Different Types of Animation Styles

Animated videos are a great way to connect with viewers in an impactful and memorable way. They can be used to create explainer videos, product demonstrations, and more. By partnering with a professional animation studio or an experienced freelancer, you can create unique and engaging content to share with your target audience.

One of the most important steps in the animation production process is choosing a style. Different types of animation styles convey different tones and are best suited for different purposes. To help you understand what your options are, here’s a quick overview of some of the most commonly used animation styles.

Creative Humans makes it easy to find and hire top animation studios and freelancers. Browse the Directory, or Post a Job to get started.

9 Types of Animation Styles

The best type of animation style for your production will depend on what you are hoping to achieve with your video. Additionally, different styles have varying cost and time requirements to keep in mind.

From standard 2D animation to stop motion, here are 10 of the most popular types of animation styles that you can choose from when creating your own animated video:

1. Traditional / 2D Animation

2D animation probably doesn’t need much of an explanation. It’s used to create flat, 2D characters and environments. While this is one of the oldest animation styles, its flexibility makes it a prominent choice for a variety of applications, including cartoons, promotional videos, explainer videos, and more. 

In traditional animation, each frame was meticulously hand drawn, which can be very time-consuming. Today, animators have access to digital tools and techniques that help to streamline the 2D animation process. 

2. 3D Animation

3D animation was quite revolutionary when it was introduced. Not only has 3D animation allowed animators to create more immersive, realistic animated experiences, but 3D animation also has practical applications in industries like medicine and architecture.

3D animation is often used for full-length movies, interactive advertisements, commercials, and other marketing materials. However, for simple explainer videos and similar projects, 3D animation isn’t always the best option as it can be much more time and labor-intensive.

3. Stop Motion Animation

Originating over a century ago, stop motion is one of the oldest animation styles and can be seen in many classic animated movies.

To create stop motion productions, creators take pictures of still objects in a specific sequence and string these pictures together to create the illusion of movement. In addition to offering a unique aesthetic, stop motion is a fairly cost-efficient animation style due to a lack of need for expensive equipment and facilities.

4. Rotoscope Animation

Rotoscope animation involves taking live-action footage and tracing over it with a rotoscope tool—similar to traditional animation styles that involve tracing photographs onto glass panels.

Rotoscoping is often used in situations where it's necessary for the animated character to interact realistically with the environment. Rotoscope animation is typically cheaper than standard 3D animation and is great for commercials and films.

5. Motion Capture

Motion capture is a modern form of 3D animation that allows creators to create ultra-realistic animations based on live-action scenes. Motion capture is frequently used in the gaming industry to create realistic character animations and lifelike facial expressions.

The motion capture animation process involves dressing actors up in suits that track their movements and interactions so that they can be recreated with computer graphics.

6. Typography Animation

Typography animation is the practice of creating animated text. This animation style is often used in movies to create interesting title screens and credit segments.

Businesses can use typography animation to create explainer videos, interactive statistic models, interesting presentations, and employee training materials. This can also be one of the most affordable types of animation styles.

7. Mechanical Animation

Mechanical animation is used to break down the functions and configurations of mechanical products. It involves drawing and animating every detail and mechanism of a machine to create an informative visualization.

This animation style has practical applications in the engineering industry, as it can be used to make adjustments to products before development. Mechanical animation is also great for product demonstrations.

8. Claymation