2D, 3D, Motion Graphics: What’s the difference


In the dynamic world of visual storytelling, animation has become a versatile and captivating tool. Whether it’s for entertainment, education, or marketing, animation breathes life into ideas and concepts. Among the various animation styles, three prominent contenders stand out: 2D animation, 3D animation, and motion graphics. Each has its unique characteristics, and understanding the differences can help you choose the right one for your project.

2D Animation

2D animation are typically though of as exclusively flat but that’s as far from the truth as “Design is easy”. Also known as traditional animation, 2D animation involves creating characters, scenes, and movements in a two-dimensional, flat environment (However, in faux 2D, the elements are designed in such a way that they have depth and look like 3D).

2D is considered two dimensional because characters and objects move along a horizontal and vertical plane. Even though a 3rd axis can be added to create the perception of depth the animators create along only two axes. Classic examples of 2D animation include traditional Disney cartoons like “Snow White”, “The Lion King” and modern productions like “Archer”.

Key Characteristics

  • Flat and Two-Dimensional
  • Traditional Appeal (Rich history & nostalgic)
  • Frame-by-Frame
  • Artistic Freedom
  • Can be more Cost-Effective than 3D

Use Cases:

  • Cartoons and Comics: 2D animation shines in the world of cartoons, where iconic characters like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny come to life.
  • Explainer Videos: Its simplicity and clarity make 2D animation ideal for explaining complex ideas or products.

3D Animation (Depth and Realism)

3D animation, or three-dimensional animation, is executed in a three-dimensional digital space, creating the illusion of depth and realism. This animation style involves creating and manipulating 3D objects, characters, and environments using highly specialized software. Unlike 2D, 3D animation by default allows for the portrayal of depth, realistic lighting, and incredibly complex physics simulations like flowing water and real world simulation of wind. It is commonly used in industries such as filmmaking, video games, architectural visualization, and product design. Pixar’s “Toy Story” and video games like “Fortnite” are notable examples of 3D animation.

Key Characteristics

  • Three-Dimensional
  • More Complex
  • Realistic Rendering
  • Versatility

Use Cases:

  • Movies and Video Games
  • Architectural Visualization: Architects use 3D animation to showcase their creations. It provides clients with realistic virtual tours.

Motion Graphics: The Art of Visual Communication

Motion graphics on the other hand, focuses on conveying information, messages, or ideas through animated text, shapes, and visual elements. It isn’t limited to 2D but often employs 2D graphics and animations to create dynamic, engaging, and informative content. It’s also has a free-sliding price range and can easily be the cheapest or quite expensive depending on what you’re looking for.

Motion graphics are frequently used in video presentations, advertisements, explainer videos, and title sequences for films and television shows. This style is characterized by its emphasis on visual communication and simplification of complex concepts through animation. Motion graphics can effectively convey data, statistics, and narratives in a visually compelling manner.

Key Characteristics

  • Simplified Animation
  • Information-Centric
  • 2D-Based (But can be 3D)
  • Clarity
  • Engagement

Use Cases:

  • Corporate Presentations
  • Product Explainers/Brand Animations
  • Title Sequences

2D, 3D, Motion Graphics: Which is right for you?

Choosing the Right Animation Style

Here’s what you should have at the back of your mind when picking an animation style.

Consider Your Brand

When deciding on an animation style, start by thinking about your brand identity. Your animation should align with the overall look, feel, and values of your brand. It should be consistent with your brand’s visual aesthetics and personality.

Content and Message

Think about the type of content you want to create and the message you want to convey. For instance, if your content is a lighthearted or playful story, 2D animation, which often has a whimsical and expressive quality, might be a great choice. On the other hand, if you’re aiming for realism, such as in product visualizations or architectural walkthroughs, 3D animation, known for its lifelike simulations, could be the better option.


Understanding your target audience is crucial. Different animation styles appeal to different demographics. For instance, children might be more captivated by colorful and vibrant 2D animations, while a technical or professional audience might appreciate the sophistication of 3D graphics. Your choice should resonate with the preferences and expectations of your intended viewers.

Budget and Timeline

Practical considerations like budget and timeline play a significant role. Motion graphics, which often involve 2D animations and text, tend to be quicker and more cost-effective to produce. This makes them suitable for projects with tight deadlines and limited resources. In contrast, 3D animation can be more time-consuming and resource-intensive due to the complexities of creating three-dimensional models and environments.

All in all, each style has its strengths and applications. Whether you’re opting for the traditional charm of 2D, the depth of 3D, or the clarity of motion graphics, animation remains a powerful tool for telling stories, explaining concepts, and captivating audiences. The choice is yours, and the possibilities are endless.

Ready to unlock the power of branding and help your business stand out? Start your visual journey with ROUTPUT today and discover how a compelling brand identity can transform your brand’s presence in the market. Your brand’s story awaits.

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