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Cartoonist vs. Animator: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

If you’re interested in a career in the animation industry, you may be wondering whether you should become a cartoonist or an animator. Both of these positions require creativity and artistic talent, but they have different responsibilities. In this article, we compare the job titles of cartoonist and animator, discussing the similarities and differences between the two. We also provide information on other careers in animation you may be interested in.

What is a Cartoonist?

Cartoonists are artists who create cartoons, which are drawings that are intended to be humorous or satirical. They may work in a variety of different mediums, such as newspapers, magazines, comic books, television or film. Cartoonists typically develop their own ideas for cartoons, which they then pitch to editors or producers. If their ideas are approved, they will proceed to sketch out the cartoon and submit it for publication or production. In some cases, Cartoonists may be asked to produce a certain number of cartoons per week or per month. In other cases, they may be given free rein to produce whatever they like.

What is an Animator?

Animators are responsible for bringing characters and scenes to life through movement. They work in a variety of settings, including film and television studios, advertising agencies, video game companies, and more. Animators use a variety of software programs to create two-dimensional or three-dimensional images. They often work with directors, producers, and other artists to create an overall vision for a project. Animators must have a strong understanding of anatomy, physics, and motion to create believable and lifelike animations. They often work long hours to meet deadlines, and some may work on several projects at the same time.

Cartoonist vs. Animator

Here are the main differences between a cartoonist and an animator.

Job Duties

Both animators and cartoonists have similar job duties, such as creating characters, developing story ideas and drawing illustrations. However, the roles can differ in other ways because of the different stages of animation production that each career involves. For example, a cartoonist may work alone to create a comic strip or illustration. Then, they can submit their work to a company for consideration. Alternatively, an animator may work with a team to develop a full animated film. The animator may be responsible for directing the entire project, while other team members contribute with specific responsibilities, such as voice acting or music composition.

Job Requirements

Most cartoonists and animators have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, computer graphics or animation. These programs typically last four years, but some students may be able to complete their degrees in three years if they attend school full time. During their studies, students take classes on topics like character design, storyboarding and 2D or 3D animation. Many programs also require students to complete an internship before they graduate.

Some animators and cartoonists start their careers with an associate degree in computer graphics or animation. These programs usually take two years to complete and include coursework on subjects like color theory, web design and digital video production. Students in these programs also typically complete an internship.

Work Environment

Cartoonists and animators work in different environments. While both professions involve creating visual content, the environment where they do so differs. Animators often work in studios or animation companies to create their animations. They may also work for themselves as independent contractors.

Cartoonists typically work from home or a studio to create comics. Some cartoonists freelance and work independently while others work for comic book publishers.


There are several similarities between cartoonists and animators in terms of the specific skills they use on the job. Both professions require excellent drawing skills, creativity and imagination. Cartoonists and animators also need to have a strong understanding of the principles of animation, such as timing, movement and frame rate.

However, there are some differences in the specific skills used by cartoonists and animators. For example, cartoonists may benefit from having writing skills, as they often create their own stories and jokes. They also need to be able to work within the constraints of a given medium, whether that is a newspaper or a website. Animators, on the other hand, need to have computer animation skills. They often use software programs to create their animations, so they need to be comfortable using these tools.


The average salary for a cartoonist is $49,545 per year, while the average salary for an animator is $61,708 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the type of work you do, your level of experience and the company you work for.


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