2D Animation vs 3D Animation: The Dimension Dilemma

2D Animation vs 3D Animation
 
Ponder a bit; what is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word Animation? Cartoons? Disney? Well, trust us when we say this; it is quite routine. It is majorly because people’s exposure to Animation is curtailed strictly to these two forms in most cases.

 

From watching cartoons, sitting in the PJs on the Sunday afternoons with a bowl full of popcorns to now putting them up for your kids, or even enjoying adult cartoon series, such as the BoJack Horseman or The Simpsons, our understanding of Animation comes mainly from Cartoons.

 

The role of an animator is to bring games and stories to life. But the big question is, why do the animation characters today not look any similar to the archaic cartoons? The simple answer to it is that they are both created differently.

 

Even though Animation is an excessively popular entertainment source, it is widely popular in the marketing field. There are more than a few perks associated with animated marketing clips, stories, or videos.

 

These videos are visually appealing, and sometimes, with Animation, we tend to create some out-of-the-world things, such as the dragon-cat hybrid named Chester or the VMG’s latest mascot, which is unforgettable for the viewer.

 

Overall, you can think of Animation as one of the most incredible ways to reach out to your target audience via corporate and marketing content. But, the reality is there is no one kind of Animation that you can pick from when you plan for your next video project.

 

Broadly, there are two styles in animations – 2D Animation and 3D Animation. Of course, when you compare 3D vs 2D Animation, you will see that both styles have their own set of pros and cons.

 

Our aim in this guide is to help you understand the difference between 3D Animation and 2D Animation. However, to better learn the 2D Animation vs 3D Animation, you must know what they signify individually. The difference in their style will also help you pick the one that fits your deployment strategy, budget, and creative expectations.

 

Key Highlights – Difference between 2D and 3D Animation

  • In 3D vs 2D debate,the latter is more complicated as it requires animators to draw 24 FPS, along with an intensive knowledge of animation principles, movements, anatomy, and physics behind every movement.
  • Between 2D and 3D animation,2D is relatively more time-consuming and complicated than 3D.
  • Comparing 2D Animation vs 3D Animation, 2D is more pocket-friendly.
  • Comparatively, in 3D vs 2D Animation, more complex software is used in 3D. Usually, 2D Animation is done manually.

 

Now, before we compare 2D and 3D Animation in detail, we need to understand both of them individually.

 

In This Article

 

What Is 2D Animation?

What Is 2D Animation?
 
2D animation is naturally older than 3D animation. It has been around since the 19th century. In 2D animation, the animators have to draw a single character or image in one pose and then change this pose, following which, you can build flipbooks, wherein the different poses give an illusion of movement.

 

Thanks to Disney, 2D animation did not take a lot of time to gain massive popularity. Soon after, cartoon characters, such as Minnie and Mickey Mouse were designed by Walt Disney, cartoons became a part of everybody’s life.

 

Today, 2D animation is designed with computer software, and there is no end to its popularity. You can find this style of animation widely used in marketing, TV, films, marketing, and games. Be it government announcements or business promotion videos, 2D animation is everywhere.

 

Examples of 2D Animation

 

Television:

  • SpongeBob Squarepants
  • Dragonball Z
  • The Simpsons
  • Tom and Jerry
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Futurama
  • King of the Hill
  • Family Guy
  • Looney Toons

 

Films:

  • Aladdin
  • The Iron Giant
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • The Lion King
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Jungle Book
  • Mulan

 

Games:

  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Mega Man X
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Shovel Knight
  • Super Metroid
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Tetris
  • Sonic the Hedgehog

 

What Is 3D Animation?

What Is 3D Animation?
 
To understand the difference between 3D animation and 2D animation, after learning about 2D animation, you must also know what 3D animation is. This is because the production process in 3D is different from 2D animation. 3D stands for three-dimension, which indicates the depth, width, and height.

 

Unlike the 2D video animation drafted via a series of flat images, 3D animation will need all three dimensions visible in a go. Companies such as Pixar and Disney use this kind of animation to design magnificent animated movies, TV series, ads, or games.

 

Examples of 3D animation

Let’s have a look at some of the applications of 3D before moving ahead with the 3D vs 2D animation comparison.

 

Television:

  • Max Steel
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
  • Star Wars Rebels
  • Fanboy & Chum Chum
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness

 

Films:

  • Big Hero 6
  • Shrek
  • Frozen
  • Toy Story
  • Madagascar
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Despicable Me
  • Up

 

Games:

  • Super Mario 64
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Gears of War
  • Call of Duty
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Halo: Combat Evolved

 

Which Is Better 2D or 3D Animation?

When you are studying the 3D vs 2D animation comparison, an obvious question in your mind will be – which of the two is better? Well, regardless of the choice you make from 2D animation vs 3D animation, each of them has a place of its own.

 

Let us understand what is the difference between 2D and 3D animation with an example.

 

Mario 64 employed 3D animation since it is a 3D game, whereas if you check out the classic Mario, it is a 2D game and has no employment of 3D.

 

But, in these games, can you say one is better than the other? Despite being composed of different animation styles, both stand out on their own and are exceptional games. Hence, when deciding between 2D and 3D, it is all a matter of artistic preference and individualistic convenience.

 

Of course, anytime you build a web show, TV series, a comic book, or a video game, you will have to choose between 2D and 3D, but that choice would not be because one is better than the other. Instead, that choice would be made because one style better complements the premise.

 

Also, the choice between 2D animation vs 3D animation depends on certain mechanical aspects, such as the budget. As known 3D is definitely costlier. So, if budget is a constraint, you need to pick 2D.

 

Overall, if you need a more life-like experience, you will opt for 3D animation.

 

Comparison Table – 3D Vs 2D Animation

So, what is the difference between 2D and 3D Animation? Here, we will compare 2D and 3D animation in tabular form.

 

Metric for Comparison 2D Animation 3D Animation
Existence It has been around since the late 1800s. It has been around since the late 1900s.
Geometry Square, Rectangle, Triangle, Polygon, etc. Sphere, Cube, Pyramid, Cylinder, Prism, etc.
Math X-axis and Y-Axis X-axis, Y-Axis, and Z-Axis
Appearing closer to reality Less More
Dimensions involved 2 – Length and width 3 – Length, width, and depth
Production time Relatively shorter Relatively longer
What’s it about? Predominantly about frames Predominantly about movements
Creation method Early stages, mostly manual or hand-drawn Computer-based
Cost Less expensive More expensive
Space for creativity Endless Curtailed by software capabilities
Predominant focus Story and Gameplay Design
Application area Video games, cartoons, films, websites, advertising, product video, learning courses Cartoons, films, medicine, aerospace, biotechnology, video games
Rotation capability Separate drawing for every individualistic viewing angle 360-degrees
Reusability Every project will need a new drawing The same model can be employed in different projects
Learning time Faster Slower
Conceptual Drawing 2D animation does not work for conceptual drawing as representation can happen in just two dimensions 3D animation works incredibly for conceptual designing as you can see all three-dimensional views. Hence, creating detailed characters is easier.

 

Detailed Difference Between 3D Vs 2D Animation

What is the difference between 2D and 3D animation? Read below to find out!

 

1. Realism

When we compare 2D and 3D animation, the latter is closer to reality in terms of visual appeal. In 2D, only two dimensions – length and width are covered, whereas in 3D, length, width, and depth are all covered, making them more realistic.

 

2. Cost

Upon comparing 2D animation vs 3D animation in terms of cost, the definite truth is 2D animation is relatively cheaper. For example, if you get a one-minute 2D video made, it can cost you anywhere 1000-5000 USD.

 

On the other hand, if you get a one-minute 3D video made, it will be priced somewhere around 5000-10000 USD. Of course, the price is decided based on the requirements and the project’s demands, but generally, 2D is less expensive when you look at 3D vs 2D animation price difference.

 

3. Platform

When we compare 2D and 3D animation based on the platform used, it is clear that the former traditional drawing method is utilized. So, everything is hand-drawn. The animator will digitally draw the character or use a pencil to draw the characters and dictate their movements.

 

Every movement is decided frame by frame. For 2D animation, software like Adobe Animate and Adobe After Effects are used to include digital movements. On the other hand, everything in 3D animation is done via computer software.

 

4. Application

When it comes to use-cases, 2D animation vs 3D animation, both have done well, you will find the 2D animation used in video games, cartoons, films, websites, advertising, product video, and learning courses.

 

On the other hand, 3D animation is used in cartoons, films, medicine, aerospace, biotechnology, and video games.

 

Similarities Between 2D and 3D Animation

Now that we have seen the 3D vs 2D animation comparison, we would also like to address a few similarities between 2D and 3D animation. These include:

 

  • Both 2D animation and 3D animation have length.
  • Both 2D animation and 3D animation have width.

 

Is 3D Animation Easier Than 2D ?

The difficulty level in 2D animation and 3D animation depends more on your skill level and background. For someone who can draw efficiently and quickly, 2D animation will be relatively more straightforward.

 

However, in general, the complexities in 3D animation are more. But, it is still easier and quicker to learn because you do not have to animate every individual frame as is needed in 2D animation.

 

Instead, the software that you use will handle the frames in between. This process is known as tweening.

 

How To Decide Between 3D Vs 2D Animation?

To choose between the two you must bear in mind some factors of consideration. These include:

 

1. Target Audience

The first difference between 2D and 3D animation selection is their target audience. The people viewing your videos. If you need to create a fantastic explainer video, 2D is a better pick than 3D.

 

2D explainer videos appear digestible and fun to comprehend. On the other hand, if you need to make the video appear realistic, you will opt for a 3D video.

 

So, when you have to present the features of a new phone to potential customers, a 3D video animation video would be a better pick.

 

2. Cost

Broadly speaking, the 2D animation videos are more pocket-friendly compared to the 3D animation videos. It is widely because the complexities in 3D videos are higher compared to the 2D videos.

 

Hence, they take more time for the animator to assemble. When it comes to video production, time sure is equal to money.

 

3. Turnaround time

As a follow-up to the previous point, the turnaround time for 2D animation videos is shorter than that of the 3D animation videos. Typically, animators might demand as much as 6-weeks’ time to produce a 2D animation video.

 

On the other hand, for a 3D video, the turnaround time might be as high as months to a year, depending on the video’s length or complexity.
 
Related: Best Adobe Dimension Courses
 

2D Animation Vs 3D Animation – Pros & Cons List

 

2D Animation (Pros)

 
1. Economical
As has been stated above, the complexities involved in 2D animation are fewer. Hence, they are relatively more pocket-friendly than 3D animation videos.

 
2. Quicker to produce
The turnaround time in 2D animation videos is faster compared to the 3D animation videos. It is because they demand less labor. However, the timeline is also decided depending on the complexities and the requirements in the project.

 
3. Easier to update
This is one of the biggest pros associated with 2D animation when you compare 3D vs 2D animation. As they are not very complicated, updating the assets down the lines is relatively more straightforward.

 

Another aspect of this pro is that since they are easy to update, the 2D animated videos have a longer shelf life than the 3D animated videos.

 
4. Easier to adapt and expand
2D animated videos function in a two-dimensional space. Converting these videos into static graphic design elements is effortless.

 

2D Animation (Cons)

 
1. Looks boring, bland, or redundant
Compared to the 3D animation videos, the 2D videos might appear redundant, dull, or bland. It is because, in 2D videos, you do not get a complete 3D video. Hence, these videos lack depth.

 

Of course, you can create visually appealing 2D assets, but the 3D animation videos will certainly be more eye-catching.

 
2. Less demand
With the popularity of 3D animation, there has been a decline in the fondness of 3D animations amongst people.
 

3D Animation (Pros)

 
1. Visually appealing
When you compare 2D animation vs 3D animation, this turns out to be one of the most significant benefits of 3D animation. The videos produced in 3D are more life-like.

Hence, they are certainly more visually appealing compared to the 2D animation videos. Thus, a 3D animation video can successfully boost your marketing efforts and lure your audience.
 
2. Dynamic

Since the 3D videos are crafted in a three-dimensional space, you have greater options for visual storytelling. With the advent of modern technology, the creative possibilities involved in producing 3D animation videos are endless. So, on comparing 3D vs 2D animation, 3D wins.
 
3. Higher ROI guaranteed

Of course, the 3D animation videos are time-consuming and more expensive, but they will be more successful in enticing the viewers. Thus, it is an excellent resource for marketing and branding. Hence, it is indeed a worthy investment.
 
4. Richness in quality

Compared to the 2D animation videos, the 3D videos look more spectacular.
 

3D Animation (Cons)

 
1. Labor-intensive
As the 3D videos are more challenging and time-consuming, the labor involved in them is higher.

 
2. Costlier
Since there are more complexities involved, the 3D animation videos are expensive.
 
3. Longer turnaround time
An animator will need a longer turnaround time to produce a spectacular 3D animation video. Hence, between 2D animation vs 3D animation, 2D gets the point here.

 

Best Online Courses for Animation

Here are some of the finest courses to understand and learn more about 3D vs 2D animation.
 

3D Animation Courses

  1. Learn 3D Animation – The Ultimate NEW BLENDER 2.8 Course A-Z – [Udemy]
  2. Learn Professional Pixel Art & Animation for Games – [Udemy]
  3. Basic 3D Animation using Blender – Offered by IIT Bombay – [edX]
  4. After Effects Motion Graphics Beast – [Udemy]
  5. Maya for Beginners: Complete Guide to 3D Animation in Maya – [Udemy]
  6. Animation and CGI Motion – Offered by the Columbia University – [edX]
  7. 2021 Top Animation Courses – [Coursera]
  8. Learn to Animate: Animation Principles – [Udemy]
  9. Online Animation Classes – [Skillshare]
  10. Online Animation & Drawing Classes – [The Animation Course]
  11. Learn 3D Animation Online – [Animation Mentor]

 

2D Animation Training Courses

  1. Cinematography for 2D Animation Essentials – [Udemy]
  2. How to Make Professional 2D Animation Videos in Vyond – [Udemy]
  3. 2D Animation in Moho from Basic to Advanced – [Udemy]
  4. 2D Animation Essentials in Moho & Anime Studio – [Udemy]
  5. Grow your 2D animation skills – [Plural Sight]
  6. Online 2D Animation Classes – [Skillshare]
  7. Online 2D Animation courses – Domestika
  8. Advanced 2D Animation Diploma – [CG Spectrum]
  9. Foundations in Modern 2D Animation – [CG Master Academy]
  10. 2D Animation for Beginners – [Animation Mentor]

 

So, this is it from our end on difference between 2D and 3D animation. Hope you now have a clearer picture in your head about the commonalities and differences between these two styles.