The Only 2D Animation Guide You'll Ever Need

Through this 2D animation guide, get ready to unlock the power of animation and know everything about 2D animation. 


Whether you are a beginner or an expert, this guide covers all the essential information and techniques you’ll ever need to know.

2d animation

Table of Contents

Animation has always been a versatile medium. We have grown up seeing cartoons, and now we see them everywhere, even in marketing and advertising.


The evolution of the animation industry is remarkable. It started with a small experiment with drawings and motion, and now we can see the innovations in 3D.


Despite the advancement in 3D technology, 2D animation has continued to hold its ground and make its mark in the industry. 


Through this 2D animation guide, let’s see how it remains still popular among individuals.

What is 2D animation?

Before we dive deep into the topic, Let’s first understand what 2D Animation is.

2D animation uses images with two dimensions, height and width, to create the illusion of movement.


2D animations have no depth; they are flatter and have a more hand-drawn style. The artists create lots of pictures with slight changes in movement; these pictures are called frames. 


Then these frames are arranged in a particular order that shows motion. When these frames are played at high speed, it gives the appearance of continuous movements.


The end result is fascinating and attractive, and that is why 2D animation has established a name for itself.


People are always in awe of 2D animations, and that’s the reason they are still in demand even after the invention of 3D.


But, with both options available, have you ever wondered what the future of 2D animation will be like? Will it continue to gain popularity?


Before we jump into the future, let’s first see the origin of 2D animation.

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Origin of 2D Animation

The evolution of 2D animation has been remarkable, it started from drawings on paper and had some renowned classics. Read on to know how 2D animation was originated and how it has been used now.

Earlier, people used to draw every frame on paper with a pencil, and later those frames were painted on transparent sheets, and then they were photographed and shown in rapid motion.


Surely, it involved a lot of work, but the work became easier as the new software came into existence.


While the animation was invented in the 1800s, the first ever 2D animation film was “Fantasmagorie,” created by Emile Cohl in 1908. 


20 years later, Walt Disney released the short film “Steamboat Willie” in 1928.


The film’s success was a major turning point for both Disney and the animation industry.


Later in 1937, the company created many popular animated films, including the renowned “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. It was also recognized as the first 2D animation film, considering it the first full-length cel-animated feature film.


In the mid-twentieth century, television gained popularity, and animation studios turned to limited animation techniques to reduce costs and meet production demands. 


Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones (1960) and The Jetsons (1962) employed limited animation, characterized by simplified designs and the reuse of animation cycles.

At the turn of the 20th century, Pixar Animation Studios, with its groundbreaking 1995 film Toy Story, showed the potential of fully computer-generated feature films. 


Since then, CGI has become a dominant force in animation. Despite the advancements in CGI, 2D animation continues to thrive and evolve in various forms.


Some include traditional hand-drawn animation, digital 2D animation, and hybrid techniques that combine both 2D and 3D elements.


The history of 2D animation shows the creativity and imagination of countless artists, animators, and studios who have contributed to the growth and development of this beloved art form.

2D Animation Process- a step-by-step guide

2D animation involves several processes that transform an idea into an animated video. To understand the process better, it is divided into three parts: pre-production, production, and the final post-production stage.


Let’s understand each stage one by one: 


As it is the first stage, it requires lots of planning before the actual work on animation begins. This stage sets the tone for the entire animation and can give you a rough idea of how your video will turn out.

1. Conceptualization

The concept of the video should be developed by brainstorming different ideas and taking inspiration from other videos. The idea should align with your brand and the message you want to deliver to your audience.

2. Scriptwriting

A script should be crafted in a way that connects with the audience. It is a combination of strong storytelling and relatable concepts that grab the attention of the audience.

3. Storyboarding

Storyboarding is a visual blueprint of the animation through drawings. It allows creators to plan and visualize the flow and timing of each scene before moving into production.


After all the planning comes the major phase of animation, where all the planning comes into action. The major steps involved in the production process are:

1. Illustration

Following the completion of the storyboarding, the artists work to bring the concept to life by developing the characters and scenes that the animators will use to perform motions.

2. Voiceover

Voiceover is very important in any animation video. If there is any dialogue in the video, it is recorded by a voiceover artist and then synced with the animations.

3. Animation

Animators work on the illustrations created before by giving them movements. In this stage, animators work very precisely to match the visuals and audio for the video.


In the last stage of animation, the focus turns to the finishing touches. The final edits, whether they are changes in effects or transitions, are all done here. There are two major steps involved in post-production:

1. Sound and Visual Effects (SFX)

This includes incorporating appropriate sound effects, background music, and any necessary visual enhancements to bring the animation to life. 

2. Render

Rendering is the final output of the animated video. All the frames are processed one by one, and the desired outcome is generated.

2D Animation Types

Each animation technique cover a diverse range offering unique and attractive visuals. 


Now that you’ve got a fair idea about 2D animation, here are a few video examples for your better understanding:

1. Hand-drawn Animation

As discussed before, this is the classic method of creating 2D animation by drawing each frame by hand.


Artists create a sequence of drawings on transparent celluloid sheets, then photograph these sheets and play them in rapid succession to create the illusion of motion.


This technique was widely used before, and artists have created many great works out of it.

2. Digital 2D Animation

As technology took a leap, the pattern of doing hand-drawn animation shifted to digital animation.


Artists now use software to draw and animate characters and backgrounds and give them the desired movement on the computer.


The use of digital devices has surely made the work of animators easier and opened the door for more creativity.

3. Cutout Animation

Cutout animation is one of the most interesting and fun types of animation to watch.


In this, pieces of paper, pictures, or fabric are used to create different characters and backgrounds.


Each frame is made by moving those pieces one by one, and when played together, it gives the effect of movement.

4. Stop motion animation

Stop-motion animation is a super interesting animation technique that captures one frame at a time.


Here, frames are manipulated in their physical form which results in a smooth-transition like sequence of moving objects.


The animation technique has been in place for over 100 years now and is still prominent among video production agencies.

5. Motion Graphics

Motion Graphics are simply graphics with movement. Unlike any animated film, motion graphics are short videos.


It involves the movement of text and images to create a visually appealing animation. 


Mostly, it is used for logo animation or advertising videos. It is the most popular form of animation and is known to connect better with the viewer.

6. Rotoscoping

This technique was invented in 1915 by Animator Max Fleischer to create life-like animations.


In this animation, animators trace live-action footage frame by frame to give the effect of realistic movements.


Earlier, it was done by tracing on glass, and now it is done on computers. It is an ancient technique, and it has again come into action after a pause. 

7. Whiteboard Animation

Whiteboard animation is best when used to explain something in detail.


That’s why, when it comes to education, we mostly get to see whiteboard animation for it. It’s mainly done by drawing pictures on a white surface.


It gives a nice flow to a topic, and any information explained through it becomes attractive and engaging.

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Future of 2D Animation

With the continuous advancement in technology and creative minds all around, the future of 2D Animation looks more promising than ever, and it will surely continue to captivate audiences attention.

The door for 2D has now broadly opened since the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality. Now, 2D animation is being utilised in more immersive and interactive experiences.


It has been a crucial part of VR and AR to increase the user experience. 

The animation industry is becoming more welcoming and diverse than ever. As artists are evolving, new concepts of storytelling are taking place.


We have already seen a mix of 2D and 3D animation, and this will continue to be seen in the near future. The artists use the best of both and create dynamic visuals, which creates more opportunities in 2D animations.


In the future, we will get to witness more stories and characters that will represent the diverse background of Animation.

The wonderful thing about 2D Animation is that it gives a very nostalgic experience, as many millennials have grown up watching it and relate to it the most. With this, we can say that 2D animation has successfully maintained its popularity.


It gives a personalized experience to the audience and helps them connect with it.

If we talk about the use of 2D animation in the gaming industry, as isometric games have taken place, 2D will continue to play an important role in this industry.


Isometric games are all about 2D animation that gives the impression of 3D. It provides a more detailed view and a unique user experience.

2D has established a base in the animation industry that cannot be replaced so easily. Indeed, 2D animation has a very bright and promising future.


It had a value of USD 24.47 billion in 2021, and it is projected to experience a CAGR of 9.5% from 2022 to 2029, which will reach an estimated value of almost USD 50.57 billion in global revenue.


This statistics proof that animation industry has opened door for many opportunities in the coming future.

What is the best software for 2D Animation?

There are many 2D animation software out there, choosing the right animation software depends on your needs. Read on to understand how you can choose the best 2D animation software.

The demand for animation is increasing, and so is the rise of animation software. 2D animation software allows users to create their own animations and expands their creative range. There are many options available to choose from, whether you are looking for free or paid versions.


Each of them has unique features, and one can choose from them according to their requirements. It is always good to test different options and try them all according to your budget and the one with which you are most comfortable bringing out your best output.


Some of the best 2D animation software tools are Adobe Animate, Moho, Animaker, Pencil 2D, Powtoon, Blender, OpenToonz Moho, Animation Paper, and many more.


These are some of the best options to select from. It is always better to do your research and check out the benefits and features they offer before starting with any one of them.

2D vs 3D animation

2D vs 3D animation can be a long topic to discuss. Know which one holds the reign in the animation industry.

This is probably a never-ending debate about which is better, 2D or 3D. 2D is a more artistic form of animation, and on the other hand, 3D is more technical.


Each of them holds an equal amount of popularity and interest among people. If we talk about the cost, it is an important factor in choosing between 2D and 3D. Here, 2D animation offers a much more affordable price if we compare it to 3D animation. 


2D animation requires fewer resources, and on the other hand, 3D animation requires modeling, rigging, and texturing, among other processes. Due to the visually rich experience that 3D offers, it becomes expensive.


Although 3D has surpassed 2D in mainstream popularity, 2D remains popular for TV shows, commercials, and mobile games. Where 3D animation is preferred for its lifelike visuals, 2D animation is well known for its dynamic style that can be used anywhere and everywhere. 


If we have to conclude between 2D vs 3D animation, both will continue to have their place in the future, as both have their strengths. Where 3D can dominate the industry due to the updated technology, 2D will continue to shine with its own creative appeal.

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2D Animation with MotionGility

Discover how partnering with MotionGility for 2D Animation services can help your brand stand out.

2d animation with motiongility

When you choose MotionGility, you can trust that you are partnering with a company that is dedicated to providing you with the best 2D animation services.


Our team of talented animators has a deep understanding of animation techniques and a focus on every single detail. We aim to bring the ideas to life with precision and creativity.