Is Hand-drawn Animation Still Relevant in 2023? Top 8 Styles To Pay Attention To

Author: Bob Aug 16, 2023 9 min read

In a world filled with cutting-edge technology and mind-boggling digital effects, there’s a charming art form that continues to captivate hearts and tell enchanting stories—hand-drawn animation. You might be wondering, as we step into the futuristic realm of 2023, does this classic technique still hold its magical sway over audiences? 

Get ready for delightful time travel as we uncover the top 8 captivating hand-drawn animation styles making waves.


Upgrade your content with hand-drawn animation



What is Hand-Drawn Animation and How Does It Work?

what is hand drawn animation


Let’s take a journey into the magical world of traditional hand-drawn animation. It’s a fascinating technique in which each frame is lovingly crafted by skilled artists. This kind of animation used to be the superstar of cinema before computer animation took the spotlight. Below we highlight the main points of how hand-drawn animation is created. 

The character designers work their magic next, creating model sheets to keep the spirits’ appearances and movements consistent throughout the film. 

The animators draw each sequence on transparent paper, frame by frame, capturing the magic of motion. While they do their thing, the background artists are busy creating stunning sets for the characters using watercolors or oil paints to add life to the scenes.

Once the drawings are polished and perfect, they get transferred onto thin, clear plastic sheets called cels. On cels, which is short for celluloid, objects are drawn or painted for traditional, hand-drawn animation.

After all the hard work is done, the film is developed and processed. And voilà, the final masterpiece is ready to enchant audiences.

The History of Hand-drawn Animation in a Nutshell

History of Hand-drawn Animation


Let’s focus on the development of the industry after the introduction of celluloid film in 1888, which led to its use in theaters, television, and home entertainment.

Between 1895 and 1920, during the boom of the cinematic industry, brilliant minds reinvented and developed various traditional animation techniques. They played around with stop-motion using objects, puppets, clay, and cutouts, as well as hand-drawn and painted cartoons. Hand-drawn content, especially on cels, took center stage and became famously known as traditional animation throughout the 20th century.

As we approached the new millennium, computer animation stepped into the spotlight, becoming the go-to technique in many regions. However, Japanese anime and European hand-drawn productions still maintain their popularity. Computer cartoons usually boast a stunning three-dimensional appearance with intricate shading, but technology has also allowed for many other exciting animation styles to come to life. 


Hand-drawn Animation vs. Digital Animation, Which is Better?

Hand-drawn Animation vs. Digital Animation


Digital animation has come a long way from its roots in traditional cartoon methods. Nowadays, we can spot some significant variations between digital and hand-drawn animations. By exploring these differences, you can discover the advantages and disadvantages of each method and figure out which one suits you best. 


Traditional animation  Digital animation
Costs Creating hand-drawn images for traditional animation demands a significant time, rendering it a more expensive approach in terms of cost. Digital animation is typically much less labor-intensive and necessitates fewer tools, leading to cost-effectiveness.
Errors Addressing errors in traditional hand-drawn animation can present a more intricate challenge and require additional time for rectification. Digital animation allows for effortless and rapid rectification or elimination of mistakes.
Time Handcrafting images is time-consuming and demands a dedicated setup, lacking on-the-go convenience. Using a computer speeds up animation, letting you animate on the go with a laptop.
Virtual vs Physical Traditional hand-drawn animation creates tangible artwork, requiring storage, but holding significant value. All computer-generated animations are entirely virtual, enabling effortless storage and seamless online sharing.
Tools Stationery supplies like paper, colored pencils/paints, erasers, and other essential items require replenishment as they deplete over time. You need to consider buying specific animation software or programs and purchasing a computer powerful enough to work with various projects.
Realism Even the most skilled artists encounter difficulties when attempting to achieve photorealism in their work. You can generate lifelike renders that breathe life into imaginative animations.
Reusable Repurposing conventional hand-drawn animation proves to be more challenging, as it necessitates the adjustment of tangible visuals in the procedure. Once you’ve generated a digital animation, you can modify and repurpose it for fresh endeavors, leading to enhanced efficiency and cost savings.

The Top 8 Styles of Traditional 2D Animation Which You Should Pay Attention To in 2023

Styles of Traditional 2D Animation 


Embark on an enthralling journey through the enchanting world of traditional 2D animation. Here, we will immerse you in the intricate details of the top 8 styles that are poised to capture your imagination and command your focus.


№1 Whiteboard Videos

Back in 2007, a charming whiteboard animation style made its debut and it’s still creating waves in the world of marketing videos. Picture this scenario: you’ve got an exciting concept itching to be shared. With whiteboard animation, it’s as if you’re sketching it onto a welcoming blank canvas. As your pen gracefully glides across the screen, a warm voice joins in, leading you through the narrative.


№2 Kinetic Typography Videos

Kinetic typography is like the rockstar of hand-drawn animations—it brings written words to life. But guess what? It’s not just about the moves—it’s about the story you want to tell, especially when it comes to spreading the word about your awesome stuff.


№3 Stop Motion Animation

Imagine creating your mini-movies by taking photos and giving life to objects right in front of your camera. As you play back each photo in a sequence, you’ll see those objects come alive and move on their own.

The real trick of stop-motion animation happens between those frames. It’s like a hidden dance of creativity that brings everything together. The result might look simple and smooth, but the amount of care and attention to detail that goes into every snap is incredible.


№4 Frame-by-Frame Animation

That is a nifty method that allows you to alter the stage’s elements in each frame. It’s ideal for crafting intricate hand-drawn animations, where the image evolves in every frame, rather than simply gliding across the stage.

Keep in mind that frame-by-frame animation can increase the file size more rapidly compared to tweeted animation. That’s because animation stores the values for each complete frame, so it may take up more space.


№5 Shape Animation

That’s a cool technology that lets us change and transform geometric objects into different states. It works by using key points to smoothly transition figures from one form to another.

The best part about shape animation is that it adds life and dynamics to objects. They start moving gracefully and undergo beautiful transformations. It’s almost like creating a hand-drawn cartoon frame by frame, which makes it one of the closest types of animation to the classic style. Every movement on the screen is a result of the hard work and dedication of creators.


№6 Cut-Out Animation

This awesome animated style dates back to the 20th century, and it was hugely inspired by the shadow theaters of that time. The process is pretty cool: first, you create characters using paper, cardboard, or even photos. Then, you layer them on top of each other to give the illusion of movement. It’s like a subgenre of stop-motion animation but in a 2D format. A great example of cut-out animation’s awesomeness is South Park, probably the most famous one out there. You can also use this fantastic hand-drawn animation style for marketing purposes. 


№7 Rotoscope Animation

Back in the early days of traditional animation, smart folks discovered a cool trick. They copied human motions from old film frames and made lifelike animations. One of the best examples of rotoscope animation is Snow White, created in 1937. Fast-forward to 2006 and it jazzed up a Scanner Darkly’s look. Even now, it’s like fireworks, nailing real moves that’d take forever to make. So, next time you’re wowed by on-screen smoothness, you’re seeing an age-old awesome trick.


№8 Pinscreen Animation

Travel back to the 1930s, when the brilliant French animator Alexandre Alexeïeff unveiled an enchanting animation method, long before the digital graphics era. Alexeïeff’s ingenious technique involved a board adorned with countless tiny metal pins. Skillfully arranging these pins, he crafted captivating animations that were uniquely his own.

Alexeïeff would nudge these pins to create shapes that formed the desired image – much like computer pixels forming pictures, but with pins. Joined by partner Claire Parker, their creative teamwork breathed life into mesmerizing, out-of-this-world animations.


The Future of The Hand Drawn Animation 

hand drawn animation future


The world of 2D hand-drawn animation is buzzing with excitement and brimming with potential. As this art form keeps on growing and adapting to the ever-changing trends and cool technologies, there’s a lot to look forward to.

Now, picture this, 2D animation is going to rock the digital and interactive scene. With all those nifty mobile gadgets, gaming setups, and mind-boggling virtual reality gear, the opportunities for 2D animation to dazzle us are seriously endless. Think about those addictive mobile games like “Angry Birds” and “Candy Crush”—they’ve nailed the art of using hand-drawn animation to create gaming awesomeness.

What’s more, 2D animation shines in the realm of bite-sized content. In our fast-paced world, platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram offer quick doses of animated delight. This trend is just beginning and it will definitely cover 2D animation usage.


Wrapping Up 

We’ve taken a delightful dive into the top 8 animation styles that are stealing the spotlight and proving that hand-drawn animation is here to stay. From the enchanting nostalgia of traditional techniques to the mind-bending fusion of digital wizardry, each style brings its unique flavor to the animation feast. 

Do you have an idea for a drawn marketing cartoon yet? Our Wow team is always ready to advise and help you. Contact us to create unforgettable hand-drawn content!


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