2D animation vs. 3D animation: what to choose

2D animation vs. 3D animation

Knowing the differences between 2D animation and 3D animation can help you determine the area of animation that will interest you most and the type of skills you will need to develop to work in the world of animation.

In traditional 2D animation, everything you see is drawn by hand, frame by frame. In 3D animation, you animate your characters and objects in a 3D environment using 3D animation software, where you can manipulate these characters and objects. Although drawing is an additional advantage, it is not a necessity in 3D animation.

In terms of visual experience, 2D animation is comparatively unrealistic and deals in a 2-dimensional space, processing only length and width.

In traditional animation, 2D animation is considered more complicated than 3D animation because it requires animators to draw 24 frames per second and have a thorough understanding of the principles of animation, anatomy, movements and physics behind these movements. Animators must manipulate each image in a 2D animation, which makes it longer in most brands and a little more complex than 3D animation, although the two require separate skills.

2D animation is generally cheaper than 3D animation, although it may differ from one project to another. As a rule, the cost of a traditional 60-second 2D animation video is between 800 and 4,000 euros, while the cost of a 60-second 3D video is between about 6,000 and 8,000 euros. 

The biggest difference between 2D and 3D animation lies in their video animation process. If we divide the process into 3 steps – pre-production, production and post-production, you can see how much more complex and time-consuming 3D animation is.

2D animation or 3D animation, what to choose?

What is 2D animation?

In 2D animation services, animators use characters, visual effects and backgrounds to create an illusion of movement in a two-dimensional space by sequencing individual drawings together, over a defined period of time.

2D animation refers to cartoon-style animation where characters appear on a flat plane, such as traditional hand-drawn animation or computer vector animations that adopt traditional animation techniques using software such as Flash.

While computer-generated 2D animations use techniques similar to traditional animation, the computer speeds up the process by creating images between the main (key) images created by the animator. 

The 2D animation style is used in cartoons, advertisements, product demonstrations and branded videos, such as educational videos or infotainment videos.

Why choose 2D animation?

In general, 2D animation is a very simplified version of reality, which allows the director to focus the public’s attention on the story and not on physical details that can sometimes be annoying. 2D animation is well known for the way 2D animators ignore and mock physical laws, although this can be done in any form of animation.

What is 3D animation?

3D animation is used to generate 3-dimensional objects for various media. Pixar, for example, is well known for creating many amazing features and short films using exclusively 3D animation to create characters, environments, vehicles, monsters and everything imaginable.

3D animation is carried out using computer software and deals with the creation of 3D models and their movement in a digital environment. 3D animation is much more complex than 2D animation, involving modeling, animation and rendering.

Artists “build” models in 3D space. These models are then “returned” under light. It is the lighting and shadows that create the illusion of 3D that we see in the finished images. Like computerized 2D animation, 3D animators define “key poses” where necessary, usually every few images. The computer then automatically creates all the images between key poses.

Why choose 3D animation?

It’s really a matter of personal taste. If you like 2D cartoons, or if you like 3D animation, in both cases practice with free 2D and 3D software.

Both supports can be used for anything, from the simplest short film to the largest film. Both are now made using computers. Even many 2D animations nowadays are created using 3D objects by rendering them in a way that gives them a two-dimensional appearance.

3D animation is mainly used in the video game, film and cartoon industry and is generally used for high-end production.

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