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3D, 2D, or Stop Motion: An Introduction to Online Animation Courses

4 minute read

By Christopher Brown

Animation has always captivated us—from the lovable antics of Tom and Jerry to the mind-bending worlds of Studio Ghibli films. The power to tell stories through motion pictures is nothing short of magical. But have you ever wondered how to bring your own stories to life through animation? With the rise of online education, you no longer have to enroll in an expensive art school to learn the ropes. There are a plethora of online animation courses that cater to all skill levels, covering everything from 2D sketches to intricate 3D models. With an online search, you can forge a new career by finding the right online animation course.

Types of Animation: Choose Your Path

The first thing you’ll need to consider is what kind of animation interests you the most. The three primary types are 2D animation, 3D animation, and stop motion.

2D Animation

2D animation is what most people think of when they hear the word “animation.” Characters and backgrounds are drawn on a flat plane. Think “Disney classics” or “Saturday morning cartoons.” The style may be old school, but software like Adobe Animate and Toon Boom have modernized the process, allowing for intricate digital 2D animations.

3D Animation

In 3D animation, the characters and environments are created in a three-dimensional space. This adds a layer of realism and depth that 2D cannot replicate. Pixar movies are a perfect example of 3D animation. Software like Blender and Autodesk Maya are commonly used in this field.

Stop Motion

Stop motion is a more tactile and physical form of animation. It involves capturing one frame at a time, with physical objects moved between frames. When you play back the sequence of images rapidly, it creates the illusion of motion. Think “Wallace and Gromit” or the 2009 film “Coraline.”

Learning Resources: Where to Begin?

Once you’ve decided on a type of animation, the next step is finding the right course to suit your needs. While many high-quality courses require payment, there are also free options available for those on a budget.

Paid Courses

Platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare offer comprehensive courses on all types of animation. These courses often include hours of video tutorials, assignments, and peer reviews. They may range in price from around $50 to a few hundred dollars, but the quality and depth of knowledge are often worth the investment.

Free Learning Options

If you’re just testing the waters or are on a tight budget, don’t despair. YouTube is a treasure trove of free tutorials. While they may lack the structure of a paid course, they offer valuable insights and tips from experienced animators.

Websites like Khan Academy also offer courses on 2D and basic 3D animation for free. Software like Blender comes with a strong community and an array of free tutorials, allowing you to explore 3D animation without a financial commitment.

Tools of the Trade

For 2D animation, software like Adobe Animate and Toon Boom are industry standards. If you’re interested in 3D animation, Blender is a free, open-source software that is incredibly powerful. Autodesk Maya is another popular choice, though it comes with a steeper price tag. For stop motion, a good camera and editing software like Dragonframe will be essential.

No matter the software, a drawing tablet can make the process much smoother. Brands like Wacom offer a range of tablets suitable for beginners to professionals. While it’s an additional expense, the control and precision a tablet offers can significantly improve your animation quality.

Portfolio Development and Industry Insight

As you become more comfortable with animation, you’ll want to start building a portfolio to showcase your skills, especially if you’re considering a career in animation. A portfolio is a curated collection of your best work and a powerful tool when applying for jobs or freelance gigs.

Some online courses offer portfolio development as a part of their curriculum, providing tips on what employers are looking for and how to make your work stand out. Understanding industry standards, project workflow, and teamwork are also vital, and a course that offers such insights can be invaluable.

Find The Right Fit Today

Whether you’re captivated by the simplicity of 2D sketches, intrigued by the complexity of 3D models, or enamored with the hands-on craft of stop motion, there’s no denying that the field of animation is a mesmerizing realm of endless possibilities.

Free and paid options alike provide various pathways to hone your skills, ensuring that your foray into animation is both exciting and rewarding. The first step is always the hardest, but with so many resources at your fingertips, there’s never been a better time to dive in. Your journey is just beginning, so continue your online search to fully immerse yourself in this incredible world.

Christopher Brown


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