What is 2D Animation? Everything You Should Know

Published: October 11, 2023

Are you curious about the fascinating world of animation? Specifically, what is 2D animation? It is an art form that involves creating motion graphics using two-dimensional images.

In other words, it’s the process of bringing still images to life using 2d animation techniques, relying heavily on the use of specialized software like Adobe Animate, Toon Boom Harmony, and TVPaint.

One of the main advantages of 2D animation is its versatility – it can create a wide range of content, from cartoons and movies to explainer videos and ads. In addition, 2D animation has a distinct aesthetic that sets it apart from other animation techniques, making it a popular choice for many creatives.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in 2D animation, you must start by developing your drawing and design skills. But don’t worry; plenty of online tutorials and resources are available to help you get started! Just like these best 2D animation courses.

However, being a successful 2D animator is more than technical skills. It’s also essential to have strong storytelling abilities, work well under pressure, and possess excellent collaboration and communication skills. This is why you must check out our guide on how to become a 2D animator to take a comprehensive and directed start in this direction.

What are the Types of 2D Animation?

Let us now briefly explore the different types of 2D animation. We also recommend that you check out our blog on types of animation if you want to explore in depth what 2D animation means.

  1. Frame-By-Frame Animation
  2. Stop-Motion Animation
  3. Cutout Animation
  4. Computer Animation
  5. Rotoscoping

1. Frame By Frame Animation

Frame-by-frame, also known as traditional 2D animation, is a technique used to create movement in animated films by drawing each frame of the animation sequence individually. In other words, every frame is drawn by hand, creating a smooth and fluid motion when played back at high speed.

2. Stop Motion Animation

Stop-motion animation is a technique used to create movement in objects or characters by taking a series of photographs, moving the objects or characters slightly between each shot, and then playing the photographs back in sequence at high speed to create the illusion of movement.

This technique is often used to animate physical objects such as clay figures, puppets, or real-life objects.

3. Cutout Animation

Example of cutout animation

Cutout animation involves the use of flat, 2D materials such as paper, cardboard, or fabric to create characters and objects. The animator creates a set of cutouts representing the various parts of a character, such as the head, body, arms, and legs, and then moves and arranges these cutouts to create the illusion of movement.

4. Computer Animation

Computer animation refers to the process of creating animated graphics, characters, and objects using computer software. This type of animation is typically created using 2D animation software, which allows animators to create complex and detailed animations with precise control over lighting and other factors.

5. Rotoscoping

Rotoscoping image by 2d animation

Rotoscoping is an animation technique that involves tracing over live-action footage frame-by-frame to create realistic and detailed animations. The process involves projecting the live-action footage onto a surface, using it as a reference, and then drawing over it to create the animation.

What Is the Process Of 2D Animation? 

The process of 2D animation involves several stages, starting with pre-production, where the concept, characters, and storyline are developed. Next, the 2D animation production stage involves creating the individual frames of the animation and, finally, the post-production stage. 

As we know what 2D animation is used for, let us further explore the different stages of bringing these ideas to life.

  1. Pre-Production
  2. Production
  3. Post-Production

1. Pre-Production

Pre-production is the initial stage of 2D animation, where the ideas and concepts for the animation are developed. During this stage, the creative team works on developing the storyline, characters, backgrounds, and overall visual style of the animation. 

They also create storyboards, which are a series of sketches that outline the key scenes and actions in the animation and develop the script and dialogue. This stage is crucial in setting the foundation for the rest of the animation process and ensuring that the final product meets the intended vision.

2. Production

Production is the stage in 2D animation where it is created. During this stage, the animators use the storyboards and scripts developed in the pre-production stage to create the individual frames of the animation. 

These frames are typically created using traditional hand-drawn techniques or digital software and may involve creating multiple layers and adding special effects. At the end of the production stage, the individual frames are compiled and edited together to create the final animation.

3. Post-Production

Post-production is the final stage in 2D animation, where the animation is edited and refined to create the final product. During this stage, the animation is fine-tuned, color-corrected, and any special effects or sound effects are added. 

The post-production team may also edit the pacing, timing, and transitions to ensure that the animation flows smoothly and is visually appealing. This stage is important for adding final touches to the animation and ensuring that it meets the desired quality standards. Once the post-production is complete, the final animation is ready for distribution and viewing.

Are You Ready to Embark on a Journey as a 2D Animator?

Embarking on a career as a 2D animator requires a combination of creativity, technical skills, and a deep understanding of the animation process. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in design or taking one of the best 2D animation courses can help individuals gain the necessary skills and knowledge.

These programs often cover topics such as character design, storyboarding, animation principles, digital software, and post-production techniques. 

Embark on a Journey as a 2D Animator

Additionally, they may offer opportunities for hands-on experience through internships or projects, which can help individuals build a strong portfolio and network with industry professionals. 

Aspiring 2D animators can enhance their skills and increase their chances of success in this competitive field by investing in education and training.

What are the Career Opportunities As a 2D Animator?

Let us now explore 6 famous career opportunities for 2D animators, along with their yearly average salary as per Glassdoor.

  1. 2D animator: $60,317
  2. Storyboard Artist: $54,932 
  3. Character Designer: $51,724
  4. Background Artist: $41,084
  5. Layout Artist: $54,158
  6. Post-Production Editor: $58,503 

These career paths offer varying levels of specialization and require different skill sets, but they all offer opportunities for creativity and professional growth within the 2D animation industry.

What is 2D Animation - FAQs

What Is a 2D Animator?

A 2D animator is a professional who specializes in creating animation in a two-dimensional format. They bring characters, objects, and scenes to life on a flat plane using various artistic and technical skills.

Is 2D Animation a Good Career?

Yes, 2D animation is a good career choice for individuals who are passionate about art, storytelling, and animation. The demand for skilled animators is on the rise, and there are opportunities in various industries, including film, television, gaming, and advertising. 

What Is the Difference between 2D and 3D Animation?

The primary difference between 2D and 3D animation is the dimensionality of the images. 2D animation uses flat, two-dimensional images to create the illusion of motion, whereas 3D animation involves creating three-dimensional objects and environments that can be viewed from various angles.


In conclusion, understanding what is 2D animation and its various techniques and applications can open up a world of creative possibilities for aspiring animators. 

Furthermore, pursuing a career in 2D animation can lead to exciting opportunities in fields such as film, television, advertising, gaming, and education. 

With the increasing demand for skilled 2D animators, obtaining a degree in design or enrolling in 2D animation courses can provide aspiring animators with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. 

With a strong foundation in the principles of animation and a dedication to continued learning and improvement, individuals can embark on a fulfilling career as a 2D animator and contribute to the rich legacy of this beloved art form.