All about 5 Types of Animation You Need to Know

If we want to plunge ourselves into the world of animation, then we need to know the said animation themselves. For those who would like to know the gist of those animations, we are here to help you. Here, we will talk all about the 5 types of animation you need to know and other information about them (such as software used for the said techniques). 

Hand-drawn Animation 

The hand-drawn animation is one of the animation techniques that has been commonly used since the start of the animation era. Just as its name implies, hand-drawn animation is the concept where the animator would draw each frame of the animation and then transfer those drawings on acetate sheets for painting. 

Thanks to technology, animators now no longer do the technique on paper. Instead, most of them draw on graphic tablets or Wacom monitors. There are, however, who still prefer to do the drawing manually or combine the manual and digital technique for a maximum result.  

Such techniques usually use software such as TVPaint or Toon Boom Harmony. TVPaint (250 to 500 Euro monthly subscription) is pricier than Toon Boom Harmony (24 USD per month), but TVPaint has some of the most complete features out there. 

2D animation (Vector-based) 

Vector-based 2D animation has a similar result to that of hand-drawn animation, but both of them have different approaches. If hand-drawn animation requires the animator to draw every frame of the animation, then vector-based 2D animation focuses more on the manipulation of the character’s movement through 2D digital puppets. 

2D digital puppets are pretty much the same as 3D character rigs. 2D digital puppets allow you to move certain parts of the character’s body without having to redraw everything all over again. This flexibility is caused by no other than the rigs, as the character rigs allow individual movement of body parts freely. This technique is perfect for those who prefer to do the animation using techniques that do not require many drawings.  

Another option we can do is combining the two techniques during the process. Yes, we can combine vector-based 2D animation with hand-drawn animation. We can smoothly switch from one technique to another on the same character too! It might have sound impossible before, but now, thanks to software such as Adobe Animate CC and Toon Boom Harmony, the switch of technique can be turned into reality. 

3D Animation (CGI) 

Although many love 2D animation, 3D animation is gaining attention and is slowly getting popular nowadays, especially in movies. The process of 3D animation, or CGI (computer-generated image), has a similar concept to that of 2D digital puppets. First, the animator uses a digital puppet to position the character. After that, the animator uses a motion path for the movement of the character. For each animation (or keyframes), the computer would create and insert their frames. Last, we as animators are required to take a look at the frames made by the computer and refine them in such a way so that we are satisfied with the computer-generated frames. 

Since they did not start as a drawing but as a digital character rig, some things need to be taken into consideration. One of the things is the fact that all the body parts will be available on each frame. So we will need to consider them. 

If you are planning to do 3D animation professionally, then we suggest Autodesk Maya. Everything from 3D animation to rendering is available in this mega animation software. But if you would like a neater workflow, flexibility, and cross-platform option, then Blender is the perfect choice for you.  

Stop Motion 

What makes stop motion “stop” is the manipulation technique they use. Stop motion requires the animator to manipulate real-world objects, where the objects are photographed every time they are moved lightly. If the result of the photography is lined up, it will create a sense of illusion as if the objects are moving. 

There are several objects used for stop motion. Some of those objects are: 


Animators don’t use real clay but a material similar to it called plasticine. 


Just as its name stated, cut-out objects are made in the form of thin sheet paper, and the “papers” have their pictures taken every time they move slightly. 

Action figure 

Action figures and Lego are two common objects we can see on YouTube videos.  

For entry-level works, animators can opt at using Stop Motion Studio. The monthly subscription costs less than 10 USD every month. However, if you would like to do it professionally, then we recommend Dragonframe as the software you should use. It’s pricey, but its features are definitely worth the price. 

Motion Graphics 

Motion graphics’ concept is pretty much the same as 3D animation, except that the subjects are usually text logos or illustrations. This concept can be done in either 2D or 3D, as it’s all about creating a dynamic presentation out of the text logos, and illustrations. 

The process of motion graphics is similar to 3D animation too. The images are animated, and immediate frames among two keyframes are generated by the computer (the process is called tweening).  

There are several software used for motion graphics, but the most common software is Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D. After Effects are great for the rigs, while Cinema 4D completes After Effects. 

Which One is Your Focus? 

Different kinds of animation are used for different kinds of works and situations. For example, hand-drawn animation is common for Japanese animation (anime), while 3D animation is commonly used in WEstern children’s movies. Stop motion is perfect for self-made YouTube videos, while motion graphics work best for a dynamic presentation. No matter which one is your favorite animation, one thing is for sure – they have their usage and process, so none of them are less than the other.  

Out of the 5 types of animation, which one do you want to learn about first?