2D vs 3D Animation: Know the Exact Difference with Example

If you are interested in reading this article, you must know that the field of Animation is trending! You name the area of interest, and you will find out that animation can be applied anywhere! Either it is education, branding or marketing, entertainment, or some IT industries, every professional field uses animation for the better impact, creativity, and more profound understanding.

All in one, the animation social media graphics steal the show. You can get any actions, reactions, moments, situations, and GIFs by graphics. It is a mind-blowing and super creative way to share knowledge and information. Nowadays, very few people (like you and I appreciate that) like to spend their time on general reading. But for those people who don’t want to read a single like, animated videos are blessings.

So, in this article, in case you have the questions like – What is the difference between the 2D and 3D except the apparent result? What does it mean to make a 2D animation as supposed to create a 3D one? Not to worry. Today, I am going to talk about the difference between 2D and 3D animation. Here you will get all the answers of your confusions and some inside views of 2D vs 3D animation. So be still, and read!

2D vs 3D animation

There is a massive difference between 2D and 3D animation. When we see 2D or 3D, we can easily find out that which one is 2D animation and which is the 3D one. But they are much complex than the look! The difference is – the making process! Firstly, let’s make quick comparison.

Quick Comparison

Full FormTwo-DimensionalThree-Dimensional
RepresentationLength & Height (No depth)Length, Height, and Width (i.e. depth)
Use of MathX-axis and Y-axisX-axis, Y-axis, and Z-axis
Use of GeometryRectangle, square, triangle, polygon, etc.Cylinder, sphere, cube, pyramid, prism, etc.
ExamplesThe Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and The Beast, Mulan, etc.Tangled, Zootopia, Minions, Brave, Finding Dory, Inside Out, etc.

2D animation

You must have seen the cartoons/films like Robin Hood, Closing Beauty, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid, etc. These are the examples of 2D animation. It is the method which is used since the 18th or 19th century. Nowadays, the technology has been evolved, and there are softwares available to create 2D animations; which creates, colors, and also takes photographs. It completes each single element in the computer.

Basically, in 2D, there is one drawing available, which is followed by some other pictures with a slightly different pose and then the other drawings with the same. This process developed for 24 frames a second. Even the backgrounds used in this process are also hand-drawn. That means everything must be getting together to run as a final piece with the ratio of 24 frames per second.

Initially, artists used to create pencil drawings of every frame. After that, these drawings were painted onto clear plastic sheets called ‘cels,’ and all these painted cels were clicked one at a time. Now, people use computers to create their object/character.

3D animation

We all love the animation of ‘Toy Story.’ It was the first 3D animation film by Pixar. Other films like Shrek, Jurassic Park; The Transformers, etc. are also leading the list. At present, there are many feel-good and moral movies made with animation which can quickly blow our mind.

Undoubtedly, 3D animation is the new and better technology than the 2D. The object of 3D animation almost looks like a physical object. You can create as you want, set its lightings, see it from the front, back, above, and below. 3D gives the sense of realistic objects. There are many things which 3D allows like textures and lighting for stable visualization of the object.

When you are animating in the 3D environment, you move the character like a puppet right down on the computer.

Difference Between 2D vs 3D

In case you are still confused between the 2D and 3D animation, read this detailed explanation for better understanding.

In 2D animation, you draw the crucial first pose, and then the rest of the movements. Now you need to create all the frames in between them. Moreover, if the character closes its eyes, then the eyeballs do not exist anymore until you draw them again. This concept is one of the primary differences between the two types of animation.

In 2D everything is drawn. You have to draw everything again for showing a different angle. But in 3D, you just have to drag the camera to the other position to see if it is preferable or look better or not!

2D produces a flat image which represents height and width dimensions, but not depth. While 3D also represents width that is the depth. You just need to move the camera to look all the side.

To make a 2D animation, you must know how to draw! Everything you see in a traditional 2D animation is drawings, which are created frame by frame. But for the 3D animator, being able to draw it is just an advantage and not the need.

Some other factors

A. Frame Rate

In animation, the animators usually work in 24 frames a second. In 2D animation, there is a drawing every frame 24 times a second. That sounds like a lot of drawings, but it’s not that many! Because when there are no significant or fast movements, you can settle for one drawing lasting for two frames. So that’s 12 drawings per second.

In 3D, it doesn’t work that way. When the 3D character doesn’t move at all, even for one frame, it seems incredibly wrong. It looks dead.

B. Moving hold

A moving hold is whenever you need a character to do nothing, but still feels it’s alive. Animators always have to keep the character moving, even a little bit and that’s not easy.

While in 2D, by stopping the motion, you can settle for a new drawing for every three to five frames or even not having a new drawing at all for a few seconds.

3D animation – How it works!

So, now we all know that animating in 2D means drawing a lot. But what does it mean to animate in 3D? How does it look? Well, let’s talk something about this interesting process to make 3D animation.

If you have a 3D model, which is rigged! That means he is programmed with all the right virtual bones and controls to make it as easy for animators as possible to go ahead with animating it. The model has controls in every key position in the body. You can grab one of the controls and move it around. But that only explains how we can move the model, not animate it.

Here it’ll get a little bit more complex. 3D animation is all about graph and curves. You must be thinking that math and formulas don’t belong in an artistic thing like animation, but here it is! Most of such features/controls have six different curves you need to manage – all at once. There are translate curves like X, Y, and Z for up, down, left, right, closer and farther away, and three curves of rotation X, Y, and Z, also for the three axes of rotation.

This is just for controlling just one hand. You have to do the same thing for each and every part of your body. That’s a lot of curves. Some of the controllers have even more than six curves. So yes, an animator spends a lot of time to make just a character, looking at these graphs and curves. But just knowing about the curves, it still didn’t cover the animator process.

Animation – An Opportunity

That’s all for the critical differences between 2D animation vs 3D animation. I hope I was capable enough to explain the 2D vs 3D. As I said, the animation is trending. There are many animation courses available. Even the scope of whiteboard animations is unlimited. Cartoons and animation films are the highly acceptable forms of animation. Such concepts help us to explore and develop ideas which can take us to some other likable world. So for what you are waiting for? Go, and start exploring!

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