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How 3D Animation is different from 2D Animation?

To differentiate between these two Animation techniques, we would work with familiar samples or models designed using a 2 or 3D software. The differentiation will be done in a review style under the following criteria:

  • Software used
  • Model Looks
  • Its application and by whom
  • Learning curve/time taken for advanced designs
  • Cost of Purchase

3D Animation

This can be defined as creating or designing a model/object in three dimensions which gives the objects designed a solid, realistic look. These animations are usually done exclusively with the use of a computer and a 3D animation software.

  • Software used- drawing three dimensional images or models by hand is next to impossible except when designing a building structure. So all 3D designs are generally done digitally with the use of software applications such as; 3D Max, Maya, Solid Works etc.
  • Models- the models or objects created in a 3D format can be seen in the example below (a 3D image should be used in the blog) as well as in animated movies such as Toy Story, Shrek and the dinosaurs in Jurassic park. From the sample model provided, we can see that the character is more solid, well designed and has a 3 dimensional surface which can be viewed from all angles of the human eye.
  • Its’ Application and by whom- 3D software applications and models are used by a wide variety of professionals and in diverse business niches. Architects employ this format for realistic structural representations, engineers for designing mechanical and electrical components, animators for designing characters and graphics designers for web designs etc.
  • Learning Curve- becoming proficient in the use of 3D applications is a long process with a steep learning curve and a majority of 3D designers go to designing institutions to learn how. So if you are interested in creating 3D animations, be ready to take it up for the long haul.
  • Cost of Purchase- 3D animation software applications hardly come for free and the average cost of buying one is approximately $500 dollars or more in most cases.

 2D Animation

From the heliographs in ancient Egypt to the Simpsons  cartoon in the United States, drafting in 2D has always been there and is still been widely used in today’s society. Traditionally, 2D models were created or designed by hand and although the use of 2D software applications is now wide spread, the ancient method of drawing by hand is still been widely used and accepted in all spheres of drafting.

  • Models- below is a sample of a 2D model and as you can see, it is less defined than its 3D counterpart. Examples of shows and circumstances where these models have been used includes: the Simpsons, Lion King, Comic books etc.
  • It’s Application and by whom-2D animations are used; to create story boards for movies, in animations, to draft building plans as well as mechanical and electrical components. The major software applications been used today for drawing 2D models include; Adobe AutoCAD, Microstation, Photoshop and some 3D applications can also be used to design 2D models.
  • Learning Curve- the time taken to master 2D apps is also quite steep and although mastering 2D designing techniques is not as difficult as that of 3D animation, difficulties still arise which makes going to an animation teaching institution something to consider for those planning to have a career in CAD design.
  • Cost of Purchase- for amateurs, free online versions of software such as Corel draw and story board pro can be used to learn and execute 2D animation drafts while more established brands like Photoshop and Microstation comes at approximately $100 and above.

Author Bio:- Ajit Dash is an illustrator and writer at IndiaCADworks. He specializes in 3D Animation Services  and Sketchup Services. He loves sharing his knowledge with others.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Rashmi Sinha@Ecommerce solutions

    February 22, 2013, 11:02 pm


    Thanks for sharing this clear demarcation between 3D and 2D animation. both of these platforms have importance of their own and has inspired millions of design and they will continue to do so.


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