2D vs 3D

If comparing 2D and 3D animation, there are a few things to consider, as the production steps and the process is quite different.

Techniques and Process

It is achieved through sequencing. In the beginning an artist comes up with the animation concept and creates all of the unique drawings, which will be part of the animation. This set is then joined sequentially to create one second of animation. One second of animation includes typically 24 frames, where every 2 frames consist of a different drawing. The movement of the objects in the frame happens so quickly that it looks smooth to the human eye. Nowadays most animation is created through computer software instead of hand drawing. It makes the process faster and cheaper. Some popular software include Adobe Animate, Toon Boom Harmony, Adobe After Effects, and so on. 1,2

The creation of 3D animation has different steps and involves many different skills. Where 2D is more artistic, 3D is a bit more mechanic.

The first step is the modeling. All 3D objects that are present in the animation are created using a 3D animation program. After that the objects are textured, in this step they get their colors and details.
The next step is the layout and animation. The models need to be rigged. A rig is like a skeleton, but with a more basic structure, that helps with the movement of the object. Then the background and setting are implemented and mechanics and changes are added. The last step is the rendering. The 3D objects, layout and mechanics are all combined and captured to create the completed product.
In larger companies, there would be dedicated artist for sketching and layout of the scene and characters, 3D modelers, Animators, all working on their part of the whole animation. In smaller companies or when doing it on your own, you need to be competent in every step of the pipeline. 1,2

Budget and Cost

2D animation is generally considered to be more affordable than 3D. 3D requires more specific software and is more resource-heavy in software and hardware. But in the longer run it might be not as expensive, because you can reuse models and changes in scenes are easier to make. In 2D you would need to do the whole process again, whereas in 3D you can simply reposition or change up the models, camera and lighting. 1,2

– easy to learn
– more artistic
– quicker to produce
– lower production cost
– not so resource-heavy

– less dynamic
– less in demand
– less level of detail
– time consuming
– changes require a restart of the whole process

– 3D models can be reused
– changes are much faster
– more accurate movement
– higher demand
– more possibilities
– more realistic and greater detail

– limited imagination
– more complicated
– resource-heavy (software, hardware)
– long lead times (more steps before you see your character)


1 https://www.cgspectrum.com/blog/2d-vs-3d-animation#:~:text=The%20main%20difference%20between%202D,skeleton%20that%20can%20be%20manipulated.

2 https://3d-ace.com/press-room/articles/2d-vs-3d-animation-which-style-winning-1