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Nowadays, anyone can create 2D animations thanks to intuitive 2D animation software. 2D animation is a type of animation where visuals have breadth and length, so you can see how long and wide they are. But you can’t see their depth—the distance from back to front—like in 3D animation.

But no matter how many Ds your animation boasts, simply creating an animation doesn’t guarantee someone will watch it. While viewers may play your video with one click, they could check their email or social media just as fast. The key to capturing and maintaining your viewers’ attention is to make your animations engaging by following best practices from the world’s leading animation studio.

Whether to entertain or sell a product, we recommend you apply the following eight steps. They’ll help you create engaging 2D animations that intrigue and captivate your viewers.

1. Sketch your ideas on a storyboard

Before you start animating, use storyboards to show your team how the story will look.

A storyboard is a drawn or animated sketch of your 2D animation’s events and dialogues. While it may only be a sketch, team members and clients can comment on the story’s events to ensure they’re clear, compelling, and aligned with the team’s goals before you animate them.

You can create storyboards on a piece of paper. First, draw a series of squares—each representing a scene—and then draw horizontal lines for each scene’s dialogue below each square.

  

 

For example; if you were to create a storyboard for The Three Little Pigs, you could sketch the story in nine squares: one for the introduction, three for each pig’s house-building efforts, one to introduce the wolf, three for the wolf’s house-destruction efforts, and one for the ending.

Once your team approves the storyboard, you can animate the project or present an animated storyboard—an animatic—to share a clearer idea of what you plan to create.

2. Animate from scratch or use a template

Creating your 2D animations from scratch gives you the complete creative freedom to execute your storyboard precisely as intended. But unless you have experience with animation, staring at a blank screen can be intimidating, meaning animating from scratch can be time-consuming.

Instead, use a 2D animation template to save time. Templates provide characters, props, and animations you can adapt to your video’s plot.

You can use Vyond Studio to create 2D animations from a template or from scratch. Log into your free or paid Vyond account and click on Create a Video in the top right corner. You can then choose one of three animation styles to start animating your storyboard’s idea.

Alternatively, browse our template library using our Job Role, Category, and Style filters to find the template that better fits the story you want to communicate. Once you find a template you like, click on Use this template to open the template’s assets—animations, characters, props, music—in an editable project.

3. Create your stories’ 2D characters

After choosing a template, it’s time to create your storyboard’s animated characters.

If your team has an experienced animator on board, you can create characters using Maya, one of Disney animators’ go-to software for their animated movies. But if there aren’t professional animators on your team, you can use Vyond Studio to create characters of any age regardless of your animation experience.

First, open the character panel found in the top left corner of Vyond Studio. From there, you can choose between dozens of pre-designed characters or click on Create new character to open our Character Creator.

Pick the 2D character animation style that aligns with your project’s style, and then choose the body type and shape that better represents your character’s physical features.

As a final step, customize your character’s facial features and garments based on their profession, interests, or personal style.

4. Decorate your stories’ environment

A poorly selected location can make a well-designed character look out of place, making the message or narrative you are trying to convey ambiguous.

Take the example below as an illustration of how your scenario affects your message.

On the left, Mickey dresses like a cowboy in a location matching the cowboy era. The character design and background match the cowboy narrative. In contrast, Mickey’s outfit looks out of place when he’s in front of The Simpsons’ house. The environment doesn’t match his aesthetic or the era Mickey’s supposed to be part of. In this scenario, Mickey is dressing for a costume party at best.

You can cohesively decorate your stories’ environment by checking your storyboard and brainstorming the location of each scene with your team. Meet with your team’s animators and scriptwriters to check the props and background elements that should be on the final version of your storyboard’s squares.
Then, head to Vyond Studio and click on Background to choose between 150 locations, over 2,000 props, and 32 patterns.

5. Animate props and characters following Disney’s animation principles

Disney’s animation principles are 12 practices that some of Disney’s most skilled animators follow to bring animations to life.

You can follow some of Disney’s principles of animation to create lifelike 2D animations that entertain and engage viewers.

Look for actions in your storyboard that could benefit from one of Disney’s animation principles. For example; if you’re animating a character running, you can reduce the running speed at the start and end of the action to follow Disney’s Slow In and Slow Out principle.

Follow Vyond’s simple animation process to give life to static characters. Start by selecting a character, click on Action in the top right corner, then pick an action. Going back to our running example, you could add the Running action to the character, followed by a Line Motion Path that makes it run from left to right.

6. Vary your camera’s movements

Camera movements drive your viewers’ attention to specific portions of your video, increasing the likelihood that they watch your 2D animation from start to finish.
For example; during Under The Sea, one of The Little Mermaid’s iconic songs, animators vary between camera movements like zoom outs, slides, and boom shots to direct the viewers’ attention to formerly hidden portions of the frame.

 

You can also use camera movements to ensure viewers don’t miss the video’s most crucial elements—like call-to-actions, next steps to complete a purchase, or statistics.

Before you vary your 2D animation’s camera movements, look at your project’s scenes and ask yourself, which is the most critical element I want to highlight? Then, choose the camera movement that better highlights said element—action, event, prop, or character.

For example; let’s say one of your scenes features two characters talking at a café. In that case, you could zoom in to hide unimportant portions of the background and emphasize the importance of their conversation.

7. Add motion graphics

You can create 2D motion graphics—like symbols, shapes, and text—to emphasize a phrase, action, or transition from your scenes.
For example; in the video below from SpongeBob’s official YouTube account, the animators used motion graphics to highlight the switch from one scene to another. While the motion graphics are subtle, they are visible enough to allow viewers to distinguish episodes from one another.

 

You can use motion paths in Vyond to turn static text, props, and shapes into moving assets. First, select the asset and enter the Motion Path menu in the top right corner of Vyond Studio’s interface. Then, choose the type of motion path that best fits the movement you are looking to recreate. Finally, adjust the moving asset’s end position and the time it’ll take to reach it.

Those animating text can use our Kinetic Typography (i.e., moving text) template to speed up the animation process.

8. Include music and sound effects

Music and sound effects that support the emotion your 2D animation is trying to convey help maximize the impact of your animations.

A 2009 research paper found music can influence the emotion we perceive from a visual. During the study, test subjects were more likely to perceive a neutral image as happy (or sad) after listening to happy (or sad) music.
For example; you can include an upbeat song to energize your audience as a positive event shows on the screen or add a rain sound effect during a sad scene.

In Vyond Studio, you can do this by entering the Audio menu in the top left portion of the interface and then choosing from 154 pieces of Background Music and 318 Sound Effects.

 

Create your first 2D animation using Vyond Studio

Vyond Studio is an intuitive animation software that you can use to create engaging 2D animations for your educational, marketing, sales, and HR needs.

Thanks to our dozens of templates across several categories and animation tools, anyone can turn ideas into 2D animation videos without formal animation experience.
Create your first 2D animation