Trends in 2D animation: from morphing to liquid motion

The world of 2D animation is rapidly changing, influenced by technologies and people’s tastes. In 2024, the animation industry is experimenting with new approaches that change how we tell stories, advertise, learn, and entertain ourselves. Let’s explore the major global trends in 2D animation that are currently shaping the technology landscape.

Historical overview

2D animation began with hand-drawing each frame. An excellent example of this labor-intensive process is Mickey Mouse. Then hand-drawing was replaced by rotoscoping, which made the movements of animated characters more realistic by transferring the actions of actors into animation.

With the introduction of Technicolor in the 1930s, animation began to feature more vibrant colors. Budget constraints in the 1950s led to the emergence of limited animation, where all details were simplistically reduced.

In the 1960s, the xerography process allowed drawings to be transferred directly onto frames, reducing production costs and time. The transition to digital technologies began in the late 20th century with the emergence of programs for color correction and editing. The Internet and Flash animation paved the way for creating and distributing animation online.

Today, 2D animation combines traditional and digital techniques, allowing 2d game animation studio to work more creatively. Hybrid approaches that combine hand-drawn elements with digital effects create a unique nostalgic and innovative style.

Trends in 2D animation

2D animation is constantly evolving and adapting to changing audience tastes and new technologies, offering diverse and interesting visual solutions. Let’s look at the main trends.

Morphing and vertical animations

Morphing is becoming increasingly popular, allowing for smooth transitions between images. This makes content more engaging, especially on websites, which increases page viewing time.

Vertical animations are gaining traction due to the proliferation of mobile devices. This format is convenient for viewing and is suitable for social networks, where vertical content predominates.

High-contrast cel animation

This animation trend has been on the rise for several years and is used by corporate giants like Nike, Nickelodeon, Disney, Cartoon Network, and even for Winter X games.

Bright, contrasting colors combined with angular design are used to give the animation a simplified, almost cel-style look.

Alternative animation art

The symbiosis of traditional drawing and painting methods in digital animation allows for creating unique and original works. This approach combines technical skills and creative expression, providing animators with a platform to explore their style.

Hybrid techniques

Blending 2D and 3D elements in one video creates a unique visual experience. This enriches the animation and makes it more profound and interesting for the audience.

According to experts at the game art studio inkration, this method can be used in small digital advertisements as well as in high-budget commercials.

Interactive 2D animation

Interactivity is becoming a key element in the world of 2D animation, especially in the realm of digital media and educational applications. Interactive 2D animations provide viewers with a unique opportunity to influence the development of the plot and the outcome of the story, creating a personalized and immersive experience.

Example: the film Bandersnatch from Netflix. Although not purely an animated project, it includes interactive elements that allow viewers to choose plot branches. Similar technologies can be adapted for interactive 2D animation.

Retro revival

Studios are actively recreating the aesthetics of the past, skillfully combining traditional drawing techniques with modern technologies and storytelling methods. Inspired by classics, artists use familiar images and motifs, updating them for a modern audience and providing a unique perspective on traditional themes.

Example: the video game Cuphead. It stands out for its unique visual style, reminiscent of 1930s American cartoons. Animators hand-drew each frame to recreate the old-school animation feel.

2D Animation interaction with AR and VR

Augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies are opening up new avenues for 2D animation. Animations in AR and VR come to life in three-dimensional space, allowing the audience to interact with the content like never before.

Digital puppetry

Digital puppetry is a synthesis of classic animation principles and advanced technologies. This method allows animators to create realistic characters with natural movements and emotions, controlled in real-time.

Example: the animated series Trollface Quest video games: the use of software for animating characters in the style of digital puppetry, where each character is controlled like a puppet.

Kinetic typography

There was a time when kinetic typography was only used in film studios, especially in creating movie titles and show titles. Today, kinetic typography is everywhere: from advertising to web design, from social media video clips to app design. Working with text and fonts is one of the main tasks of every designer, and animating typography is a great way to speed up your projects.

The possibilities of kinetic typography are virtually limitless. You can stretch, bend, and transform text. Rotate and move it in various ways or experiment with the shape, color, and style of the text. You can even apply 3D effects. Only imagination sets the upper limit.

Liquid motion

Liquid motion is a vivid example of animation that was previously impossible but is now available to designers and becoming increasingly popular.

Liquid motion animation is movements on the screen that resemble water. This can be ripples and waves or any smooth, wavy effect mimicking the behavior of liquids.

This trend is especially popular in web design, where various interactions can create a liquid motion effect. For example, hovering the cursor may cause a ripple effect, and scrolling may produce a wave-like effect.

The world of 2D animation graphics is entering a new era of revival. Artists and animators are exploring and combining different styles, techniques, and technologies, resurrecting retro aesthetics and opening up new paths for interactive and captivating animation experiences.

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