2D animation: What you need to know
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- On January 4, 2020
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2D animation is one of the major types of animation. It’s widely used for creating animated movies, cartoons, marketing videos, advertisements, educational materials, games, and so much more.
With the rise of video content, more and more businesses consider using animated videos for promotion, as they increase conversion rates by 20%. Some companies hire animation team, the others try to create them online with the help of video maker tools.
Animated videos have a huge impact on the audience in three different ways: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Besides, they can be simply adorable.
What is 2D Animation?
Two-dimensional or 2D animation is characterized by having its objects and characters created in the two-dimensional space. It means that they only have width and height.
It’s considered a traditional animation style, known from the 1800s. Initially, it was created by pulling together the frames in which one drawing was followed by another one which slightly differed from it. Every second included 24 frames.
We all remember the classic Disney animations, right? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, The Little Mermaid, and so on. They are some of the most popular 2D animations.
With the development of computer technologies, this process was also digitized through various animation software with the option of drawing the characters and backgrounds directly into the computer and animating them.
Now, let’s learn more about how 2D animation is created. The process consists of 3 main phases: pre-production, production, and post-production. Let’s see what’s included in each of them.
The pre-production process is the first stage of creating animations. During this stage, the animation team develops the story and writes the script of the animation, designs the characters, creates a storyboard, chooses the color palettes, prepares the backgrounds, and records the voice-over. This is a preparation stage for the main process, so it needs to be properly done.
A well-written script should imply all the visual actions and storyline. The storyboard is based on the script, so it visually represents the sequence of actions and events by showing how they are organized.
The next step is creating the characters, outlining the backgrounds, and preparing other visual elements of the animation. It starts from simple sketches and develops into detailed designs and images. Then, it’s time to decide the color palettes of the animation, including the colors of various objects and lighting.
Another important part of any animation are backgrounds where different actions come to life and the characters perform their activities.
During the pre-production process, the main background layouts are sketched, based on the storyboard. The prepared sketches will be painted during the production process.
Production is the process of creating the animation by gathering all the created materials together and producing the scenes. This includes painting the backgrounds, creating the individual scenes and character activities, making the rough animation, cleaning up the animation (tracing), inbetweening, coloring and painting the drawings with the help of computer software, compositing, and export.
To pull everything together, animators create an exposure sheet which includes all the instructions of how to make each scene. The exposure sheet is divided into 5 parts:
- Actions and timing
- Dialogues and music
- Animation layers
- View perspective
Once the rough animation is created, it needs to be cleaned up and polished. This process is also called tracing and can be done in two ways: in a new layer or directly over the same layer with different colors.
Inbetweening is used to make a smooth animation by adding additional drawings between two frames. For example, if you want to create a bouncing ball scene, you should draw transitional frames between the first scene where the ball is on the top and the second frame where the ball is on the ground.
After the frames are fully ready, they are scanned into a computer, if they are not drawn digitally. Then, it’s time to combine all the visual elements based on the exposure sheet. During the compositing process, the specialists add the backgrounds, frames, sounds, and any other effects that are required.
This is mostly achieved through different animation software. When the compositing process is over, the animated scenes are rendered as videos or movies.
Post-production is the final editing process of 2D animation. During this phase, the animation is enhanced with additional sound effects or recordings which increase the emotional impact of the animation. Once the final version is ready, it’s rendered and exported to different formats.
These were the basics of 2D animation and its creation process that every beginner should know about. To become an advanced animator, you should learn more about the techniques and best practices of making animations.
2D Animation Tips and Tricks
No matter whether it’s a 2D animation or any other kind of animation, the purpose of its creators is to make it more realistic and impressive. But how to make the lifeless drawings more real and lively? Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas suggested 12 principles of animation:
- Squash and stretch – give weight and volume to your characters as they move
- Anticipation – let the audience know about a major action that is going to happen
- Staging – express the clear intention of your characters through every pose or action
- Straight ahead action and pose to pose – choose one of the techniques of creating animation: draw the key poses then add the transitional ones, or create every single scene one after another
- Follow through and overlapping action – pay attention to the movements of the characters, as some parts move faster than the others and when the character stops, some of the body parts still keep moving.
- Slow in and slow out – to make the actions more realistic, draw more frames at the beginning and at the end of the action and fewer frames in the middle.
- Arc – add slightly circular motions to the actions of the characters
- Secondary action – to emphasize the main action, use secondary actions that add more liveliness to it
- Timing – adjust the timing of the scenes by making them slower or faster
- Exaggeration – using exaggerations in movements also helps to emphasize some points and ideas
- Solid drawing – even though the characters are drawn in two-dimensional space, they must look like their forms have some weight
- Appeal – make sure to create appealing characters, so that the audience will be interested in watching them
If you follow these classic principles, soon it will be hard to tell your animations from the professional ones. Moreover, search for different tips and tricks to further enhance your skills and create more awesome animations. This will help you develop your own style.