What is 2d Animation? Everything you need to know (2023)

Updated: Jun 22, 2023 By: Dessign Team

what is 2d animation

Definition of 2D animation.

2D animation is a traditional animation style that involves creating two-dimensional images and animating them to create movement.

This animation technique is widely used in movies, television shows, and video games. Artists use software programs like Adobe Animate , Toon Boom Harmony, and Anime Studio to create hand-drawn or digitally animated characters, backgrounds, and special effects to create a final animation product.

With 2D animation software, artists have complete control over every aspect of the animation, including character design, color, and camera movements.

Pro Tip: Incorporate sound effects and music to enhance the viewer’s experience.

How movement is created in 2D animation.

How movement is created in 2D animation.

As the art of 2D animation came into existence, artists developed various techniques to achieve motion in their frames. The process of movement creation in 2D animation involves carefully laying out a series of images, which when played in sequence, create the illusion of movement.

This is accomplished by manipulating each frame to incorporate some level of variation from the preceding image. The artist must ensure that each frame is cohesive and consistent with the desired motion, maintaining quality throughout the sequence.

In traditional 2D animation, movement is created by drawing each frame by hand. However, with the advent of technology, animators now use computer software to aid in the creation process, allowing for more efficient and accurate picture manipulation. Additionally, the use of skeletal animation and tweening techniques has made it easier to achieve fluid motion with less manual effort.

When creating movement in 2D animation, timing is critical. Subtle details such as the speed and duration of a movement can greatly affect the outcome. Therefore, a deep understanding of human and animal anatomy, as well as the laws of physics, is essential to produce smooth and believable motion.

Interestingly, Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created the first 2D animation with sound, “Steamboat Willie” in 1928, which featured a character named Mickey Mouse. This was a significant milestone in the animation industry, as it paved the way for the development of animated features and revolutionized the way stories could be told through cinema.

Five Facts About 2D Animation:

✅ 2D animation is the art of creating movement in a two-dimensional space, which includes characters, creatures, FX, and backgrounds. 

✅ Animation is typically done on “2s”, meaning there is a drawing every 2 frames or 12fps, allowing artists to save on production time/costs and giving 2D animation its unique look. 

✅ 2D animation is making a comeback and can be seen in TV shows, video games, feature films, advertisements, mobile apps, and on websites. 

✅ 2D animators convey stories or messages by making their characters, objects and backgrounds move in a two-dimensional environment, and must also be excellent storytellers. 

✅ Popular software used by professionals include Toon Boom Harmony, Storyboard Pro, Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, Adobe Animate, and Encore. 

The evolution of 2D animation from traditional hand-drawn processes to digital techniques.

evolution of 2D animation

From pencil and paper to technological advancements, Two-Dimensional (2D) animation has evolved drastically. The transition from traditional hand-drawn processes to digital techniques has allowed for improved efficiency, accuracy, and precision. With the use of software such as Adobe AnimateToon Boom Harmony, and TVPaint, animators can create and manipulate drawings digitally, enhancing the production process. The incorporation of digital techniques has paved the way for new opportunities in creating 2D animation content, expanding its potential and capabilities.

Moreover, digital techniques have also enabled animators to bring their work to life with dynamic movements. With access to various tools and resources, animation has become more complex, adding greater authenticity and believability to motion and expression. Through the integration of audio and storytelling, 2D animation has come a long way from traditional hand-drawn processes.

With the rapid evolution of technology, the potential for 2D animation has increased tremendously, and it is important to keep up with the latest trends. By incorporating digital techniques and software in their workflow, animators can continue to push the boundaries and create more innovative and captivating content, ensuring they stay ahead of the curve. Embrace the advancements, and fear not to miss out on the technological evolution of animation.

2D animation is a widely used medium in various forms of entertainment, such as TV shows, video games, feature films, advertisements, mobile apps, and websites. This type of animation creates the illusion of motion through a series of two-dimensional images.

Some popular examples of 2D animation can be found in classic TV shows like Looney Tunes and SpongeBob SquarePants, video games like Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog, feature films like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, advertisements such as Coca-Cola commercials, mobile apps like Angry Birds and Candy Crush, and websites like Disney and Nickelodeon.

In TV shows, 2D animation has been used to create memorable characters and storylines that last for generations. Video games have also relied on 2D animation to create immersive gameplay experiences. Feature films have used 2D animation for both artistic and nostalgic purposes, while advertisements have utilized it to create fun and engaging commercials. Moreover, mobile apps and websites integrate 2D animation to enhance user experience and make the interface more appealing and interactive.

Unique details of 2D animation include the ability to manipulate character movements and expressions, as well as the opportunity to create intricate visual effects and backgrounds. This type of animation also allows for a more stylized and artistic approach, providing endless creative possibilities.

To make the most out of 2D animation, it’s important to understand the principles of movement and timing. Animators must also pay attention to detail, such as the spacing and alignment of characters and objects. By implementing these techniques, animators can create visually stunning and engaging content for their audiences.

The growing demand for skilled 2D animators.

The need for expert 2D animators is on the rise in today’s market. With the growing demand for digital and mobile media content, companies are looking for skilled animators who can create engaging and captivating visual content. They are in high demand for creating storyline concepts, character design, and manual and computer-aided drawings. Moreover, they need to be proficient in working with advanced tools and software, as well as have excellent communication skills to collaborate with other team members.

Therefore, honing your skills and staying updated with the latest technology can help increase your employability in the industry. By regularly updating your portfolio and networking with other professionals, you can improve your chances of making a successful career in 2D animation.

The job responsibilities of a 2D animator.

what is 2d animation

2D animator is responsible for creating two-dimensional animations for a wide range of projects, including advertisements, television shows, and films. They use their artistic skills to bring characters and scenes to life, drawing each frame by hand or using digital software. Additionally, they work closely with project managers and other team members to ensure that all animations meet the project’s goals and objectives.

Depending on the project, a 2D animator may also be responsible for creating storyboards, developing character designs, and creating special effects. It is important that a 2D animator has excellent time management skills and is able to meet tight deadlines while still maintaining a high level of quality in their work.

Moreover, a 2D animator must also possess strong communication skills to effectively collaborate with other team members, receive and incorporate feedback, and troubleshoot any issues that may arise during the animation process.

They also should have a deep understanding of animation principles, such as timing and physics, to create realistic and believable movements for their characters. Ensuring consistency throughout the animation, color schemes and rendering techniques are other responsibilities that they might have.

To become a successful 2D animator, it’s recommended that one must have a strong portfolio showcasing their ability to create engaging and visually appealing animations. Pursuing formal education in animation can also be advantageous, as it provides an opportunity to develop a strong foundation in animation principles and techniques. Additionally, keeping up with the latest software and technologies can help a 2D animator stay competitive in the field. By having these skills, an animator can create animations that communicate the desired message effectively to the target audience.

The three parts of the production pipeline: pre-production, production, and post-production.

three parts of the production pipeline

The production pipeline consists of three essential stages: pre-production, production, and post-production. Each stage plays a significant role in the overall animation creation process.

Pre-production sets the foundation for the project, including storyboarding and character designProduction is where the actual animation takes place, and all elements come to life. Post-production involves final touch-ups, editing, and adding special effects.

During pre-production, the team creates a detailed plan of each element of the production. This process includes character design, storyboarding, and a script. The design process involves creating characters and environments that are aesthetically pleasing and accurately reflect the intended story.

Storyboarding is important because it contains sketches of the images and the sequence in which they will appear. The script outlines the intended story and helps ensure continuity throughout the production.

The actual animation process occurs during the production stage. This process involves bringing illustrations and sketches to life through movement and sound. Voice actors may also be used to add character voices and sound effects. Production is the most time-consuming stage of the animation pipeline and requires dedication from the team.

Finally, post-production comes into play. This stage involves editing, final touch-ups, and adding sound and special effects. The goal of post-production is to create a polished final product that meets the original vision of the project.

To ensure a successful animation production pipeline, it is recommended to have a clear plan in place, use professional software, and establish efficient communication channels. A solid plan should include timelines and budget considerations, and the use of quality software will enhance the overall production quality. Additionally, open communication channels will help to identify and address issues as they arise, leading to a smoother production experience overall.

The importance of communication and people skills for animators.

As an animator, being proficient in communication and people skills is crucial for success. The ability to collaborate with team members, convey ideas effectively, and communicate feedback constructively can make or break a project’s outcome. Animators must utilize their interpersonal skills to understand and meet the creative needs of clients while also working within the scope of the project’s limitations.

Moreover, animators need to have excellent communication skills to keep clients and team members informed of project progress. They must also be able to present their designs in a clear and professional manner and explain any technical jargon to non-technical stakeholders. Developing strong people skills is also essential, as animators need to work effectively with a range of personalities and skill levels within their teams.

It is not enough to have technical skills alone; To excel in this field, one must also possess excellent communication and people skills. Mastering these skills can lead to enhanced collaboration and fruitful relationships with clients, ultimately resulting in greater job opportunities and career growth as an animator. Don’t miss out on these critical success factors and invest in developing communication and people skills.

The role of traditional hand-drawn techniques in modern 2D animation.

traditional hand-drawn techniques

Although modern 2D animation is primarily digital, traditional hand-drawn techniques still play a crucial role in the creative process. These techniques provide the foundation for character design and animation, allowing animators to create expressive and dynamic movements that connect with audiences.

By merging these traditional techniques with digital tools, animators can achieve a unique and captivating visual style that transcends the limitations of either medium alone. To succeed in modern 2D animation, it is essential to have a deep understanding of both traditional and digital techniques to create compelling content that stands out in the market.

A key advantage of using traditional hand-drawn techniques is the level of control they provide over the animation process. Each frame can be meticulously crafted by hand, allowing for a higher degree of detail and expression than is possible through digital means alone.

Additionally, because 2D animation is often used to convey complex emotions and nuanced gestures, traditional techniques can offer a more personal and tactile approach that resonates with audiences on a deeper level. By combining traditional methods with digital workflows, animators can create animations that are both visually striking and emotionally resonant.

One technique that is particularly useful in modern 2D animation is the use of “pose-to-pose” animation, where animators develop a series of key poses that create the foundation for the movement of a character.

These key poses are then connected by a series of in-between frames, which smooth out the animation and create the illusion of movement. By utilizing traditional drawing techniques to create these key poses, animators can imbue their characters with a sense of weight, momentum, and personality that is difficult to achieve through digital means alone.

Pro Tip: To achieve the best results in modern 2D animation, it is essential to experiment with both traditional and digital techniques to find the right balance for your project. By using traditional hand-drawn techniques as a foundation for your animation, you can create unique and engaging content that stands out in a crowded digital landscape.

The wide range of job opportunities in the 2D animation industry.

The 2D animation industry offers a myriad of job opportunities for those who are passionate about art and graphic design. With its diverse range of roles, there are plenty of avenues to explore within this field, from storyboard artists to clean-up artists, background artists, and animators. Each role plays a vital part in the overall animation process, and there is ample scope for creativity and innovation in this industry.

A career in 2D animation requires a strong foundation in art, graphic design, and animation techniques. As a storyboard artist, you’ll be responsible for shaping the narrative of a project, while clean-up artists refine the drawn animation. Background artists create the setting and atmosphere of a scene, and animators bring everything to life. Working in 2D animation requires patience, dedication, and an eye for detail.

Moreover, the 2D animation industry is constantly evolving, creating new job opportunities for budding artists and animators. With the rise of digital platforms, there is a growing demand for skilled professionals who can create engaging content using technology. It is essential to stay updated with the latest trends and software to remain competitive in this ever-changing industry.

To excel in the 2D animation industry, it is crucial to have a strong network of peers and mentors who can guide you in your career path. Joining online communities and attending industry events can help you connect with like-minded professionals and learn from their experiences. Additionally, freelancing and building a portfolio of work can give you an edge in the job market.

The importance of understanding the different types of jobs in the industry.

In order to excel in the industry, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the various roles available. Familiarizing oneself with the different types of jobs in the industry plays a crucial role in career planning and growth. By doing so, one can identify their strengths and interests, and make an informed decision about which path to pursue.

There are a multitude of job roles available in the industry and being aware of each role’s specific requirements and responsibilities allows for more informed job applications and career moves. Apart from job seeking, understanding the different roles in the industry is also useful for networking, collaboration, and communication within a team.

It is important to focus on skills that are specific to each job role and to make efforts to acquire them. For example, a 2d animator must have a keen eye for detail and be well-versed in software such as Adobe Animate and Toon Boom. It is also beneficial to have knowledge of other types of animation such as 3d and stop-motion as to better understand the industry as a whole.

To gain further insight and knowledge about the different job roles, it is recommended to attend workshops and seminars, network with professionals in the industry, and seek mentorship. Understanding the different types of jobs in the industry is vital for personal and professional advancement, and should be a top priority for anyone pursuing a career in animation.

How technology is creating new job opportunities in the industry.

Technology’s Impact on Job Opportunities in the Animation Industry

With the rapid rise of technology in the animation industry, individuals with new and specialized skill sets are in high demand. The ever-evolving world of animation continuously requires innovators who can adapt to new software and techniques in order to create high-quality animations. This has created an influx of job opportunities for those who can utilize technology in creative and efficient ways.

As technology advances and software becomes more complex, so too do the necessary skill sets for those seeking employment within the field. Individuals with experience in motion graphics, 3D modeling, and virtual reality are now highly sought after, due to the increased demand for these specialized skill sets in the industry.

However, it is important to note that the impact of technology on job opportunities in the animation industry is not limited to only technical positions. With the increased use of technology in the animation creation process, there has also been a rise in demand for imaginative writers, creative directors, and other non-technical positions that can enhance the overall animation product.

The history of animation is a testament to the impact of technological advancement on job opportunities in the industry. From the early ink and paint days to the modern digital age, technology has paved the way for new job opportunities and has enabled the creation of new animation techniques and styles. As technology continues to advance, it is likely that the number and types of job opportunities in the industry will continue to expand and evolve.

The possibility of transitioning from 2D to 3D animation.

As technology continues to advance, the animation industry is also experiencing a shift from traditional 2D animation to 3D animation. The shift presents a new realm of creative possibilities for animators. By combining traditional principles of 2D animation with 3D techniques, the possibility of transitioning from 2D to 3D animation is becoming more feasible.

The transition from 2D to 3D animation does not require animators to abandon their skills in 2D animation. Rather, it allows for the integration of those skills into the 3D realm. Animators can use the strengths of both approaches to create visually stunning graphics that are both dynamic and flexible.

One unique benefit of transitioning to 3D animation is the ability to create more detailed and realistic characters and backgrounds. 3D software allows for the inclusion of lighting effects, shadows, and textures, creating a more immersive experience for viewers.

In order to keep up with the industry trends, it is important for animators to develop skills in both 2D and 3D animation. By doing so, they can cater to the evolving demands of the industry, remain competitive, and take advantage of new opportunities.

As the animation industry evolves, the fear of missing out on potential job opportunities may arise for those who do not adapt to changing trends. It is important for animators to constantly develop their skills to stay relevant and in-demand in the industry. By transitioning from 2D to 3D animation, animators can embrace new creative possibilities, expand their skill set, and secure future job opportunities.

The importance of using industry-standard software for professional animators.

The use of industry-standard software is crucial for professional animators to maximize their potential. It enables them to produce top-quality animations that meet industry standards, adhere to project requirements and timelines, and ensure seamless collaboration with fellow animators and stakeholders. By using such software, animators can access a vast array of features and tools that facilitate efficient and effective animation creation and manipulation. Whether it’s drawing, sculpting, rigging, or rendering, utilizing industry-standard software guarantees that the final output meets the desired quality and aesthetic standards, making it a must-have for the modern animator.

Industry-standard software empowers animators with cutting-edge technologies that streamline their workflow, resulting in better productivity and faster turnaround time for projects. It also minimizes discrepancies in software compatibility when collaborating with other experts in the animation industry, ensuring that all members are on the same page, working efficiently with the same tools.

The use of industry-standard software also guarantees that the product is scalable, future-proofing the animation for further updates, expansions, or modifications. It also makes it easier to find resources, including technical support, tutorials, and training materials, that meet the desired standards, minimizing the learning curve for the user.

In the fast-paced world of animation, one can learn from the costly mistake of Ari Folman, an Israeli animation director, who had used a lesser-known software to create his masterpiece “Waltz with Bashir.” Unfortunately, the software couldn’t export his work into a suitable format, leading to delay and additional cost of converting all the frames into the desired format. The use of industry-standard software would have mitigated such complications, ensuring smooth sailing in the production process and delivery of the final product on time.

The software commonly used by professionals in the industry, including Toon Boom Harmony and Adobe After Effects.

The animation industry heavily relies on specific software for creating 2D animations. Professionals tend to use industry-standard software such as Toon Boom Harmony and Adobe After Effects for their projects. These programs offer unique features for creating animations that are precise and of high quality.

A comparison table can be drawn that highlights the features of these software tools. Toon Boom Harmony provides advanced tools for rigging, character design, and frame-by-frame animation. Meanwhile, Adobe After Effects focuses on motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects. Both programs offer support for integration with other creative software tools and have a steep learning curve.

It is crucial to note that with their unique features, professionals often blend the use of these software tools to create an animation that is best suited for their project requirements.

In addition, while Toon Boom is commonly used for television shows and feature films, Adobe After Effects is more commonly used for advertising and marketing content. However, both software tools have become more widely used in various industries beyond traditional animation and filming.

The use of technology in animation has come a long way since the early days of hand-drawn frames. Toon Boom Harmony and Adobe After Effects have revolutionized the industry by providing advanced features, integrating with other software tools and, most importantly, saving time in the overall production of high-quality animations.

The ease of transferring skills between different software programs.

Transferring skills between software programs is a crucial aspect of productivity. Understanding the similarities and differences between programs can ease the process. As an animator, mastering 2D animation software is essential. Having a strong foundation in one software program makes it relatively easy to switch to other software programs.

The basic principles of 2D animation are the same across software programs. Learning how to create keyframes, drawing tools, and timeline controls can quickly translate from one program to another. The key difference between software programs is the location of these tools and their interfaces. Few animation software programs have a different workflow and approach. However, understanding the principles is enough to start working on different software programs.

In addition to principles, having knowledge of file formats can ease the transfer of skills. Most animation software programs support standard file formats like PNG, JPEG, and GIF. However, some programs use proprietary file formats, which is mandatory to understand when transferring skills. For instance, Adobe Animate and Toon Boom’s is “.tvg”. Knowing these file formats helps to convert and transfer files seamlessly between software programs.

Pro Tip: When starting with a new software program, it’s better to keep things simple. Begin by practicing the essential tools and commands first. Mastery will come as you continue to use the software program, don’t rush the process.

Salary expectations for 2D animators, depending on experience.

As per industry standards, the expected salary for 2D animators varies based on their experience level. Here is a breakdown of the expected salaries for 2D animators:

Experience Level Salary Range (per annum)
Entry Level $35,000 – $50,000
Mid-Level $50,000 – $75,000
Senior Level $75,000 – $100,000

While other factors such as location and company size can also influence salary expectations, experience remains a primary factor. With the increasing demand for 2D animation in various industries such as gaming, advertising and film, growth opportunities are expected for 2D animators.

The history of 2D animation dates back to the early days of cinema, with the traditional hand-drawn method being the primary technique until the advent of computer animation. Today, 2D animation continues to be a popular and important medium, and experienced 2D animators are in demand, making it a solid career choice for aspiring artists.

Key Takeaway:

  • 2D animators are responsible for creating the movement and actions of characters or objects in a two-dimensional space. They work within the three parts of the animation production pipeline: pre-production, production, and post-production.
  • Communication and people skills are important for animators as they work in a collaborative environment in order to bring ideas to life. Animators also need to have an understanding of traditional hand-drawn techniques in order to fully appreciate the creative possibilities that digital animation offers.
  • 2D animation offers a wide range of job opportunities in the industry, and understanding the different types of jobs available is essential for those looking to enter the field. Technology has created new job opportunities in the industry, which is constantly advancing with the possibility of transitioning from 2D to 3D animation.

FAQs about What Is 2D Animation

What is 2D animation?

2D animation is the art of creating movement in a two-dimensional space. This includes characters, creatures, FX, and backgrounds. The illusion of movement is created when individual drawings are sequenced together over time.

How is 2D animation done today?

2D animation is a popular and diverse medium that’s making a massive comeback and can be seen prevalently in TV shows, video games, feature films, advertisements, mobile apps and on websites. Popular modern examples of 2D animation include TV shows Rick and Morty and F is for Family. Social media platforms like Snapchat are launching 2D animated series with snappy 1-3 minute episodes. There’s even been a recent surge in 2D platform video games such as Cuphead.

What are the job prospects for a 2D animator?

Demand for 2D animators who can create entertaining and engaging content has grown significantly in the last decade. There’s a need for skilled and enthusiastic artists who love motion graphics and are adept at creating original and appealing content. Career opportunities include working on feature films, TV shows, video games, as well as for production companies and advertising agencies who produce 2D content for advertisements, mobile apps and websites.

What does a 2D animator do?

2D animators convey stories or messages by making their characters, objects and backgrounds move in a two-dimensional environment. Besides drawing, they must also be excellent storytellers. They are responsible for clearly communicating a story or message by moving characters in a way that engages viewers. Additional responsibilities may include sketching designs, designing characters, developing storyboards, creating special effects, animating scenes, and transitioning backgrounds.

What is the best 2D animation software?

There is a range of software to choose from. However, if you are looking at animating professionally, learn to use industry-standard software that major studios are using. At CG Spectrum, students learn animation with the use Toon Boom Harmony. Software commonly used by professionals include Toon Boom Harmony, Toon Boom Storyboard Pro, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Animate, and Encore.

What are the salary expectations for a 2D animator?

Average salary expectations can be between USD $43,000 for entry level up to an average of $74,000 for mid-level. Salaries depend on experience, job prospects, and the type of job in the industry.