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Animation: The Fundamentals Every Beginner Must Know

What is 2D Animation 2D animation is creating motion graphics and visual effects using two-dimensional illustrations. The illustrations are usually made in vector graphics software and then imported into animation software, where they are brought to life through a series of keyframes.

2D animation can be used for a variety of purposes, including explainer videos, commercials, character animation, and motion graphics. It is a versatile medium that can tell any kind of story.

If you want to get started in 2D animation, this article is for you. We’ll review the basics of 2D animation and the fundamental principles you need to know to create your own animations.

What is 2D Animation?

2D animation creates animated graphics and videos using two-dimensional (2D) images. This includes various techniques such as hand-drawn animation, computer-generated animation, and stop-motion animation.

2D digital animation has a long history dating back to the early days of cinema. Some of the earliest examples of 2D animation were featured in early silent films such as “Gertie the Dinosaur” (1914) and ” Felix the Cat” (1919). In the years since, 2D animation has been used in a wide variety of films, TV shows, and video games.

Despite the rise of 3D animation in recent years, digital 2D animation is still widely used by filmmakers and animators. This is because 2D animation provides several benefits, such as being more cost-effective and easier to make.

The Art of 2D Animation: An Introduction for Beginners

The term “2D animation” needs to be defined first. To put it plainly, animation gives the illusion of depth and movement to static images on a flat surface. This technique has been used for more than a century to bring to life some of the most memorable and enduring animated classics.

Keyframes are a crucial part of any 2D animation project. In animation, keyframes are used to highlight how a character or object is moving. When animating a bouncing ball, the keyframes would be at the beginning and end of the animation, when the ball first strikes the ground and when it reaches its greatest point in the air. We employ “in-between frames,” or the frames that occur between keyframes, to give the impression of continuous motion.

Now that you know the fundamentals of 2D animation, we can discuss how to get started with it. Selecting the appropriate application or set of tools is the initial step. Adobe Animate, Toon Boom, and TVPaint are just a few examples of the many digital animation programs out now. Select the instrument with which you are most at ease and that is within your financial means.

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After settling on a medium, you can start conceptualizing your animation. To do this, you need to draw out a storyboard, which is a series of sketches that tells the tale of your cartoon in pictures. Your characters will need to be developed, and you’ll have to design their animations and facial expressions.

After all the prep work is done, you may begin the animation process. Making the keyframes and fill frames, as well as the audio and visual effects, is part of this process. Though time-consuming, the payoff for your efforts may be substantial.

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    The Principles of 2D Animation

    Learning the 12 principles of animation is crucial if you want to work in 2D animation. squash and stretch

    Objects are distorted in accordance with this principle to highlight mass and motion. If you look at a ball as you throw it, it will appear to grow in the direction of your arm. Squash and stretch can also be used on characters to give them the appearance of mass and animation. The trick is to expand and compress the character without changing their overall shape and dimensions.


    In order to get people ready for anything to happen, you need to build up their anticipation. Crouching before a jump is one such technique. Setting up an expectation and then defying it is a great way to create a sense of surprise or amusement.


    Staging is the art of strategically placing characters and props within a frame to emphasize their significance and establish their relationships with one another. The tale and the characters’ goals become clearer to the viewer when good staging is employed. Depth and atmosphere can be added to the scene as well.

    Constant motion and switching poses

    These two terms describe distinct animation approaches. When animating a straightforward action sequence, you animate each frame individually, however, when animating a pose-to-pose sequence, you animate between keyframes. Fast-paced action can be created with the straight-ahead action method, whereas slower, more deliberate movements and character acting benefit more from the pose-to-pose method.

    Consequence and Concurrent Behavior

    To render animation more lifelike and natural, these guidelines encourage the use of secondary motions. A character’s hair, for instance, may continue to sway even though they’ve stopped moving their head. In addition to increasing the animation’s visual appeal, a sense of weight and momentum can be achieved by the use of follow-through and overlapping action.

    Gentle Entry and Exit

    By gradually raising and decreasing the velocity of an object, this technique creates the illusion of weight and momentum. A character’s pace can change within a single motion, from slow at the beginning to fast in the middle and slow once more at the finish. A sensation of suspense or hesitance before a movement can also be achieved by the use of slow in and slow out.


    Animators should remember that arcs characterize all-natural movement while designing motion. Sharp angles and straight lines are unpleasant and unnatural. Animators can add a sense of elegance and grace to their work by making the characters move in curving paths.

    Contextual Response

    According to this rule, you should make a complementary motion to go along with the main one. A character could nod their head in agreement with what another character is saying. In addition to increasing the animation’s visual appeal, secondary actions can give the character a sense of individuality and expressiveness.


    In animation, timing is the rate at which frames are drawn and the tempo at which they play. In addition to establishing a sense of urgency or tranquility in a scene, good timing also portrays the character’s emotions and objectives. Time and other elements must be carefully considered to make a convincing and interesting animation.


    Using exaggeration, you can make your animation more exciting and engaging by going beyond the bounds of realism. Humor, character development, and increased suspense are just a few of the many possible applications of exaggeration. However, realism must be maintained, or the animation would come off as false and comical.

    Detailed Drafting

    When drawing in solid form, you give your figures and things volume and texture rather than just flat shapes. In addition to facilitating the audience’s understanding of the characters and their actions, good solid sketching can assist create a more immersive setting. To make credible drawings, one must be well-versed in such drawing fundamentals as perspective, proportion, lighting, and shading.


    The term “appeal” is used to describe the general likeability and attractiveness of a person or situation. Appealing characters are those that the viewers can relate to and care about. Design, animation, and individuality are all tools for making something appealing. A generic, uninteresting figure will not be as popular as one with a unique design, engaging movements, and a likable personality.

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    What software to use for 2D Animation

    You can choose from a wide variety of powerful and feature-rich 2D animation programs. Some common options are listed below.

    Adobe Animate:

    Features such as frame-by-frame animation, vector sketching tools, and the flexibility to export to many formats make this a popular choice among animators working in 2D.

    Toon Boom Harmony:

    This is another well-liked option; it contains sophisticated rigging and compositing tools and can be used for both conventional frame-by-frame animation and cut-out animation.


    There is a wide variety of drawing tools and brush patterns available in this program, making it ideal for classic frame-by-frame animation.

    Moho (formerly Anime Studio):

    This piece of software features an intuitive graphical user interface and is compatible with both traditional and cut-out animation approaches.


    Krita is probably most known as a painting program, but it also includes a number of tools for creating animations and can play them back frame by frame.


    Vector and bitmap drawing tools are included in this open-source program, which studios use for traditional frame-by-frame animation.


    Another free option for those just getting started with animation, this one features a no-frills interface and fundamental drawing tools for the classic frame-by-frame style.

    Consider your current level of expertise, the kind of animation you want, and the features you require before settling on a program. You can try out multiple programs without spending a dime before settling on one.

    At Last!

    2D animation is a complex and rewarding field of study. In order to create successful animations, one must have a strong understanding of the fundamentals. This article provided an overview of those fundamentals, including the history of 2D animation, the different types of animation, and the skills required to create a successful animation. If you’re interested in pursuing 2D animation, be sure to check out Explain Art Video’s 2D animation services.

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