Animation – a term that instantly conjures images of bright, vibrant worlds and lovable characters. But there’s more to animation than meets the eye. It’s a vast universe with many different styles and disciplines to explore. Today, we’ll explore the various types of animations that exist and the movies and shows we all know and love that were created from them. 

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Types of Animation 

First, let’s define animation

Animation, in its many forms, is a staple of our modern world. From the Saturday morning cartoons of yesteryears to the big-budget Pixar films we enjoy today, animation has always found a way to capture our hearts and imaginations. Let’s start by looking at the animation definition.


What is animation?

At its core, animation is the art of creating the illusion of motion by rapidly displaying a sequence of static images. But it's not just about moving pictures; it's about telling stories, evoking emotions, and bringing dreams to life. From hand-drawn traditional animation to cutting-edge computer-generated imagery (CGI) and everything in between, there are countless techniques and styles that fall under the umbrella of animation. 

Conventional Types of Animation Styles

Traditional Animation

This is where it all started. Each frame, is meticulously drawn by hand with an unwavering attention to detail, creating a sense of fluidity and charm that's hard to replicate. Every stroke of the pencil brought life to characters, capturing their essence and emotions. This painstaking technique, known as traditional animation, was the very foundation of classic.

Types of Animation Traditional Animation in Bambi StudioBinder

Bambi Animation

Disney films like Snow White and Bambi, where every scene came alive through the dedication and craftsmanship of talented artists. 

Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation powerhouse, is also known for its beautiful hand-drawn animations in films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.

Types of Animation Traditional Animation in Spirited Away StudioBinder

Spirited Away

It's a labor of love, pouring heart and soul into every frame, but the end result is nothing short of pure magic that continues to captivate audiences to this day.

2D Animation Techniques

Keyframe 2D Animation

Welcome to the digital age. Keyframe 2D animation, a technique that utilizes computers, involves setting key frames to define the movement of elements or characters. The computer then generates the in-between frames, resulting in a smooth animation. This method is not only efficient and versatile but has also gained popularity among animators. 

Types of Animation Keyframe D Animation in South Park StudioBInder

South Park

A great example of its application can be seen in iconic shows like South Park or the early seasons of The Simpsons. With its ability to bring characters and stories to life, keyframe 2D animation continues to shape the world of animation in this modern era.

3D Types of Animation

3D Animation

Possibly the most popular type of animation today, 3D animation adds an extra dimension to visual storytelling. By using computer-generated models and environments, animators can create intricate and lifelike movements that are nearly impossible in traditional or 2D techniques. 

As technology advanced, so did the world of animation with the introduction of CGI animation. This technique, now a mainstay in Hollywood, involves creating animated graphics using 3D computer graphics. 

How Pixar’s ‘Toy Story 4’ Was Animated

Its ability to create realistic and complex scenes, characters, and environments that were previously impossible with traditional animation techniques has revolutionized the film industry. Blockbuster franchises like Toy Story, Avatar, and Star Wars are proof of the limitless potential of CGI animation.

Keyword here...

Stop Motion Animation

Stop motion is a fascinating and distinctive form of animation that captivates audiences. It involves meticulously moving physical objects in small increments and capturing individual photographs, meticulously bringing them to life through the illusion of movement. This painstaking process requires patience and attention to detail, but the tactile quality it imparts adds an extra layer of charm and authenticity. 

A prime example is Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs, which utilized stop motion animation to create a whimsical world inhabited by talking dogs. 

 Isle of Dogs (2018)  •  'Sushi scene'

This unique technique continues to thrive and is often used in conjunction with other types of animation, creating a hybrid style that pushes the boundaries of what's possible.

Genres of Animation

Clay Animation (Claymation)

Claymation is a form of stop motion animation that uses clay figures. It's a laborious process, but the surreal quality it imparts makes it a favorite among many. Wallace & Gromit is a classic example of this style.

Mixed Types of Animation

Animation Mixed with Live Action

This is the magical place where the real world seamlessly merges with the animated one. The captivating combination of animation and live action gives birth to a mesmerizing blend of reality and fantasy, opening up boundless storytelling opportunities. 

Types of Animation Animation Live Action in Space Jam StudioBinder

Space Jam

Just imagine the enchanting worlds brought to life in movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit or Space Jam, where characters from different dimensions coexist in captivating harmony. It's a truly extraordinary realm where imagination knows no bounds.

Graphics in Animation Methods

Motion Graphics

Motion graphics are the perfect fusion of animation and graphic design, harmoniously combining captivating visuals, thoughtfully crafted text, and simple graphics to effectively convey a compelling narrative.

With their versatility and engaging nature, motion graphics are widely employed in various creative realms, including movie title sequences, music videos, and commercials, to enchant and captivate audiences.

Rotoscoping in FIlm and Television

Rotoscope Animation

Rotoscope animation, a technique that entails meticulously drawing over film footage frame by frame, seamlessly merges the realism of live action with the artistic expressiveness of hand-drawn animation. 

Types of Animation Rotoscoping Process in A Scanner Darkly StudioBinder


This captivating method has been employed in notable films such as Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly, where it has been skillfully executed to create stunning visual effects and engage audiences in a unique cinematic experience.

Vector 2D Aniamtion

Vector Animation

Vector animation is a type of 2D animation that uses mathematical equations and geometric primitives (points, lines, and shapes) to create art that is clean, camera resolution independent, and easy to manipulate.

This method allows for smooth, fluid movements and is often used in flash animations and mobile games. 

Vector Animation Workflow

As you can see the world of animation is as diverse as it is beautiful. Each style has its unique charm and purpose. The stories it has enabled us to share have captivated audiences for years, and it continues to push boundaries and evolve alongside technology. 

The Future of Animation

Mixed Animation

Mixed animation uses verious styles and techniques to create a unique visual experience, often combining digital and traditional methods to tell a story in an innovative way. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a prime example, blending 3D animation with traditional 2D comic book illustrations to create a stunning and dynamic world.

This technique highlights the endless possibilities of animation and its ability to continuously evolve and push boundaries. 

How "Spider-Verse" forced animation to evolve

The future holds endless possibilities for the stories we can tell, as technology and animation styles continue to innovate. It's exciting to think about the narratives that await us, waiting to be brought to life through the power of imagination and advancements in visual storytelling.

Up Next

Best Animated Movies of All Time

As we've explored the diverse and exciting world of animation styles, let's now turn our attention to the masterpieces they've produced. In our next article, we rank the best-animated movies of all time. 

Up Next: Best Animated Movies Ever →
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