Realistic vs. Cartoon Animation

Updated: Jun 7

These days, when it comes to animation, computer animation is the new standard method and within this, most digitally generated imagery is now also done using the support of 3D graphics software. This technology has sped up the rendering process, in particular, allowing for very high levels of detail and lifelike qualities to more easily be included in animation that is created.

Students who are learning how to animate, still start out slowly, learning the basics about how to use the available tools and programmes to generate various shapes and to integrate these together to create more cartoon style models of objects and characters and then the ways to animate these. As they gather more skills and experience creating characters and animations, they also can play around with the realism of their characters looks and movements. A ball can be made to appear to bounce very realistically off the ground as it obeys the rules of earthly gravity or they can play with superhuman aspects such as an impossible rebound that propels a bounced ball into outer space.



Each animator will also still find their own animation style over time, bringing aspects they decide to focus on or enhance into the characters and models they create – be these cartoon-style aspects of imagined or imitated and enhanced characteristics or minute detailed close-up inspections of certain very realistic looks and movements. Super realistic animation is almost impossible to replicate perfectly without help from references, tracing, and motion capture tools and technology. Even with all the tools it is very involved and time-consuming to recreate, for example; even a seemingly simple task such as a character reading a book must contain tiny details if you want to recreate very realistic animations – if you’re holding a book right in front of you in reality, you’re not staying completely still in that short sequence, there will always be slight movements occurring; your fingers move, arms and body shift as you breathe.



Realistic animations are usually an ideal that students aim towards when starting out, but a lot of the times people will change to a more cartoon style approach to give themselves more freedom of expression and movement in their animations, allowing them to exaggerate beyond the bounds of normal day reality.


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