, and game design. By the end of the course, George Maestri will teach you how to add movement and life to your work using the animator tools found in the Maya software.
2D Animation For Beginners With Adobe Animate (Skillshare) – $99/year
Skill level: Intermediate | Duration: a little under 3 hours
Using simple and straightforward examples, the 2D Animation For Beginners With Adobe Animate course, instructed by Walt Wonderwalk, demonstrates how to draw, compose, and animate characters to give you a good grasp of the principles involved. The course covers a wide range of topics including the basics of creating vector drawings in Animate, how to create nested animations as well as how to add sound to your animations, and much more. This is a perfect class for anyone who may have an interest in learning animation and could do it as a hobby, not a profession.
Skill level: Beginner | Duration: N/A
While not a name known to most people, Aaron Blaise is a rockstar in the animation world. A Disney animation veteran who has worked on major Disney movies such as The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast has crafted an incredible course, made up of 13 HD videos, takes you on a journey through the 12 principles of animation that were developed by Disney’s Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Blaise has an approachable and relatable style of teaching that makes the course feel less like taking lessons and more like learning from a friend. Aimed at beginners and animation students, the course offers things that even experienced animators can take away from the course.
Character Setup and Animation (Coursera) – Enroll for Free then $79/month
Skill level: Intermediate | Duration: 10 hours
If you’re studying to take the Unity Certified 3D Artist exam, we’ve got the perfect prep course for you. Taught by Joy Horvath, the Character Setup and Animation course is designed for students who are ready to accept their first paying role as a Unity 3D artist. As the bridge between the programmers and the designers, a Unity 3D artist is a critical piece in the development pipeline. Through the duration of the course, you’ll work on a sci-fi themed 3D adventure game and learn how to import assets and create effects to provide a more stylish and cartoony feel.
How to Create Lifelike Movement (Skillshare) – $99/year
Skill level: Intermediate | Duration: less than an hour
Taught by Emanuele Colombo, an animator and motion designer who has worked with companies such as Google and NBC, the How to Create Lifelike Movement course is perfect for anyone looking for a more condensed online animation course. The course guides you through the top four principles of animation which were developed by two Disney animators in the 1980s. By the end of the course, you will learn how to master the After Effects program and how to build an entire scene with a story in mind and be able to create a landscape, a sense of realism, movement, and intrigue. With the tips and tricks offered by the course, you can finesse your skills and create incredible, lifelike characters.
Blender 2.8 Essential Training (Linkedin Learning) – $44
Skill level: Beginner | Duration: 5 hours
Taught by David Andrade, an award-winning animator, the Blender 2.8 Essential Training course introduces you to the interface in Blender 2.8, as well as 3D modeling, 3D animation, and how to use simulators so you can create fluid and smoke effects. The various lessons cover a complete overview of how to do 3D modeling on the software including how to use the interface, scene layout, sculpting, VFX styling, and more. Available on LinkedIn Learning, the course comes with access to downloadable files, textures, and UV maps that you can use while you go through the course.
9 Animation Courses To Become an Incredible Animator
Taking an online class can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. Choosing the right class though by paying attention to the skill level, teaching style, and your commitment level can make it even more so. We hope that our list of the best online animation classes help you on your animation journey, whether that’s working for Disney one day, or simply drawing funny pictures your kids enjoy.