In this ever-evolving digital age, where captivating visuals play a pivotal role, 2D animation has stood the test of time.

The origins of this animation method date back to the late 19th century, when visionaries like Emile Reynaud and J. Stuart Blackton first experimented with sequential images to create the illusion of movement. Little did they know that this innovative technique would lay the foundation for a revolutionary artistic medium. Fast-forward to the present day, where animation is a powerful visual aid in every marketer's toolbox.

From its humble beginnings of hand-drawn frames to the advent of digital technology, this dynamic medium has journeyed through various iterations. While the rise of 3D animations and motion graphics has carved its own niche, the charm and simplicity of 2D animation continue to captivate audiences of all ages.

Jumpstart your ideas with Linearity Curve

Take your designs to the next level.

In this post, we delve into the world of 2D animation, exploring its essence and evolution. We'll decipher what sets it apart from its counterparts, such as traditional animations and motion graphics. Through illuminating examples, we'll showcase the versatility and creative potential of this medium.

Whether you're a seasoned animator or a curious novice, we'll provide insights and practical advice on embarking on your own animated journey.

via GIPHY

What is 2D animation?

At its core, 2D animation refers to the creation of moving images in a two-dimensional space. This visually-stimulating art form is often characterized by the illusion of movement through a sequence of individual drawings.

Unlike three-dimensional animation, which adds depth and realism through digital modeling, 2D animation emphasizes the manipulation of flat visuals to convey motion and narrative. A form of design that predates the digital era, it has evolved into a dynamic and versatile medium that continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

How does 2D animation work?

The two-dimensional animation process involves breathing life into still images through a structured sequence of steps.

It all begins with the concept, where ideas form the foundation of a narrative. Storyboarding then lays out the visual blueprint, ensuring a coherent flow and rhythm. Character design follows suit, meticulously crafting the appearance and personality of each animated subject.

Next, the creation of background layouts and settings provides context, anchoring the characters in their environment. Audio tracks and sound effects enhance the experience, while timing dictates the pace and impact of each movement.

Integrating traditional techniques with digital tools streamlines the process, allowing animators to refine their creations efficiently. This symbiosis culminates in a captivating visual narrative that engages audiences and conveys stories effectively.

Why does 2D animation matter?

1. Timeless appeal and nostalgia

Two-dimensional animation holds a cherished place in the hearts of all generations. It evokes nostalgia and a sense of familiarity, reminding us of classic animations like Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This enduring charm makes 2D animation a powerful medium for invoking emotions and relaying marketing messages with a touch of sentiment.

2. Versatility and expression

From light-hearted children's tales to thought-provoking narratives for adults, animated characters effortlessly span multiple genres. Two-dimensional animation enables creators to explore various themes, from comedy to fantasy. Its adaptability empowers storytellers to convey complex ideas with simplicity and visual elegance.

3. Accessible learning and artistic growth

Learning 2D animation is an excellent entry point for aspiring animators. The process introduces fundamental principles of motion and timing, nurturing skills that can be applied across various creative endeavors. The journey from basic techniques to more intricate animations is a stepping stone to enhanced artistic expression.

4. Marketing storytelling that resonates

Two-dimensional animation is a potent storytelling tool in marketing. Using marketing design and animation software tools like Linearity Move, 2D animation enables brands to convey complex narratives. Through characters and settings, 2D animations create relatable scenarios that resonate deeply. Animations create a lasting impact by tugging at emotions and creating a lasting impact that influences consumer behavior.

5. Versatility across platforms

from social media to websites and presentations, 2D animation seamlessly adapts to various marketing platforms. This versatility maximizes the reach of marketing campaigns, catering to diverse audience preferences.

Short animations excel on social media, where attention spans are fleeting, while longer narratives find a home in presentations and websites. The ability to tailor animations to specific platforms optimizes engagement, making 2D animation an indispensable tool for modern marketers.

via GIPHY

Types of 2D animation

In visual storytelling and communication, 2D animation and motion graphics are vibrant canvases of creativity. From the classic charm of traditional animation to the sleek precision of vector-based graphics, each style brings its own unique flair to the table.

Transform Your Ideas into Animations

Dive into the world of animation with Linearity Move. Perfect for beginners and professionals alike, our course guides you through creating stunning animations for any purpose.

Motion graphics, on the other hand, fuse text, images, and animation into a compelling visual symphony, conveying information and ideas with precision. Let’s delve further into the different types of 2D animation and motion graphics.

Traditional animation (cel animation)

Cel or celluloid animation is a classic animation style that involves hand-drawn frames on transparent sheets (cels) that are layered over backgrounds. Each frame captures incremental movements, creating fluid motion when played in sequence. The labor-intensive process gives a charming, handmade feel to animations.

Vector-based animation

Utilizing mathematical equations, vector graphics produce smooth and scalable animations. Ideal for logos, infographics, and simple character animations, this style maintains clarity and sharpness at any size.

Motion graphics

Motion graphics combine text, graphics, and animation to convey information or concepts succinctly. Often used in explainer videos, presentations, and advertisements, they enhance communication with dynamic visuals and kinetic typography.

Cut-out animation

This technique involves moving pre-cut characters and objects against backgrounds. It's efficient for creating characters with consistent proportions, making it popular in television animations and web content.

Rotoscoping

Rotoscoping traces over live-action footage frame by frame, yielding realistic movement. It's used to achieve lifelike motion or create unique visual effects.

Different fields and uses of 2D animations

Motion graphics and 2D animations have boundless creative potential across various industries and purposes – from the dynamic world of commercial marketing to the enchanting realms of anime and the evocative expressions of artistic endeavors.

These versatile visual tools bring branding concepts to life, add depth to feature films, and deliver powerful marketing messages through succinct motion graphics. Let’s unravel how it shapes narratives, communicates ideas, and leaves an indelible impact, weaving its threads of motion through different fields and sparking the imagination of audiences worldwide.

Commercial marketing

Animated marketing videos are dynamic assets that infuse brands with life and personality. They wield the power to transform logos into living entities, while motion graphics succinctly convey complex messages in advertisements, presentations, and across digital platforms.

These animations simplify intricate product explanations, engaging potential customers and leaving a lasting impression. To effectively produce these assets, marketing teams can leverage intuitive animation software like Linearity Move.

Anime

2D animation thrives in the anime world, captivating audiences with diverse genres. Hand-drawn animation brings characters to life, while advanced animation techniques enhance action sequences and fantastical elements.

Artistic expression

Artists push boundaries with experimental animations, crafting visual narratives that provoke thought and emotion. Short films and independent projects showcase the potential of 2D animation as a medium for personal expression and social commentary.

Feature films

2D animations remain integral in feature films, both as main attractions and supporting elements. They add depth to the storytelling and create unique visual experiences, often in tandem with other animation styles.

Exploring the best examples of 2D animations

2D animation has left an indelible mark on both the cinematic and commercial industries, captivating audiences with its artistry and storytelling prowess. From iconic films to engaging marketing campaigns, these examples showcase the dynamic potential of 2D animation in various contexts, demonstrating its ability to convey emotions, messages, and brand identities.

Ready to create brand assets that pack a punch?

Visit our Academy for free animation design courses.

Let's journey through some of the best and coolest 2D animations, where color palettes, character animation, and animation director's expertise converge to create unforgettable visual experiences. These exemplary works underscore 2D animation's versatility and impact.

Coca-Cola's 'Fifty Million Times A Day' commercial (1958)

The timeless Fifty Million Times A Day commercial from the 1950s is just one of the many animated videos from the iconic brand that evokes cheer and nostalgia.

The Lion King (1994)

The original version of the 1994 hit, The Lion King, masterfully wove vibrant colors, exceptional character animation, and special effects. Culminating in not only a box office success but an emotional and visually stunning narrative.

Spirited Away (2001)

Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away exemplifies the artistry of 2D animation, blending imaginative landscapes and meticulous character animation into a mesmerizing fantasy.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Disney's The Princess and the Frog revitalized traditional 2D animation, celebrating whimsical motifs, character animation, and modern storytelling.

Nike's 'The Last Game' Campaign

Nike's dynamic The Last Game campaign transforms soccer stars into animated characters, effectively promoting the brand's innovative sportsmanship.

Tips for mastering 2D animation

Embarking on a journey to master 2D animation involves dedication and practice. By adhering to best practices and leveraging recommended software and courses, you can refine your animation team's skills and create captivating animations that resonate with audiences.

via GIPHY

1. Animation best practices

Start with the basics

Begin by understanding the foundational principles of animation, such as timing, spacing, and movement. Experiment with rough animation to grasp the essence of motion before refining your work.

Hands-on practice

Regularly engage in frame-by-frame animation exercises to hone your skills. This practice builds muscle memory and a deep understanding of how motion unfolds.

Study real-life movement

Observe and study real-world movement. This keen observation helps you imbue your animations with realism and fluidity.

Embrace feedback

Share your work with peers or online communities. Constructive feedback provides fresh perspectives and insights for improvement.

Explore animation software

Choose animation software that aligns with your preferences and needs. Look for intuitive interfaces, such as Linearity Move, with features that facilitate smooth workflow, from rough animation to post-production.

Looking for comprehensive animation resources? Explore our guides on Animation Courses and Animation Apps. Our guides cater to both beginners and experienced 2D animators.

Animation principles in motion design by Skillshare

Immerse yourself in the fundamentals of animation principles and software techniques through this thoughtfully crafted course. With a curriculum developed by an esteemed designer, this course equips you with a solid foundation to kickstart your animation projects, whether you're an advanced animator or a beginner.

Animation bootcamp by the School of Motion

Take your skills to the next level with this comprehensive online course that delves deep into every facet of motion animation. From mastering rough animation to refining polished work, Animation Bootcamp covers it all, providing you with a holistic understanding of the art.

2D character animation by Udemy

An in-depth exploration of character animation techniques, equipping you with skills for dynamic storytelling. Delve into character movement and expressions, and gain the expertise to create compelling animations that resonate with audiences.

Selecting the right types of animation software is essential for animators, from beginners to seasoned professionals or animation directors. Whether you choose industry-standard options like Adobe Animate or innovative tools like Linearity Move, your choice of digital animation software plays a pivotal role in seamlessly translating ideas into captivating visual narratives.

Linearity Move

Wave goodbye to the complexities of manual animation and welcome hassle-free, professional motion graphics that captivate your audience.

Linearity Move is designed for ease of use, boasting templates and presets that allow teams to create animated content with just a single click. No prior training required.

Its streamlined approach to motion design ensures you spend less time grappling with intricate software and more time bringing your brand's vision to life. Instantly transform static designs into captivating motion graphics with powerful features like Auto Animate, making it accessible even for those without prior animation experience.

Toon Boom Harmony

A professional-grade software used in feature films and TV shows, enabling intricate frame animation and post-production effects. Toon Boom Harmony stands as a pinnacle of sophistication, catering to the demands of feature films and professional animation studios. It excels in frame-by-frame and rigging-based animation, accommodating a range of animation styles. Its advanced tool set, which features everything from character design to post-production effects, empowers animators to create visually stunning and dynamic animations. The software's robust rigging capabilities streamline the animation process, making it a valuable asset for complex character-driven narratives.

Adobe Animate

A stalwart in the animation realm, Adobe Animate seamlessly blends the art of animation with cutting-edge technology. With a rich set of tools, it's ideal for creating a wide variety of animations, from character-driven stories to interactive web content. Its frame-by-frame animation capabilities allow for intricate detailing and smooth movement. Beyond animation, Adobe Animate's integration with other Adobe Creative Cloud software enables seamless post-production enhancements, ensuring a polished final product.

Pencil2D

A free and user-friendly option for frame animation, suitable for learners and hobbyists. Pencil2D is an accessible and user-friendly option, making it an excellent starting point for those new to animation. While it might lack some of the advanced features of its counterparts, it provides a straightforward platform for frame-by-frame animation. Its simplicity makes it a great choice for hobbyists and beginners looking to grasp the basics of animation without feeling overwhelmed.

The timeless significance of 2D animation

The evolution of 2D animation is a testament to human ingenuity and creative prowess. From its origins in the late 19th century to its modern-day manifestation, 2D animation has proven its enduring significance. In an era of digital innovation, its timeless charm and adaptability have secured this medium's place as a cornerstone in visual storytelling.

The allure of 2D animation lies not only in its nostalgic appeal but also in its versatility across diverse fields. At its core, the art of animation remains an intricate dance between imagination and technique. So, whether you're a seasoned animator crafting intricate motions or a marketing professional seeking to captivate your audience, the world of 2D animation invites you to explore its depths, embrace its potential, and embark on a journey of creation that leaves an indelible mark on the canvas of visual culture.

via GIPHY

Ready to create your own 2D animation?

If you love Linearity Curve, we know you'll love Linearity Move, an intuitive animation software for designers and marketers of all levels. The Move app for iOs makes it easy to take your animation idea from sketch to storyboard in just a few simple steps. The cost-effective software's main features include:

  • Auto-animate: A functionality that allows users to import a file from Linearity Curve or Figma and automatically generate animations with the press of a button.
  • Animation presets: Pre-built animations and effects that can be easily applied to elements within any project.
  • Storyboarding: Users can animate by looking at the objects and changing their properties without ever defining keyframe values in the timeline.
  • Curve and Move Integration: Seamless integration between Curve and Move allows users to work seamlessly between the two software components.

Sign up today and join the waitlist to get first access to our revolutionary animation product.

Jumpstart your ideas with Linearity Curve

Take your designs to the next level.

All you need to know about 2D animation | Linearity
All you need to know about 2D animation