Video Content

2D Animation Styles & Examples: Comprehensive Guide (2024)

Laura Chaves
June 25, 2024

Picture this: You’re launching a video marketing campaign using 2D animation, aiming to capture the essence of your brand in a vivid and engaging way. However, choosing the wrong style could disconnect from your audience, diminishing your content’s impact.

At Vidico, we’re well-versed in matching 2D animation styles to specific target groups to enhance engagement and achieve marketing goals.

Let’s explore some popular 2D animation styles to help you connect with your audience on a deeper level, drive engagement, and achieve your marketing goals.


    Top 7 Styles & Techniques for 2D Animation

    Ariel - 2D animation

    1. Traditional 2D Animation Style

    Description: Traditional 2D animation styles, also known as hand-drawn or cel animation, involve drawing each frame by hand. This animation technique requires a high level of artistry and patience, as every movement is created by drawing individual frames.

    The result of these 2D animation styles is fluid, detailed animation that carries a timeless and artisanal feel. The animation process can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, but it offers a unique and charming aesthetic that many modern digital techniques strive to emulate.


    • Classic Disney Films, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast, are quintessential examples of traditional 2D animation. These films showcase the intricate and fluid movements achieved through hand-drawn animation.
    • Studio Ghibli Films: Movies like “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Spirited Away,” and “Princess Mononoke” highlight the meticulous craftsmanship and imaginative storytelling possible with traditional animation.
    • “The Simpsons” (Early Seasons): The early seasons of this iconic TV show were created using traditional hand-drawn animation techniques, contributing to its unique look and feel.

    Collaborate with Vidico to create custom 2D animations that stand out [1]. Use our VidiFit Quiz to get a clear pricing and free estimate!

    In need of video? Get a quick estimate
    Find the right type of video to meet your marketing goals and get an instant estimation on how much it would cost to produce it.
    Get pricing

    2. Cut-Out animation

    Description: Cut-out animation involves creating animated characters, props, and backgrounds from flat materials such as paper, fabric, or digital images and then moving these cut-out pieces frame by frame to create the illusion of motion [2].

    This technique is cost-effective and allows for a distinct, storybook-like aesthetic. It can be produced physically, with actual cut-out pieces, or digitally, using software to simulate the cut-out effect. The animation style is often characterized by its somewhat jerky yet charming movement and is suitable for simple and complex storytelling.


    • “South Park”: This popular TV show initially used physical cut-out animation before transitioning to digital processes, maintaining its distinctive and recognizable style.
    • “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”: Terry Gilliam’s animated segments used cut-out animation to produce surreal and humorous visuals that complemented the show’s sketch comedy.
    • “Angela Anaconda”: This children’s show used digital cut-out animation to create its unique and quirky visual style, combining photographed heads with drawn bodies for a distinctive look.

    3. Isometric Animation

    Description: Isometric animation involves creating a 3D-like effect using 2D graphics. This technique uses an isometric perspective, which means static objects are drawn at angles that give the illusion of depth and dimension without traditional 3D rendering.

    Isometric is often used in arcade games, infographics, and explainer videos because it allows for detailed and visually interesting environments that can be navigated and interacted with in a unique way.


    • “Monument Valley” (Video Game): This mobile puzzle game uses isometric animation to create visually stunning and mind-bending environments for players to navigate.
    • Infographics and Explainer Videos: Many modern infographics and explainer videos use animation to present complex information clearly and engagingly, such as illustrating processes, data flows, and organizational structures.
    • SimCity Series (Video Game): The earlier entries in the SimCity series use isometric graphics to provide a detailed and navigable view of the cities players build and manage.

    4. Digital 2D Animation

    Description: Digital 2D animation involves creating animations using digital tools and software, such as Adobe Animate, Toon Boom Harmony, or After Effects.

    Unlike traditional 2D animation, where each frame is drawn by hand, digital 2D animation allows animators to streamline the process using various techniques, such as tweening, rigging, and vector graphics.

    This method offers greater flexibility, efficiency, and precision, enabling animators to produce high-quality, detailed animations with smooth movements. Digital 2D animation is versatile and widely used in various media, including television shows, web series, commercials, and online content.


    • “Rick and Morty”: This popular adult animated series utilizes digital 2D animation to create its unique and dynamic visual style, allowing for complex characters and intricate backgrounds.
    • “Archer”: The TV show “Archer” uses digital 2D animation to achieve its distinctive, graphic-novel-inspired aesthetic, combining sharp character designs with fluid motion.
    • “Adventure Time”: Known for its whimsical and imaginative world, “Adventure Time” employs digital animation to create characters that are colorful in fantastical settings to life.

    5. Travel Portland

    Description: Travel Portland employs a unique combination of hand-drawn style and real-world elements to create a significant impact in a grungy animation. This video showcases the city’s diverse attractions using various animation techniques.

    The stop-motion animation technique and classic animation concepts are all integrated, resulting in a visually captivating and dynamic presentation.

    Created in After Effects, the stop-motion animation highlights Portland’s vibrant culture, scenic landscapes, and eclectic charm, appealing to a broad audience.


    • Grungy Animation Style: The animation features a textured, gritty aesthetic that captures Portland’s distinctive, edgy vibe. This style makes the video stand out from more polished and conventional storytelling videos.
    • Stop-Motion Elements: Incorporating stop-motion animation adds a tactile, handcrafted feel to the video. This technique is evident in sequences showcasing local crafts, street art, and outdoor markets, emphasizing Portland’s artisanal culture.
    • Hand-Drawn Animation: Hand-drawn animation elements bring a whimsical and personal touch to the animation. Scenes depicting landmarks like the Portland Japanese Garden or the iconic Voodoo Doughnut shop come to life with playful, artistic strokes.

    6. Veteran’s Day

    Description: A gritty-style liquid animated video has never looked so good. In this commercial for NBC and Syfy, liquid animation combines a grungy stop-motion design to create a striking visual impact.

    The video employs toon shading in Cinema 4D, a standard 2D rendering simulation animation technique, to enhance the overall effect and add depth to the animation. This combination results in a visually compelling tribute to Veteran’s Day.


    • Gritty Liquid Animation: Using liquid animation with gritty, textured graphic design elements creates a dynamic and impactful visual style. This approach enhances the commercial’s emotional resonance and thematic depth.
    • Toon Shading in Cinema 4D: Toon shading, a technique in Cinema 4D that simulates 2D rendering, gives the animation a unique look that blends the characteristics of 2D and 3D animation. This method adds a distinctive layer of detail and depth to the visuals.
    • Grungy Design: The grungy design elements, combined with the fluidity of liquid animation, provide a raw and edgy aesthetic. This style effectively conveys the themes of strength and resilience associated with Veteran’s Day.

    7. Down the Rabbit Hole

    Description: “Down the Rabbit Hole” is a stunning experimental design and form organization case study. The successful project demonstrates how an animator’s timeline can quickly become chaotic without proper pre-planning and organization.

    The designer has crafted a mind-blowing work by utilizing shape-layer keyframing and other 2D design techniques.

    This piece challenges the viewer to imagine the complexity and intricacy involved in keyframing every element in the video, showcasing the meticulous attention to detail and creative prowess required to achieve such a masterpiece.


    • Experimental Design: The animation showcases innovative and experimental design approaches, pushing the boundaries of conventional 2D animation techniques.
    • Shape Layer Keyframing: Shape layer keyframing is a central animation technique allowing for precise control over the movement and transformation of various elements.
    • Form Organization: The project emphasizes the significance of form organization in animation. The designer has created a coherent and visually stunning piece by carefully structuring the timeline and managing keyframes despite the complex motion design and elements involved.

    What’s 2D Animation?

    2d animation

    2D animation is a form where characters and scenes are created in a two-dimensional space. This means that everything is drawn and animated with height and width but lacks depth, giving it a flat appearance.

    Traditional 2D animation involves drawing each frame by hand [3], while digital 2D animation uses software to create and manipulate these drawings.

    Most popular animation techniques can range from hand-drawn animation, where each frame is meticulously crafted, to more modern methods like motion graphics, typography animation, cut-out animation, whiteboard animation, and digital puppetry.

    Typography animation, mechanical animation, flipbook animation, rotoscope animation, zoetrope animation, computer animation, clay animation, screencast animation, and retro animation are some of the popular 2d animation styles widely used in TV shows, animated films, video games, and online content due to their versatility.

    In need of video? Get a quick estimate
    Find the right type of video to meet your marketing goals and get an instant estimation on how much it would cost to produce it.
    Get pricing

    How Does It Work?

    2D animation creates the illusion of movement through a sequence of individual drawings or images. It starts with concept development and storyboarding to outline the story’s flow. Next, characters and backgrounds are designed in detail.

    Animators create keyframes that define the main points of movement, which are almost similar to real-world footage. Inbetweening (or tweening) fills in the frames between keyframes to ensure smooth transitions, manually or with software, as seen in any mechanical animation video.

    Finally, the sequence of drawings is played in rapid succession, typically at 24 frames per second, creating the illusion of continuous motion.

    Benefits of 2D Animation in Marketing

    man and woman holding a box filled with various items

    • Engaging Visuals: 2D animation styles captivate audiences with vibrant, visually appealing content.
    • Cost-Effective: 2D animation styles are generally cheaper than 3D animation or live-action videos.
    • Versatile: Animation techniques are suitable for various types of content, including explainer videos, commercials, and social media posts.
    • Quick Production Time: Using different animation styles, 2D animations are faster to create than other animation forms, allowing for timely content delivery.
    • Simplifies Complex Ideas: 2D animation styles make explaining and visualizing complex concepts and products easier.
    • Customizable: Screencast animations offer endless creative possibilities to match your brand’s unique style and messaging.
    • Wide Audience Appeal: Animation techniques attract a broad range of viewers due to their nostalgic and familiar feel.
    • Enhances Brand Storytelling: Animation techniques provide a compelling storytelling medium, enhancing brand narratives.
    • Improves Retention: Augmented reality animation helps improve the retention of information through engaging and memorable content.
    • Boosts Conversion Rates: This can increase engagement and conversion rates by making marketing messages more impactful.

    Why Work With Vidico

    Proven Success

    With a distinguished track record of successful projects, Vidico has consistently demonstrated the ability to enhance brand visibility and drive substantial business growth. Our promotional videos have captivated audiences and delivered measurable results, increasing engagement, customer loyalty, and conversion rates.

    End-to-End Management

    Vidico offers comprehensive end-to-end management for every project, covering all stages from initial concept to final delivery with the assistance of our creative directors. This means that clients can rely on us to handle everything, including creative brainstorming, scripting, storyboarding, production, 2d and 3d animation, editing, and post-production.

    Transparent Pricing

    Vidico is committed to providing clear and upfront cost estimates, ensuring no hidden fees or unexpected charges exist. Using our VidiFit Quiz, we can clearly outline all costs and ensure clients are fully informed and confident about their investments.


    Is 2D animation difficult?

    2D animation can be challenging, especially if you’re new to it. Whether rotoscope animation, typography animation (animating typography), or mechanical animation, a solid understanding of drawing techniques, timing, and movement is required to create smooth and engaging animations.

    For those looking to ensure high-quality results without the steep learning curve, it’s advisable to hire an expert like Vidico. Our expertise can bring your vision to life efficiently and effectively.

    When should you use 2D animation?

    It would help if you used 2D animation when you want to create visually appealing and engaging content that can simplify complex ideas, tell a story, or entertainingly convey a message.

    It’s ideal for explainer videos [4], commercials, educational content, and social media posts. 2D and 3D animation are versatile and cost-effective, making them suitable for various projects.

    Is 2D animation a drawing?

    Yes, 2D animation involves drawing. Each frame in an explainer video is drawn to create the illusion of movement. This can be done traditionally by hand or digitally using software like Adobe Flash.

    While it involves drawing, modern techniques also use digital tools to streamline the animation process and add effects.

    Is anime considered 2D animation?

    Yes, anime is a form of 2D animation. It features hand-drawn or digitally created characters and scenes characterized by vibrant visuals and unique storytelling techniques, as seen in Toy Story and other movies.

    Anime is a specific style of 2D animation that originated in Japan and has a distinct aesthetic and cultural influence.

    Key Takeaways

    2D animation offers different styles, each with its unique strengths and applications. From the timeless charm of traditional animation to the modern versatility digital of stop-motion animation, these styles provide endless creative possibilities.

    Animation techniques and styles make complex concepts more accessible and captivating to audiences across various platforms. Whether for marketing, entertainment, education, or informational purposes, 2D animation continues to be a powerful tool for visual communication.

    Ready to bring your vision to life with captivating 2D animation? Partner with Vidico and let our team of experts create stunning, engaging animations that tell your story and connect with your audience.

    Use our VidiFit Quiz to get started on your next project and see the difference professional 2D animation can make!


    In need of video? Get a quick estimate
    Find the right type of video to meet your marketing goals and get an instant estimation on how much it would cost to produce it.
    Get pricing
    Stand out with advanced video marketing insights.

    Stand out with advanced video marketing insights.

    For free.
    Once a month.
    5-min read.
    Book intro call

    Start with a free strategy session

    You can try us out, and see our approach before formal engagement. Really!
    Book an intro call