Tips to hire freelance cartoon animator

If you have some budget to work with and need an art project done, then going for a freelance animator is a good idea. However, the process of hiring one can be challenging, especially if you are not sure what to look for – and the last thing you want is hiring a freelance animator who is a poor fit for the work you want to accomplish. Here are some important points to guide you through the process.

Set a budget that is realistic for you

Here is the untold truth: never expect an animation project to be cheap, despite what you may initially think. It is among the most skilled professions, and it takes a lot of time and effort to make the final product looking beautiful – not to mention that it is a very time-consuming activity. 
Imagine this: an animator must do illustrations in a frame-by-frame format (for instance, a 24 FPS job will require 1440 drawings to cover each minute), and then you will need to look for voice actors to cover the sound details. For you to accomplish an animation project of one minute, it can take up to 1 month of continuous work covering pre-production to post-production, and that costs a minimum of $1500 if you want it in a 2D format, and a minimum of $4000 if you want a 3D result. Depending on the complexities of the project, the cost will vary – a 2D format is cheaper to produce compared to 3D, and a more cartoon-like result is cheaper than a very detailed result.
Therefore, if you want to hire a freelance animator, set aside at least $1000 to $2000.

Know what you want to achieve

Animators do not just work on cartoon projects – they can fulfill a variety of roles, even making music videos, explainer videos, animated shorts, and so on. Therefore, you will need an animator that has the best levels of experience in the work you want to do, and they should provide a portfolio of their previous work as well.

Know the timeline you want to work with

Because animation is very time consuming, it is essential to be realistic about your timing goals as well. We explained in this article that just a minute takes over 3 weeks to finish – if you want it faster, get ready to cough up some more money to find more animators.

The style of animation you want

Yes – not all animation is the same, even though all animators are doing the same job. Therefore, know the type of results you want, and this will vary among 3 major categories;

  • 2D animation: when considering 2D, think of Disney, children’s cartoons, and all the older cartoons of the Golden era of television. Comic book artwork also falls into this category.
  • 3D animation: this is a newer development, having come into prominence through Pixar Studios. The results here are more realistic compared to 2D, and it is a mainstay of animation today.
  • Stop motion: this involves the building of clay models and then recording their movement frame-by-frame. The animator will then edit these frames together to give the illusion of movement. This method is very expensive as it involves more work, and a few animation studios focus on it.

Post a good brief

Focusing on framing a very good brief will take half of the job away from you, and the right animators will begin to apply. This brief should cover the following questions:

  • What do you need the animation project for?
  • What is the timeline?
  • Style of animation you expect
  • The budget you are working with

Look at reels to determine the best fit

If you have pitches from a variety of animators, it is time to examine their reels – also known as portfolios. However, how will you know from these whether the animator is good at their job? The criteria to base the evaluations will involve examining:

  • Their technical abilities – is each scene in the reel well-composed? Are the transitions seamless? Do they know how to work with colors and other details?
  • Their past experience – is it relevant to the job at hand? For instance, you should not hire a stop motion animator if you want a 2D project.

All these considerations will hopefully make it easier for you to choose the right person for your animation project, and produce a product you are proud of.


Navrajvir Singh
Navrajvir Singh
Entrepreneur. Strategist. Think Tank.

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