VFX company. Source: Shutterstock

How to Make Animated Graphics for Videos

Did you know that formal qualifications are typically necessary to make animated graphics professionally? Though not mandatory, a degree in animation can be a huge help.

Fortunately, most VFX courses are only about 2 years long. You can apply for a paid module as long as you have a base in subjects like animation, gaming tech, IT, fine arts, and more. As a post-graduation study, VFX/animated graphics is a specialization to improve your professional growth.

Best Places to Study for VFX Artists

However, it is also true that choosing renowned institutions can give you a headstart in the visual effects industry. Some education centers have a high reputation for producing skilled VFX artists. These places are recognized by the industry and are also the recipients of prestigious awards. Graduating from an institution with such accolades lets you leverage better projects and positions for yourself.

Moreover, VFX is a complex and highly technical industry. So, while it is easy to be a VFX artist, becoming a skilled visual effect specialist is far more complex. And though many successful artists are self-trained, over 60% of all VFX specialists are college payouts. Most also possess relevant degrees in fields like Animation and Digital Art.

So, while not impossible, it isn’t easy to land jobs in major studios without relevant education. VFX colleges offer curricula and guides that give you a headstart in the industry. With an immaculate reputation and a history of producing mega-success stories, the following represents the best VFX institutions in the world.

Name  Location  Program Length Program Cost
Gnomon Los Angeles 3 Years $85,000
Lost Boys | School of Visual FX Montreal/Vancouver 1 Year $41,900
Think Tank Training Center Vancouver 1 Year $38,000

Most Important VFX Software to Learn

Schools like these are hugely beneficial as they familiarize you with VFX software that can help you create animated graphics for videos. Programs like the following are industry standard and essential for breaking into your desired niche.


Developer: SideFX

Primary Use: Simulation


  • VFX tool creates simulations, character FX, rigging, and animation workflows.
  • Effects include fire, smoke, water, particles, and more
  • It can be used for modeling, rigging, lighting, and more.


  • Not beginner friendly


Developer: Autodesk

PrimaryUse: 3D Modeling & Animation


  • Used to model, animate, and render 3D scenes
  • It can be integrated into animation pipelines.


  • Limited capabilities compared to Houdini


Developer: The Foundry

Primary Use: Compositing


  • 3D compositing app for high-end FX work.


Developer: Adobe

Primary Use Image Editing & Processing


  • Easy to use
  • Helps prepare image assets for 3D work like matte paintings, concept art, and illustrations
  • Popular in game development

Arnold Renderer

Developer: Autodesk

Primary Use: Realistic Rendering


  • Rendering engine used for realistic/complex 3D scenes

Unreal Engine

Developer: Epic Games

Primary Use: Realtime 3D


  • Helps create 3D scenes to be rendered in real-time
  • Popular among game developers, VR creators, and live FX projects.


Developers: Pixologic

Primary Use: Modeling


  • Modeling tool used for creating 3D models in VFX work.
  • Ease of use

Substance Painter

Developer: Adobe

Primary Use: Painting Textures


  • Well suited to paint 3D virtual creations

Substance Designer

Developer: Adobe

Primary Use: Creating Custom Materials


  • Used to create custom materials in a procedural workflow, such as materials, clothing, and textures

After Effects

Developer: Adobe

Primary Use: Motion Design


  • Compositing app for effects like asset overlays and color adjustments.
  •  Used to make 2D motion design elements

Creating VFX Animated Graphics for Videos

If you possess enough skills and knowledge of these programs, you are more than set to start making animated graphics for videos.

Create a Plan

The first step is to outline the types of VFX you want to include in your clip. For example, you can alter live-action footage or add an utterly virtual character.

VFX lets you choose from special effects, such as spells and explosions. Alien planets, and more. Find a theme that suits your video and choose a visual effects tool that works best for the project.


Choose Your Animation Tool 


Our VFX software depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of animation, the complexity of visual effects, and the overall number of VFX/CGI requirements. So, depending on your needs, you can choose from programs like Adobe After Effects, Nuke, and Blender.


To make it more dramatic, you can also use other elements like 3D models, textures, stock footage, or sound effects. You can find these pre-made assets in the most online marketplaces. However, if you are competent, you can create these using 3D modeling software like Autodesk Maya or Blender.


Apply Visual Effects


Once these tools are ready, you can apply the facts directly to your video. However, not all VFX assets are the same. For example, you may need to manipulate lighting in specific clips. Meanwhile, another will require you to create fire sims and other particle systems.




However, simply learning how to make animated graphics for videos does not guarantee success. The VFX industry is notoriously difficult to break into. It is also very demanding – just ask the folks at Avatar 2. The sequel to the blockbuster took over 13 years to produce, primarily due to the animations required in the films.


However, challenging projects can also be a boon in disguise. With these in your portfolio, you have more to leverage in your future employment. Experience is one of the most critical factors in earning well in the VFX industry.

Aside from these, your education, training, portfolio, and general skills will also help. Moreover, if you have led a team as a supervisor before, you may be on the way to earning more than your colleagues.

VFX artists also have the option to work as freelancers. Settings like these give you more flexibility with your work. However, you may have to work around your rates if you work freelance. In most cases, you will be able to negotiate your animation fees based on the project and the VFX company size. If the work is more demanding. You can ask for higher rates and vice versa. Other factors include

  • Project length
  • Specializations required
  • Freelancer’sFreelancer’s skill set
  • Size of team
  • Deadline