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What Is 2D Animation?

2D animation is a type of artistic medium. Read on to for an in-depth 2D animation definition, and learn more about 2D digital animation education and career options.

2D Animation Definition

2D, or two-dimensional animation, is a combination of artistic technique and media design that creates the illusion of movement in a two-dimensional environment. By sequencing individual drawings together over time, characters, backgrounds, objects, and effects look as if they are moving. This is commonly done for animated movies and television, but it is also seen in video games, websites, mobile apps, and advertisements.

It can be useful to draw images by hand before using 2D animation, also known as vector-based animation. Computer software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, and Toon Boom Harmony are just a few of the industry standard programs for 2D animation. Therefore, it can be beneficial to seek higher education in order to learn the technical skills needed.

2D Computer Animation Education

Most animators need a bachelor's degree to enter the job market, but a great portfolio and strong knowledge of 2D digital animation software is key. College certificate programs, associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees can prepare one for the animation field or enhance their skills to improve job prospects.

Because of the blend of artistic and technical skills, degrees in fine arts, animation, graphic design, digital art, and computer graphics are common options. Classes in 2D animation are usually found as part of these larger programs. Foundational art courses, electives, portfolio development, and studio time are also typical components of these types of programs.

Career Information for 2D Animators

There are several career options for those with a degree in animation or a related field. The animation industry is vast and encompasses all types of media. Some of these careers include:

  • Illustrator
  • Graphic designer
  • Storyboard artist
  • Character designer
  • Game developer

Job Duties and Skills

Depending on the type of media an animator works on, there are differing job duties. For example, an animator for a television series may need knowledge of character and story development in order to create characters and contribute story ideas, as well as fix any story issues. An animator for a brand may need to have marketing knowledge, social media skills, and the ability to understand and maintain a brand's image.

No matter the specialization, animators generally need to have strong skills in these areas:

  • Working with a team
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Time-management
  • Computer software
  • Thinking creatively

Experience

Employers not only look for particular skills, but they could also look for experience. One way to gain experience is to seek an internship. Many companies hire college students or recent college graduates so they can shadow professionals, learn more about the field, and gain experience for future employment. Depending on the internship, a degree may not be required, but animation skills are a must.

Salary

Salary will largely depend on the location an individual works, what specific animation field they are in (TV, advertisement, web, etc.), and their career level. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary of $72,520 for all multimedia artists and animators in 2018; those in the motion picture and video industry earned $77,860, and those in advertising, public relations, and related services made $67,330 that same year. The BLS also reports an expected job growth of 4% from 2018-2028.