The Key Differences Between 2D And 3D Animation

Let’s step into the past for a moment.

Do you remember those hot summer afternoons when you used to rush home after school to catch your favorite cartoons on TV? They featured silly yet wholesome characters like Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Pink Panther, Tom & Jerry, and many, many more.

Today’s kids are less likely to remember any of those characters. But it doesn’t change the fact that they were the pioneers of 2D animation.

2D animation remained the reigning champion from 1908 to 1995, when Toy Story – the world’s first 3D animated film – was released and it revolutionized the industry.

All this technology hoo-ha put forward a very important question, ‘How is 2D animation different from 3D?’ Normally, it shouldn’t bother you.

But if you’re a business owner and thinking of utilizing video marketing, you have to know how 2D animation differs from 3D animation.

And we’re going to help you with that. In fact, we’re writing this blog for the same reason: to make you understand the key differences between 2D and 3D animation.

Starting from the basics and a style most people are familiar with, 2D animated videos are drawn by hand or digitally created on a computer. The process entails drawing one image followed by another similar picture but in a slightly different position, and so on.
Okay, this doesn’t exactly make things easier to understand, so let’s take an example.

Imagine drawing a stick man on a page. Then, on the second page, you draw the same image, but this time, he also has a hand. Continue drawing his hand at different positions (slightly upward and downward) on the next few pages. In the end, collect all those pages and go through them quickly. It would seem like the stick man is waving at you. This is a typical example of how 2D animated videos are made.
The artists or designers draw a new image on each frame. Since there are 24 frames per second, they’ll have to create the same image 24 times but in different poses. Of course, this seems like a lot of work. But again, thanks to technology, there are different kinds of software available that can make the process much easier.

So, to sum up 2D animation: images are drawn/digitally created on a flat surface and played in sequence to make motion pictures.

How Are 3D Animated Videos Made?

The premise of 2D and 3D animated videos is pretty much similar. However, the creation process itself is quite different. It consists of actual 3D models. So, if you create a video using this animation style, you’d be able to rotate the subject and look at it from any angle you want.

Need an example to understand it better? Sure thing.

Do you remember the X and Y planes your math teacher used to talk about back in school? The ones that represented the width and height of a surface?

Well, while creating a 3D animated video, there’s another plane that you have to consider: Z, which illustrates the depth of a surface. Combining the three planes gives you a complete 3D environment where your subject appears.

It’s important to mention that just because 3D animation looks super realistic doesn’t mean it’s easy to make. You have to complete a number of steps, including:

  • Modeling
  •  Texturing
  •  Rigging
  •  Lighting
  •  Rendering
  •  Compositing

So, Which One Is Better: 2D or 3D?

There’s no simple answer to this question. As you might have understood by now, both 2D and 3D animations are created differently. Therefore, their applications also vary. With that said, both can be used for explainer videos, marketing products, and educational purposes.

Fun Fact: You can combine both of them to produce an even better impact, just like Netflix’s recently released Arcane: League of Legends did.

To sum up the differences between both:

  • 2D is two-dimensional.
  • 3D is three-dimensional
  • 2D can be created in length and width.
  • 3D can be created in length, width, and depth.
  •  2D is not realistic.
  •  3D is incredibly realistic.
  •  2D can be hand-drawn or computer-created.
  •  3D can only be computer-created.
  •  2D can be made quickly.
  •  3D takes some time to make.


 In Conclusion

Congratulations! You (hopefully) know more about the differences between 2D and 3D animation now than you did before reading the article. And while we’re at it, please don’t lend your ears to rumors like 2D animation is dead or 3D animation is too complex.

That’s what video production companies say to save their necks. A competent agency would have no trouble working on any style of animated video – just like AnimationProLabs.

(Read Our Blog: 7 Things to Look for in an Animation Company Before Doing Business)

Be it whiteboard, explainer, 2D, 3D, or motion graphics, we promise to deliver a video that will make an arresting first impression on your customers and leave them wanting more.