2D & 3D Design

2D/3D Character Design, 2D/3D Environment Design, 2D/3D Package Design

2D/3D Design

First of all one has to consider “space” to grasp the idea of 2D (two dimensional) and 3D (three dimensional).

As in geometrical drawings, a rectangular or square shaped paper or page lying “flat” is “2D” which means it has two dimensions, typically called x-axis and y-axis. One edge of the paper is said to be x-axis while the other, making right angle to the first one is taken as y-axis. The “corner” of the paper is the result of the meeting point of these two axes. With x being one dimension and y the other, the flat piece of paper is 2D object.

3D is develops when the third dimension, typically called the z-axis, is introduced. The drawing of a box on a 2D paper is a “3D” object where the bottom is shaped by x and y axes and the height or depth of the box is the along z-axis.

So 2D and 3D refer to the difference which one observes between a photograph and a statue. Photograph, being on paper, is in 2D and a statue is an object in 3D. Another example is that of, for instance, a cow and her shadow. The cow is a three dimensional object while her shadow on the flat ground is two dimensional.


Technically, human retina keeps any image in its “memory” for 10 second. When drawings of a character’s images having small or subtle variations, are run one after the other, eye sees it like making a movement and the image creates an effect of motion.

This is the principle that has been implied for motion pictures which are shown on the screens in the theatres. Continuously photographed actors’ film frames are moved by rolling machine at a fixed speed. A light behind the film falls and passes through the film and an enlarging lens. The image of these pictures frames looks moving on the screen.

But in present age of computers the process has speeded up. Still pictures or photographs are displayed one after the other at the rate of 24 pictures per second. All this is done with software and animation results; which is a type of optical illusion through which still images or drawings are seen as moving.

The Difference

2D animation paved the way for creations in 3D animation jobs thus proving to be the launching pad for developing the 3D animated works.
In fact, 2D animators create frames (hand drawn sketches or picture) to define a sequence of events depicted in the scripts of the work. These frames are then moved at varying speeds to create the illusion of motion.

3D animation is the process essentially done in a digital environment. In here, every animation is designed and controlled by thoughtful software to carry out skillful manipulation of 3D models and objects. The software exports 3D picture sequences giving them the illusion of animation or movement.

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