The 5 Types of Animation

  • Traditional Animator (2D, Cel, Hand Drawn)  Traditional animation is a technique where each frame is drawn by hand. This technique was the dominant form of animation in cinema until the advent of computer animation. Examples are Disney and Loony Toons.

  • 2D Animation (Vector Based) 2D animation is referred to as any key framed animation that is produced on a flat surface, but can also refer to vector animations that adopts the techniques of traditional animation. 

  • 3D Animation (CGI, Computer Animation) 3D animation works in a different way. They both require the same understanding of the principals of movement and composition, but the technical skill set is very different. 3D animation is more similar to puppetry than drawing. 

Motion Graphics (Typography, Animated Logos) It’s the art of creatively moving graphic elements or texts, usually for commercial or promotional purposes. Think animated logos, explainer videos, app commercials, television promos or even film opening titles.

The skills for motion graphics don’t necessarily translate to the other types of animation, since they don’t require knowledge of body mechanics or acting, but they do have some attributes in common such as understanding good composition and the all important camera motion.

The process of creating Motion Graphics depends on the programs that are used, since video editing softwares often have different UI or settings, but the process is the same. Motion Graphics usually involves animating images, texts or video clips using key framing that are tweened to make a smooth motion between frames. These programs also supports scripts that will automatically alter the animations to various preferences that are required. Motion graphics also often uses particle systems to create various effects. It is basically points in 3D and 2D space that is shown as texts, images or visual effects. The particle effects are made with emitters that digitally produces lights, surfaces, or a disassembling animation.

Motion Graphics are simply flat-based images or 3D objects that are given the illusion of motion, accompanied with music or sound effects. This technique is often used for multimedia projects.

  • Stop Motion (Claymation, Cut-Outs)  

    Stop-Motion animation can be referred to any animations that uses objects that are photographed in a sequence to create a animated action.

    The process of Stop-Motion animation is very long, as each object has to be carefully moved inch by inch, while photographing every change, to create a fluid sequence of animation.

    Claymation

    One of the most popular form is Claymation. Working with clay or play-doh characters that can easily be manipulated for animation. Advanced claymation (such as The Neverhood or Armikrog) uses metal skeletons on which the clay is then molded for more sturdy rigs.

    Puppets

    Some animators would use regular Puppets instead of clay one, usually also built upon some sort of skeleton rig. The faces of the characters can be replaced based on the expression, or be controlled within the rig.

    Cut-Out

    Another popular form of stop motion is Cut out. Using construction paper or cardboard characters and placing them on a paper while shooting the animation from above (That’s how South Park was made before they switched to computers.) The cardboard is then moved a little each frame to create the illusion of movement.

    Silhouette

    Similar to cutout animation, silhouette animation uses cardboard or some kind of flat material, but the objects are all black and the shot is depicted with silhouettes only. This is one of the oldest forms of stop motion and is rarely used today.

    Action Figures / Lego

    Some use action figures or lego characters for animation. This genre is very popular on YouTube with many channels dedicated to creating funny skits with lego characters. Robot Chicken is a great example of that. They use famous action figures to make fun of pop culture.

    Pixelation

    Pixelation is a form of stop motion that uses real people and real environments to create unreal videos. It uses the stop motion method of taking a still photo, moving things around, and then taking another photo, but the subject matter is usually real people instead of puppets.