20 Types of Animations Styles & Software To Use In 2023
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One of the biggest trends in the digital space is the use of creative video content. Even in the digital marketing and advertising space, companies use quality videos with effective storytelling to connect with their clients/customers and ultimately, increase revenue.
Whether it’s about your product, brand, or clients, compelling stories with successful execution can be used to share a message that informs, educates, entertains, compels, and persuades your audience to take action that can directly or indirectly impact sales – this is where animation video comes in.
Animation has come a long way since its inception. It is a rich, engaging medium that is easy to create and manage. Marketing professionals across different industries use animations to tell stories in the most creative, meaningful, and thought-provoking way. With recent developments in animation video design, it has become one of the best ways to captivate an audience in recent years.
Although animation videos are super effective in making sales, it is important to understand the different types of animations ad how they work, which is why we have written this blog to guide you on the animation styles and software to choose and work with this 2023.
What is Animation?
Animation is an art form or dynamic visual medium that adds motion to still images, drawings, objects, illustrations, and still images to create an illusion of movement. Animators create this illusion by repeating the motion of static images (hand-drawn or computer-generated images) at different frame rates.
In simple terms, an animation is an art form of making static images or drawings move or manipulating them to appear as moving images. Animation enables storytellers to tell stories and convey brand messages uniquely and creatively.
Animation has been around since at least 1887 when it was invented for films by Émile Reynaud, a French film pioneer. Through animations that were originally used in films, they have advanced beyond the entertainment industry and are now diversified to marketing, advertising, engineering, architecture, gaming, and more.
Benefits of Using Animated Videos
Here are the reasons why animated video is a powerful and great medium for telling stories:
1. It allows you to bring concepts, figures, or ideas to life
One of the biggest benefits of using animated videos is their ability to bring any complex concept to life in an engaging way that drives positive action and success.
With animation styles, your creative options are limitless, you can transform your imagination into a beautifully engaged video.
2. It enables you to visually represent abstract ideas
Like the previous point, animations also make it easy to visually capture abstract or hard-to-represent ideas on screen without stress or constraints.
3. It helps to easily communicate the right message
Unlike live videos where real characters and backgrounds can distract viewers from the key message in the video, animations make it easy to highlight key messages, especially when you are trying to educate a specific set of people about an improtant topic of public interest.
4. It is easy to create and manage video production
Videos are highly significant to marketing and advertising success in this day and age. Shooting and creating a live video can be stressful to create and manage as you need to epend on location, actors, props, equipment, sets, editing and so much more.
However, with animations, you don’t have to worry about any of these constraints. With different software, techniques, and styles, you can create animations by digitally creating characters, editing and manipulating backgrounds, adding props and motion and so much more with just a simple drag and drop.
Reasons Why Animated Video Is The Best Type of Content
We have defined animations and identified their key benefits however for better understanding, below are the key 7 reasons why animated videos are the best type of content.
1. Animated videos are psychologically appealing.
2. Animated videos are cost-effective.
3. Animated videos are more visually engaging.
4. Animated videos grow with your business.
5. Animated videos enhance your brand image and message.
6. Animated videos make an outstanding brand differentiator.
7. Animated videos are easy to upgrade.
20 Types of Animation Style
Below are the top 20 most popular animation techniques
1. Traditional Animation
Traditional animation’s first appearance was in 1877 when Emil Reynaud demonstrated moving drawing to members of the public over 140 years ago. As the name suggests, traditional animation involves drawing every frame using a pencil and a piece of paper manually.
This long and tedious process of creating traditional animations involves creating numerous drawings by hand, arranging them into plastic cells, hand painting them, and creating the animated sequence on a painted background image. Though traditional animation is very time-consuming, there are now special programs that you can now use to simplify the task.
A good example of traditional animation is the first series of Tom and Jerry’s cartoons created over 70 years ago.
2. 2D Animation
Two-dimensional or 2D animation needs no introduction as it’s existed for many years now.- dating back to 1906, however, its globally acclaimed popularity can be linked to Walt Disney.
It involves creating movements using static images, illustrations, or objects in two dimensions – width and height. The uniqueness of the 2D animation is that the images have only two dimensions – width and height. Nowadays, 2D vector-based animation is created using 2D digital puppets that are built with a system of bones and controls that can be manipulated like a 3D character rig.
2D animation videos are widely used in advertisements, promotions, movies, how-to-videos, explainer videos, branded cartoons and so much more.
3. 3D Animation
3D animation is closely related to computer animation thanks to the development of computer graphics and visualization software. Although the first attempt at 3D was in 1961, the first 3D animation was created in 1972.
In simple terms, 3D animation brings digital objects to life and creates illusions of movement in three-dimensional (3D) space using computer-generated imagery. They are widely used in basically all scenarios from advertisements to feature films, architecture, medicine and so much more.
In present times, 3D animations are used to show all areas of a building under construction in architecture, show the interiors, and how a product looks from the inside in advertising as well as show the work of organs and systems visually in medicine.
4. Typography Animation
Typography animation otherwise known as kinetic typography is a style of text animation that dates back to 1899 in France when an ad containing moving letters was created. However, this did not become popular until after 60 years due to the efforts of Alfred Hitchcock.
Usually, typography animation is mostly used to show statistics or other important information presented in a visually engaging way. It is widely used in e-learning and for training purposes and is a good alternative to long and boring lectures.
5. Flipbook Animation
Flipbook animation is an echo of praxinoscope – a device for demonstrating moving pictures. It is one of the original techniques where each plot of the story is drawn on separate pages of a notebook after which the pages are turned quickly to create a manual video due to the quick frame change.
Although this animation style is not suitable for marketing and advertising but is effective for quick storytelling and entertainment for the target audience.
6. Motion Animation
Although motion animation was first developed in 1960, it has since grown in popularity to become one of the most popular animation techniques in the video and content marketing space.
It is widely used across many industries and uses from commercial ad videos to brand storytelling videos, promotional videos, explainers, movies, game screensavers and so much more. However, take note that it is mostly used to solve any type of marketing task.
7. Stop Motion Animation
Stop motion is one of the most popular, old, and sought-after animation techniques widely used by animators. Developed over 150 years ago, stop-motion animation is created by taking several photos and moving objects in the composition.
The majority of the image motions are created by digitally gluing photos into one track. Essentially, one of the biggest advantages of stop-motion animation is that it doesn’t require expensive equipment and facilities.
8. Puppetry Animation
Puppetry Animation developed by Russian animators sits between puppet theater and 2D or even 3D animation.
Although it’s been widely accepted that this animation style was developed in 1960, some researchers still believe it was first shown in 1906 at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. In simple terms, puppetry animation introduced puppet heroes into a digital environment.
9. Cut-out Animation
Cut-out Animation is a form of stop-motion animation where characters are created from paper, cardboard, or photographs overlayed on each other to create the effect of movement. It was developed in the 18th century when shadow theaters were famous.
Nowadays, Cut-out Animations are created using scanned prototypes in the place of paper characters and special software. They are mostly used for storytelling and explainer videos.
10. Experimental Animation
Experimental animation is slightly similar to modern art and goes way back to the beginning of the 20th century after which many abstract artists have contributed to its development.
Experimental animation works in a way where every viewer sees his/her meanings and experiences his own set of emotions. The artist usually comes up with new and creative ways to convey an important message to their audience.
11. Whiteboard Animation
Whiteboard animation is a unique and super creative form of hand-drawn animation styles that introduces the audience to an immersive experience. The animator or artist in this technique draws a scene on a whiteboard and records it as an illustrative story. In the process of making this animation, each frame is constructed right in front of the viewer.
Interestingly, this type of animation usually has a narration accompanied at the same time, the story is being drawn and is widely used in explainer videos as it helps to demonstrate ideas easily and effectively.
12. Clay Animation
Clay Animation otherwise known as Claymation is a form of stop-motion animation where all the scenes, characters, and elements are made in clay.
It is a unique and creative style of animation that is widely used in classic children’s movies for its visual appeal, and compelling and persuasive effect.
13. Cel Animation
Cel animation is one of the most traditional and oldest techniques of animation that centers around hand drawing every scene on clear celluloid sheets.
The artist places each painted background on top of the other. The ‘cel” refers to the celluloid sheets on which the drawing is done and is widely used by artists in Walt Disney Studios.
14. Rotoscope Animation
Rotoscope is a form of animation that is created by tracing live-action videos and drawing over them to make the animation look a lot more realistic. More specifically, Rotoscope animators create this by projecting the live-action images on a glass panel, then tracing and customizing the subject based on the scene of thecreative video.
It is mostly used in live-action films where a character outline or the matte can be taken out from a scene and used for another scene with a different background.
15. 360 Animation
360-degree animation is very similar to 3D and is the form of animation that is mostly used in virtual and augmented reality, creating endless possibilities for video marketing. This type of animation video is mostly used to create virtual tours of home plans for real estate or showcase virtual fitting rooms for furniture.
360-degree animation is the best option to show the product in conditions as close as possible to reality as well as showcase the interiors.
16. Sand Animation
Sand animation is one of the oldest animation techniques developed in 1969 to create animated cartoon characters and reality shows. This animation technique involves pouring sand into a luminous surface to create a 2D image. Though it is very simple, its execution can be a bit complicated.
Sand animation is mostly used on a live show and for storytelling in certain situations in marketing. Usually, it is best suited for showing the evolution or development of something.
17. Drawn-on-film Animation
Although this form of animation has gone outdated and out of style. With its origin dating back to 1912, drawn-on-film Animations are created directly on cinematic film, which may be completely blank or contain some kind of sketch.
Irrespective of its unconventional way of being created, it offers a relatively cheap way to create characters or animation without using a camera or sophisticated software.
18. HUD Animation
HUD animation is a part of video game development that generally provides users with valuable information and guidelines within the game. HUD animation is also widely used in advertising and cinematography to provide supplemental overlayed information.
19. Plexus Animation
Plexus animation is a form of modern animation style that creates flat images from dots and lines. Though it is a simple animation technique, it allows you to create a fascinating pattern that can make a good addition to the main product.
Often used in after effect, the simplest example of plexus animation is the textbook image of the solar system
20. Japanese Classic Manga
The Japanese Classic Manga animation’s history began with comics, which later became a popular animated series using 2D technology. Though the classic manga was predominantly in black and white nowadays, adding colors is now allowed.
This type of animation is best suited for a specific audience, especially the Japanese audience. If you have an international business and you are planning to diversify into japan, this style of animation would make an excellent choice to connect with your Japanese prospects.
10 Best Animation Software To Use
1. Cinema 4D
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Cinema 4D is a sophisticated, easy-to-use 3D animation software that offers users a wide range of tools for creating a broad spectrum of professional design projects. Its list of features is outstanding especially since the built-in Adobe integration allows users to create realistic artificial reality games, motion graphics, and procedural modeling.
Cinema 4D also offers outstanding customer support with tutorials and weekly webinars to help users easily navigate the software.
2. Adobe Animate
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Adobe Animate is a powerful and easy-to-use software that focuses more on 2D creations. It is an outstanding software that many marketers use to create compelling ads and infographics. You can use this software to bring frame-by-frame animation to life in games and animated GIFs. It makes a worthwhile investment for newbie animators.
Animate supports TV and mobile applications and offers several export options including HTML5 and SVG. One of the biggest advantages of this software is that it allows a Free trial to get started right away and see if it’s right for your needs or not.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
LottieFiles is a simple animation software that simplifies motion design that allows users to create scalable animations for everything from pitch decks to websites. With over 50,000 free animations, it lets you create custom animations and set up triggers like a scroll, click, or hover that activate your design.
An interesting feature of LottieFiles is that they are limitlessly scalable, enabling you to keep your designs responsive irrespective of the screen size.
4. Adobe After Effects
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Adobe After Effects is one the best animation software used by many people to create 3D animation and video editing. From rotating text to adding images with effects and making full-blown post-production editing, this powerful software can be used to perform all ranges of tasks from the simple to complex ones.
Interestingly, Adobe After Effects easily integrates with Adobe’s suite of software packages and third-party programs like Cinema 4D. It has a user-friendly interface and high learning curve to access and use its full features although you can also install plugins to perform specialized tasks.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Blender is a free and user-friendly animation software with a wide range of sophisticated features such as video editing, visual effects, motion tracking, digital sculpting and so much more. It supports a wide range of graphic formats and has a massive library of tutorials and an active community that makes it easy to use and create excellent animation on the software.
An interesting feature of Blender is its integrated 3D game engine that supports your creative development and freedom. It enables users to perform a diverse list of tasks from modeling to simulation, postproduction, and many more.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pencil2D is a free, open-source program that is widely used to create 2D animations and works with both raster and vector workflows giving you optimal flexibility. Its user-friendly interface and intuitive design make it an excellent choice for beginners looking for a basic program for the job.
Its top features include movie import, pixel teacher, and sound scrubbing with an active community and customer support.
Animaker is an excellent web-based animator software app with a subscription model that makes it a better choice for beginners. Its main function is making videos and animated GIFs using an HTML5 engine. It has an extensive list of templates, auto lip-sync, and a library of facial expressions.
In addition to this, Animaker also has an extensive image library with music and sound effects to create high-quality animation videos. Alternatively, it has a voice recorder feature that allows users to create voiceovers with their choice of voice. Its free plan allows users to create and download five videos although it comes with a watermark.
8. Autodesk 3D Animation (Maya)
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Autodesk 3D Animation (Maya) is considered by many digital artists to be the industry standard and the software of choice for Disney. It is regarded as a complete 3D production software that you can customize with plugins and scripts to make it more user-friendly.
It is pricey and best suited for large corporations and uses in the professional sector. It’s a powerful and sophisticated animation software to allows users to create a broad spectrum of animations.
Powtoon is another web-based animation software that offers a user-friendly and intuitive option for individuals and small businesses. It has an extensive library and features that make it easy for users to create outstanding videos although the paid plan comes with better features and options.
Although its free version has a generous storage capacity and recordings, its downloads are watermarked. An interesting benefit of this tool is that it makes it easy to share your work through Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook, and PDF export functionality.
10. Adobe Character Animator
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Adobe Character Animator is an animation and motion capture tool that uses your mic and camera to animate the image you import into it using your voice and facial expressions. It is beginner-friendly and like other Adobe products, you can easily integrate other program exports into this program.
An interesting thing about Adobe Character Animator is its flexibility to work for both personal and professional applications.
The world of animation is a very diverse field that many digital artists and animators explore to share meaningful and compelling stories. It has the power to tell stories of all shapes and sizes. We have identified 20 types of animations and 10 animation software to explore and use to create powerful brand-related videos.
As you set out to explore the tools and start creating powerful animated videos, you must consider the following tips to determine the best animation and software to use for your brand.
- Consider your brand: Different types of animation has different styles and feel that are unique to every one of them. Before deciding on any type of animation, be sure that its style accurately reflects your brand image and message.
- Consider your competitors: Competitor advantage is a big thing in the world of marketing and advertising. If your brand focus is to stand out from your competitors, study the type of animation they make to choose an animation style that is different and better than theirs to gain more attention from customers.
- Consider your budget: Every animation type and software comes with different pricing plans. While stop motion animation with more visual appeal requires a lot more resources compared to whiteboard videos that are more economical and easy to create. Keep in mind that irrespective of the animation style you opt for, make it visually appealing and engaging to drive the desired business results.