Can I Be An Animator if I Can’t Draw?

“Can I be an animator if I can’t draw?” This is a recurring question among those who are looking to delve into the world of animation or three-dimension modeling. It is common innate skills, such as drawing, to be associated with drawing. The answer is simpler than it seems, although it gives rise to some more questions. 

Unfortunately, our society has not yet fully mastered all the intricacies of the various aspects of animation and often relates them to drawing, art, and related disciplines.

However, the term is much closer to the notion of “project”, and it can vary from country to country, which extends its meaning to many different activities. 

But, we can safely say that it is not necessary to be an expert draftsman to exercise the function of an animator! So, why is there so much discussion around it, anyway? Follow the post and understand. 

Can I be an animator even if I can’t draw? 

This depends on the type of animation. Most commercially made animations (not all though) are computer-generated, i.e all PIXAR movies, DISNEY movies, most cartoons, and short films.  

Don’t let your inability to draw stop you. At the high end, animators use programs like Maya for animation. And while math helps tremendously, as is drawing, it’s not often seen as a requirement. Basically, the skills needed to become successful can be learned. 

No need to draw by hand, you can use other tools 

Speculation about needing or not knowing how to draw still takes the sleep off some candidates of this very cool profession. It’s becoming increasingly present in everyone’s daily life. In other times and situations that are much less technological, animators used the good old drawing board to start and finish their projects. 

Imagine the hassle to carry out an entire typography project entirely by hand! What about editorial projects for movies, magazines, and books? Not to mention all the graphic pieces so easily made with software these days. Before, everything was done manually and required considerable expertise from talented designers. 

However, nowadays, it is possible to start a project directly using image-editing software, vectorization, and 3D modeling. When the pencil and paper take up too much space or are unable to meet all demands, a computer solves the problem smoothly! 

You can create amazing work by importing a photo into Adobe Illustrator. From this, it is possible to manipulate the image by adding layers with the countless features of the software and shaping something new, straight out of your imagination, without a single trace on the paper. Just master computer programs and applications. 

But if you still want to improve or develop your drawing skills, technology also helps – a lot. The market has several programs for drawing to help in this task and make you a more skilled illustrator.

There is also the alternative of using a tablet connected to the computer and integrated with Illustrator or Photoshop. So, you draw freely and skip a few steps. 

Also, some segments of animation, three-dimensional modeling, and design area do not require drawing skills, even in software, such as editorial design. In this field, the work is predominantly diagramming or visual planning. 

Drawing is not a requirement, but it can be a differentiator 

In the technological world of the digital age, everything is relative. Animation has its importance and this is indisputable, but it is not something strictly mandatory in design, but rather a differential that may be relevant in some activities. 

Animation is not fundamental, but it has the potential to function as something distinctive. Knowing how to draw opens up many animators with varied opportunities. Also, it offers them a sharper perception of shapes and their nuances. 

If you intend to work as an animator, creating game characters and the like, 3D modeling or cartoons, you certainly cannot ignore the necessary knowledge in drawing, which, in these cases, is very in-depth. 

However, there is still ground to discuss what it means to know how to draw. The concept can be expanded. This is because not every lover of illustrations and visual arts prefers realistic designs with impeccable finishes without a trace out of place. There are styles and everyone has their fair share of the most varied tastes and preferences in this vast market. 

In that sense, it is not necessary to be a Leonardo da, Vinci. Just be yourself and develop what, perhaps, is the most important: an idea or message behind simple doodles or sketches.  

Many works of animators are popular for their content and not necessarily for their form. This reinforces the opinion that the identity of each one is more relevant than the harmonious trait. 

It is worth exploring other skills as alternatives 

Ok, you don’t know how to draw, you don’t have the patience to learn, but you like animation. There is no problem, as other capabilities are very welcome in the multifocal universe of design. Use your best tool. 

1. Communication 

Communication is a very common discipline, especially in advertising, that is always relevant in animation, graphic design, and 3D modeling. If this is your specialty, the market is full of opportunities.   

The ability to communicate with the public effectively is not for everyone. If the intention is to make sense of things, it is good to make it clear that this segment of design has a strong connection with communication. 

When connecting emotionally to a message, the animation work has the scope to stimulate action by the receiver. So the communication factor is very important.

In assigning meaning to a brand, for example, the animator’s job is to articulate an idea, expose the essence of the concept and that is beyond the animation work itself. The form only complements the meaning of the content. 

2. Basic technical concepts of animation 

Animation is a profession with many facets and this is wonderful, as it provides space for the most diverse talents. The mastery of basic knowledge of design as a whole can also guarantee a good career performance. 

Knowing in-depth concepts of color theory, typography, composition, diagramming, marketing and other complementary subjects are contents that a professional can learn and develop with excellence in the application of the creative process without having to master the practice of drawing. In that case, it is possible to become a good creative director within a company. 

3. Domain in a technical field 

For those who do not know how to draw and do not communicate easily, the most technical specialties in the design area, such as UI (user interface) and UX (user experience), are very promising niches. Each day, these are more valued and essential for the interaction in the digital environment. 

How to be an animator for big companies like Disney or Pixar  

You need to know the basics of Maya (modeling, animation, simulation, surfacing, rendering, and MEL). But focus on becoming an expert with the sections most applicable to the type of work you want.  

Large animated productions divide animation work into specialties, and those with entry-level positions can be: modeling, animation, surfacing, lighting, compositing, and rendering.  

Sometimes when you are particularly good at rigging or visual effects (VFX), you can get an entry-level position in those departments. But in my opinion, it is much more difficult to develop the necessary skills because there is so much more to learn. 

To build a portfolio, start by making a copy of existing jobs, concentrating on specific elements of your chosen specialty. Then refine the copies to make them look original enough. This is a great way to learn.  

And when you turn in your portfolio, no one will care if you submit a copyrighted work, as long as you are not pretending you worked on it yourself commercially. Meanwhile, If you do not have any professional or commercial work you can use as your portfolio, by using Disney projects to sign up for Disney IMO, you have a high chance of Disney hiring you. 

If the work looks professional, that tells Disney you are ready for some professional-grade work with your content. For example, animation positioyn can involve taking conversation from unrelated movies and animating some Disney characters making those conversations. An example of modeling could be reimagining characters from a live-action Disney show as 3D characters. 

If still done in the same way as before, on Fridays, they usually organize big meetings where all portfolios of applicants’ are displayed. So these are the first every head of department sees.   

And, if your portfolio catches their attention, they’ll take a look at your resume. If nothing negative stands out, you will receive a call for an in-person interview. 


Now, do you still think an animator needs to know how to draw? This is no longer a problem and there are no more reasons for this type of questioning in today’s world.

Although this ability ensures some facilities for a design professional, this only applies in some very specific situations. Success in the field can happen with the use of any talent, after all, there is room for everyone!