What Are The 5 Types Of Animation?

A big step in the animation process is choosing which of the 5 types of animation is best for your brand and idea.

Ever since J. Stuart Blackton created the first proper animated film in 1906, animation has vastly branched out.

In over 100 years, animators and animation companies have brought many new techniques and styles to the animating table. However, the 5 types of animation we’re highlighting are ones we most commonly use today.

All of these types of animation have introduced an even wider number of experiences and purposes of the medium.

If you’re interested in animation, we recommend reading about its benefits for your video marketing. Animation’s power of communication has a significant impact on potential leads. Click here to read!

Meanwhile, let’s crack on with the 5 types of animation!


3D animation

Out of the 5 types of animation, 3D animation is probably the most detailed and advanced method.

It’s also known as CGI (Computer Generated Imagery), and you’ll have heard this in reference to feature films and video games.

However, the term ‘3D animation’ refers to exactly the same thing. It’s normally used when talking about other purposes – for example, marketing.

An animator creates a 3D animation by setting up a character rig, which is essentially a digital puppet. This is a character ready for animation.

The animator uses splines, or motion paths, to define the character’s movement between poses.

Once complete, the computer renders each frame individually in order to convert it into an image.

(If you want to go more in-depth about 3D modelling, check out this post.)

3D animation can be a technically intensive process, and an animator may take a while until they’re happy.

This is why a lot of people might find 3D animation frustrating. However, outsourcing to the experts is always an option – and the best one.

A big difference between 3D animation and traditional animation is not just in appearance.

In traditional animation, a character’s hidden body part actually technically ‘doesn’t exist’. In 3D animation, however, body parts are always present.

This means less flexibility for 3D animators, who will need to be aware of their entire character at all times.

3D animation software

At Stada Media, we use Cinema 4D and Blender to create 3D animations.

Blender is a free programme, which is useful for those with tighter budgets.

Find out more about 3D animation for marketing here.


Traditional or Hand-drawn animation

Traditional or hand-drawn animation is the type of animation that appears clearly like a drawing. Out of the 5 types of animation, hand-drawn animation is one of the earliest.

Hand-drawn animation started out as cel animation. Cel animation involves transferring drawings onto transparent plastic sheets called ‘cels’.

However, in the 1990s, almost all animation studios stopped using cel animation. Instead, they started scanning drawings into a computer for digital colouring.

Fast forward even further, and now many animators skip paper and draw their animations digitally.

Despite this, the principle is still the same. No matter the technique, hand-drawn animators still create animations frame-by-frame.

Hand-drawn animation requires very strong drawing skills, because you’ve got to be able to reproduce a character many, many times over. You’ve also got to draw them in the same quality and style every time.


2D or Vector animation

You create 2D or Vector animation entirely on a computer.

Interestingly, 2D animation often involves a similar ‘rig’ technique to 3D animation. You give 2D digital puppets a system of bones and controls and manipulate them in a similar way. Evidently, there are some overlaps between the different types of animation.

Some programmes even let you flip between hand-drawn and 2D puppet techniques for further flexibility.

Unlike hand-drawn animation, you don’t need to be incredible at drawing to create a successful animation. There are more tricks at your disposal to create the image you want.

2D animation software

At Stada Media, we use Adobe After Effects to create 2D animations.

Here are some more to consider:


  • Adobe Character Animator – uses your expressions and movements to animate characters in real time.
  • Adobe Animate – bring life to graphics, avatars, doodles, and much more.
  • Autodesk Sketchbook – create rough sketches and fully finished artworks.
  • Animaker – really easy and accessible programme for beginners and non-professionals.


Stop-motion animation

Stop-motion animation involves manipulating real-world objects to create animation.

For example, these objects commonly include plasticine characters and paper cut-outs.


Despite the name, animators usually make claymation characters out of plasticine, not clay.

Claymation characters are very malleable. As a result, with the right skills, you can shape them into convincing postures and expressions.

Popular claymation examples are Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, which are both created by Aardman.


Cut-out animations are usually paper shapes.

To create ‘movement’, you either pin these paper shapes together at the joints or swap the pieces out.


Puppet animators create puppets on skeleton rigs. To change their expressions, they either replace faces or control them within the rig.

There are many other examples of less common stop-motion animation methods. These include:


  • Silhouettes – The focus of a silhouette animation is projecting shadow shapes onto a wall. This is a very old method and, as a result, we hardly use it today.
  • Pixelation – Pixelation animations use real people in real environments by taking a still photo then moving things around.

The challenge of stop-motion animation is that you need to shoot it straight-on. As a result, this demands switching props and characters very frequently.

Clearly, stop-motion animation can be an intense process. Out of the 5 types of animation, this one will probably test your patience the most.


Motion graphics

Motion graphics encapsulates animated typography, logos and illustrations. Using these, it aims to create dynamic movements with traditionally static elements.

You can find motion graphics everywhere, and they’re not as time-consuming to create as in the past.

Before computer editing, motion graphics took a long time to make. For that reason, people saved them for higher budgets.

However, you mustn’t confuse motion graphics with 2D animation. Although it is often 2D, motion graphics has its own distinction because it’s not character-based like 2D animation. On top of this, motion graphics can also be 3D.

Despite the differences between motion graphics and character animation, they still share many core animation principles.


For example, they both need to achieve smooth motion between frames.

The above are further examples of how the 5 types of animation often share a lot of characteristics, but we must see them as stand-alone techniques.

Motion graphics software

To make motion graphics at Stada Media, we use Cinema 4D. It’s a great all-encompassing platform for 2D and 3D animation.

You can also create motion graphics on:



Whichever you choose from the 5 types of animation, make sure it’s the best choice for your brand.

Look over the features and abilities of each type of animation and ask yourself: will this achieve my goals? Will this yield the best results?


Stada Media can create original and eye-catching animations that WORK for your brand. Get in touch today and we’ll talk about your idea.

Enjoyed this blog? There’s much more where that came from! Explore the rest of the Stada Media blog here, providing insights and tips on video production.

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