A Beginner’s Guide to 2D Animation


There’s something magical about watching hand-drawn characters come to life when they’re animated. After all, there’s a reason we all grew up loving cartoons. If you’re used to working with static graphics, 2D animation may appear intimidating, but we’re here to show you how simple it can be. This lesson will teach you the fundamentals of 2D animation, as well as how to get started making your own creations and the finest 2D animation software for both total beginners and advanced artists. Let’s begin by defining the different types of animation and answering the question.


“What is 2D animation?”

This kind of animation is probably more familiar to you than you think. Drawing two-dimensional characters and things in flat space is what this style of work entails. Consider the following scenario: There is no depth in whatever you draw; it merely has a breadth and a height (as that would make it three-dimensional). So, how can you make flat characters and objects move? The artist would next switch from the page or screen to 2D animation software to sequence the individual images.

Animations typically show one drawing every two frames in a standard 24 frames per second (24fps) video, resulting in a total of 12 unique drawings being shown in one second. However, this can vary depending on the animation style. Anime, for example, frequently works in “threes” rather than the traditional “twos.” Consider the frame rate you’d like to employ for the sort of work you’re doing while thinking about how to produce your own 2D animation.

Classic Disney films are excellent examples of how to make 2D animation for the big screen, but this type of work is not limited to the theatre. Although some may ask, “Is 2D animation dead?” it is still frequently employed in commercials, corporate marketing, and advertising, video games, and other applications.


2D Animation Examples

Do you want to see 2D animation in action? Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.

Although most Disney films and cartoon shows today use 3D animation rather than 2D, some of our favorite classics did not. After years of hand-drawn pencil 2D animation, The Little Mermaid was one of the first feature films to use the Pixar Computer Animation Production System in 1989. This new technology was created by The Walt Disney Company as a custom-made 2D animation software to decrease post-production ink and paint expenditures. Despite changes in animation equipment and techniques over the years, The Simpsons have maintained its distinct appearance and feel as the longest-running American animated series.

Is 2D Animation a Simple Task?

Animation, like any other creative art form, maybe as simple or as complex as you want it to be. All you need to get started with 2D animation is a pencil and some basic software. Working on your static sketching skills is the ideal first step toward creating attractive animated cartoons.

Being able to sketch swiftly and precisely is a skill that shouldn’t be disregarded if you’re considering a career in 2D animation. Because it’s expensive for a studio to rewrite 2D drawings if the creative direction shifts, being able to draw and redraw the same character or item in thousands of different ways is essential if you want to succeed.

Because of the rise of free 2D animation software, the process of creating 2D animation has become considerably faster and more accessible to novices and amateur artists. Even if you’ve never worked with animation software before, there are plenty of classes available to guide you through the process of developing your own characters.


How do you go about learning it?

With basic tools like Procreate, you can learn digital pencil 2D animation. Working out your timing, spacing, and animation route is the greatest place to start when learning how to make 2D animations. “Think of this as the skeleton for your animation,” explains one expert. Using a product like Procreate and the “Animation Assist” option, you can simply learn this method. This will aid in your knowledge of why timing is crucial and how it affects your final animation. Experiment with different animation speeds to see how they affect your final product. Try working with a varied animation route after you’ve generated a basic animation with consistent animation loop time.

To modify the tempo and ultimate aesthetic of your animation, add layers at irregularly spaced intervals. As your skills improve, you can use this method to more sophisticated designs to help accentuate particular aspects or qualities of an animated character or item. When learning how to produce 2D animation, the most fundamental skills to acquire are timing and spacing, so don’t rush through these lessons and go on to more difficult work. Practice these strategies until you’re comfortable with your final products and ready to invest in the best 2D animation software for your projects.


What Is the Best 2D Animation Software?

Toon Boom Harmony is the industry-leading 2D animation software.

Toon Boom Harmony, being the industry leader in 2D animation, is ideal for frame-by-frame or rig animation. There’s even a program that can take your hand-drawn graphics and smooth off the edges so your animations look more professional. If you’re new to animation, the software may have a steeper learning curve than others. However, if you want to work in the sector, you’ll need to know how to use this tool. There are three subscription levels to select from, depending on how comfortable you are with creating 2D animations. The most basic level is $25 per month.



As a newbie, Unity 2D animation is a good place to start. Unity was designed with game developers and virtual reality in mind, but its broad features make it an excellent alternative for animators. Before diving into your Unity 2D animation, it’s a good idea to grasp the foundations of the software. It’s a little more complicated than other tools you’ve used before. You can either pay $399 per year for the Plus package or use their Personal plan for free with limited features.


Adobe Animate 

When it comes to learning how to build 2D animations, Adobe Animate is great for all levels, much like the other Adobe products. You may quickly import your static drawings into the software to create hand-drawn or frame-by-frame animations if you started in another application like Procreate, After Effects, or Photoshop. Adobe Animate is available as part of the Adobe Cloud Subscription or separately for about $20 per month.



Blender 2D animation is an excellent free tool for both novice and experienced animators. Finding free 2D animation software is typically the greatest option when you’re just getting started. Open-source tools like Blender 2D Animation, which are usually targeted for novices, will help you master the basics and improve your skills before you feel ready to go on to more advanced software and approaches. But don’t dismiss it just because it is free! You’ll gain expertise in rigging, modeling, motion tracking, rendering, and more while learning 2D animation in Blender.