The 6 Most Popular Types of Animation and How They Work

Top 6 types of animation: Making lines and forms come to life on the screen is like nothing else. Animation is the art of giving life to things that aren’t alive for movies, games, and ads. Every year, new methods, processes, and types of animation open up more job opportunities.

In this article, we’ll talk about six different kinds of animation:-

  • Traditional Animation
  • 2D Animation
  • 3D Animation
  • Motion Capture
  • Motion Graphics
  • Stop Motion

Traditional animation

The hand-drawn animation is called “traditional animation” or “cel animation.” Classic movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty were made this way. Each animated part is painted on a different layer of clear sheets (called “cels”) so that it can be moved independently.

For example, the background scene, which doesn’t move, would be the bottom layer, and the characters and anything else that moves would be made on transparent sheets on top. So, they can be animated without moving the background or other figures and objects.

It’s a style of animation that is rarely used today because it’s hard to do and takes a long time.

2D Animation

2D animation is the art of making something move by putting together a series of images in a two-dimensional area. One second of animation is made up of 24 pictures, or frames. However, most 2D animation only moves every other frame, for a total of 12 frames. It’s enough to make it look like it’s moving without animating all 24 frames.

Top 6 types of animation
2D Animation

Digital rigging is another way the animator can make models. This lets them make the character’s “skeleton” and tell the computer which parts of the body to move. It saves animators a lot of time because they don’t have to draw the figure again for every frame.

History: This style used to be made by hand, which takes a lot of time because it takes 24 frames of art per second of finished animation. Today, it’s easier because digital tools and methods are used. With Toon Boom Harmony, animators could cut the number of frames needed per second from 24 to 12, and the program would automatically fill in the gaps.


  • Toon Boom Harmony
  • Adobe After Effects

3D Animation

3D animation is the art of making digital characters, vehicles, props, and whole scenes come to life in a virtual 3D world. It’s more mechanical and technical than 2D animation, and it needs help from other areas to make 3D models and complex character rigs.

You can drop your rigged 3D model into a digital scene and change it with 3D movement. You can make the process go more smoothly by setting keyframes for important movements and letting animation software like Maya fill in the frames in between.

Another big difference between 2D and 3D animation is that with 2D animation, you only make the character’s front side (the side that faces the camera). In 3D animation, the 3D character rig is made so that it can be seen from any angle. This is useful for 3D worlds like those in Grand Theft Auto, where your character can walk around an object and see it from all sides.

History: Pixar’s hit movie Toy Story, which was the first full-length animated 3D movie, changed the animation business. These digitally created worlds and assets had been used before in shorter animations like commercials (check out the first 3D animated M&M ads from the 1990s), but Toy Story opened the door to more realistic animations where lighting, movement, and character emotions were more like real life than ever before.

Today, studios make movies that are fully animated in 3D, add computer-generated 3D elements to live-action scenes, and use motion capture animations and virtual production methods to make 3D graphics.


  • Autodesk Maya
  • Blender

Motion Capture

Motion capture makes 3D images look more real. It is used in movies and video games like Avatar, Lord of the Rings, LA Noire, and Grand Theft Auto.

Top 6 types of animation
Motion Capture

Bodysuits with special sensors are worn by actors while they act out a scene. The sensors tell the motion capture animation software how to make a digital version of the movement. There is also software that can record an actor’s facial movements to help show how he or she feels and how subtle those feelings are.

An animator is a key part of the motion capture process. They will put the recorded data into software like Blender, Maya, 3ds Max, or Motion Builder.

This includes retargeting the character rig (which means attaching the existing character rig to the mocap animation), cleaning it up, and making sure it fits the character the motion capture is being used for.

Motion Graphics

With motion graphics animation, you can move text, images, and simple pictures. They are often used in animated logos, the videos that play before and after a movie or TV show’s credits, and the graphics that go on top of sports plays on TV. You can do either 2D or 3D images for these.

Motion graphics, like 2D and 3D animations, are made by creating frames and using tweens, which is how animation software creates images between keyframes for a smooth transition, to make it look like the frames are moving smoothly.

Stop Motion

Stop motion is a set of still images that are filmed or shot in order to make it look like something is moving. This is how movies like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” by Tim Burton and the famous “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Burl Ives were made.

This type of animation can be made with real people, clay figures, toys, and other props. Stop-motion can be used in so many different ways that the only limit is your ideas.

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