2D vs. 3D Animation: Which Is Better?

Oct 20, 2021 | Lifestyle

Many people say that 3D animation is better than 2D and vice versa. It’s difficult for both to stand out because they both have their strong points and disadvantages.

What Is 2D Animation?

2D animation is an animated film or video created by using two-dimensional images with various properties. The most common of these are hand-drawn artwork, cut-outs, puppets, paper cut-outs, stop-motion capture, and computer graphics (CGI).

2D looks like flat two-dimensional pictures. These pictures range from simple geometric shapes to more complex characters with human emotions and facial expressions.

What Is 3D?

3D modeling is the process or method of creating 3D objects, environments, and characters you can animate for film, broadcast TV, and computer games. It involves taking a series of two-dimensional pictures (normally referred to as digitizing) from different angles. The animation software then positions these images sequentially to give the illusion of movement.

3D modeling is a subset of 3D graphics, which can include rendering, lighting, texturing, and animation. The most common type of 3D modeling software includes digital sculpting tools with subdivision surface algorithms.

2D vs. 3D: How Do They Compare?

1.  Production Cost

Many people believe that 2D animation is more affordable to produce than 3D. The latter uses expensive software and hardware. The process of creating 3D animation is also longer. However, this is not the case.

2D animation can still be more expensive for many reasons. First, it is much more detailed than 3D. Each frame has to be drawn separately. Especially with CG, the level of detail requires user-created models, textures, and complex shader effects for each object. This process takes time and can require many hours to draw one scene.

Second, 2D animation is created with vector graphics on a 2D timeline. However, the industry has shifted toward using faster graphics that are created on a 3D timeline.

Today, very few 2D sequences exist as traditional hand-drawn animation, but they do happen. This is because it’s much easier to animate characters in 3D models now.

Lastly, 2D can still require high-quality production values, which is expensive to produce. Unlike 2D, CG animation has become very popular due to its “fluid” motion and ability to animate any action.

This is because each frame only needs the information on the differences between it and the previous one, like moving shadows, moving hair, and camera movement. It also allows the editor to make quick changes (and save time).

Fortunately, companies that want to produce 2D animation can still find ways to lower costs. One of the more popular options is to outsource 2D animation. This way, businesses can pass on the cost of investing and maintaining software and hardware to outsourcing teams.

2.  Creativitiy

It’s tempting to think that creating animation with a computer is easier than drawing by hand because you can generate as many drawings as you want, all at the same level of quality. But this isn’t true.

Digital artists still need to create every single frame of their animation. They do it with software instead of paint and paper. This means there are no shortcuts. Even if you’re drawing “tracing paper” over a background image or tracing the character designs created by another artist, each scene will require hundreds of unique drawings.

Artists working on short animated films often switch back and forth between digital and traditional art throughout the production process. One of the most common ways to create interesting visuals is by combining 2D and 3D animation effects. You can have a hand-painted scene set inside an animated world or a 3D character walking through a live-action backdrop.

However, three-dimensional computer animation can appear more realistic because of hard-body and soft-body simulations.

In hard-body simulations, an imaginary rigid body is used to position the various parts of a character or creature. This technique is often more time-consuming but produces a more realistic image.

In contrast, with soft-body simulations, also called deformations, the character is represented by a mesh of interconnected nodes. The deformation technique is often easier and faster to produce, but the resulting image may appear less realistic.

Compared to 2D, 3D animation is one of the more popular forms of digital advertising today. It’s more immersive and engaging than 2D. Although the initial production costs are high, they can still be comparable or even lower than 2D in the long term.

However, 2D offers more creativity since they are not bound by the concept of “realism.” Companies can also drive down costs with options like outsourcing.

In the end, the choice lies in the kind of output the company wants to achieve: if they want the “Disney feel” that many people have grown to love, 2D it is. 3D is better for those who want to build games and add animation in live action.


– a contributed post

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