Difference between 2d and 3d animation

June 24, 2024

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Animation is a beautiful art that turns stories into reality by making impossible imaginations seem real. Technology enhancement has brought forth diverse forms of animation, with 2D and 3D being the most outstanding ones. However, despite both having similar purposes of generating stories via visuals, they significantly vary in effects, looks, and uses. This blog dives into the essential variations of the two forms of animations rather than discussing their pros and cons. At first, you will learn that even though both movies may be as interesting as each other because they are good in their way, there is still something different about each one.

Features of 2D Animation

2D animation is short for two-dimensional animation, and it refers to creating motion in a flat, two-dimensional image. It is a form of animation that has existed for more than 100 hundred years, and before 3D animation came into place, it was mainly used for making cartoons and movies, for example, Walt Disney. Objects and characters in 2D animation are designed tall or wide instead of how thick they are.

Traditional Hand-Drawn Animation

Traditional hand-drawn animation is one of the most famous processes of developing two-dimensional videos. Artisans physically develop all the frames and generate separate images either on paper or using digital techniques. The rapid playing of these frames gives an impression of movement taking place. Cartoon classics are used residentially, such as Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” or Warner Bros.’ “Looney Tunes.”

Vector-Based Animation

Vector-based animation employs numerical patterns to generate pictures that can be boosted in size without deterioration in quality. Applications like Adobe Animate and Toon Boom Harmony produce such animation. Because vectors within that specific genre can be adjusted without any distortion or loss of details, most popular cartoons like ‘The Simpsons use these techniques.

Stop Motion Animation

Stop motion animation is a technique in cinema in which objects are moved physically and captured on camera slowly so as to create the illusion of movement. This became most famous in movies like ‘Wallace & Gromit’ and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and has hence become a very involving yet interestingly distinct form of art.

Features of 3D Animation

Three-dimensional animation, with its full name being three-dimensional animation, implies coming up with stuff in a three-dimensional space. This makes the animation more realistic and lifelike by adding depth to its height and width; due to its ability to produce amazing visuals, as well as complex details, 3D animation has gained popularity in movies, on TV sets, in video games, and virtual reality.


Creating 3D objects and characters with specialized software is what modeling is all about. This is about defining the forms, texture, and structure of objects to look as real as possible. Applications commonly used for modeling are Autodesk Maya, Blender, and 3ds Max.


To create a rig, the three-dimensional model is given a skeleton. It is a means of making it mobile, hence permitting it to perform movements and expressions. The animator manipulates the model using the tabs as set by the rigger. This phase is essential when designing figures and things that can move and give out their actions in their given environments.


Animators animate the rigged models, moving them frame by frame or using keyframes to achieve seamless movement; hence, sensitization is created. Techniques like motion capture, which involve copying real actors’ movements and transferring them to digital models, can be used to enhance realism. This method results in animations that are both highly vivid and fluid.


Rendering is the last process of creating a final image of any 3D scene. In other words, this is where light is added together with shadows to make everything look real. For this reason, rendering this part may take quite some time and also require strong tools for good results.

Major Differences Between 2D and 3D Animation

Visual Style and Realism

The visual style and level of realism are among the most distinct differences; 2D and 3D animation differ significantly in these aspects. This is because 2D animation generally has a more stylized form, which may range from extremely simple drawings to finely detailed ones. This type of animation often lacks depth and realness, unlike the 3D one, which provides it in abundance. Conversely, 3D is effective at generating believable characters, environments, and effects.

Production Techniques

The production techniques for 2D and 3D animation are significantly different. Drawing is a major requirement for 2D animation, and it uses traditional artistic methods. A wide range of creative expression can be achieved in 2D through drawing each frame individually, either by hand or digitally, even though it’s time-consuming. 3D animation requires more advanced processes like modeling, rigging, and rendering as opposed to 2D animation, which is just drawing. These processes call for specialized software and technical know-how, but they make it possible to come up with very detailed and very real animations.

Time and Cost

2D animation is generally faster and more affordable than 3D animation in terms of both time and price. The simplicity of 2D animation combines with the availability of rudimentary software tools to enable even smaller project creators to use it effectively. It would take longer, as well as more resources from 3D animation, to produce high realism since its processes are so complicated. This can also lead to an increase in demand for sophisticated hardware and software.

Applications and Popularity

2D Animation in Media and Entertainment

There’s currently a lot of demand for 2D animation in the media and entertainment sectors. In addition to TV programs and commercials, it is also used for educational videos, as well as in many mobile applications. This type of animation can be produced much faster and cheaper due to its simplicity and flexibility. Moreover, people, regardless of age, keep being touched by the retro allure that conventional manual drawings have.

3D Animation in Film and Video Games

Film and video game industries have been revolutionized by 3D animation. This has led to a boom in blockbuster movies and video games like those created by major studios such as Pixar and DreamWorks, which captivate audiences through their fascinating visuals and complex narratives. Just like the movies, video games depend heavily on 3D animation for more engaging experiences. It has allowed pushing limits of what can be accomplished in digital entertainment by enabling developers to come up with real-looking characters and places.

Also Read: – Top 10 3D Animation Companies in India

In a Nutshell

2D and 3D animation possess unique features, benefits, and uses. The simplicity, artistic freedom, and faster production time benefits are found in 2D animation, while 3D animation has realism, complex details, and the ability to create immersing experiences. To help you understand which form of animation they should use for their projects, creators need to know the distinctions between these two types. Whether it is a charm that compels one towards 2-dimensional cartoons or realism that attracts others to 3-dimensional ones, all are still important tools in visual storytelling, constantly changing society.

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Written by

Jayant Batra, Founder and Director of Framemakerzzz, the innovative animation and video production studio. He loves animation at heart, he has the expertise and experience of over 12 years in creating eye-appealing explainer videos. Beyond the world of animation, Jayant is an avid explorer, traversing vivid and new places. He enjoys blending his passion for innovation with the latest advancements in tech.

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