An introduction to 2D animation rigging

Animation industry professionals explain the role of a rigger in 2D animation.

"Riggers are the glue that hold a production together," according to animation and rigging tutor, Adam Oliver. "They stick all the design bits together and bring them together for animation."

In this masterclass on 2D rigging, animation industry professionals explain what rigging is, how to develop the skills needed to be a rigger and how to get a job in animation.

The panelists

Chris Carter (head of 2D animation pipeline, Blue Zoo Animation Studio)
Julia Young (rigger, SellOutAnimation)
Tim Frost (lecturer of animation, Falmouth University)
Niki Kehoe (assistant director, Dog Ears)
Adam Oliver (animation and rigging tutor, Adam's Animation Academy)

Questions they answer and the points covered include:

  • 0:00 - Introduction
  • 3:24 - How did you [the panelist] get to where you are right now?
  • 8:25 - What is rigging?
  • 18:22 - What to expect on an Adam's Animation Academy training course
  • 22:16 - What drew you to the role of rigging?
  • 27:07 - How does Tim's day differ in a different studio?
  • 33:01 - How does the process of rigging differ when working in a bigger team?
  • 36:35 - How has the animation industry changed in the last 10 years?
  • 40:19 - How has educational content and 2D and 3D integration changed?
  • 45:12 - Flash and Adobe Animate
  • 49:49 - What are the best ways to learn how to rig?
  • 51:43 - If you saw a job advert for a rigger on a specific software, what would your internal barometer be for if you can apply for it?
  • 53:42 - Where to look for jobs?
  • 55:30 - What qualities lead to a good rigger and what type of a rigger do you like to work with?
  • 59:33 - What are good entry-level jobs for a rigger?
  • 1:03:55 - What kind of computer tablet do you need to do this from home?
  • 1:04:33 - Can Toon Boom Animation be combined with TVPaint Animation in terms of workflow, and, if so, how would the pipeline benefit?
  • 1:05:38 - If you have 2D experience with Adobe After Effects already, can you still be hired in a studio using Toon Boom?
  • 1:06:34 - Which version of Toon Boom is best for what purposes?
  • 1:06:57 - How different is CelAction from Toon Boom?
  • 1:11:38 - For entry CelAction riggers, what are the most important skills to showcase in a reel?
  • 1:13:29 - Does anyone know if there'll be any training course for CelAction?
  • 1:14:25 - How long does it take to fully rig a character with a complete turnaround?
  • 1:15:43 - Can you rig visual effects like fire, lightning etc. or would it look too mechanical?
  • 1:16:24 - Is cell shading a 2D/3D combo?
  • 1:17:15 - For those who are still new and exploring which department they'd like to work in, what kind of personality/interest should one have to work as a rigger and not an animator?
  • 1:18:32 - What advice would you give to someone trying to get a junior role rigging in Toon Boom Harmony?

About the speakers

Chris Carter is the head of 2D animation pipeline at Blue Zoo Animation Studio. Chris mainly uses the software Harmony and Adobe Creative Suite. Chris has previously worked as an animator, a rigger and a pipeline director.

Julia Young is a rigger at SellOutAnimation who works in TV and educational content. Julia mainly uses the software CelAction and Adobe Creative Suite. Julia has previously worked as an animator, a designer and a layout artist. Julia has worked on such shows as Aliens Love Underpants, Mr. Bean, Simon's Cat, Love Monster and Winnie and Wilbur.

Tim Frost is a lecturer of animation at Falmouth University, where he teaches rigging for the software, CelAction. Tim is co-creating a preschool app for The Usborne Foundation. Tim has worked on such shows as Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom and Hey Duggee.

Niki Kehoe is an assistant director at Dog Ears, where they are working on a 2D series coproduction with Cartoon Saloon. Niki mainly uses the software Harmony and Adobe Creative Suite. Niki has previously worked as an animator, a rigger, a generalist, a 2D department supervisor and a pipeline director. Niki has worked on such shows as Deadendia, It's Pony, Transformers: Rescuebots Academy, Littlest Pet Shop and Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. Niki is part of Animated Women UK.

Adam Oliver is an animation and rigging tutor, at Adam's Animation Academy. Adam mainly uses the software Harmony and Adobe Creative Suite. Adam is a freelance consultant working on Toon Boom Harmony projects. Adam has previously worked as an animator, a storyboard artist, a rigger, a character designer, a clean-up artist and an illustrator.

About the event

This is a recording of an online event that took place on 24 March 2021. It was introduced by Abigail Addison, ScreenSkills animation production liaison executive, and supported by the ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund with contributions from UK animation productions.

Further information

Check out the Animation/VFX/Game Industry Job Postings Google Sheet by Chris Mayne.

Further careers information

Read our job profile on being a rigger in animation. Learn how to build an animation portfolio. Check out all our animation job profiles.