What Is 2D Animation?

2D animation is a type of animation in which the scene and characters are created in a two-dimensional space rather than a fully realized three-dimensional environment. These animations use perspective and foreshortening to create the illusion of depth, similar to 2D still images, but do not use 3D computer graphics technology. Traditional animation techniques, in which images were drawn on a clear sheet and photographed one frame at a time to create a final animation, paved the way for this type of animation. Although many of the techniques used in drawing the animation are fairly similar, computer technology makes it easier to create 2D animation.

Prior to the rise of three-dimensional, or 3D, animation, 2D animation, also known as two-dimensional animation, was the primary form of animation. The images that are viewed and animated only exist in a 2D space, which is the most prominent feature of this type of animation. Filming hand-drawn images on paper, clear cels, or any other flat, two-dimensional surface can accomplish this. 3D animation, on the other hand, is made with 3D software, which enables animators to create digital models of characters and environments that exist in a fully realized three-dimensional virtual space.

Traditional animation methods were used for many decades throughout the twentieth century, despite the fact that different methods can be used to create 2D animation. Traditional animation, also known as cel animation, uses clear sheets of acetate called “cels” to create images, which are often created drawing directly on them. Because paint can be used to color these inked images, the term “ink and paint” has also been applied to these animation techniques. After that, each cel is photographed with a painted background behind it to create a single frame of the final animation, which typically runs at 24 or 30 frames per second.

Though the process is similar, modern technology has made 2D animation significantly easier to create. Computer software can create a 2D image in a file that serves as a virtual “cel,” and the image is usually colored with the same software. The “cels” can then be layered over these backgrounds to create each individual frame, which can usually be done in one of several different graphics programs. While creating this type of 2D animation takes a long time, it is often easier and more “forgiving” for animators than traditional methods.