What is 2D Animation? Applications, Comparison, Types, Salary, Scope

Within the enchanting domain of animation, 2D animation retains its status as a timeless and progressively advancing method, ceaselessly entrancing global audiences. This comprehensive article serves as your definitive handbook for comprehending 2D animation. It encompasses its genesis, disparities from 3D animation, applications across various domains, potential professional pathways, software utilities, and its forthcoming potential. Join us on a quest to unveil the enigmatic realm of 2D animation.

What is 2D Animation?

At its core, 2D animation, also known as traditional animation, is an artistic method of creating motion pictures by displaying a series of hand-drawn or digitally created images in rapid succession. This creates an illusion of movement, giving life to characters and scenes. 2D animation has a rich history dating back to the early days of cinema when artists meticulously hand-drew each frame to bring characters to life. With a 2D animation course, you, too, can learn this creative process and get started on your journey to becoming an animator. 

What is the Difference Between 2D and 3D Animation?

Here’s a comprehensive table summarizing the differences between 2D and 3D animation. 

Aspect 2D Animation 3D Animation
Technique and Style Two-dimensional space Three-dimensional space
Visual Appearance Simplistic, stylized visuals Realistic or stylized visuals
Production Process Sequential frames Modeling, rigging, animating, rendering, etc
Time and Effort Generally requires less time and effort More time and effort required
Applications Cartoons, web series, ads, educational content Films, video games, architecture visualization, medical simulations, product design

Where is 2D Animation Used?

The far-reaching influence of 2D animation extends across diverse industries and media landscapes. Its indelible mark graces everything from timeless cartoons that have enthralled successive generations to enlightening educational videos and captivating advertisements, showcasing its remarkable adaptability. Moreover, the expansive terrain of video games, elucidating explainer videos, captivating TV series, cinematic spectacles, and even pioneering marketing endeavors all embrace the creative essence of 2D animation to deftly convey a spectrum of concepts, sentiments, and narratives.

What are the Different Types of 2D Animation?

2D animation is a versatile medium, and within it, several techniques have emerged to suit different creative needs. Some of these include:

Traditional Animation: 

  • Conventional animation, alternatively referred to as cel animation or hand-drawn animation, forms the fundamental cornerstone of 2D animation. This method entails the manual crafting of every animation frame, frequently employing pencils and paper. Proficient animators painstakingly sketch each individual frame, adeptly capturing subtle shifts in motion to craft the illusion of movement. Traditional animation is commonly used in creating short films, TV shows, and feature-length animated movies.
  • One of the most iconic examples of traditional animation is Disney’s “The Lion King.” The film was created using hand-drawn animation techniques and showcased the artistry and storytelling prowess of traditional animation.

Cutout Animation: 

  • Cutout animation is a technique that simplifies the animation process by using pre-made parts of characters or objects. Instead of drawing each frame from scratch, animators use individual elements, often cut out from paper or digitally created, that can be manipulated to create movement. 
  • This method streamlines the process and is particularly useful in television animation, where time and efficiency are crucial. Cutout animation is often used in television shows, explainer videos, and web animations. 
  • The television series “South Park” exemplifies cutout animation, employing uncomplicated characters and backgrounds in this style. This approach enables the creators to swiftly craft episodes and promptly address contemporary happenings.

Digital Animation: 

  • The advent of technology has revolutionized the world of animation, including the realm of 2D animation. Digital animation allows artists to create animations using software tools, replicating the traditional animation process digitally. While the basic principles remain the same, digital animation provides added flexibility and convenience.
  • Digital animation displays remarkable versatility and finds application across diverse sectors. It finds utility in the development of video games, the production of animated feature films, the creation of interactive media, and even the crafting of virtual reality experiences.
  • “Frozen,” produced by Disney, showcases the pinnacle of digital animation. The movie seamlessly blended 3D character animation with digital enhancements, resulting in a visually captivating and emotionally immersive cinematic journey.

Motion Graphics: 

  • Motion graphics involve the fusion of design elements and animation to create visually engaging content. This form of animation is often used for creating titles, logos, and visual effects in various media, including advertisements, presentations, and online videos.
  • Motion graphics are used in title sequences, advertisements, explainer videos, and presentations. They effectively communicate complex ideas in a visually appealing manner.
  • The TED-Ed platform utilizes motion graphics to create educational videos. These animations help convey intricate concepts, making them accessible to a broad audience. 

What is the 2D Animation Creation Process?

The creation of a 2D animation involves several key steps:

  • Storyboarding: Meticulously orchestrating the animation’s sequence and rhythm by sketching out preliminary outlines and establishing the seamless flow that guides the viewer’s journey.
  • Character Design: Breathing life into the animation by meticulously crafting the visual appearance and multifaceted personalities of the characters who will inhabit its world, making them instantly recognizable and deeply relatable.
  • Background Design: Crafting the immersive tapestry upon which the characters interact, skillfully fashioning the scenic backdrops and intricate environments that enhance the narrative’s authenticity and depth.
  • Animatics: Crafting preliminary animated vignettes that act as a dynamic blueprint, offering a tangible glimpse into the animation’s timing, pacing, and overall visual dynamics, allowing for early assessments and refinements.
  • Animation: Transcending stillness by orchestrating the enchanting dance of characters across each frame, infusing vitality into their movements, and giving them the power to resonate with audiences on a profound level.
  • Clean-Up: Elevating the animation from its rudimentary form by delicately refining each element, intricately adding details, and meticulously smoothing out the animation’s transitions, resulting in a polished and seamless visual progression.
  • Coloring: Infusing the canvas with vibrant hues that breathe life into characters and settings alike, engaging viewers on a sensory level while enhancing the emotional resonance of the narrative.
  • Compositing: Seamlessly fusing the diverse components—animated entities, meticulously crafted backgrounds, and artfully integrated effects—into a harmonious whole, culminating in a final visual symphony that captivates and resonates with audiences.

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What Does a 2D Animator Do?

A 2D animator is someone who has done an animation course and is a skilled artist. They create movement and life in two-dimensional characters and scenes. Their tasks include sketching frames, refining movements, ensuring consistency, and collaborating with other team members to bring the animation to life.

Career Opportunities

  • Character Animator: As a character animator, you’ll be the mastermind behind every nuance and gesture that defines your creations, breathing life into their captivating personalities.
  • Storyboard Artist: A storyboard artist crafts the visual blueprint of an animation, translating the script into a visual narrative that guides the animation process. Your sketches will weave the threads of plot and emotion, setting the stage for the magic to unfold.
  • Background Artist: Your artistic touch will infuse scenes with atmosphere and depth, complementing the characters and their tales with meticulously designed settings.
  • Motion Graphics Designer: As a motion graphics designer, you’ll harness the power of animation to capture attention, infuse dynamism, and communicate messages with flair, making your work a captivating spectacle.
  • Visual Development Artist: Your artistry will breathe life into the visual identity of the animation, defining its style, tone, and emotive impact. Through your creations, the animation’s world will come to life with authenticity and splendor.

2D Software

Modern 2D animation relies on advanced software tools that enhance the creative process. Some popular choices include:

  • Adobe Animate: A versatile tool for creating vector-based animations.
  • Toon Boom Harmony: A professional-grade software used for various types of 2D animation.
  • Moho (formerly Anime Studio): A user-friendly software for creating animations and cutout rigs.

What are the Salary Expectations?

Salaries in the 2D animation industry vary based on factors such as experience, location, and the complexity of the projects. Entry-level positions like junior animators might earn around RS. 2,00,000 to RS. 3,00,000 per year, while experienced animators, lead positions, or those in specialized roles can earn well above RS. 4,00,000 annually.

The Prospects of 2D Animation Ahead

Even in the face of 3D animation’s ascendancy, 2D animation retains its cherished status as a treasured and indispensable artistic expression. Through the fusion of technological advancements, evolving aesthetics, and its enduring allure, 2D animation is poised to maintain a substantial role in realms like entertainment, education, and communication. As nostalgia intertwines with innovation, the forthcoming trajectory of 2D animation shines bright, brimming with potential and exciting opportunities.


Wrapping up, the journey of 2D animation, spanning a tapestry of history and perpetual transformation, maintains its captivating hold on both hearts and imaginations. This enduring allure, harmoniously melded with contemporary technological advancements, solidifies its status as an adaptable and essential facet within the tapestry of animation. Be it in the realm of vintage cartoons, informative, educational content, or innovative marketing endeavors, 2D animation unfurls narratives that deeply resonate across generational divides. As we stride into the forthcoming era, the enchantment woven by 2D animation undoubtedly endures, extending an invitation to fresh generations to partake in its mesmerizing spell of wonder and boundless creativity.


What are some popular examples of 2D animation?

Popular examples include classics like Disney's 'The Lion King' and modern hits like 'Adventure Time' and 'Rick and Morty.'

How do 2D motion graphics different from traditional 2D animation?

While 2D animation encompasses intricate character movements and immersive storytelling, 2D motion graphics are primarily centered around the conception of lively and compelling visuals. These visuals come to life through the crafting of effects and elements that enhance titles, logos, and presentations, injecting them with an extra layer of dynamism and visual appeal.

What are some of the commonly used software options for 2D animation?

Noteworthy software choices for 2D animation include Adobe Animate, Toon Boom Harmony, and Moho, which have gained popularity due to their comprehensive features and user-friendly interfaces.

Can 2D and 3D animation be combined?

Absolutely, the convergence of these two techniques holds the potential to yield captivating animations that are not only visually striking but also possess a distinctive quality. By harnessing the inherent strengths of both 2D and 3D animation, creators can craft a fusion that opens up new avenues for creative expression.

What are some advantages of 2D animation?

2D animation presents a canvas of benefits, embracing artistic liberty, evoking nostalgic sentiments, and offering a well-suited avenue for conveying a spectrum of emotions and narratives in a manner that strikes a balance between simplicity and profound impact.

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