Each type of animation has its supporters who willingly find the advantages of their favorite and the disadvantages of the opposite side. And then, when the entire Internet is replete with arguments in favor of the victory of one or another type of animation.
When separation occurs.
When a contradiction is born.
When two camps collide.
It’s a question of honour for us to kindle the peace pipe and say that there is no battle, which would immediately disprove our own title.
What is happening and what to do about it? Move on and you’ll understand.
2D Animation or 3D Animation. No Confrontation or Destination – Peaceful Coexistence
Competition or confrontation always adds spice and drive to any, even the most calm comparative analysis, which was not originally aimed at identifying an imaginary winner. But the drive is felt only for the time being, or rather until the moment when the reader does not realize how subjective the reasoning of the author of the article is and how obvious their commitment to one side or another is. Despite attempts to disguise everything as objectivity.
- A company specializing in 2D animation will say that it is more profitable, and 3D animation is too expensive and cumbersome.
- A company specializing in 3D animation will say that it is the future, and 2D animation is outdated and long gone.
- Finally, a company that specializes in both 2D and 3D animation will push you towards 3D animation as a more suitable option since it will make more profit from it.
What we are definitely not going to do is butt heads with 2D and 3D animation adepts. We will just talk about these two fundamental types of animation in a soft narrative way and explain why both flat (almost like Terry Pratchett’s Flat World) and 3D world have equal rights to exist.
Which is Better, 2D or 3D Animation?
None is better or worse.
Each of these types of animation is self-sufficient and has its own niche in modern cinema, advertising, and video game production. Comparing 2D and 3D animation is initially a massive and challenging task, as they differ in almost every aspect.
2D animation is an art style based on making objects and characters move in 2D space, focusing only on length and width.
This movement is depicted with the help of drawings, mostly pencil sketches, showing the change in the position of the object. They are arranged in series to create the illusion of smooth movement.
3D animation is an art style that deals with creating 3D models and making them move in a digital environment using special computer software.
3D was originally aimed only at computer processing, it never existed in the form of pencil sketches, as is the case with 2D.. 3D animation requires much more attention to modeling, rigging, anatomical nuances, and rendering.
Many animation experts and amateurs say that the era of 2D has already passed, and it will soon be forced out of the market. Adding depth to the standard height and width is considered sufficient to justify such a claim.
But that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny by the facts. The advent of 3D did not affect the viability of 2D in any way. It can be concluded that the matter is not at all in the number of measurements.
The simplest and most visual option will be to show the differences between 2D and 3D animations in the form of a comparison table. And here it is:
|Comparison parameter||2D animation||3D animation|
|Time of appearance||the late 1800s||the late 1900s|
|Dimensions||length and width||length, width and depth|
|Method of creation||hand-drawn (early stages)||computer-based|
|Space for creativity||boundless||limited by software capabilities|
|Learning time||rather quick||rather slow|
|Production time||rather short||rather long|
|Main focus||gameplay and story||design|
|Cost||lower compared to 3D||higher compared to 2D|
|Reusability||every project requires new drawings||the model can be used in different projects|
|Rotation capability||a separate drawing required for each viewing angle||360 degrees|
|Application area||films, cartoons, websites, learning courses, advertising, product video, video games||films, cartoons, video games, medicine, biotechnology, aerospace|
2D Animation is Dead: Fact or Fiction
This is a rather provocative question that worries many people. A wave of doubt and controversy began from the moment when such a giant animation studio as Disney (the founder of the style) announced the closure of its 2D department and the end of the hand-drawn animation era. Everyone was excited about what this meant for the future of traditional animation. Will it no longer exist?
Many modern specialists love 2D animation, but they work in 3D. When asked where this contradiction comes from, they say that 2D animation has no future. So, the opinion that 2D animation, if not dead, is at least on the verge of death, and nothing will save it, has penetrated deep enough into the masses and a solid factual base is needed to try to move it off the ground. But let’s try.
The first thing we have to do is get rid of misinterpretation of terminology. 2D animation and traditional animation are two completely different concepts, although they are often used interchangeably.
- 2D animation is a type, it’s about a direction – flat, two-dimensional animation.
- Traditional animation is about technique – working on an animation table using Disney’s 12 principles.
And 2D animation isn’t the only recipe in the traditional animation world.
12 fundamental principles of animation:
- Squash and Stretch
- Straight Ahead and Pose to Pose
- Follow Through and Overlapping Action
- Slow-In and Slow-Out
- Secondary Action
- Solid Drawings
Traditional Animation ≠ 2D Animation
At this point, a serious misunderstanding of the issue was born. Since 2D animation has been mercilessly confused with traditional animation, and it still is, people attribute qualities to each other and, referring to traditional animation, put a black hat on 2D animation. First-class substitution of concepts, agree?
For many years, animation has been created on animation tables. Things become traditional if at one time they were fundamental for a certain new direction. This is just about animation using 12 principles.
Evolution does not stand still, technologies are improving, but when creating something new, animators invariably use their accumulated experience. Just because there are no animation tables now doesn’t mean that traditional animation is dead. It simply underwent changes, keeping up with the times and adapting to the requirements of a new generation of viewers.
To say that 3D animation has replaced 2D is to completely misunderstand the issue. Look at different animation projects – rarely at the very beginning of a project does a studio know whether to use 2D or 3D for the final result. First, testing is carried out and it is analyzed in which direction of animation the idea will be the most understandable, easy, and quick to create. And only then, based on the results of numerous tests, a decision is made regarding the technique.
For example, let’s look at Klaus, a Spanish animated feature film directed by Sergio Pablos. It was created in the style of 2D animation, but without a hint or careful study of the smallest details, no one will guess about it. It feels like 3D, and it’s entirely thanks to the lighting effects in the creative hands of the 40 animators who worked on this project for over two years and completed it under the wire just a month before it premiered on Netflix.
The director wanted his film to have the nostalgic flavor of 90s Disney animations, but also sought to spice it up with modern features of the latest advances in animation. And he succeeded.
“I never looked at 3D as an evolution of 2D. I looked at it as a split, like there’s a new way of making animation now”
Sergio Pablos, animator, director, and screenwriter
These words perfectly illustrate the answer to the question of whether 2D animation is dead. Not only did we realize the substitution of notions, we also saw that now there is no critical confrontation as such. Every good movie has room for both 2D and 3D. And there are many such examples.
Traditional techniques such as squeezing and stretching, exaggeration, body movements, and even the general look of cartoons are used by modern animators. In addition, a huge number of hand-drawn storyboards are now being created, which are essentially animatics, that is, almost animations.
Yes, this is the era of digital animation. No one uses tables anymore – it is not profitable for the studio. Where there used to be one animation table, you can put 2 Cintiq tables, because this greatly speeds up production.
Pay attention to the number of animated films released annually. The Simpsons and Family Guy keep up with millions of viewers around the world. To be able to work even faster, animators began to combine the transfer technique with traditional animation. Therefore, all kinds of programs that allow you to combine these 2 styles flourish, for example, Adobe Animate CC and Photoshop.
So, of course, 2D animation is not dead. It’s just that the traditional style of animation has changed. Something new has evolved from the animation table technique and the past era of the giants of the animation industry. So now 2D animation is flourishing and transforming, acquiring modern eye-catching forms. And at Kevuru Games, we are actively involved in this process.
2D Animation or 3D Animation: Which is Easier?
- 3D animation is easier
It is enough to master some software and you can already start animating 3D objects.
- 2D animation is easier
It is enough to understand the frame-by-frame principle and be able to draw on a piece of paper.
Where is the truth?
The truth is that asking such a question is wrong.
None of the types of animation are more complicated or simpler, it all depends on the project and the desired result.
Both 3D and 2D can be simple and technically complex, and there’s no point in trying to compare them on the basis of simplicity.
Behind the seeming simplicity of 2D animation lies a huge amount of labor-intensive work. Keyframes help automate the movement of objects on the timeline, and software improvements sometimes save the animator from having to draw every frame (24 in 1 second), but don’t free the animator from painstaking detail work.
Matching the character to the perspective of the background is another difficult task in 2D animation – another artist is usually responsible for creating the background, and adding the character to the environment can be quite a challenge. In addition, we have already mentioned that it is now quite possible to make 2D animation look like 3D thanks to lighting tricks. Therefore, it would be a big mistake to say that it is simple.
Take a look at this majestic druid. Do you think this is 2D or 3D animation? For the uninitiated, the answer is not so obvious.
In 3D, the relationship between character and background is easier to establish through the referencing process. The background is simply loaded into the finished animated character file. 3D animation is actually a “rebirth” of virtual puppets. And it all depends on their complexity and level of detail. Your project could be a bouncing ball, in which case setting up physical and dynamic attributes along with the ground plane would be a matter of a few steps.
Next comes lighting, texturing, computer simulation of the ball’s movement, and sequence rendering. By the way, even such a project will be a good test for a beginner. What if you want to bring a dancing person or complex battle scenes to life? This is a completely different level.
A few words about the statements at the beginning of this section.
- Drawing is a really useful skill for a 2D animator
The faster and better the drawn objects for animation are created, the easier it is to work with them, because the more frames, the smoother and more accurate the result will be. The ability to draw allows the animator to think about the movement of the characters in advance and quickly navigate the change in their body position in order to provide high-quality animation.
Modern technology has saved the animator from having to draw each of the 24 frames per second. Animation just got easier. However, this in no way affected the freedom of imagination and fantasy that is provided to the animator when creating 2D animation.
- Software mastering is a really important skill for a 3D animator
In 3D animation, you don’t have to fiddle with every frame – you have animation software that allows you to use motion tweens. This is a very cool and handy feature of computer animation, which consists in creating intermediate frames between a given start and end position. It allows you to painlessly and quickly create the appearance of a smooth transition from the first frame to the last, so that in the end we see what is called movement.
But not everything is so simple, because when working with 3D, you have to take into account many other factors besides the animation itself. This includes the angle of view, the nuances of lighting, rigging, rendering, and the need to adhere to the anatomical details of the body structure. A higher level of realism requires a deeper dive into the details.
2D vs 3D Animation Cost: Major Pricing Factors
We’ve already discussed enough pros and cons of 2D and 3D animation and have determined that none of them can be considered simpler or more complex. Then what about cost?
There is an opinion that 2D animation is cheaper to produce and more accessible than 3D. In general, this is true, but we must understand that we are considering the question of price from the point of view of a generalized abstract comparison. In fact, any kind of animation is a complex and, accordingly, expensive work that requires an individual approach to each project and a lot of time and resources. So, what factors affect the cost of animation?
✔ How to Estimate Costs and Plan a 2D Animation Budget Correctly
✔ 3D Animation Cost: What’s Behind It? – Brief Guide to Calculate the Price
The main pricing factor is the use of expensive and resource-intensive software. This is exactly the case with 3D animation – it requires special programs and a long rendering procedure. 2D animation software is less resource-intensive and the compilation process is much faster. This, however, does not devalue the work, especially if each frame was drawn by hand. The more manual labor involved in creating a 2D animation, the more expensive it will be.
It takes into account the number of objects needed and the general appearance of the background. Each detail requires time and attention to create – the more details, the more resources are spent on creating animation and, accordingly, the price is higher. The level of realism, complex background changes, special effects – all this directly affects the cost and determines the final look of the animation.
The longer the animation, the higher its cost. But even here everything is not so simple. For example, for the same budget, a studio can create a more detailed short animation, or a longer one with less detail. Thus, length is considered in conjunction with style, detail, and complexity, and cannot affect cost separately from other factors.
Also, the cost is affected by the presence of a character in 2D or 3D animation. This greatly complicates the process and makes it more laborious – you have to develop and illustrate characters from scratch, think over their image and characteristics, model and rig them for movement in the case of 3D animation. Characters are the most difficult aspect of animation, as each part of their body must act independently, but at the same time, they must display a harmonious and balanced picture when moving.
On average, the time it takes to create a one-minute 2D or 3D animation is two weeks or more. If the customer is satisfied with this period, the price will be adjusted taking into account the above factors. If the project is needed earlier, the cost of the product will increase. This is due to the involvement of more specialists, the need to work overtime, and increased load on equipment.
It is difficult to talk about a specific price, since everything depends on the project – we will not be original in saying that. On average, we can talk about the price of about $5,000 for a minute of 2D animation and $10,000 for the same duration of 3D animation.
|Price options||2D animation||3D animation|
The Last Frame
Congratulations, you now know much more about animation than you did before reading this article. Now you definitely won’t say that 2D animation is dead or that 3D animation is harder. And if you plan to go even further and contribute to the world of animation by creating your own project, we are ready to be the creative executor of your aspirations – tell us what you want to achieve, and together we can find the best path to your goal.