What are the top Canadian animation training programs?

Top 10 Canadian Professional Animation Training Programs - 2021 School Rankings
1Vancouver Film SchoolBritish Columbia
2Vancouver Institute of Media Arts British Columbia
3Seneca CollegeOntario
4Think Tank Training CentreBritish Columbia
5Capilano UniversityBritish Columbia
6Algonquin College of Applied Arts and TechnologyOntario
7Max The Mutt College Of AnimationOntario
8CG MastersBritish Columbia
9Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced LearningOntario
10LaSalle College VancouverBritish Columbia

Our 2021 rankings of the top animation training programs in Canada.

For this ranking we only consider professional training programs, that is, non-degree programs such as certificate, diploma, and similar programs that are not formal 4-year bachelor's degrees. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here

1. Vancouver Film School, Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver Film School

Vancouver Film School (VFS) opened its doors in 1987 to a class of just 12 Film Production students. The school went on to introduce the world’s first fully dedicated production training center for New Media in 1991. Today, Vancouver Film School is considered a global leader in Entertainment Arts education, offering 15 programs to more than 1,000 students across eight campuses, including Shanghai VFS (SHVFS), launched in 2014.

Vancouver Film School offers Diploma Programs in Animation Concept Art, Classical Animation, and 3D Animation & Visual Effects with Specializations in 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, and Visual Effects. A two-day, 3D Animation & Visual Effects Workshop is also available.

The 12-month Animation Concept Art Program explores the fundamentals of drawing, digital painting and design, character design, storytelling, worldbuilding and more. Students will graduate with a professional pitch-package and portfolio to help them compete in the Comic Arts, Film, Games, Illustration, Interactive Media, and Television industries.

Students in the Classical Animation Program will learn all about animation, art direction, drawing, storyboarding and background design, character animation, and digital ink and paint. In the final few months of this 12-month program, students will complete a final project and assemble a traditional animation portfolio.

The 3D Animation & Visual Effects Program begins with the basics of the 3D pipeline, and progresses to the studio component of the program. Students will work with faculty, industry mentors, and other students to complete a professional-level portfolio or reel. Students will also benefit from career guidance and expertise from industry mentors, instructors, and guest speakers, as well as partnerships with corporate leaders such as Adobe, Autodesk, Final Draft, HP, and Pixologic. The VFS Diploma in 3D Animation & Visual Effects takes just 12 months to complete.

Students in all programs will have access to the VFS Alumni Directory + Job Board, and attain industry connections that will help guide their careers. Graduates of the programs are often hired by major studios locally and internationally.

In Vancouver alone, more than 60 studios make up the VFX and Animation industry, comprising the world’s largest cluster of domestic and foreign-owned studios.

2. Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts), Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver Institute of Media Arts

Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts) was founded in 1995 with Academy-Award winning Animator/Director Lee Mishkin as its founding Program Director. The school offers a variety of focused Diploma Programs designed to prepare students for careers in Acting for Film & Television, Broadcasting, Character Animation, Game Art & Design, Professional Photography, Visual Effects Production, and Web Development.

Students in all VanArts programs benefit from small class sizes, a specialized, adaptable curriculum, courses taught by industry professionals with decades of experience at studios such as Disney, Dreamworks, and Industrial Light & Magic, and an international network with degree pathways available through industry partners in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and the U.S. The VanArts network (which also includes partners in Canada) provides the opportunity for students to complete their bachelor’s degree in as little as one year after graduating. Deakin University (Australia), Emily Carr University of Art + Design (Canada), Full Sail University (US), Media Design School (New Zealand), University of Gloucestershire (UK), and Woodbury University (US), are just a few options.

For aspiring animators, VanArts offers a 2D/3D Character Animation Program that begins with the Principles of Animation (Initiating Force, Path of Action, Lead/Follow, Timing/Spacing, Physics and Body Mechanics) and progresses to Honing Skills, Lighting, Rendering, and the Demo Reel. Course, topic, and workshop highlights for the program include Acting and Performance, Adobe Premiere, Asset Building, Character Animation, Editing & Audio, Harmony, Life Drawing, Lighting, Maya Fundamentals, Rendering, Story, and Visual Language.

The 2D/3D Character Animation Program takes just 12 months to complete and it leads to a Diploma. Graduates of the program work at studios such as Bardel Entertainment, Framestore, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Titmouse Studios. Program alumni have worked on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hotel Transylvania 3, Spider-Verse, The Angry Birds Movie 2, Transformers: Rescue Bots, and many others.

3. Seneca College, Toronto, Ontario
Seneca College

Combining career and professional skills training with theoretical knowledge, Seneca provides a polytechnic education to 30,000 full-time and 60,000 part-time registrants. With campuses in Toronto, York Region and Peterborough and education partners around the world, Seneca offers degrees, graduate certificates, diplomas and certificates in more than 300 full-time, part-time and online programs, now most of them virtually. Seneca’s credentials are renowned for their quality and respected by employers. Co-op and work placements, applied research projects, entrepreneurial opportunities and the latest technology ensure that Seneca graduates are highly skilled and ready to work.

Located on the grounds of York University, the Seneca@York Campus houses the School of Creative Arts & Animation. Pathways include an Advanced Diploma in Animation (ANI) and Graduate Certificates in 3D Animation (DAN), and Game Art and Animation (GAA).

The three-year Advanced Diploma in Animation covers Traditional and Computer Animation. Students will learn to animate characters and scenes, design, and draw storyboards, and practice applying theories of motion, timing, storytelling and digital technology to produce “high-quality” animations and designs, says the school. Students will also receive hands-on learning that will enable them to “utilize the equipment, facilities and computer software currently used in the industry.” Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue careers in feature film and gaming studios as an animator.

In the eight-month 3D Animation Graduate Certificate, students will develop skills in Animation, Compositing, Lighting, Modeling, Rendering, and Rigging. They will also learn project management skills and storyboard drawing techniques. Graduates can pursue careers such as 3D Painter/Texturing and Lighting Specialist, Character Rigger, Digital Animator, Modeler, and many others.

The Game Art and Animation Graduate Certificate covers Animation, Design, Lighting, Modeling, Scene Staging, and Texturing. Art Direction and Production Management are also part of this eight-month  program. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers such as Animator, Level Builder, Level Designer, Lighting Artist, Modeler, Prop Artist, Texture Artist, and many others.

Students in all programs benefit from internship opportunities and Seneca’s affiliations and associations with ACM SIGGRAPH, Computer Animation Studios Ontario (CASO), Toon Boom Centre of Excellence, and Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI).

4. Think Tank Training Centre, North Vancouver, British Columbia
Think Tank Training Centre

Established in 2005, Think Tank Training Centre offers a 16-month Specialized CG Training Program (Asset Creation) covering Character Modeling for Games, Environments for Games, Modeling for Film, and Texturing and Look Development. The program is offered online and on campus and leads to a Diploma. For each course, students receive access to a weekly training video and assignments build upon the lessons, contributing to the term project.

At the end of each term, students will have a completed term project that will help build a professional portfolio.

Think Tank also offers a 12-month Computer Animation, Visual Effects and Game Design Program and a four-month Mentorship the results in a completed portfolio reel. The 12-month option is an intensive program that specializes in the latest software, techniques and technologies used in the film, television, and gaming industries.

Think Tank graduates have been hired by a variety of studios including Animal Logic, BioWare, Digital Domain, Double Negative (DNEG), EA, Industrial Light & Magic, Rainmaker, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and many others.

5. Capilano University, North Vancouver, British Columbia
Capilano University

Capilano University (CapU) was founded in 1968 by the school boards and residents of North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Howe Sound. When it opened, the school (then a college) had 784 students enrolled in night classes in the classrooms of West Vancouver Secondary School. The main campus opened in North Vancouver in 1973.

Today, Capilano University serves approximately 12,700 students each year across two campuses in North Vancouver and scenic Sechelt, and the new extension center—CapU Lonsdale, in The Shipyards development in Lower Lonsdale.

CapU houses the Faculty of Fine & Applied Arts in the School of Motion Picture Arts (SMPA). Located in the Bosa Centre for Film and Animation, the School offers a range of programs for artists seeking careers in Animation (2D and 3D), Costuming, Documentary, Filmmaking, Games and Virtual Reality, Lighting/Grip Work, and Visual Effects (VFX). The SMPA at CapU offers one of the only Indigenous filmmaking programs in North America.

Programs for aspiring animators include Full-Time Diplomas in 2D Animation & Visual Development, 3D Animation for Film and Games, and Digital Visual Effects. An Animation Fundamentals Citation of Achievement is also available.

Programs cover areas such as Traditional and Classical Animation techniques through hands-on exercises as well as Drawing, Design, Digital Visual Effects, and Creating 3D Computer-Generated Characters. Students in all programs have access to facilities including virtual reality and motion capture-equipped studios, Cintiq drawing tablets, high-speed render farms, professional filmmaking equipment and 3D printers.

Diplomas take two years to complete and the Citation takes just one year. Depending on the program, graduates will complete a practicum at a local studio and/or a professional-quality demo reel.

“With more job openings in Vancouver than talent to fill them, there are unparalleled opportunities for skilled people,” says the school. Graduates of the CapU Animation Programs have access to opportunities at more than 250 local production studios, creating entertainment properties for film, TV, console, mobile and streaming services.

6. Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology, Ottawa, Pembroke and Perth, Ontario, Canada
Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology

Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology Algonquin (Algonquin College or AC) was formed from the merger of the Eastern Ontario Institute of Technology, established 1957, and the Ontario Vocational Centre, established 1965. Named after the First Nations people who lived in the area, the school opened with roughly 120 students and a staff of seven.

Today, Algonquin serves nearly 20,000 students enrolled in over 350 programs in dozens of departments and schools. The School of Media Design offers 22 programs, including a three-year Advanced Diploma in Animation and a 28-week Drawing Foundations for Animation and Illustration Certificate.

The Animation Diploma Program “focuses on acting and body mechanics,” says the school where students learn “traditional, 3D, tradigital (using Toon Boom`s Harmony) and video game animation techniques.” Courses for the program are taught by faculty members who have worked for studios such as Disney, Sony Image Works, Warner Bros. Animation, and many others.

Course highlights include 2D Digital, Animation Design, Business Studies for Animation, Character Design, Design Thinking, Gesture Drawing for Animation, and Scriptwriting for Animation. Courses are offered in the classroom or lab, entirely online, or in a hybrid mode, which combines classroom sessions with online learning activities.

Through Independent Study courses, students will develop Animation, Layout, Rigging, Special Effects, and Storyboarding skills as they “concentrate on developing a portfolio specific to the job they wish to pursue in a studio.”

Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue positions such as 3D Animator, Animator, Background or Layout Artist, Character or Location Designer, or Tradigital Modeler or Rigger at a professional animation or game studio. “Other employment opportunities might include working on feature films, animated TV series or commercials.”

Students in the 28-week Drawing Foundations for Animation and Illustration Certificate Program will explore Character, Creature and Environment Design, Life Drawing, and Sculpting. Sculpting and painting with digital tools and software is also part of this immersive studio program. Students will create a portfolio and exhibit their best work at the Annual Showcase.

Graduates of the program may pursue careers in Animation, Book Illustration, Comic Books, Concept Art, Gaming – Anime, Graphic Novels, and more.

7. Max The Mutt College Of Animation, Art & Design, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Max The Mutt College Of Animation

Max The Mutt College Of Animation, Art & Design (Max the Mutt) was founded by artists and animators in 1996. The school highlights small class sizes, individual instruction by working professionals in the field, and workshops and programs that prepare graduates for careers in animation.

Max the Mutt offers an Animation Diploma (Classical & Computer Animation & Production), and two Diploma programs that are unique in Canada: a four-year Diploma in Illustration & Storytelling for Sequential Arts (ISSA); and a four-year Diploma in Concept Art for Animation & Video Games.

The Animation Diploma is a three-year program. Students will take both Classical and Digital Animation courses, as well as Drawing classes, Acting for Animation, Background Painting/Design, Character Design, Cartooning, and a sequence of Storyboarding, Storytelling, and Visual Language courses. In the third year, students will produce an original short, using 2D Computer Animation.

In the final year, students will move on to advanced courses in 3D Animation and, in groups, they will participate in a simulated 3D production experience directed by an industry professional.

Maxx the Mutt hosts an Industry Event that showcases graduating students and their work. The event is “well attended by representatives from animation and gaming companies,” says the school. In addition to the opportunity to showcase their best work in the final year of the program, students will put the finishing touches on their professional portfolio, demo reel, and online profile page.

Graduates have been hired at Disney Design Group, Guru Studios, Mercury Films, Pipeline Studios, Pixar, See Creatures, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Warner Bros. Games, and many others.

The ISSA Diploma Program (formerly three years) has been enhanced to include an extra year that includes a “two-semester graphic novel development course that will leave each graduate with a package that can be pitched to publishers,” says the school. The program covers Adobe Suite, Creating Mobile Comics, Digital Media, Graphic Design, Illustration, and Storyboarding for Advertising. Core courses for the three-year Diploma remain a part of the new Diploma Program.

Courses cover creating, penciling and inking comics, storytelling and scripting for comics, and children’s book illustration. Graduates are prepared for a variety of positions in Advertising, Animation, Gaming, Multimedia, Publishing, and more.

The Concept Art for Animation & Video Games Program provides an “in-depth curriculum based on suggestions and portfolio requirements” from major animation companies and game studios. The program includes a mix of Animation, Cartooning, Fine Art, and Illustration courses, as well as concept courses and instruction “in all necessary computer software from Photoshop to Maya.”

Graduates of the program have been hired at Corus/Nelvana, Guru, Portfolio Entertainment, UbiSoft Toronto, Warner Bros. Games, Yowza Animation, and many others.

8. CG Masters, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
CG Masters

Founded in 2012, CG Masters is a School of 3D Animation & VFX that is also a working studio and “the world’s only school to offer industry-designed, production studio based, visual effects and 3D animation job-skills training instead of the old academic process of tests and grades – in just one year,” says the school. Other highlights include small class sizes, courses taught by professionals in the industry, and job placement assistance.

For aspiring animators, CG Masters offers a 12-week 3D Foundations Certificate in Animation & VFX and a 48-week Animation & VFX Production Diploma. The 3D Foundations Certificate covers basic Animation & VFX skills including 3D Modeling, Art Theory, Cinematography, Compositing, FX Particles and Dynamics, Photography, Rendering, Storyboarding, and Texture Creation. The Foundations Certificate will be available online in June 2021.

The 48-week Animation & VFX Production Diploma is an intensive program that consists of three terms: Core Skills, Transition to Practice, and Practical Training. Course highlights include Animation I-II, Dailies III, Modeling & Texturing I-II, Production I-III, and Rigging and Scripting I-II.

Graduates of the programs at CG Masters work at every major studio. Alumni credits include The Dragon Prince, The Lion King, Puss in Boots, Spiderman, Tarzan, and more.

9. Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning

Founded in 1967, Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning (Humber College or Humber) is known for its “Centres of Innovation (COIs),” which “reinforce the interdisciplinary collaboration the college is known for in five areas,” says the school. This includes Creative Business, Entrepreneurship, Health and Wellness, Social Innovation, and Technology.

When Humber opened, it had just few hundred students enrolled in classes in the skilled trades. Today, the school has three campuses that serve more than 80,000 full- and part-time students enrolled in over 150 programs in a number of faculties and schools. The Faculty of Media & Creative Arts offers an Advanced Diploma in 3D Animation.

Students in the program will “develop a blend of the most relevant digital and analog 2D and 3D art skills, as well as an understanding of creative and technological processes,” says the school. Students will also “learn to translate traditional art and design into models of characters, objects, scenes and virtual worlds,” and “develop cinematography and design skills.” During the final semesters of the program, students will complete an Internship, Capstone and Portfolio.

In just six semesters, animation students will be prepared to pursue roles in the Advertising, Animation, Film & Television, and Video Game industries.

10. LaSalle College Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
LaSalle College Vancouver

LaSalle College Vancouver (LCV) was founded in 1959 by Canadian Entrepreneur Jean-Paul Morin, whose mission was to create job opportunities for the Quebec population by providing education that is in line with job market demands. Today, the College offers dozens of creative programs and credentials housed in the Schools of Audio & Film, Culinary, E-Learning, Fashion, Game Design & VFX, Graphic Design, and Interior Design. The School of Game Design & VFX offers two programs for aspiring animators including Diplomas in 3D Modeling for Animation & Games and Animation Art & Design.

The 3D Modeling for Animation & Games Diploma consists of 105 credits completed over seven quarters. Students will learn art design and animation, design principles and terminology, research techniques, critical analysis, and prototyping. They will acquire “technical knowledge of design tools and software in accordance with current industry standards,” says the school, along with “a practical understanding and application of the principles of animation and platform-specific design.”

Through the “process of conceptualizing, planning, executing, and delivering quality animation projects,” students will learn professionalism, and they will develop the “ability to work on team-based animation development projects.” Students will graduate from the program with “a professional portfolio that showcases their accomplishments to the industry.”

Graduates are prepared to pursue positions such as 3D Character Artist, 3D, Character or Environment Modeler, Junior Production Designer, Lighting Artist, Render Wrangler, Technical Artist, Texture Artist, and a host of related entry-level production positions in the Media Arts or Animation, Game, and VFX industries.

In the Animation Art & Design Diploma Program, students will “build on a foundation in drawing, color, design and computer applications.” They will develop advanced techniques in various aspects of Animation and Computer Graphics, and they will learn “how to merge art and science with hands-on training from top animators in the field.” Course highlights for the program include 2D and 3D Animation, 3D Animation Acting and Pantomime, 3D Animation Body Mechanics, 3D Modeling, Advanced Body Mechanics, Animation Studio, CG Lighting & Rendering, Digital Storyboarding Pre-Visualization, Pre-Production Team, Production Team, and Vector Animation.

During the final months of the program, students will complete the Final Diploma Capstone and the Portfolio courses.

Graduates are prepared to work in the Entertainment and Media industries Digital Arts for Advertising Firms, Government and Legal Agencies, and Multinational companies. Possible job titles include 2D Animator (traditional and vector based), 3D Animator, Game Animator, Junior Modeler, Production Designer or Texture Artist, Motion Capture Artist, Render Wrangler, Technical Animator, VFX Animator and many other related entry-level Animation Production positions.