Difference between 2D, 2.5D & 3D Animation: Examples, Tools

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I will help you understand what is the difference between 2d, 2.5d & 3d animation. I know you are very interested to know them.

Do you remember the cartoons of your childhood? When did we use to rush home after school to watch Tom & Jerry, and Bugs Bunny?

Made by the best animation companies of the time, these shows had every bit of content that elicited strong emotions in the audience’s mind. In the process, the audience falls in love with these characters. The children of this generation may not recognize these fantastic characters. Perhaps that’s because they were born in an era dominated by 3D animation video and photo.

The shift from 2D to 3D animation has been quite revolutionary. It has also inspired animation artists aspiring to learn and grow. That’s what makes this discussion worthwhile. To provide you with a precise understanding of 2D, 2.5D, and 3D animation, this guide will look into what makes each animation different with some examples, and tools as well.

difference between 2d, 2.5d & 3d animation

What is 2D Animation?

2D animation or 2 Dimensional animation is a flat image that is understood by height and width. Unlike 3D animations, these do not have depth.

2D animation work is performed by creating continuous images or frames, each showing slight progress.

2D animation or 2-dimension animation is the most traditional form of animation ever. The animation can either be hand drawn or made using computer software. Objects in a 2D animation film move along a 2-dimensional plane. The movement can be linear, up or down, left or right.

The animation has a collection of images, each showing the object in a slight position.

2D Animation Examples

The 2D animation technique is immensely popular in cartoons, advertising, product videos, infographics, and more.

The discussion on 2D animation only concludes with making a special mention of your childhood animated movies.

Movies including Looney Tunes, Mermaid, Mickey Mouse, and Series such as Family Guy, Rick and Morty, Bugs Bunny, and South Part are also prime examples of 2D animation art.

2D Animation Tools

The top 2D animation software is Adobe Animate CC, Animaker, Pencil 2D, Vyond, Moho Pro, Toonly, OpenToonz, Cartoon Animator, and CreateStudio.

What is 2.5D Animation?

2.5D animation is quite different from 2D animation. These are 2D animations drawn into a 3D space. The animators tweak 2D animation art’s perspectives and shadows which give out a 3D look.

This result is achieved using exceptional art skills in shadows, layering, perspective definition, and much more.

By applying the above techniques, the animators can achieve fluidity movement in graphics. That fluidity transforms the object’s depth, which is an illusion for the audience.

We’re made to believe that the object is a 3D animation when it’s a 2D object moving along a 3D animation space. 2.5 animation is often achieved by using shadow linings of 2D objects.

2.5D Animation Examples

You can achieve a 2.5D animation effect by drawing a 2D object and highlighting its shadows.

To add more depth, most artists would shade the object’s background. The shadow in the background works in striking contrast to the drawn object, giving it more definition. That’s what gives us the 3D effect.

You may accomplish the same by simply drawing an object on white paper. Add a shadow on the back that stretches behind the object. You can quickly achieve this by drawing a cube.

Make sure to shade the back side with a darker tone. It will work as a 3D object. Even though the dimension does not exist, some brilliance of the art techniques creates the illusion!

You can also accomplish the same by using the Adobe After Effects and PhotoVibrance tools. Both tools have features that allow you to generate a false perspective in your 2D art. You can then animate the object to achieve a 2.5D effect.

2.5D Animation Tools

You can easily create 2.5D animations on Adobe After Effects and PhotoVibrance.

What is 3D Animation?

On the flip side, we have 3D or 3-dimensional animations. These have been in trend for the last decade and will likely be around for a while.

Since 3D animation art is drawn across a 3-dimension space, the objects created can maneuver along three different axes, unlike 2D animations, which can only move along two axes.

3D animation has been hand-in-hand with quality motion graphic services. 3D animation is an integral concept in 3D movies, breathing life into art concepts and exciting the audience in no time!

By applying different textures and lighting, objects appear solid and lively.

However, what’s important to mention here is that to create beautiful and solid animations, the end product is often limited by the capabilities of the team or the program being used.

Hence, it’s worth knowing that a lot of resources and a significant amount of time go to work as an investment to light up these animations. Plus, what can be to the dismay of project managers is that the results may not be ruled out as expected.

So, animation success takes time, and perhaps that’s why quality projects result from a rigorous process involving multiple revisions guided by close communication.

3D Animation Examples

Unlike 2D animations, which are flat, 3D animation involves complex techniques and 3D models. These are usually applied in video game space, movies, cartoon characters, and high-end 3D animations.

Do you remember the first 3D movies you watched?

Toy Story, The Incredible, and Frozen are all pioneers of 3D animation films. The Pixar Studio made these all. The rest is history. You can have tons of content in the 3D animation category. There’s lots more to watch, consume and enjoy!

3D Animation Tools

You can consider the following most popular 3D animation tools or software such as Blender, Autodesk Maya, CreateStudio, Autodesk 3Ds Max, and LightWave 3D.

Bottom Line: Difference between 2D, 2.5D & 3D Animation

To wrap up, it’s worth knowing that moving from 2D to 3D animation has been nothing less than something revolutionary. The key differences between 2D, 2.5D, & 3D animations are the depth each adds to the subject and the effect that our naked eyes can detect.

Since 2D animations lack depth completely, these appear flat and might be incredibly boring for Gen Z babies as they’re already part of an era where 3D has become too prevalent.

In contrast to 2D animations, we’ve 2.5D animation art. Since it’s drawn on a 3D perspective plane, it appears as if it has some depth. That deludes us into believing that the image has some 3D effect.

Lastly, we have 3D animation. The objects created in the 3D space have 100% depth. You can notice that depth in perspective from every angle the camera follows.

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About Sudesh Roul

Sudesh RoulHi there, I'm Sudesh Roul, a video creator, and certified marketer from Kolkata, India. Here I share photo animation, video creation and marketing tips, YouTube tutorials, online service and software reviews to guide you in making an informed purchase and growing online. You can consider reading my blog regularly to scale your photo and video creation journey and their marketing. Connect with me on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.