An ESports rig.

These days, everyone in the world is hungry for more films, games, animations, and digital visual artwork in general, whether in 2D or 3D. Let’s go through some of the differences in the scope of work for a 2D artist vs a 3D artist. Keep in mind, not one is better than the other; they both have their place in this vast and creative field!

2D animation is flat (two-dimensional), so all characters, properties, environments, are drawn to be viewed from one side. If you want to view it from another side, then you have to redraw it from another angle. 3D animation has depth, height, and width (three-dimensional), so that at any given time, it can be shown from various different angles. 2D animation is based on panels or frames, whereas 3D animation is based on movements.

While 2D animation is heavily dependant on artistic skills, 3D animations more technical. In a 2D animation, every frame needs to be drawn and redrawn. Sometimes there can be up to 24 frames needed per second of animation, which means there are 24 illustrations per second! Luckily, nowadays there are softwares that can speed up digital 2D techniques, allowing 2D artists to create in hours what used to take weeks.

In comparison, 3D animators are given “skeletons” that can be simulated in a virtual 3D space, and 3D artists create “rigs” so these skeletons can move in various different ways. Once the 3D rigged model is dropped into the scene, all this data is rendered into a final animation clip known as a playblast. These playblasts will be reviewed by the artists’ supervisor.

The decision of whether one project will be done in 2D or 3D often depends on artistic preference and also budget. Some shows or games have quite straightforward animations making it more cost effective if its done in 2D style. For more complicated projects, it would achieve better detail with 3D, and to do it in 2D would in fact be much too expensive.

On a personal level, if you are thinking whether to learn 2D or 3D, it’s usually up to your own tendencies. If you are more into the drawing and artistic side of the creative work, then 2D might suit you better. But if you have more of a technical mind, then 3D might be the better choice. Of course, you can always learn both 2D and 3D animation skills!