2D Vs 3D Animation (What are the Differences)

Modern animation has come a long way since its early beginnings. There are now various types of animation that cater to different needs. Two of the most commonly used types of animation are 2D and 3D. Both have unique benefits, but which is suitable for your project? Here is a breakdown of 2D vs 3D animation.

If you ask what is the difference between 2D and 3D animation in simple words, then “A 2D shape is defined by its length and breadth, while a 3D shape is characterized by its length, breadth, and height.”

What Are 2D Animation and 3D Animation?

 2d vs 3d animation

An animation is a form of art that simulates the movement of inanimate objects. 2D animation refers to a movement that occurs in a two-dimensional space. A 2D shape or space is essentially something that has two sides – a length and a width. 

Movement in 2D animation could be of characters, backgrounds, and/or creatures. Animation involves creating the illusion of motion. Typically, this is accomplished through editing photos, but it can also be done using other techniques, such as music or movement.

Some popular 2D motions would be Cartoons like Looney Tunes and TV shows like The Simpsons.

The art of creating a movement in a three-dimensional space is known as 3D animation. 3D essentially refers to any shape or space with three dimensions – length, width, and height. 3D animation is currently used in various industries such as medicine, gaming, and marketing.

To achieve 3D animation, objects are built with 3D models and are later manipulated in 3D software. 3D motion examples include several movies by Pixar, such as Toy Story and Frozen.

What is the Process of 2D and 3D Aniamtion?

Process of 2D Animation

  1. Concept Development
  • Storyboarding: Create a visual outline of the animation’s scenes and sequences.
  • Scripting: Write a script or dialogue if your animation includes spoken words.

2. Design

  • Character Design: Develop the appearance and characteristics of the animated characters.
  • Background Design: Create the settings and environments where the animation will take place.
  1. Animatic
  • Layout and Timing: Define the timing and pacing of the animation by creating a rough animation.

3. Voice Recording (if applicable)

  • Casting: Choose voice actors for characters.
  • Recording: Record dialogues and sound effects.

4. Animatic Refinement

  • Editing: Fine-tune the animatic based on the recorded dialogue and sound.

5. Keyframes

  • Pose Planning: Plan the key poses and movements of characters.

6. Character Animation

  • Rough Animation: Create the initial character movements and actions.
  • Clean-up: Refine the rough animation to create smooth, polished character movements.

7. Background and Props Animation

  • Design and Animation: Animate backgrounds, objects, and props as needed.

8. Coloring

  • Color Styling: Determine the color palette and style for the animation.
  • Coloring: Apply colors to characters, backgrounds, and objects.

8. Compositing

  • Layering: Combine character animations, backgrounds, and props into a single frame.
  • Effects: Add special effects, lighting, and shadows.

9. Sound Design

  • Sound Effects: Incorporate sound effects to enhance the animation.
  • Music: Add background music to create an atmosphere.

10. Editing and Post-Production

  • Finalization: Review and make necessary adjustments to ensure a cohesive animation.
  • Rendering: Render the animation into the desired format.

11. Quality Assurance (QA)

  • Testing: Check for any errors, glitches, or inconsistencies.

12. Delivery

  • Export: Save the final animation in the appropriate format.
  • Distribution: Share the animation on platforms or with the intended audience.

13. Feedback and Revisions

  • Gather Feedback: Seek feedback from peers or stakeholders.
  • Revisions: Make any final revisions based on feedback.

14. Publication

  • Distribution: Release the 2D animation to the intended audience through various channels (e.g., online platforms, theaters, TV broadcasts).

Process of 3D Animation

  1. Concept Development
  • Storyboarding: Create a visual outline of the animation’s scenes and sequences.
  • Scripting: Write a script or dialogue if your animation includes spoken words.

2. Modeling

  • 3D Modeling: Create three-dimensional models of characters, objects, and environments.

2. Rigging

  • Character Rigging: Add a digital skeleton (rig) to characters to control their movements.
  1. Texturing
  • Texture Mapping: Apply textures and materials to 3D models to add color and surface details.

3. Animation

  • Keyframe Animation: Animate characters and objects by defining key poses and movements.
  • Character Animation: Animate character expressions, gestures, and actions.

4. Lighting

  • Light Setup: Configure lighting to create ambiance and realism within the 3D environment.

5. Rendering

  • Rendering Process: Use software to convert 3D scenes into 2D images or frames.

6. Sound Design

  • Sound Effects: Incorporate sound effects and Foley to enhance the animation.
  • Voice Acting: Record dialogues and character voices.

7. Compositing

  • Layering: Combine 3D elements, special effects, and sound into a single frame.

8. Editing and Post-Production

  • Finalization: Review and make necessary adjustments to the 3D animation.
  • Rendering: Render the animation into the desired format.

9. Quality Assurance (QA)

  • Testing: Check for any errors, glitches, or inconsistencies.

10. Delivery

  • Export: Save the final 3D animation in the appropriate format.
  • Distribution: Share the animation on platforms or with the intended audience.

11. Feedback and Revisions

  • Gather Feedback: Seek feedback from peers or stakeholders.
  • Revisions: Make any final revisions based on feedback.

12. Publication

  • Distribution: Release the 3D animation to the intended audience through various channels (e.g., online platforms, theaters, TV broadcasts).

Examples of 2D Animation

We have already discussed some of the famous examples of 2D animations. Here is a list of the 10 most popular examples of 2D animation:

  1. Family Guy
  2. Rick and Morty
  3. The Lion King
  4. BoJack Horseman
  5. SpongeBob SquarePants
  6. Adventure Time
  7. Fairly OddParents
  8. Hercules
  9. Aladdin
  10. The Little Mermaid

Examples of 3D animation

Here are 10 movies that are popular for their use of 3D animation

  1. Despicable Me
  2. Shrek
  3. How to Train Your Dragon
  4. Transformers (robots)
  5. Jurassic Park (dinosaurs)
  6. Avatar
  7. Tangled
  8. Kung Fu Panda
  9. Moana
  10. Bolt

Difference Between 2D and 3D Animation

The primary difference between 2D and 3D animation lies in the fact that 2D involves only height and width while 3D has an additional dimension which is depth. As a result, 3D characters are much more realistic when compared to two-dimensional objects.

Another distinction between the two is in terms of traditional drawing methods for 2D vs. 3D animations. 2D animation is typically created by drawing each frame by hand. This can be a time-consuming process, but it allows greater control over the final product.

3D animation is typically created using computer software to manipulate objects in a three-dimensional space. This can be a faster process, but it can sometimes result in a less realistic final product.

In addition, 2D animations focus more on frames while 3D motions have movements at their focal point.

Another distinction exists in terms of cost. 2D animations are relatively cheaper compared to 3D, which involves a high cost for the process of rendering.

Moreover, 2D is used mainly in cartoons, while 3D animation is mainly used in gaming, movies, and even in the medical field. Lastly, while 3D is great for conceptual designing, 2D is not.

2D Vs 3D Animation Cost

Depending on your needs, the average cost of 2D animation services for a film 60-Second starts at $1,000 and can go as high as $5,000.

Depending on the 3D animation provider you select, the price can start at $7,000 or go as high as $10,000, depending on the extent of your 3D movie requirements.

2D Animation vs 3D Animation Platforms

Traditional drawing techniques are used to create 2D animation. Artists either create pencil sketches of their characters or digitally illustrate each frame of their motion. Adobe After Effects and Adobe Animate are two examples of 2D animation applications that aid in adding movements digitally.

On the other hand, computer software is used only for 3D animation. It entails a number of previously covered tasks, including 3D modeling, rigging, and texturing.

How to Learn 2D and 3D Animation?

study 2d and 3d animation online

If 2D and 3D animation have piqued your interest and you want to learn more about it, use the various online training. We have shortlisted two top-rated online courses from Udemy, which you can enroll in and start your journey towards becoming an animator.

If you hope to explore 2D animation, “Learning 2D Animation: The Complete Guide” is your best option because it has been titled “Hot and New,” which means that it will not only guide you through the latest ways of 2D animation but is also gaining a lot of traction by students.

This course is a complete guide, so it is excellent for any level. Moreover, it is priced at $9.99, which is a great price considering that the course will teach you a lot.

We went through the course description and outline and concluded that with 4.5 hours of videos and 65 lectures, the course would take you 4 hours and 35 minutes to complete. We believe that the course is ideal for anyone who wants to become proficient in 2D animation.

The course has a rating of 5.0/55.0, which shows its popularity among the students who have taken it. This is further supported by the reviews on the website. Most of the comments were positive. One review that particularly caught our eye was

Great in-depth 2D animation course. Clear and concise. I like the to-the-point explanation for each topic; it makes me understand the brief concepts but still leaves some space for me to explore it myself.”

Since the course is new, it has only 24 students so far. But we still believe it will be an excellent course for you to learn 2D animation. We also have a list of the best 2D animation courses. Perhaps you might find those interesting as well.

If you wish to discover 3D animation, we have just the right course for you. ‘The 2023 Blender Primer: 3D Modeling, Animation, and Rendering’ course is great for any level, and based on the course content, we have concluded that it will help you learn how to use Blender to create 3D animations of your own.

The course is currently priced at $9.99, which is a great catch considering the learning experience it will offer. The course contains 18.5 hours of videos and 182 lectures.

2d 3d animation courses by udemy

Moreover, the course is pretty popular. 5356 students are already enrolled. The course has a rating of 4.7/5.0, which indicates why it is such an excellent course to opt for. We also analyzed the reviews and saw positive feedback like “The best overall Blender tutorial series I’ve experienced. Answers every question I’d ever had about the software.”

Overall, it is one 3D animation course you should not skip. If you want to check out other top-rated 3D animation courses, we highly recommend checking out our list of the best sculpting courses.

Use Case of 2D Vs 3D Animation

2D and 3D animation are used in various industries, including film, television, video games, advertising, and web design. 2D animation is typically used for traditional, hand-drawn animations, while 3D animation is used for more complex animations that require computer-generated graphics.

2D animation is often used in advertising and marketing, as it can be very effective in grabbing attention and delivering a message. It can also be used for educational purposes, such as in textbooks or online tutorials for unique animation.

3D animation is often used in movies and video games to create realistic-looking characters and environments. It can also be used for medical purposes, such as in surgery simulations or to visualize complex data.

2D Vs 3D Animation - FAQs

Is 3D or 2D animation easy?

Neither 2D nor 3D is more complex. However, 3D animation is much faster than 3D because it involves computer software, while 2D is more focused on pen and paper sketching.  You will require a lot of illustrations for 2D, while 3D is more mechanical. In present times, both 2D and 3D require equal amounts of work.

Is 3D better than 2D?

There is no simple answer to whether 3D animation is better than 2D animation. Both have their advantages and disadvantages that make them suited for different purposes.

Are cartoons 2D or 3D?

Cartoons can be both 2D and 3D. Several famous cartoons like Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny from Looney Tunes, Little Mermaid, and Mowgli from Jungle Book are cartoon characters developed in 2D. Similarly, cartoon characters like Shrek, Elsa from Frozen, and Moana are developed in 3D.

Conclusion

2D animation is created by drawing each frame on a flat surface. Animators use software to create the characters and backgrounds, layered one on top of the other to create the illusion of movement.

3D animation is created in a 3-dimensional space, with animators using computer software to create objects that can be viewed from any angle. 3D animations often look more realistic than 2D animations because they create the illusion of depth and realism.

So what’s better 2D Vs 3D Animation?

Well, that depends on where you wanna apply your expertise. If you want to build a career as a cartoonist or work in marketing, 2D animation is perfect for you. If you want to build 3D models for gaming, medical, movie, and other industries, you should consider becoming a 3D animator.