In the previous episode of True Story Bro, we discussed the brief history of animation (if you still haven’t read it yet, check it here), and now it’s time to clarify exactly what 2D and 3D animation assets are.

2D animation

2D animation assets naturally exist only in two dimensions,. It is achieved when a flat object with height and width appears to move up and down or left and right. The illusion of movement is created when individual drawings are sequenced together over time. We all remember the classic Disney animations, right? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, The Little Mermaid, and many more. They are all examples of 2D animation.

3D animation

3D animation refers to three-dimensional objects created to move in sequence. The objects and characters in 3D appear realistic in-depth and in space.

In traditional animation, the movement is converted into drawings on paper, which are then composited, while in 3D several stages have to be completed, such as object modeling, surfacing, shading, and rigging. Only after each and every one of them is finalized can the process of animation begin and the final product can be rendered and composited to the final look.

But why should we use one medium over another?

Artists never stop finding exciting ways for enhancing animation and always continue to expand the boundaries to portray stories. Hybrid animation offers a unique visual perspective, which is commonly used nowadays and when executed well, the results can be breathtaking. One of the earliest examples of combining 2D with 3D was the bauble from Disney’s The Black Cauldron.

The Black Cauldron (1985)

You must however be aware of certain challenges that can arise whilst combining the two mediums together. For example, the representation of light can become an issue. If the 3D element is rendered with 3D lighting and shadowing, the 2D imagery may not match such circumstances – it will be flat and have a slight shadowing from hand-drawn tones. Even though 3D animation has proved to be a master of realism, it’s often condemned for its inability to capture the same feeling that classical animation offers. So, the industry responds accordingly to the needs of the audiences, by adding a more realistic look with traditional animation.

With the proper amalgamation of 2D and 3D assets into a single project, animators have a wealth of creative resources available and an opportunity to save time and expenses. Take a look at an explainer video we have created for Hoya Lens, where we successfully combined 2D with 3D.

At last

At last, what’s really important is having the enthusiasm to take risks and experiment with technology and artistic techniques that result in stunning visuals. What’s left to do now is to wait and see how the animation students of today will revolutionize the world of animation tomorrow.