Animation is a relatively new but integral part of modern media, up until a few decades ago animations were solely made by movie studios.
However, with the birth of the internet, animation now has a broad range of applications available to anyone willing to learn.
Animation can be used for something as simple as a YouTube video all the way up to a fully animated Hollywood movie.
The first use of animation dates back to the early 1900s. In 1906 J. Stuart Blackton made the first film-based animation titled ‘Humorous Phrases of Funny Faces’ using a device called a Zoetrope invented way back in 1834 by William George Horner.
Animation has evolved massively from its first use way back at the turn of the 20th century, the advent of 3D animation has resulted in 2D animation becoming an art form used primarily in cartoons and is no longer the go to for an animation studio’s next big budget Hollywood hit.
3D animation is a lot more programme based whereas 2D requires good drawing ability to bring your characters to life.
Although we would like it to be, learning animation isn’t as easy as wondering how long it will take you, as there are 2D and 3D animation programmes and obviously 2D animation will be a bit easier to learn than 3D due to its simplistic nature.
But we’ve got you covered, we will outline both what 2D and 3D animation are and how long each animation style will take you to learn, so that you can decide for yourself which style will suit your project best.
We already know that there are two main types of animation: 2D and 3D. But firstly we will be discussing 2D, two dimensional animation predates three dimensional animation by almost 70 years.
The first 2D animation was named ‘Fantasmagorie’ by Emile Cohl and released in 1908.
Twenty years later the infamous Walt Disney would release the world renowned animation ‘Steamboat Willie.’
2D animations are mostly hand drawn and are animated frame by frame some examples of this art style are;
- Looney Tunes
- Classic Disney (The Little Mermaid, Snow White, The Jungle Book)
- The Simpsons
The craft of animation can be difficult to grasp at first and becoming a professional animator can take up to 10 years.
Simply learning 2D animation will take 1-3 years, the difficulty in learning 2D animation comes from not only having to master drawing a character but understanding the animation programme that can bring the drawing to life.
With the rapid rise of mobile phone technology there have been many apps for animators to utilize with a much cheaper device like an iPhone or Android.
Free apps such as FlipaClip and Motion Book allow you to make frame by frame animation on a phone and make the process a lot easier for beginners to grasp.
There has never been a better time to become an animator and it is easier than ever to get started.
Once you have mastered animation on the free apps you may want to take animation to the next level by getting a computer with the power to render more impressive animations but that’s completely optional and 2D animation can be easily done from the comfort of your own smartphone.
Moving on to 3D animation, which is quite a bit harder than learning 2D animation in the way that you’ll most likely need a high performing PC and better software than the mobile phone apps we discussed earlier.
The first 3D imagery used in a movie was for the film Futureworld in 1976. The scene featured an actor’s face that was enhanced with 3D animating technology.
3D animation is about using a three dimensional space to create an object, you must create the objects design, height, width and the depth.
3D animation is largely computer generated now but it originated from a type of animation known as ‘Claymation’ where objects made of clay would take the place of the object that is now computer generated.
We did not get the first fully 3D animated film until 1995 when a studio burst onto the Hollywood scene with their first feature length film, ‘Toy Story’ that studio? Pixar.
3D animation is far more complex to learn than 2D animation. However, once you have an understanding how to animate in 3D it will take less time to get to a competent level.
Unlike 2D animation 3D animation is currently in its golden era and thus 3D animators are in very high demand the world over.
According to forums dedicated to 3D animation it will take around eight months to learn how to animate if you dedicate around three or four hours a day.
It takes serious levels of dedication to fully learn 3D animation but if you stick with it the time you invest will seriously pay off later once you master the art.
So there you have it, whether you want to follow in the footsteps of Walt Disney or want to produce a breakout hit like Pixars ‘Toy Story’ you know roughly how long and how hard you will need to apply yourself to learning the craft of animation.
Hopefully through explaining both 2D and 3D animation you have an idea of which animation style you wish to pursue.
From reading this article you will know how both forms got started and the meteoric rise they both found in the TV and movie genre and the differences between both.
With 3D being as popular as it is right now it seems the smart choice would be to learn 3D animation since it takes less time to learn than 2D, but it can be a lot more difficult.
2D animation will always have its place in the animation genre and it may be for you if you have more of an artistic flair, who knows maybe you will lead the 2D cinematic renaissance.