Strand Studios

The history of 2D animation: from hand-drawn to digital

2D animation has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the early 20th century. From hand-drawn cells to computer-generated graphics, the history of 2D animation reflects the evolution of technology and the changing needs of the entertainment industry. Here’s a brief overview of the history of 2D animation:

Early 2D animation:

The first 2D animation was created in 1908 by French artist Émile Cohl. His short film “Fantasmagorie” consisted of 700 hand-drawn cells that were photographed one frame at a time to create the illusion of movement. This basic technique was used for many years, with animators creating hand-drawn cells and photographing them to create animated films.

The golden age of 2D animation:

The golden age of 2D animation began in the 1930s and lasted through the 1950s. This period saw the emergence of iconic characters such as Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, as well as the rise of the first major animation studios. During this time, animators continued to use hand-drawn cells, but also began to experiment with new techniques such as cel shading and multiplane cameras.

The transition to digital:

The transition to digital 2D animation began in the 1980s, with the advent of computer-based animation tools such as Adobe Flash and Toon Boom. These tools allowed animators to create 2D animation using a computer, rather than by hand. The transition to digital animation was slow, but by the 2000s most 2D animation was being created digitally.

The present day:

Today, 2D animation is created using a wide range of digital tools and techniques. From hand-drawn styles to vector graphics, animators have a wide range of options for creating 2D animation. While hand-drawn animation still exists, it is now the exception rather than the rule.
As technology continues to evolve, it’s likely that the history of 2D animation will continue to be written. Who knows what the future holds for this beloved art form?
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