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3D animation vs hand-drawn 2D: does it help to learn both?

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

So you want to become an animator. The first thing you want to decide is whether you want to animate in 2D or 3D, right?

Trippel Trappel - Anikey Studio

You might love the way 2D animation looks but you know there are more job opportunities for 3D animators. Maybe you find drawing difficult or you are intimidated by the technical skills you have to learn as a 3D animator.

So how can you decide what technique you should focus on?

When I was still in school I had to decide what I wanted to do. I always thought that I wanted to be a 2D animator. Growing up with Disney movies I was obsessed with 2D animation. But when I applied to the Utrecht School of the Arts I chose to study 3D animation instead.

Before I went to the Utrecht School of Arts I studied Multimedia Design at the Mediacollege in Amsterdam. I was just starting to learn how to animate. I was very fortunate to get two great internships. One at a 2D animation studio, and one at a 3D post-production studio.

This was a real eye-opener for me. for the first time, I realized the potential of 3D animation. But I still loved to make 2D animations. I didn't want to pick one or the other. But when I wanted to apply to the Utrecht School of Arts I had to pick what program I wanted to do.

Eventually, I decided to study 3D animation, I didn't even apply for the 2D program.

So why did I make this decision?

My reasons were simple. I wanted to become an animator, no matter what. I wanted to learn both 2D and 3D. And I thought, I probably need help with 3D because that was more technical and I can always learn 2D animation on my own.

And I am still very happy with my decision. Learning 3D was challenging and I am really glad that I learned it in school. For me, It would have been a lot harder to learn 3D on my own rather than 2D. But for some, it might be harder to learn 2D on your own.

Animation is Animation.

It doesn't matter what techniques you use, the animation principles are the same.

Learning to animate in 2D and 3D did open a lot of doors for me. Being versatile can be very beneficial, especially if you want to work as a freelancer or in smaller studios. For smaller studios, it is more appealing to hire someone who has multiple skills.

And even big studios prefer someone who can do both. You often see in job applications for 3D animators that they know how to make hand-drawn animations. This is because you learn to focus on different aspects of animation and this can make you a better animator.

One of the most important reasons to learn both is because it is fun. It can keep you inspired if you switch techniques. Break your routine to make sure you don't get bored with animation.

Combining techniques.

When I work on 3D productions I often start my animation in 2D before moving to 3D. I can quickly draw and redraw poses and play with the timing. It is a lot faster to draw a pose than to pose a character in 3D. So it saves me time and I can focus more on composition and experiment more than I can in 3D.

When I work on a 2D production it can be difficult to get the perspective right. So it can help to quickly build the set in 3D and use placeholder objects as a guide for the 2D animation.

So my opinion is that you should learn both 2D and 3D animation. You can always focus on one in particular if you prefer the style or if you struggle more with one. I recommend practicing both techniques.

This is why I decided to teach both 2D and 3D in my online animation courses.

Learn to Animate

I am currently working on new courses, including a 2D and 3D animation course. Therefore, keep a close eye on my website and social media if you would like to participate.

Are you already an animator, but would like some help with your portfolio or animation shot? I can provide you with personalized feedback that you can use to level up your animations! Whether you work in 2D or 3D.

Book now a private 30-minute lesson with me for only 30 euros.

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