Looking to bring your ideas to life using animation? If you’re wondering what types of animation are there, you’re in luck! Below is a comprehensive list of the 20 different types of animation, with examples. Whether you need a video for your business or entertainment, this list will show you every type of animation under the sun:
1. 2D digital animation
As computers grew in usage, 2D animation emerged and became one of the most popular types of animation for businesses. The digitally-native nature allows for efficient production processes, and enables quick editing and retouching. In 2D digital animation, objects are usually vector-format, which consists of lines and curves rather than pixels. This allows the animator to scale and rotate elements without losing quality. It makes visuals consistent across different resolutions and screen sizes. Watch an example of 2D animation here.
2. 3D digital animation
Similar to 2D animation, 3D animation takes 2D animation one step further with a more realistic look and feel. It makes your viewers feel more like they’re there and provides a more real life experience. It’s great if you’re showcasing a physical product and want to share different aspects and angles. In 3D digital animation, animators make models made up of vertices, polygons, edges, etc, that form objects viewers see. See an example here.
3. Motion graphics animation
Motion graphics is usually the perfect choice for businesses looking to share technical informational. Videos about financial results, for example, require more on-screen text (numbers, etc) and usually call for this type of animation. Made with 2D or 3D animation, you’ve seen it in title sequences, dynamic graphs, background graphics, etc. It typically doesn’t include characters, and has a professional look and feel compared to other styles. Check out this example.
4. Whiteboard animation
Whiteboard animation is an older type of animation, and shows a hand sketching scenes and concepts as the story unfolds. It’s common in educational explainer videos since it gives a visually appealing way to present complex concepts more understandably. It’s also a relatively easier type of animation to make and edit. Watch an example here.
5. Traditional animation
With each scene hand-drawn, this is the classic type of animation, where each frame is hand-drawn and then photographed and played back in sequence to create the illusion of movement. These days traditional animation is still used by some animation companies and animators, but it has mostly been replaced by digital animation production methods. See example here.
6. Cartoon animation
Although it sounds playful and may spark memories from your childhood, cartoon animation is actually a good type of animation for businesses who are looking to showcase a prospect or customer in their video. It typically uses simple yet exaggerated characters and environments, and includes humor and storytelling to help entertain, engage, and educate your audience. As you can imagine, it’s used to entertain and educate children, but it can also be tailored for more adult audiences as well. Here’s an example.
7. Stop motion animation
Stop motion animation is a type of animation where the animator moves physical objects, then takes pictures frame by frame to create the illusion of motion. It’s common in claymation and sometimes used in major motion pictures. Watch an example here.
8. Augmented reality animation
Augmented reality (AR) animation uses of computer-made graphics, animation, and other media to enhance the real world around viewers. Facebook’s parent company Meta is betting big in this space, and companies producing AR animation use of AR technologies such as smartphone apps and specialized AR devices to reach viewers.
9. Virtual reality animation
Virtual reaility (VR) animation is similar to AR animation, except in VR viewers are fully immersed in virtual worlds, where they can interact with it. While AR animation overlays animation in the world you see, VR animation completely recreates it. Viewers typically use VR headsets or other dedicated devices and are instantly dropped into a completely new, 3D environments.
Rotoscoping is a commonly used type of animation, where animators trace live action footage (footage created using cameras in the real world) frame-by-frame to create a realistic animated rendition. It’s used to create realistic movements and can be seen in Disney movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Lion King, and others.
11. Clip animation
This type of animation shows cutouts of character photographed and is moved and frame by frame to create the experience of something moving. This technique is also dubbed “jib-jab” style and can be seen on the show “South Park”, for example. Watch an example here.
12. Draw-on animation
Draw-on animation is a type of animation in which the animator draws and paints directly on the video film. This is done instead of drawing on a cel and then shooting it, and is a more experimental and abstract style of animation.
13. Sand animation
Sand animation is an animation type where an animator shapes sand on a surface, like a lightbox, then shoots each frame to create the illusion of movement. This is also abstract, but if you’re looking to stand out in a crowd it could be a good option.
14. Clay animation (claymation)
Claymation is a type of stop-motion animation in which characters and sets made of clay and sound effects are filmed moving frame by frame. Examples include Wallace and Grommet, and the Nightmare Before Christmas. Watch an example here.
This is a type of stop motion animation where physical objects or people are photographed and combined together to create the illusion of movement. This technique is commonly used to create animated films, music videos, etc.
16. Object animation
Object animation uses stop-motion animation techniques, where an animator manipulates a physical object and takes a series of pictures or frames of the object in various positions to – you guessed it – create an illusion of movement.
17. Paper cut-out animation
This fun type of animation is made up of cut-out paper, where the animator move each cut-out, then photographs it to create scene-by-scene movements. It’s often used to make animated films, online shows, and even TV commercials. Watch an example here.
18. Flash animation
Flash animation refers to the use of Adobe Flash, which has declined in recent years due to the increasing adoption of HTML5 and other technologies. It is, however, it’s still used today by some animators and studios to create film and television content.
19. Lip-sync animation
This type of animation shows a character’s mouth movements synchronized with pre-recorded dialogue, which creates the illusion of realistic dialogue. It calls for serious attention to detail, and a deep understanding of facial movements/anatomy since movements must be carefully coordinated with the sounds produced. Watch an example here.
20. Anime (Japanese) animation
Born in Japan, anime has a unique visual style with colorful and highly detailed characters and settings in action-packed stories. This type of animation is usually seen in the form of television shows and movies, and it’s found in a ton of different genres like romance, comedy, science fiction, and more.
From traditional hand-drawn styles to AR and VR, there’s an animation style for every business and budget. Choose the animation style that best suits your needs and company brand. With the right style, you’ll captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression.
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